Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just had a plumber install a new 50 gallon water heater, but the cold water pipe is installed to the hot side (the left pipe when facing the front of the heater) and the hot water pipe is installed to the cold side (the right pipe when facing the front of the heater). Is this ok? I thought that the cold water pipe had to go into the cold intake value and the hot water pipe would be connected to the hot value.

So I called the plumber and he said that everything is installed correctly. And he wouldn't change the plumbing.

share|improve this question
Do you get hot water at the fixtures? Why do you think it is not correct? Could you be looking at the back of the water heater? –  Tester101 May 22 '12 at 19:57
I get hot water, but the top of the water heater is marked "hot" and "cold" but the pipes are the opposite temperature. –  James May 22 '12 at 20:06
Can you follow the pipes to see where they go? –  Tester101 May 22 '12 at 20:18
I've seen heaters that just have tags that slip over the pipes to indiciate hot/cold - are the hot/cold indicators removable? maybe they are switched and not the pipes –  Steve May 22 '12 at 20:44
Can you post a picture? –  Bryce Jan 17 '14 at 16:58

3 Answers 3

Yes, reversing them would be a bad thing. The cold water should be entering the bottom of the tank, the hot output at the top:

enter image description here

I'd insist that the plumber fix this. But if they won't, I'd suggest picking up a pipe cutter, some sharkbite connectors, and just fix it yourself. Shouldn't take more than a half hour to do so.

share|improve this answer
+1 Good Answer, it will make your heater a lot less efficient and cause you to run out of hot water a lot quicker, this is due to the mixing affect when water is entering the top of the water heater instead of the bottom and also the hottest water will obviously be at the top of the heater. –  UNECS May 22 '12 at 22:33

I wonder.....are there some water headers made where the cold water dip tube can be dropped into either pipe from the top of the unit?

Strange I know answering a question with another question.

Such swappable scheme would lend itself to some replacement installations where the Hot/Cold lines of the existing plumbing are opposite to the factory default H/C pipes of the heater. A quick swap of the dip tube would solve this problem nicely.

I have had heater installations in previous homes where the water lines to the heater were fixed pipes attached to the heater without flexible couplers. As such, without it being a big plumbing project, it was far more convenient to redo the coupler pipes directly.

share|improve this answer
Often the dip tube is plastic and replaceable. It should be reasonably easy to swap sides if both top fittings are the same and made to catch the flared top on the dip tube. –  Fiasco Labs Nov 14 '12 at 6:14

Apparently yes, it does mater! This article explains that the hot water will not be produced to it's efficiency.

share|improve this answer
Your answer is right, but an explanation should be included in your answer. Links have a way of going bad over time. –  BMitch May 22 '12 at 20:46
The answer you link to says he has seen 2 feet of deposits build up in a tank in a period of a year... I sure hope that is a typo. –  Kellenjb May 22 '12 at 21:08
Linking to Yahoo answers! Booooo! –  Tester101 May 23 '12 at 16:20
Okay, I see your point. I was in a hurry... :) –  SteveR May 23 '12 at 18:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.