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How to Install a PVC for an Electric Hot Water Heater

Suzanne Smith Dickinson

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping is commonly used on electric water heaters and will generally provide years of use without the corrosion found in other types of metal-based plumbing piping. To get the most out of your PVC pipe, make sure it's installed correctly using the proper materials, is the proper gauge for cold or hot water use, and meets the minimum base standards for use on an electric water heater.

  1. Check to make sure the pipes, fittings, and valves being joined are made of the same type of plastic. It is not advisable to mix-and-match PVC and CPVC materials in the same project. Ensure the PVC you are using is made for the pressure and temperature of your electric water heater. You can check this using the water pressure gauge on the water heater and comparing your findings against the PVC thickness/use recommendations for temperature and pressure.

  2. Using the measuring tape, determine how long the temperature and pressure relief valve tube pipe will need to be from two inches below the top of the water heater to six inches above the floor drain. Use the plastic pipe cutter and cut the PVC pipe to size. Set aside.

  3. Dry fit the water supply in and out lines, by putting together the valves, unions, and tubing with the plumbing already in place and attaching it to the valves on top of the water heater to make sure everything fits properly before installation.

  4. Deburr the inside of the PVC pipe using the deburring tool to clear out any imperfections and smooth the inside the most secure fit into the unions and even application of solvent cement.

  5. Using the applicator, apply the solvent cement to the inside of the unions and outside of the PVC pipes and insert the pipes into the unions. Use a joining device or fitting puller to secure the connections as they dry. Once the assemblies are dry, attach them to the hot and cold water supply valves on top of the water heater. Seal the assemblies with cement.

  6. Insert the temperature and pressure relief PVC tube into the valve located on the side of the water heater with sealant cement applied to the outside of the tube. Attach hanger guides with a strapping wrench and/or spacers to maintain stability on all PVC assemblies and tubes.