Water Heater Installation


If your old water heater has given up the ghost and you are in the process of shopping for a new one, an important decision will be whether to install your new heater yourself or to hire a technician to do it for you.

As homeowners are looking to cut any costs that they can, this question has gained added meaning. More and more homeowners are getting on the Internet or watching handyman television shows to learn how to install their own heater.

Self Install your Water Heater, or Have it Done?

As you consider this decision, here are several factors to consider:

Installation will require special tools and skills

In many cases, for instance, soldering is a necessity. If you do not have a blowtorch and need to solder, then you are going to need a professional to install your heater. You can, of course, buy a torch, but you will then have to use it. It might become a new skill that you require, or gas flames give you pause and you pass.

toolsIf you have a large collection of tools, your investment might be minimal. If not, then the costs can add up quickly for a saw, thimbles, pipes, joint compounds, etc. Those costs will probably not exceed the cost of installation by someone else, but they could climb into three figures fairly quickly.

Installation will require time and manpower

If you have the proper tools or don’t mind spending a little money to acquire them, then you are still going to need several hours to install your heater. You probably will need a little help with taking the old one out and mounting the new one, especially if it is a gas hot water heater. If your hot water heater is tankless, you can do it all yourself. If there is a tank, make sure that one of your friends is free on workday to help you lift and mount the new device.

For some people, their time is more valuable than the cost of calling in a technician to install the heater. We all have an idea concerning what our free time is worth. If four hours on a job = $400 to us personally, then installation by someone else might be worth it.

Mistakes can be critical

Installing a water heater is a bit different than putting together a bookshelf. If you mess up the bookshelf, you might have one of the shelves pointing in the wrong direction. If you mess up the installation of a hot water heater, you might have a very dangerous gas leak that could even harm your health.


The decision to install by yourself comes down to confidence: are you confident that you can join two pipes, or a valve and a pipe, so that natural gas will never escape from it? If so, then attack the installation yourself. If not, then make a phone call and get someone else in to do it (or better yet: simply fill out this form to get up to 4 free quotes from qualified contractor in your area).

This, of course, applies primarily to gas water heaters, but incorrect sealing with tankless or electric water heaters can result in drippage, high water bills, etc.

Be sure to follow local codes when you install

Different states, different counties and different cities have unique codes for installing appliances such as water heaters. Your county might not have any code, or it might have a very detailed code. If your house is not of recent construction, you might need to drill for extra vents, etc.

Check your area for codes, particularly if you own an older home. If your hot water heater needs repair, you could face a fine or very high repair costs if you are not up to code. If this sounds dizzyingly complicated, then have someone else do the job that is familiar with all of the codes.

Final criterion for your decision

In essence, you need to calculate how much savings you will gain by installing yourself. If, for instance, the lowest estimate you can get for hot water heater installation is $700, then you need to factor in:
a) your ability to do the job yourself
b) the time required
c) the tools required and subsequent cost
d) overall trouble for you to install

If “a” through “d” add up to less than $700 in your mind, and you are confident of your ability to prevent gas and water leaks, then learn a new skill and install your own heater. It should be noted that in some areas, a licensed plumber is required to install gas water heaters, so that could make your decision extra-simple.

More Installation Info

For more detailed information, consult our articles on tankless water heater installation, gas heater installation and electric installation

If you want to factor in the cost of installation in your buying decision, make sure to check our information on water heater installation cost and/or replacement cost.