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How to Install a Propane Water Heater: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Install a Propane Water Heater: Step-by-Step Guide

Installing a propane water heater is a difficult task involving an advanced level of skill. Those unfamiliar with the plumbing installation should reach out to experts in this field.  If you are experienced and knowledgeable in this area, this step-by-step list will help walk you through the process.

The main tools you’ll need to complete this task is a pipe wrench, tubing cutters, and a propane torch. Installation instructions will be slightly different depending on whether your propane water heater uses a tank or is tankless.

Keep reading to learn the relevant instructions according to which model you have.

Tankless Water Heater Installation

  1. Switch Off the Water. At the meter, turn off the main water valve before you begin working.
  2. Cut the Pipes. To remove the existing water heater, cut the water supply pipes that are attaching it to the wall using your tubing cutters.
  3. Switch the Heaters. After cutting the pipes, remove the old heater and set the new one in place to be installed.
  4. Connect to Propane Tank. Using threaded iron pipes, set up a connection between your outdoor propane tank and the new water heater. Make sure to tighten all connections with your pipe wrench.
  5. Connect the Gas Pipe. Affix the threaded gas pipe to the new water heater using a union fitting.
  6. Connect Heater to Water Supply. Connect the existing water supply line to the new heater using copper pipes. Solder all of the connections to ensure a proper seal.
  7. Turn on the Water for an Initial Test. To make sure that everything is properly affixed, open the main water valve and see if there are any leaks. Adjust as needed.
  8. Activate the Heating Elements. At this point, you should turn on the propane and plug the new water heater into an electrical outlet.
  9. Set the Heater to the Proper Temperature. At the control panel, make sure the water temperature is set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.


Propane Water Heater

Tank Water Heater Installation

  1. Drain the Tank. Before you can remove the existing water heater, you’ll have to drain the tank. Turn off the water supply, the gas supply, and the control valve on the heater. Then turn on a hot water faucet and let it run until the water runs cold. This will drain the existing hot water from the tank. Attach a hose to the drain valve and let the excess water flow into a bucket or floor drain.
  2. Disconnect Gas and Water Lines. Using either a pipe wrench or tubing cutters as needed, disconnect or cut the existing gas and water lines. Remove the overflow pipe and pressure release valve, but don’t discard them! You’ll reattach them later when installing the new unit.
  3. Detach Gas Exhaust from Vent Hood. You’ll need a screwdriver for this. When it’s removed, dispose of your old water heater responsibly.
  4. Set the New Heater in Place. Leave six inches of clearance on each side for proper ventilation. Using your screwdriver, attach the flue hat to the new gas exhaust vent.
  5. Attach Heat Trap Fittings and Water Line Connections. Affix with fittings following directional arrows. Tighten with your pipe wrench or solder as needed. Reconnect the water line, attach the pressure relief valve and the drain line, and wrap the threads with thread seal tape.
  6. Connect the Gas Supply to the New Heater. Attach the heater parts that connect to the gas supply line and tighten with your pipe wrench. Turn on the water system and open the water valve to fill the tank with new water. Turn on a hot water faucet while you do this to release any excess air from the system.
  7. Test for Leaks. Apply a gas leak detection solution to any new fittings and connections to test for leaks.
  8. Light Pilot and Switch Control Knob to “On”. Use a match to light the pilot and hold down the reset button on the control box for one minute after the pilot has ignited. You will need to remove the access panel to reach the controls. Turn on the control knob and set the temperature to between 118 and 123°F.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you install a gas water heater yourself?

Probably not. It takes a professional with the right tools and plenty of experience to install a gas water heater. There is a risk of injury when working with pressurized systems.

Think twice before attempting to do this yourself, then call All Dry USA for some expert help.

Do you need an electrician to install a water heater?

Sometimes. Occasionally a plumber will have the skills to install a water heater on their own. But often, an electrician will have to come in to rewire the system.

Some areas restrict water heater installation to electricians with a permit. Check your local laws.


By carefully following these steps, you can successfully install a new propane water heater on your own. However, unless you are experienced, we always recommend seeking assistance from the professionals, just to be safe.

Call the experts at All Dry USA to schedule an appointment today!

Ben Suiskind
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