How To Convert Natural Gas Water Heater To Propane?

To convert a natural gas water heater to propane, you will need to replace the burner orifice and adjust the gas valve regulator accordingly. Converting a natural gas water heater to propane involves replacing the burner orifice and making adjustments to the gas valve regulator.

This process allows the water heater to safely operate using propane fuel instead of natural gas. By following the appropriate steps and ensuring proper installation, you can effectively convert your water heater to propane and enjoy reliable hot water in your home.

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How To Convert Natural Gas Water Heater To Propane?


Understanding The Basics

Converting a natural gas water heater to propane may be necessary for various reasons. Whether you’re moving to a new location where natural gas isn’t available or you’ve simply decided to switch fuel types, understanding the basics of the conversion process is essential.

In this section, we’ll explore the key differences between natural gas and propane, why a conversion may be necessary, and the factors to consider before making the switch.

Key Differences Between Natural Gas And Propane

  • Natural gas is composed mostly of methane, while propane is a hydrocarbon gas.
  • Natural gas is delivered to homes through pipelines, while propane is typically stored in a tank and delivered as a liquid.
  • Propane has a higher energy content than natural gas, meaning it provides more heat per unit of fuel.
  • Propane requires a different burner orifice size compared to natural gas for optimal combustion.

Why A Conversion Is Necessary

There are a few reasons why you may need to convert your natural gas water heater to propane:

  • Location: If you’re in an area without access to natural gas pipelines, converting to propane allows you to have an alternative fuel source.
  • Fuel availability: In some regions, propane may be more readily available or cost-effective compared to natural gas.
  • Specific appliance requirements: Certain water heater models are designed to work with either natural gas or propane, requiring a conversion to match the appliance’s specifications.

Factors To Consider Before Converting

Before proceeding with the conversion, consider these factors:

  • Safety: Ensure that the conversion is done by a licensed professional to avoid any potential safety hazards.
  • Compatibility: Confirm that your water heater is compatible with propane and can be converted. Some models may not have conversion kits available.
  • Cost: Evaluate the costs associated with the conversion, including the price of the conversion kit, labor charges, and any additional equipment required.
  • Efficiency: Understand the potential impact on energy efficiency and operating costs. Propane water heaters may have different efficiency ratings compared to natural gas models.
  • Local regulations: Check with local authorities or utility companies to ensure compliance with any regulations or permits required for the conversion.

By understanding the key differences between natural gas and propane, the reasons why a conversion may be necessary, and the factors to consider before making the switch, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision regarding your water heater.

Remember to consult with a professional to ensure the conversion is done safely and effectively.

Step-By-Step Guide To Conversion

Safety Precautions And Necessary Equipment

Before starting the conversion process, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Here are the key points to remember:

  • Make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself from any potential hazards.
  • Ensure that the area is well-ventilated to prevent the build-up of gas fumes.
  • Turn off the water heater and cut off the power supply before beginning any work.
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Gather the necessary equipment, including a propane conversion kit, pipe wrench, adjustable wrench, thread sealant, and a leak detection solution.
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Shutting Off The Natural Gas Supply

To convert your natural gas water heater to propane, follow these steps:

  • Locate the gas line and valve connected to the water heater.
  • Turn off the valve by rotating it clockwise until it is fully closed.
  • Verify that the gas supply is shut off by checking the pilot light and burners of the water heater.
  • Ensure that there is no residual gas by turning on a hot water faucet and waiting for any remaining gas to dissipate.

Removing And Replacing The Gas Control Valve

Now that the natural gas supply is shut off, you can proceed with removing and replacing the gas control valve:

  • Use a pipe wrench to disconnect the gas line from the control valve.
  • Unscrew the control valve from the water heater using an adjustable wrench.
  • Install the new propane gas control valve, ensuring it is securely fastened.
  • Reconnect the gas line to the new control valve, using thread sealant to create a tight seal.

Adjusting The Air Mixture And Burner Orifices

After replacing the gas control valve, adjust the air mixture and burner orifices to optimize performance for propane:

  • Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to locate the air adjustment opening on the burner assembly.
  • Use a screwdriver to adjust the air shutter, providing the proper air-to-gas mixture for propane combustion.
  • Locate the burner orifices and replace them with the ones provided in the conversion kit, ensuring they are securely fitted.
  • Adjust the orifices, following the manufacturer’s specifications, to achieve the correct gas flow rate for propane usage.

Testing For Leaks And Ensuring Proper Functionality

To complete the conversion process, test for any leaks and ensure the water heater functions correctly:

  • Apply a leak detection solution or soapy water to all gas connections, including the gas control valve and burner orifices.
  • Observe for any bubbles forming, indicating a leak. If a leak is detected, tighten the connection or seek professional assistance.
  • Restore power to the water heater and light the pilot according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Turn the thermostat to the desired temperature and allow the water heater to run for a few minutes to ensure proper functionality.

Converting a natural gas water heater to propane requires careful attention to safety measures and following each step correctly. By adhering to these guidelines, you can successfully complete the conversion process and enjoy the benefits of a propane-operated water heater.

Common Challenges And Troubleshooting

When it comes to converting a natural gas water heater to propane, it’s important to be aware of the common challenges and troubleshooting that may arise during and after the conversion process. This will help ensure a smooth transition and prevent any potential issues down the line.

In this section, we will discuss how to identify potential issues during the conversion process, troubleshoot common problems after the conversion, and seek professional help when needed.

