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How to Convert a Natural Gas Hot Water Tank to Propane

Are you ready to switch your water heater from natural gas to propane? Consider whether you can convert your model then compare propane prices in your area, gather what you'll need for the conversion and learn how to do it safely before you get started.

How to Convert a Natural Gas Hot Water Tank to Propane

A propane-powered water heater can be more affordable, efficient and safe than its counterparts. If you're ready to make the switch but don't want to give up on your current natural gas water heater, you may be able to convert your system. Before you get started on this project, be sure to consider a few key factors, know what you will need and understand how to do it safely.

Is Propane Cheaper?

You may have heard that propane is cheaper than your natural gas water heater. However, this may not be true in all cases. While propane is often cheaper than electric-powered tanks, natural gas is often the least expensive option. Fuel prices can change based on where you live. Be sure to compare the prices in your area if cost is the reason you want to switch.

Can Your Water Heater Convert?

Not all tank-style water heaters are ready to convert to propane fuel. Before you make any steps toward changing your water heater, be sure to do some research on the specific make and model you own. First, you can look at the warning labels on the back of your tank. If you see any warning that indicates that the tank is for gas only, consider getting a new tank rather than converting your existing water heater. If the labels on your tank are not clear, you can contact the manufacturer.

What Will You Need?

If you have determined that propane makes sense for your home and you can safely convert your existing tank, it's time to gather the materials. There are three main parts you need to replace: the appliance regulator, burners and burner air shutter. If you feel comfortable finding your way around the hardware store, you can find these parts individually. Otherwise, you can find full-conversion kits.

Safety First

Working on a water heater can be dangerous. Always wear appropriate safety gear. You should turn off electricity to the area surrounding the water heater before starting your work. Be sure to follow any directions and warnings on your tank.

Warning

Always wear gloves and protective clothing when working with water heaters.

How to Convert Your Water Tank

Once you have what you need and have taken all the safety precautions, you can get started on converting your water heater. You may notice that some conversion kits say that a professional must perform the conversion. Be sure to heed this warning. You may also want to hire a professional for this job if you have little or no experience with water heaters, if the instructions are not crystal-clear to you or if you feel physically unable to complete the job.

If you decide that you have the knowledge and ability to do this project on your own, remember that all conversions need to pass code inspection. So it's important to carefully follow the instructions on your conversion kit or from the tank's manufacturer.