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Home » Blog » How Difficult Is It To Replace a Water Heater?

How Difficult Is It To Replace a Water Heater?

Water heater Repair

Just like any other appliance in your home, your water heater will also get into eventual wear and tear over time. Even if your water heater is working perfectly fine right now, chances are you will need a new one in the next few years. If you are planning on replacing your water heater, you might be thinking that, “How difficult can it be?”. This post is all about answering your question and providing an insight into top Water heater replacement services in San Diego.

To answer your question, a well-trained and licensed professional plumber will not find it difficult at all. That is because they have undergone advanced training on how to conduct a water heater replacement successfully and have received the necessary license and certification required for the job. If you are trying to do it by yourself, it can be somewhat of a difficult task as you don’t possess that skill set.

While we appreciate and respect your confidence and sheer grit in undertaking DIY projects, we recommend that you hire a professional to replace your water heater. Let’s take a look at why handling it by yourself can be a difficult task.

You Might Not Need a New Water Heater

Not every water heater problem requires a new unit replacement. In fact, many problems can be fixed by conducting simple or advanced repairs, depending on the type of the issue. There’s a chance that your water heater problem could also be repaired without having to invest in a new unit. This requires a proper diagnosis of your system in order to decide the next move, but are you capable of handling it?

By hiring a top water heater repair expert in San Diego such as Cali’s Choice, you can be certain that whether your water heater unit can be repaired or needs replacing. They will conduct a series of inspections and recommend the best course of action. It would be a shame to spend on a new water heater if your existing unit can be fixed with much more affordable repairs.

Tools, Materials, and Other Resources Needed for The Job

A water heater unit alone is not enough to conduct a replacement job. There’s a set of equipment that is required to fully complete a water heater replacement. Given below is a list of tools and materials needed for a typical water heater replacement job.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Electrical tape
  • Pipe wrench
  • Plumbers tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Soldering torch
  • Tape measure
  • Tube cutter
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire stripper/cutter

Materials Required

  • Discharge pipe
  • Fittings
  • Pipe thread compound
  • Pressure relief valve
  • Solder
  • Venting pipe and connectors
  • Water and gas piping

Chances are if you are a regular homeowner and not a professional plumber, you do not have these tools and materials. If you hire a professional to do the job, they will have all the tools required to complete the job successfully. So it really doesn’t make any sense for you to go out and purchase these pieces of equipment for a one-time job. But if you are doing the replacement yourself, you can’t do it without them either.

Deciding The Type and Size of Your New Water Heater

It is highly likely that the hot water needs of your household have changed dramatically since the installation of your current water heater. Even if you think that they haven’t changed, you can’t be certain that you want your new water heater to be exactly the type of your existing water heater, which you purchased years ago. This is where professional assistance comes into play.

Investing in a new water heater is a big investment and you definitely don’t want to purchase a unit that doesn’t fit your needs. Choosing a new water heater isn’t a “one size fits all” job as there are various types and sizes of water heaters. This can make things slightly complicated than you think.

If you hire a professional yet affordable water heater installation specialist in San Diego, they will consult your needs, hot water usage as well as your budget and recommend the ideal model. They will also inspect your power supply to ensure it suits your new unit. You will miss out on this professional expertise if you try to handle the replacement on your own.

You Might Be Breaking The Law

There’s a reason for entrusting plumbing jobs such as water heater replacements in the hands of well-trained and licensed plumbers. By deciding to replace your water heater yourself, there’s a high probability that you might be breaking the law. Water heater installations are governed by government regulations and vary by city. Many cities require them to be conducted by professional and licensed plumbers.

Therefore you are not only risking the quality of the job but you could also be doing something illegal. When you hire a professional like Cali’s Choice– a top water heater replacement services provider in San Diego, you can be certain of a job well done. That is because there are highly trained to conduct these types of jobs in the right way. On top of that, they are insured if something goes wrong during the course of the job. That is certainly not the case when you do it on your own.

