Saveourh2o is supported by its audience. When you purchase via our links, we may get a commission. Learn more

How Long Does It Take to Install a Water Heater?

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

How Long Does It Take to Install a Water Heater

Do you find it difficult to decide whether to install a water heater yourself or to hire a licensed plumber? Knowing how long does it take to install a water heater can help you make a better decision.

Installation time is a crucial consideration of any serious water heater buyer. The quicker you install it, the faster you get to enjoy the benefits of hot water for your family. You also get to enjoy more significant savings because of shorter downtimes.

Table of Contents

How Long Will It Take to Install a Water Heater?

Barring unforeseen events or complications, a professional plumber can install a water heater within two to three hours. Installing it yourself can take a longer time, mainly if you have limited plumbing and electrical or gas system knowledge.

What is the Typical Process of Installing a Water Heater?


Installing a water heater typically involves three general steps, each one taking a substantial amount of time.

1. Old Water Heater Removal

Removing your existing water heater can take about 45 minutes to an hour. It includes disconnecting the energy source to the water heater and complete tank drainage. Draining your tank can take time, depending on its capacity.

You will also disconnect gas lines, water supply lines, and other components connected to your water heater. Only then can you remove the hot water heater tank.

If you install a tankless water heater, you will not have to undergo this step.

2. New Water Heater Installation

Installing a new storage-tank water heater can take about 30 minutes to complete. There is the unboxing and positioning of the unit in its installation location. The unit’s weight and physical dimensions can be significant factors in how fast you can set and secure the unit in its position.

3. System Connection

Securing your water in its place is one thing. You also have to connect the different components, such as fuel or energy source and water supply and output lines. This segment of the water heater installation process can take a plumber about 45 minutes to complete, longer if you perform it yourself.

Keep in mind that gas water heaters tend to take longer to set up than electric water heating systems. You could spend an additional 30 to 60 minutes setting up a gas unit.

It is also essential to check the water heater’s optimal operation right after installation. A plumber makes the necessary adjustments to ensure optimum water heater functionality. You can add another 30 to 90 minutes for this step.

Factors to Consider When Determining the Length of Water Heater Installation


There are no clear-cut answers as to how long it takes to install a water heater because there are some variables you have to consider.

1. Water Heater Type

According to the US Department of Energy, there are five types of water heaters available to the American family. Each of these systems has its pros and cons, including the amount of time needed for installation.

A conventional storage-tank water heater may require an installation time of two to three hours, depending on other factors. On-demand, tankless water heaters take more time to install, often lasting between two and eight hours. It usually depends on the tankless water heater type, fuel source, and location.

Heat pump water heaters and solar water heaters may require more time to install because of the additional work necessary to provide an energy source for the heater. Indirect or tankless coil water heaters may also require more installation time but not longer than solar and heat pumps.

2. New Heater or Replacement Heater?

In general, replacing an old system is faster than installing a new heater. You will indeed remove an existing water heater first before you can install a replacement unit. It can add 60 to 90 minutes to your installation process.

The good news is that all other elements are already in place. There is no need to make water connections, gas lines, or electrical circuits. It is all a matter of disconnecting these elements from your old system and reconnecting them to your new water heater.

However, using a different or upgraded water heater can lengthen the installation time. You may need to make modifications in your system to accommodate new water heater features.

Regardless, it should still take less time than installing a water heater from scratch.

3. Energy Source

Electric and gas-powered water heaters are two of the quickest systems to install as these energy sources are available in most American homes.

Suppose you want to utilize solar energy to power your water heater. In that case, you may have to use the additional time to set up your solar system before you can hook it to your water heater. The same is true with ground heat pumps.

4. Location of Water Heater Placement

Where you decide to place your water heater also matters when determining how much time you need to install your system.

Installing a water heater in a cramped space may take a longer time because of the preparations required. You may have to remove obstacles, reroute your water pipes, and make provisions for fuel source access.

5. DIY or Professionals?

Plumbers know their stuff, allowing them to install any water heater with optimum efficiency. On the other hand, installing the water heater yourself can be time-consuming.

Whereas a plumber can get your water heater up and running in about 1.5 hours, you might accomplish that in three to four hours. Seasoned DIYers and those with electrical and plumbing backgrounds can keep the installation time well within a professional’s service standards.


Determining water heater installation time requires an understanding of water heater types, installation locations, installation types, and heat sources. Doing it yourself or hiring a professional can also be a significant factor, with the latter’s work efficiency having the edge.

Determining how long does it take to install a water heater boils down to your skill level. Seasoned DIYers can install a water heater as quickly as professional plumbers do. However, newbie handymen may find the task more daunting than they could have imagined.

5/5 - (3 votes)