How to Turn On Water Heater | Turning On a Hot Water Heater

How to Turn On a Water Heater

infographic about the need to fill a water heater before turning it on

Have you ever had a shower when the water heater was off? Was it pleasant? Probably not. Whether it's a new installation or you're moving into a home that's long been vacant, you need to know how to turn on a water heater. This is a task you want to start hours before you need the hot water because that's how long it's going to take to warm up.

This is a task easy enough for any novice do-it-yourselfer. You don't have to be any expert. Just follow the easy steps outlined here in this article. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Getting Started

Before we get started, we need to establish the kind of water heater with which you are dealing. Steps for an electric installation are going to be much different from a gas-fueled unit. You also need to consider whether it's a storage-tank water heater or a tankless.

How to Turn on an Electric Water Heater

turning on an electric water heater

The most important thing to remember here is that you can irreversibly damage a heating element if it's not submerged in water, so you must ensure the tank is full. To do this, open a hot water tap on a fixture somewhere near the water heater. If you see a steady stream, you know the tank is full. If it's sputtering and hissing, then you need more water in the tank. Check to make sure the water inlet valve is open.

Now that the tank is full, you're ready to turn the water heater on:

  1. At the breaker, flip the corresponding circuit to on.
  2. Wait (it will take hours to heat up).
  3. Your water heater might default to a set temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is what we recommend. Check your user's manual to see if there is a knob (maybe concealed beneath a cover plate) that you need to turn to 120, high, or hot.

How to Turn on a Gas Water Heater

This process is a little more involved, and we devoted an entire article to it. After you've filled the tank with water, you must light the pilot. Please refer to how to light a water heater pilot for more details, but here are the basic steps:

opening a gas valve
  1. Turn off the gas valve
  2. Access the pilot light
  3. Locate the burner
  4. Prepare to turn on pilot mode
  5. Light the pilot
  6. Hold the gas button in pilot mode
  7. Turn on the gas

You can also check out this video by ehowhome.

What About Tankless?

On-demand water heaters are easy to turn on, whether gas or electric. If it's gas, you want the gas valve closed before you start. Flip the circuit, adjust the temperature, then open the gas valve. If it's electric, all you have to do is flip the circuit, turn it on, and set the temperature to 120. In either case, there is no wait time. You should have hot water instantly.

Safety First

Remember to keep in mind that there is an inherent risk when working with gas and electricity. Be sure you cut the power whenever you're doing electrical work on a water heater, and be careful about leaving gas valves open when they shouldn't be. One way to ensure better safety is by choosing reputable brands, like Bradford White.

Related resources:
How to Turn Off a Water Heater
Reset the Water Heater
How to Light a Water Heater
How to Drain Water Heater
How to Turn Up Water Heater
What Temperature Should Water Heater Be?

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