It can be quite a shock to hop into the shower, turn it on, and have cold water streaming down your body. You will probably step back and wait a few minutes for it to heat up. When it doesn't, you end up checking the pilot and breaker for the hot water heater. If everything seems to be in order except for the lack of hot water, it is time to look for a new one. It is possible to install the unit yourself. Here are a few tips to ensure you stay out of trouble during the installation so you can get back to taking a nice, hot shower or bath.
1. Shut Down and Empty the Tank
You need to be sure that the existing unit is shut off completely. Turn off and disconnect the gas valve if it is a gas unit. Flip the breaker on an electric unit and disconnect any wires. Once you are sure the heater cannot accidentally come on, empty it completely of water. Use a garden hose to siphon off any water that is left in the bottom after the drain has taken out as much as it can. The unit is heavier than you realize, and any water will make it even heavier. While you may not care what happens to the old heater, you need to be able to maneuver it out of place without damaging any of the plumbing or wires.
2. Add Connector Hoses
If the existing unit is hard-plumbed, you will need to cut the pipes to get it out. When you install the new heater, add connectors to the existing pipes and then use hoses from the connectors to the unit. This will make cleaning and flushing easier every year and will also make it easier to replace the next time.
3. Use Teflon Paste
When connecting the different pipes and/or connectors, use Teflon paste. While tape can make a good seal, paste makes a better one. You won't have to worry about leaks at any joints when you use paste.
Do not attempt to move the hot water heater alone or to lay it on its side, or you can damage it and have to buy yet another one. Also, admit when you need help. It is much better to contact a professional as soon as you realize you need help than to keep going, damage something, and then call the plumber. For plumbing services, contact a local plumber who can fix or replace your hot water heater.