Q:

What steps need to be taken to upgrade the circuit breaker of a water heater?

A:

Quick Answer

If you are installing a replacement water heater and it requires more power than the existing tank, it may need an upgraded circuit breaker. The upgraded circuit breaker protects your family.

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Full Answer

  1. Check the electrical load

    Before buying the new water heater, check the electrical load it requires. In many cases, keeping the same size tank prevents the need to upgrade the circuit. Upgrading to an on-demand water heater or larger tank is likely to require a circuit breaker upgrade.

  2. Check the electric panel capacity and load

    The capacity of the electric panel is on the main breaker. The total of the breakers in the panel should not add up to more than the main breaker. If adding the upgraded water heater circuit breaker exceeds this maximum, upgrade the electric panel to meet the new demand.

  3. Ask about a permit

    Many building codes require the purchase of an electrical permit before making changes to the electric panel. Purchase the permit before beginning any work.

  4. Replace the old breaker

    Purchase a new electrical breaker designed to fit your electrical panel. Turn off the main breaker. Remove the faceplate from the panel. Pull on one end of the breaker to remove it from the panel. Remove the wires from the circuit breaker. Reverse the steps to install the new breaker.

  5. Check the wiring

    If the existing wiring is not sufficient to carry the load, upgrade it to meet the electrical code.

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