How to Move a Hot Water Heater

Brenda Ingram-Christian

If your water heater has seen better days and needs to be replaced or if you are simply remodeling and want to move the appliance yourself, there are some basic guidelines and safety issues to be considered. Before you get started, lay out the necessary tools where they can be easily accessed and be sure and invite a friend over to help with this project as water heaters can be very heavy.

  1. Locate the fuse box and turn off the electric breaker that is connected to the water tank. If you have a gas water heater, turn off the source of gas. There should be a stopcock or what looks like a handle on the gas line leading into the water heater. Turn the stopcock perpendicular to the gas pipe. Make sure the pilot light is completely out.

  2. Drain your water heater. Attach a hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank, directing the hose toward the nearest floor drain. Open the drain valve and allow the water to flow out. If you do not have a drain nearby, empty your tank into a bucket one or two gallons at a time.

  3. Remove the screw that holds the draft hood to the vent pipe and lift the vent pipe off the draft hood. The vent pipe is the four inch diameter silver pipe that vents to the outside of the building. Electric models will not have this structure.

  4. Disconnect the gas line using pipe wrenches and cap it using a gas cap--a short, closed section of threaded pipe. If you don't have plumbing experience or experience with gas lines, it is recommended that you hire a licensed plumber for this step.

  5. Disconnect the water piping from the water heater. Using two pipe wrenches, unthread the removable fittings. If there are no threaded fittings, you will have to cut the pipe off using a hacksaw or pipe/tubing cutter.

  6. Tilt the cooled tank onto a dolly and strap it on. Most rental dollies are equipped with upper and lower straps which should be used to keep the round water heater from rolling off and causing injury.