With readily available information on the internet today, most homeowners are learning how to handle home improvement projects on their own instead of calling in an expert. Although the DIY approach can save you time and money, sometimes, cutting corners may cost you a lot down the road. Most plumbing projects, including installing a water heater, should be left in the hands of a professional. If you’re not a seasoned plumber and considering doing the job yourself, think again. Most DIY installations result in common mistakes, which can damage the unit or cause personal injury.
Here are common mistakes people make when mounting a water heater.
1. Picking the Wrong Size
Your new water heater may break down even before it heats its first few gallons of water. Tank water heaters range between 30 and 80 gallons. You should choose the size based on the number of individuals in your home and the hot water consumption rate. If you buy a small heater, you will frequently go without hot water. On the contrary, if the tank is too big, you will be wasting money on utility bills by constantly warming up the water you don’t need. Thus, you need to work with an expert who’ll help you choose the right-sized water heater.
2. Mounting in a Dangerous Place
Where you place the unit matters- for convenience, safety, and efficiency. Based on your area’s local codes, there are some prohibited places to mount a traditional water heater, such as the attics, storage closets, and under floors. If you want to replace the current heater, you cannot assume the same spot will work because newer models are larger and more insulated than older models. A professional plumber will ensure you mount your water heater in the right location with proper access and room for sufficient airflow.
3. Solder Connections
When connecting your unit to the water pipes, you’ll need to make solder connections, and a common mistake occurs when people do this close to the tank. The tank has numerous plastic fittings, which can melt and damage the tank. Ensure you first unscrew the nipples from the tank and solder on the fittings independently away from the heater.
4. Incompatible Metal Pipes
When performing water heater installation or replacement, you have to pay much attention to the compatibility of the two pipes. If you join incompatible metal pipes to form a connection, you will get a joint that has high chances of failing, accelerating corrosion. If corrosion occurs, you will have more plumbing issues to address. To prevent corrosion, you must utilize connectors that match the material of the pipes. If you’ve copper pipes, you must use copper connectors or brass connectors as they’re compatible with copper. For example, using copper pipes with galvanized steel nipples will result in a dielectric union fitting caused by two incompatible metals. As a result, the inevitable corrosion will cause water leaks and reduce the service of your water heater. The resultant damage will be costlier than the cost of getting the correct fittings in the beginning.
5. Incorrect Relief Valve Installation
With a conventional water heater, the relief valve works as a safety feature that regulates water pressure and temperature. If this safety device gets installed incorrectly, the tank might explode, drenching everyone near the water heater with scalding boiling water. You should place the relief valve about six inches above the ground on the side of the water tank to allow it to automatically open and relieve the tank of pressure. To ensure safety, connect a threaded drain pipe to the relief valve and direct the tube to the ground to safely direct any hazardous discharge away from the tank or people.
6. Failing to Adhere to Safety Precautions
When installing the water heater, it’s easy to neglect safety precautions. For example, you can dry fire the tank. Dry firing refers to turning on the water heater before the tank gets filled with water. This puts the electric heating elements at risk of burning out. If it’s a gas-fired heater, dry firing can cause the tank to crack. Another safety precaution you can neglect is failing to secure the heater after installation. If you don’t strap the tank securely to the framing, it can tip over or fall in the event of an earthquake or another accident.
There are many home projects you can handle on your own, but installing a water heater is not among them. Those are just a few mistakes you can make when doing the installation. If you want to ensure you get the most out of your water heater, let a professional plumber do the installation.