How Long Does It Take to Install a Water Heater? (The Truth)

How to Install a New Water Heater

A water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home, and when it stops working — all hell breaks loose. When a water heater breaks, you have the choice of either calling in a professional or doing it yourself. However, the procedure remains the same no matter who does the job.

For all novices and experts alike, the amount of time you need usually depends on two factors. The first one is whether you need to replace an old water heater or just install a new one. It also depends on the skillset and the experience of the person trying to do it.

e a look at what needs to be done in order to install a water heater as we have reviewed a guide on the best tankless electric water heater, and how much time it takes to do it.

Boiler and central heating installations

How to Install a New Water Heater in 3 Steps

Installing a water heater for the first time is no easy task, and you should know what you’re getting yourself into. So, let’s start with the biggie — the water tank.

First, you’ll need to plan and consider where you want to place it, and if that spot is the most optimal one. If you don’t have any previous experience, putting up a tank should take about 2 hours. However, most professionals can do it in about 30 minutes to an hour.

The next step is connecting the water heater to the power and water sources and testing the unit until you adjust the settings perfectly. This part shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half. Finally, check the system for any water and gas leaks, and have a professional take a look at it if you notice anything out of the ordinary.


  1. Plan out the position of the tank and set it up — from 30 minutes to 2 hours
  2. Connect the heater to the power and water sources — 1.5 hours
  3. Check for gas and water leaks

In total, it should take up to 3.5 hours for a rookie to install a water heater, and 2–2.5 hours for a professional to do it.


How to Replace a Water Heater in 5 Steps


Unfortunately, replacing a water heater is slightly more difficult than installing one because you have to remove the old one first. But don’t despair — there’s a way out of that mess.

Start removing the tank by draining it and disconnecting the water supply and the power source. Even if you’re not an expert, the whole removal process shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, just follow the steps from the previous section and install a new water heater. You should have everything up and running in about 4 hours.


  1. Drain the tank — from 30 minutes to 1 hour
  2. Disconnect the water supply and the power source
  3. Set up the new tank — from 30 minutes to 2 hours
  4. Reconnect the water supply and the power source — 1.5 hours
  5. Check for leaks

Hands With Wrench In Front Of Electric Boiler

Should You Install a Gas or an Electric Water Heater?

One thing you should consider before installing a water heater is if you want a gas or an electric one. The public vote is quite split, as about 60% of homes in the US have a gas water heater, and about 40% use electric ones. However, there are some key differences between the two, so let’s see which one’s a better fit for you.

Gas water heaters burn fuel to heat water and have a quick recovery rate, which makes them perfect for larger families. However, although these heaters are much cheaper than electric ones — they’re not even close to being as energy efficient.

On the other hand, electric heaters use electric resistance coils to heat up your water supply. They are the most energy-efficient solution by far; however, they’re also more expensive to install and run.

Speaking of which, there’s a type of water heaters that are popular around the world, but you’ll hardly hear about them in the US. Those are tankless water heaters, and while they do have some downsides, I think the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. Also, they’re the only thing that can save you the hassle of replacing the traditional water heater. So, let’s see if a tankless heater could be the best solution for your household.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless heaters allow you to have unlimited amounts of hot water while taking up very little space. They can be electric or run on propane, and there is a key distinction between the two. Electric ones offer over 99% of thermal efficiency, while the gas units range from 80  to 85% at best.

Additionally, they typically last anywhere from 5 to 10 years longer than conventional water heaters. However, they do come with a heftier price tag and require you to upgrade your natural gas line and venting systems.

Even though you’ll have to pay a bit more upfront, tankless water heaters can help you save money over time. If you install one, you will be eligible for a $300 federal rebate, and reduce future utility bills. You’ll also never have to worry about your water heater breaking down, or your tank rupturing and flooding your home.

Final Thoughts

Imagine you’re going in to take your morning shower, and all of a sudden there’s no hot water. This scenario can turn your morning into a living nightmare, and it’s an inconvenience no one needs.

Replacing and installing a water heater is no easy task, but that’s not to say you can’t accomplish it. Luckily, with the right tools and the right information, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours to have everything up and running again. As you can tell the process shouldn’t take any more than 4 hours — no matter if you’re new at it or a pro. So, hopefully, now you how much time it will take for you to replace or install a water heater, and get everything back to normal.

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