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How to Install an Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey travels to Celebration, Florida to help a homeowner select and install the right electric water heater

Installing an electric heat pump water heater

  1. Shut the power off to the electric water heater and shut off the main water supply to the house.
  2. Connect a hose to the bottom of the tank and run the hose to outside. Drain the old water heater.
  3. Use the pipe cutters to cut the pipes to the water heater and remove it.
  4. Put the new heat pump water heater into place.
  5. Connect the new water heater to the main water supply using the appropriate size and type of pipes to match the existing water line.
  6. Install a vacuum valve near the top of the water heater to prevent the water heater from collapsing in on itself in case it is turned off.
  7. Be sure that the water heater has a temperature and pressure relief valve and that it is correctly installed.
  8. Some installations may require an expansion valve or expansion tank.
  9. Turn the water and the electricity back on.


Richard installed the Voltex® Hybrid Electric Heat Pump water heater, manufactured by A.O. Smith to save electricity over a conventional tank-style water heater.

The other materials used for this project, including PVC piping, PVC glue, pipe cutters and wrenches, can all be found at home centers.

In the workshop, Richard discusses which homeowners should consider a whole-house electric tankless. Expert assistance with this portion was provided by Bosch Thermotechnology.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by Jim’s Plumbing and Irrigation of Orlando, Florida.