It’s More Than Just Unhooking The Old and Hooking Up The New

Replacing a water heater might seem like just a job of removing the old unit and reconnecting the new water heater to the existing water pipes. But in reality, it’s way more than just that. Your water heater might seem like just a box or a cylinder hanged on your wall, but it is one of the most sophisticated appliances in your home. That is why it is required to have proper training and license to work on such appliances.

Therefore we suggest that you reconsider whether it is a risk worth taking to test your DIY plumbing skills when it requires training and licensing by law to handle such tasks.

The Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

This applies if you are installing a gas-powered water heater, but a fact that should never be taken lightly. Proper ventilation is absolutely critical if you are planning on installing a water heater that uses natural gas as its power source. If proper venting is not done during the installation process, it can allow carbon monoxide fumes to build up in your home, which can lead to potentially lethal results.

This is also another point that reminds you to ask yourself whether it is a risk worth taking. Leaving even a small room to leak carbon monoxide during the installation process can put you as well as your entire family at risk. You could enjoy the peace of your mind by hiring a top-notch water heater repair and installation expert like Cali’s Choice in San Diego, as they are professionally trained for the job and have years of experience.

They will also inspect your gas lines to make sure they are capable of meeting the needs of your water heater. If they determine that your gas lines require an upgrade or some changes, they are fully equipped and knowledgeable to do that as well. A DIY job means that you should account for each of these factors yourself.

Professional Grade vs Consumer Grade Water Heaters

If you are going to handle a water heater replacement on your own, you will probably go to one of the big box stores and purchase a consumer-grade water heater available for the public. There’s nothing wrong with these types of heaters but if you hire a highly reputed professional plumber, they install professional-grade water heaters.

The difference between these two is that professional-grade heaters offer a certain set of benefits that can be really helpful, especially in the long run. By deciding to go for a DIY project, you will miss out on these benefits. The differences are mainly in the installation, service, parts, and warranties. Given below is a brief comparison of the two.

Durable brass and metal parts Less durable plastic parts

Professional GradeConsumer Grade
Highly reliable thermocouple gas flow controlLess reliable thermopile variant
Option to upgrade to the additional anode rodeNo upgrade available
Longer-lasting stainless-steel heating materialsLess durable copper heating materials
The warranty covers parts, tank, and laborWarranty doesn’t cover labor and may have to wait several days for service
Installation included in the sale priceInstallation is an extra cost

Therefore it is better to ask yourself again, whether buying a water heater from a big box store and installing it yourself actually saves money.

Safety Risks

If your DIY efforts didn’t do a good job, chances are you are exposing yourself as well as your family to a whole lot of safety risks. Most of the time signs of a poor job may be obvious right away or may take some time to start making trouble. After all, we are talking about water and electricity, two elements that can bring out severe results if the combination isn’t done perfectly right.

The consequences of improper water heater installations can vary from minor water leaks to devastating explosions that can have potentially lethal effects. Add water damage to that and you will end up having to pay way more than just a licensed plumber will cost.

Financial Risk

The financial risk involved in a DIY water heater replacement job might not be as obvious as its safety risks, but it can also give out some distressing financial disadvantages. Apart from the benefits that you will miss out on when you purchase a consumer-grade water heater, which we talked about earlier, there are a few other problems as well.

Most manufacture warranties require the installation to be handled by a professionally licensed water heater installation specialist like Cali’s Choice in San Diego. If you, a regular homeowner handles the installation, the warranty will be voided, and will not be able to claim anything if there’s a defect after the installation. Manufacturers require the license of the plumber who handles the installation to register the heater’s warranty.

How Long Will The Installation Take?

A highly trained and licensed plumber will take no more than three hours to fully complete an average water heater replacement job. With their advanced tools and equipment, years of experience, and specialized expertise, your water heater replacement job is no big deal to a professional plumber.

That definitely won’t be the case when you are doing it as you don’t have either the equipment, experience, or the expertise to conduct the job.


To sum things up, we want to clearly make our point. Undertaking a DIY project takes confidence and courage and we respect and salute you for that. But trying your DIY skills on something serious as a water heater replacement is something that cannot be recommended. Turn to professional water heater replacement services such as Cali’s Choice in San Diego and enjoy the peace of mind you deserve.

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