How to Remove an Old Water Heater

How to remove an old water heater; step by step guide. No need to call a plumber! Removing the old unit is a DIY home project and is not hard.

If planning to buy a new heating unit, and replace and dispose of the old one, this article is a good starting point. Both electric and gas-powered tank-type heaters will be covered. In seven easy steps, you will remove the old water heater. However, keep in mind the tank might be heavy. Sediment build-up during many years of its operation made it heavy. This is why you need help.

Removing an old water heater - Instructions

  • Turn the gas supply OFF to the gas heater.
  • Turn the water supply OFF to the WH.
  • Disconnect the electrical power if applicable.
  • Disconnect the gas pipe that leads to the WH gas valve.
  • Draining. Open the nearest hot water tap and let it run until the temperature is lower than 100 F, so you don't burn yourself or damage the property. Draining all the water will help you to remove the old unit as it would weight much less. Connect the hose to the drain valve and terminate the other end of the hose to an adequate drain, away from people and your property. Open the drain valve and empty the tank.
  • Disconnect the vent pipe from the top of the gas heater. The vent pipe is usually connected to the draft hood with the sheet metal screws. This applies to atmospheric-vent units. Disconnecting power vent and a direct vent is maybe a bit harder but is not complicated.
  • Find the two pipes at the top of the unit. These are an incoming supply of cold and outgoing hot water. If the pipes are made of copper, use the hacksaw and cut them approximately four inches from the unit. If the pipes are galvanized and use unions, use the pipe wrench and loosen them to disconnect the heater from the plumbing completely. Now you can remove an old hot water heater completely.

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Removing the old electric water heater is even easier as you don't have to deal with the gas supply.

The only thing you have to make sure is to disconnect the wiring from the heater and mark them for later installation.

Total time to remove the old water heater is approximately 2-3 hours. If you have the necessary tools, have some basic electrical, gas and plumbing skills, including soldering pipes and help of one or two friends you can remove the old hot water heater relatively fast. Draining takes the longest, and it depends on the size of the tank.

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