Water Heater Repair Instructions
GE, Rheem, Rudd, Kenmore, A.O. Smith, State, Rinni, American




How to Convert a Rheem Hot Water Heater from Natural Gas to Propane

Converting a Rheem Water Heater

Converting a Rheem hot water heater from natural gas to propane is possible with the right equipment.  Using the correct control valve and burner assembly is necessary. Propane supplied at higher pressure and burns at a much higher temperature than natural gas. Heavier materials needed to handle these pressures and temperatures; otherwise, you would melt the water heater and its components. Never convert any gas appliance without consulting the manufacture or representative.

A few tools you may need for your conversion:   Pipe wrenches, Water meter key, Garden hose, Adjustable wrench, Soapy water. 

 Shut off the natural gas supply to the water heater. There should be and individual shut-off valve located within a few feet of the tank. Follow the gas line from the left side of the water heater’s control valve until you find a shut-off. Turn the handle of the valve until it is perpendicular to the gas line. If you do not have an individual shut-off valve, turn off the main natural gas valve at the meter. Disconnect the natural gas supply pipe with two pipe wrenches.

  Close the incoming water supply valve off on the cold water line. Follow the water line from the top right back until you find an appliance shut-off valve. Rotate the handle clockwise until it stops. Open all the hot water faucets in the house to relive any remaining water pressure. This also confirms that the shut off valve is working properly. If you do not have an individual water shut-off valve, close the water meter with a meter key or pipe wrench.

How to Drain a Rheem Water Heater

  Drain the water heater by attaching a long garden hose to the drain valve near the base of the heater. Run the hose to a floor drain or outside to an area drain. Turn the drain valve on by rotating the handle or screw counterclockwise until it stops. Open the temperature and pressure relief valve near the top right of the tank to speed the draining process.

How top remove Rheem Water Heater Burner Assembly

  Remove the front panel on the bottom of the tank covering the burner system by hand. Open the inner burner assembly seal by hand or with a screwdriver depending on your model. Unscrew the pilot tube, thermocouple and gas supply line from the bottom of the control valve with a small adjustable wrench. Pull the burner assembly out of the water heater by hand. Unscrew the natural gas control valve counterclockwise with a large pipe wrench.

Installing a New Rheem Control Valve

  Install a new Rheem propane control valve and Rheem cast iron propane burner assembly into the tank. Reconnect the pilot tube, gas supply and thermocouple to the control valve. Replace the inner burner cover and outer cover plate. Connect the new propane supply line to the new propane control valve. Turn the propane supply on at the tank and check for leaks with soapy water or leak detection tool. Remove the drain hose and close the drain valve. Open the incoming water supply and allow the tank to fill until water flows evenly from all hot water faucets. Shut off all the water faucets and light the pilot. Turn the gas-valve temperature control to the white mark; this is the manufactures recommended setting of 120 degrees. 


Opening the relief valve allows air into the tank so that the water will drain naturally by gravity. 


Converting a Rheem natural gas water heater tank to propaneis not recommended by the manufacture and will void any warranty. Converting a Rheem natural gas water heater tank to propane may cause serious property damage and bodily injury.

Never check for leaks with an open flame. Serious injury or death may occur. 

Water temperature above 105 degrees can cause scalding injury. 


Rheem Water Heater Use and Care Guide