How To Replace A Hot Water Heater

When we arrived at home last night, I noticed that our hot water heater was leaking because the basin below it was full of water.  I inspected the tank and I notice some leakage coming from the  T & P (temperature and pressure) valve on the side of the tank.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 2.36.38 PM

Why is the T & P Valve leaking? Well, the reason is this; what would happen if a one-way valve, or check valve, was installed on the water supply piping for the house?  The water wouldn’t have anywhere to go.  As the water heater heats the water, it expands, which builds up pressure in what is now essentially a closed system.  When the pressure builds up enough, the T&P relief valve on the water heater just does it’s job and relieves the excess pressure by leaking a little water. In theory, that is what the T & P valve is supposed to do, leak just a little water… our case it was a bunch of water…buckets!

It was too late to do anything about it, so I told my wife that I would replace the T & P valve in the morning…..a quick 15 minute fix and costing about 20 bucks.

When my wife tried to take a shower this morning, there was no hot water, so I went into the garage to check on the water heater….and low and behold, it was leaking like crazy! Oh man, I thought, I’ve got to change the whole water heater……bummer!  We had a new hot water heater installed at our Bay Area home a few years ago and it cost us around $ 1,200. Yikes! The average life span of a water heater is between 8 and 12 years. Our water heater was about 7 years old….a bit early on in the replacement cycle but we suspect that the high concentration of minerals in the water here in Las Vegas contributed to its short life.

Notice all of the towels and rags in the catch basin below the water heater.

I thought about calling my buddies at Nevada Home Remodelers to do us a favor but I decided to do the work myself and save some money. We headed up to our local Home Depot and purchased a 50 gallon, 40,000 btu, natural gas hot water heater. It cost us $ 475.82 which included a new vent pipe and some pipe dope and sealer.


Our heater is gas so we turned off the gas turning the cut-off valve to the perpendicular position (see the red arrow in the picture below).


  • Turn off the water supply and turn on all the hot water faucets in the house. Use a garden hose to drain the tank completely.


  • Disconnect the pipes and remove the water heater. They can be heavy, so get a helper and be careful


  • Put the water heater in place and connect the pipes. Add connector hoses if your old water heater didn’t have them.


  • Make sure the hot water faucets are still open and turn on the water supply. This keeps air from getting trapped in the water lines. Let the water flow from each faucet for one minute before turning them off. Reconnect your gas line connection, turn on the gas back on. Read the pilot light ignition instructions provided by the manufacturer to start up the burner.
  • Allow you water heater to work for about an hour then try out your system.


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