Identifying Potential Issues During The Conversion Process

During the conversion process, it’s crucial to be aware of any potential issues that may arise. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions: Before attempting to convert the water heater, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines. Make sure that the specific model is capable of being converted from natural gas to propane.
  • Gather the necessary tools and supplies: Ensure that you have all the required tools and supplies for the conversion. This may include a conversion kit, new burner assembly, or additional fittings.
  • Inspect the existing water heater: Take a thorough look at the existing natural gas water heater. Identify any signs of wear or damage that may need to be addressed before the conversion.
  • Shut off the gas supply: Prior to starting the conversion process, turn off the gas supply to the water heater. This will ensure safety during the conversion.
  • Consult a professional if unsure: If you are unsure about any aspect of the conversion process or encounter any difficulties, it’s best to seek professional help. A professional plumber or technician can provide guidance and ensure a successful conversion.
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Troubleshooting Common Problems After The Conversion

After converting the water heater from natural gas to propane, you may encounter some common problems. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to help you address these issues:

  • Check for gas leaks: It’s important to check for any gas leaks after the conversion. Use a gas leak detector or apply a soapy water solution to the connections and joints. If you detect a gas leak, immediately shut off the gas supply and tighten the connections or seek professional assistance.
  • Verify the burner flame: After the conversion, make sure to verify the burner flame. The flame should be steady, blue, and evenly distributed. If the flame appears yellow or unstable, there may be an issue with the burner or the gas pressure. Contact a professional to inspect and adjust the burner if necessary.
  • Adjust the thermostat settings: Sometimes, the water temperature may not be as expected after the conversion. If this occurs, adjust the thermostat settings to achieve the desired water temperature. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance.
  • Proper ventilation: Propane-fueled appliances require proper ventilation to ensure safe operation. Make sure that the area surrounding the water heater has adequate ventilation, and no obstructions are blocking the air intake or exhaust vents.

Seeking Professional Help When Needed

While it is possible to convert a natural gas water heater to propane as a diy project, there may be instances where professional help is required. Here’s when it’s advisable to seek professional assistance:

  • Lack of experience or knowledge: If you are unfamiliar with plumbing or gas-related work, it’s recommended to hire a professional to ensure proper installation and minimize potential risks.
  • Complex conversions: Some water heater models may have complex conversion requirements or unique components. In such cases, it’s best to enlist the help of a professional who has experience with these specific models.
  • Safety concerns: If you encounter any safety concerns during or after the conversion process, do not hesitate to contact a professional plumber or technician. Safety should always be the top priority.

Remember, when it comes to converting a natural gas water heater to propane, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, troubleshoot common problems diligently, and seek professional help when needed. By taking these precautions, you can ensure a successful conversion and enjoy the benefits of a propane-fueled water heater.

Maintenance And Efficiency Tips

Regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance:

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your propane water heater running at its best. By following these tips, you can ensure optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your appliance:

  • Inspect the burner: Check the burner for any signs of damage or debris buildup. Clean it thoroughly to ensure proper gas flow and prevent flame irregularities.
  • Clean the flue: The flue is responsible for removing combustion gases. Regularly clean it to remove soot or debris that could obstruct proper ventilation.
  • Flush the tank: Sediments and mineral buildup can accumulate at the bottom of the tank over time. To maintain efficiency, flush the tank annually to remove these deposits.
  • Inspect the pressure relief valve: Test the pressure relief valve by lifting its handle, allowing some water to flow out. This ensures the valve is in proper working condition.
  • Check for leaks: Propane leaks can be hazardous. Regularly inspect the gas lines and connections to ensure there are no leaks. If you detect any odor of gas, turn off the supply immediately and contact a professional.
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Tips for maximizing energy efficiency:

Switching from natural gas to propane can have energy efficiency implications. Here are some tips to optimize the energy efficiency of your propane water heater:

  • Insulate the tank: Add an insulating blanket to reduce heat loss. This helps the water heater retain heat and reduces the workload on the burner.
  • Set the temperature appropriately: Adjust the temperature setting to a comfortable level while avoiding excessive heating. Each degree reduction can save energy and reduce utility costs.
  • Install low-flow fixtures: Low-flow fixtures reduce water consumption, putting less strain on the water heater and saving energy.
  • Opt for a tankless water heater: Consider upgrading to a tankless propane water heater, which heats water on demand and eliminates standby heat loss.

Safety precautions for propane usage:

While propane is a safe fuel source, it’s important to follow these safety precautions to ensure a secure environment:

  • Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation around the water heater to prevent the accumulation of propane fumes. Avoid storing flammable materials near the appliance.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors: Install carbon monoxide detectors near the water heater and in sleeping areas to detect any potential leaks.
  • Professional installation: Have a professional technician install your propane water heater to ensure proper setup and adherence to safety standards.
  • Regular inspections: Schedule annual inspections by a qualified technician to check for any potential issues or safety concerns.
  • Familiarize yourself: Understand the warning signs of a propane leak, such as a distinctive odor or hissing sound. If you suspect a leak, follow proper protocols, including turning off the propane supply and contacting emergency services.

By following these maintenance and efficiency tips, as well as prioritizing safety precautions, you can seamlessly convert your natural gas water heater to propane while ensuring optimal performance, energy efficiency, and peace of mind.


Converting a natural gas water heater to propane can be a rewarding process that offers flexibility and cost-saving benefits. By following the necessary steps and seeking professional help if needed, you can easily make the switch. Start by gathering the required materials and carefully shutting off the gas supply.

Next, remove the natural gas burner or orifices and replace them with the appropriate propane components. Ensure that all connections are secure and leak-free, and then test the system before operating. Although the conversion process may seem daunting at first, it is well worth it in terms of increased energy efficiency and the ability to use a readily available fuel source.

Whether you’re looking to save money or have access to propane in your area, converting your natural gas water heater to propane is a practical solution that can meet your specific needs.


I am a mechanical engineer and love doing research on different home and outdoor heating options. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy blogging about my findings and helping others to find the best heating options for their needs.