The Dangers of Installing a Hot Water System Yourself


There are many things that can go wrong if you try to install a hot water system by yourself. If you fail to set it up correctly, it could fail and cause a lot of damage to the rest of your home, resulting in costly repairs. This post will cover a few reasons why you should consult a professional.

Buying the Wrong Sized System

When purchasing a hot water heater, it is important that you buy the right size. If you purchase one that is too small for you or your family, you will continually run out of hot water, which will cause it to continually run. This can lead to your hot water heater failing or increased utility bills. 

While the size of the hot water heater you’ll need will depend on the amount of hot water you use as a family, the typical heater size for a family of 3-4 people is between 182-284 litres for an electric model. For a gas model, you would look at a hot water heater that held 151 litres for a family who uses a small amount of water and 189-227 litres for a family uses more. 

If you aren’t sure about the size of hot water heater you need, reach out to 1st Choice Hot Water. Their 40+ years worth of experience gives them the knowledge they need to assist you in finding the right product for your home. 

Installing a Water Heater Requires a Plumbing Permit

In Australia, it is required that a hot water heater is installed by a professional plumber. While it is classified as notifiable work and doesn’t need a specialised permit, the plumber will need to register a notifiable work form to the QBCC.

This includes replacing, removing, or installing a hot water heater in an existing building or in an extension or a structure for an existing class 1 building. 

Without proper care and a full understanding of how hot water systems work, several mistakes could potentially be made that could cause damage to the system or to your home.

Location Issues

Some hot water heaters are located in a difficult access location, including under floors, attics, and smaller rooms. While there are guidelines in place on the openings and service space for the unit, replacing an older model with a new heater can occasionally be very tricky, even for a professional. 

The average weight of a hot water heater is anywhere between 55-70 kilograms, making it unsafe to move it into a place alone, especially if it is located in an unusual spot, such as an attic. 

The Risk of Dry Firing Your Water Heater

The heating elements of your hot water heater were created to operate in water. If there is no water or an inadequate amount of water in the dank when the power is turned on, the heating elements could be dry-fired. If a copper element is dry-fired, it means the temperature on it has been raised to the point of destruction. 

When the copper element is in water, it won’t get much hotter than 1°C above the temperature of the water. However, if the power is turned on while the tank is dry, the elements can heat up to between 1035-1100°C.

Once a copper element has been dry fired, it could fail immediately (within seconds) or fail after a few more months of use. 

How to Tell if Your Elements Have Been Dry-Fired

You may be able to tell if the elements on your hot water heater have been dry fired in one of the following three ways:

  • The element’s tubing will have become soft (annealed) to the point where it can easily be bent, even in their straight sections. 
  • Exposed copper due to zinc plating being burned or melted off. 
  • (On Sandhog Elements)  Signs of melting next to the screw plug on the element box.


There are several things that could potentially go wrong if you are installing or replacing a hot water heater alone. To ensure that it is installed safely and correctly, you should reach out to a professional. 

1st Choice Hot Water not only offers the most competitive pricing for hot water systems but with decades of industry experience, they can ensure that you find the right heater for your family and will install your unit in a safe and timely manner. Contact us for a quote today.