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How Long Does it Take to Install a Water Heater?

June 28, 2023
Illustration featuring a tank-style water heater, a set of plumbing tools, and a clock symbolizing the installation time.

Putting in a new water heater can be scary, whether you’re fixing up your house or your old water heater is leaking. However, with a good understanding of the process, you can manage your expectations and schedule the installation efficiently.

In this article, we explore how long it typically takes to install various types of water heaters, the factors that can affect the installation time, and why it might be a job best left to a licensed plumber.

What is the duration for water heater installation?

The number of hours to install a water heater varies depending on the type of water heater you choose. On average, a professional plumber can replace a water heater and have a new one installed in about 2-3 hours. This time frame includes disconnecting the old unit, handling the water supply, setting up the new heater, and ensuring everything is working correctly.

Installation Times: Electric Water Heater tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters

Installation times can vary significantly between tank water heaters and tankless water heaters.

Tank water heaters are the most common type found in homes. They store and heat a large amount of water in a tank, so it’s readily available when you need it. If you’re replacing a like-for-like unit, a licensed plumber typically needs about 2-3 hours to replace a tank water heater.

On the other hand, tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instantaneous heaters, heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. They are more energy efficient, but their installation process can be more complex and time-consuming. On average, it can take a professional anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to install a tankless water heater.

Factors That Can Affect the Installation Time

The type of water heater you choose isn’t the only factor that can affect the installation time. The condition and accessibility of your existing plumbing and electrical systems can also play a significant role. If your home is older and needs significant plumbing upgrades, the process may take longer. Similarly, if the location where you want the water heater installed is hard to access, that could also add time.

Another factor is whether you’re switching from a tank water heater to a tankless unit. To install a new heater, a licensed plumber may need to make big changes to your plumbing and electrical systems. This can take a few extra hours.

Finally, local building codes might require the installation of additional safety features, like a seismic strap if you live in an earthquake-prone area, which can add to the installation time.

The Benefits of a Professional Installation

While it might be tempting to try to install a water heater yourself and save a few bucks, it’s generally recommended to leave this job to a licensed plumber.

A professional can ensure the hot water heater is installed correctly and efficiently. They will adhere to local building codes, and taking the right safety precautions.

Also, professional installation often comes with a warranty, so you have peace of mind knowing any issues will be dealt with promptly.

The Benefits of a DIY

When should you replace your water heater?

If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to replace your water heater:


Replacing a water heater usually takes a few hours. This can vary depending on the type of heater and the condition of your home. Do not forget about installing a Corro-Protec powered anode as a long-term solution.

If you want hot water, you can choose a tank or tankless heater. Knowing how long it takes to install can help you plan. If you don’t have a water heater expansion tank to protect against pressure buildup or water heater pan to protect in case of a water heater leaking, this could be the perfect time to install one.

For a smooth installation, consider hiring a licensed plumber who can navigate the process and handle any unexpected issues that may arise.


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