Can I Use My Existing Pipes and Fittings with a New Gas Heater Plumbing System?

Replacing your old gas pool heater doesn't have to be a complicated task. In fact, many pool owners hire a professional to do the job. However, if you're feeling up to the challenge, you can purchase, place and connect the necessary components yourself. Installation kits come with flexible stainless steel connectors and compression fittings that don't require welding.

Plus, many of these flexible connectors contain integrated dielectric connections. When it comes to the type of plumbing in your home, make sure you use the right fittings. Copper, PEX and CPVC tubing are all suitable options, but avoid using iron or PVC pipes. If you're dealing with steel or copper heatsinks, start by removing the bolts from the head flanges to disconnect the water pipes from the heater.

Before you begin, make sure the pool pump is turned off at the circuit breaker and that you've cut off the gas supply to the heater, tank (propane) or gas meter (natural gas). If your heater has a vent chimney on top (and any heater installed inside or inside a shed must have adequate ventilation), carefully remove the sheet metal parts from the top and inspect them for cracks or corrosion. For electronic gas-fired pool heaters with a digital display, make sure that the heater is actually turned off by removing the power supply. To replace a faulty gas water heater or install a new one, you'll need a gas supply line, a cold water supply line and a combustion connection to divert harmful flue gases.

Older heaters without joint connections may be connected with threaded CPVC connections or may use heat sinks (metal tubes with joints at the bottom). Once you've purchased the right size and type of pool heater (propane or natural), follow the installation guide for your new heater. Make sure there's enough space (in front, behind, on the sides and above) for it to burn and ventilate properly. Most gas heaters allow you to flip the heat exchanger from one side to the other, and some even let you “flip the cover” to place the control panel on the side that's easier to access.

Now that you've disconnected the power, pipes, gas and connection cable, it's time to remove your old heater from its pad. Wiring digital gas heaters is a simple task: just follow the specifications and instructions that come with your pool heater. Consult your owner's manual to make sure you've followed all steps correctly and safely. Once you've made sure that your incoming gas line is clean and free of corrosion, secure it to your new heater with a gas thread sealant (piping material).

The steps for replacing a propane water heater are exactly the same as those for replacing a natural gas water heater; those for an electric water heater are similar.