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How to Remove an Old Water Heater? – Detailed Instructions

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

how to remove an old water heater

You have already decided to buy a new water heater, but do you know how to remove an old water heater? The process is straightforward enough, but you might require help uninstalling the appliance from your home.

Knowing what to do with an old water heater forms the cognitive aspect of its removal. You might have interesting, money-making old hot water heater ideas, but first, continue reading to learn the six easy steps for removing this appliance from any home and help you recycle or resell the unit.

Table of Contents

Step-by-step to Remove an Old Water Heater

What to prepare

Removing an old water heater requires the following tools and equipment. Moreover, we recommend asking friends or family members to assist you in lifting the unit from its location.

  • Pipe cutter
  • Wrenches
  • Screwdriver
  • Water or garden hose
  • Dolly

Step 1: Cut off the fuel, water, and power supply to the water heater.


Check your gas water heater and look for the gas control knob. Rotate it to the OFF position to stop fuel delivery to the water heater.

Follow the gas supply line from the water heater and look for a shutoff valve. Turn this into the OFF position to ensure no gas flows to the water heater during removal.

Unplug the gas water heater from the electrical outlet if it has an electrical control panel or an electric igniter.

Disconnect water from water heater by closing the cold water inlet valve. If the water heater does not have this fixture, you can stop the water from flowing at the main shutoff valve.

Step 2: Disconnect the gas supply line.


Secure a pipe wrench on the union fixture joining the gas supply line to the gas control valve to remove gas line from hot water heater. Place another wrench on the pipe. Rotate the union to loosen it, with one wrench counteracting the rotation.

This action will help you cut off hot water heater gas supply line.

Step 3: Drain the water heater.


Open a hot water tap to relieve pressure inside the water heater and the plumbing system. Connect the water hose to the water heater’s drain port and extend the tube to the garden, over a floor drain, or into a bucket. Open the drain valve to empty the water.

We recommend letting the water cool first before draining. However, we assume the water is cold because the heater is already old and ready for a replacement. If not, wait about 10 to 30 minutes before draining.

Step 4: Disconnect the water heater TPR valve discharge pipe and vent pipe.


Remove the water hose from the water heater drain port. Grab your adjustable wrench and loosen the nut securing the Temperature & Pressure Relief (TPR) valve discharge pipe.

Remove the TPR discharge pipe and place it in a safe place for reuse. You do not need to keep the old TPR relief valve because the new water heater already has one.

Check the draft hood above the water heater. Grab the exhaust vent pipe and wiggle or twist it to dislodge it from the hood.

Step 5. Disconnect the water heater’s hot and cold water lines.


We recommend considering what to do with the old hot and cold water lines before removing them.

Most old water heater projects retain these pipes to connect to a new water heater. Such a method saves installation costs, allowing you to eliminate new pipes from your shopping list.

Check the water lines for threaded unions, and use two adjustable or pipe wrenches to loosen the water tubes.

Step 6: Move the water heater outside the home.


Call your buddies to assist you in moving the water heater. Helpers can tilt and hold the water heater while you slide a dolly or hand truck to move the appliance out of the house.

Some Notes for Removing an Old Electric Water Heater

Removing electric water heater units is more straightforward than disconnecting gas water heaters. You only need to account for all wirings and keep the ones required for your new unit. There’s no need to fuss about gas lines.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it easy to remove an old water tank?

Removing an old water heater is easy if you have enough help to move the appliance outside the home. You can disconnect water heater components, mounting hardware, and other elements by yourself.

However, lifting the old water from its location and moving it outdoors for proper disposal requires muscle. These appliances are heavyweights.

Do you have to drain a water heater to remove it?

Yes, you must drain the water heater to get rid of an old water heater as effortlessly as possible.

It is worth noting that a gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. You can calculate the water heater’s total weight by multiplying 8.34 pounds by the appliance’s capacity.

For example, suppose you have a 50-gallon water heater with an empty weight of 130 pounds. Failure to drain the water heater before hot water heater removal adds 417 pounds (8.34 pounds x 50 gallons) to the unit’s empty weight for a total of 547 pounds.

Cost to remove an old water heater

Water heater removal cost can be as low as $100 or as high as $500. Variations exist due to different labor rates and the list of tasks that need to be done. For instance, you may ask the contractor to handle the appliance disposal or modify the existing plumbing during removal service.

There’s also the size and accessibility of the water heater to account for, which can increase the complexity of the job and the costs.


Learning how to remove an old water heater might not be at the top of your list.

However, there will come a time when you have outgrown your water heater, or it has reached its lifespan. You will be glad you already know how to remove the unit to replace it with a new one.

So keep this article in hand. Or better yet, help a friend remove a water heater from their home.

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