Hot water heater replacement & installation cost

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How much does it cost to replace a water heater?

The average cost of installing a 50-gallon water heater ranges between $800 and $2,800. It can go from as low as $400 for a natural gas tank single-point system to as high as $10,000 for a tankless solar system.

Your complete water heater installation or replacement cost takes into account a number of factors, such as the type and size of your hot water heater in gallons, installation labor by a local, licensed and insured plumber, the system type (whole house or single point), energy-efficiency certification and other special features of a new water heating system.

The cost also depends on the amount of work required to bring your plumbing up to code, the length of the product warranty, the cost of the permit and your location

Here are some popular water heater options for your home:

  • Gas water heaters

Gas water heaters are reliable, energy efficient and therefore used quite commonly. What’s more, these heaters cost less and are quite easy to install.

However, they aren’t as efficient as other types of water heaters and may cost more to run. A common issue that homeowners face is that their cold water is not being heated properly. This is generally because of a faulty burner or pilot light. Having said that, the parts of such heaters are easily available and getting them repaired or replaced is not an issue.

  • Electric heat pump water heaters

As the name suggests, electricity powers an electric water heater. It heats up your water supply by absorbing any heat that’s in the air and transferring that heat into its tank water. Therefore, an electric heater works the best where the climate is hot.

  • Conventional tank water heaters

Conventional water heaters work by storing gallons of water within an insulated tank. It then heats up the water at the top and stores it until you require the hot water.

Fortunately, they’re one of the cheapest water heaters available and don’t require much maintenance. At most, you might need to replace a burned out heating element. A conventional, well-maintained water heater should last you at least 12 years.

On the downside, they take up considerable space and aren’t very energy efficient

FYI: Tank water heaters can work with both gas and electric.

  • Tankless water heaters

A tankless water heater allows you to have a constant supply of hot water. It may cost you more to buy, but if you often require hot water in your home, it’s your best and most convenient choice. What’s more, it’s eco-friendly and there is no chance of the water cooling down or the hot water running out.

The downside to tankless water heaters is that you can't use hot water for two different things at the same time. Apart from the high cost to buy and install them, you will also need frequent maintenance checks.

  • Solar water heaters

A solar water heater draws its energy from the sun. It’s the most energy efficient of all heaters. The energy transfers to a closed loop system with a heat-conductive material. It then heats the water in the tank, and hot water flows out. Needless to say, solar water heaters, though expensive to set up, lessen the energy costs in the long run.

However, a solar heater often requires a backup plan or alternate fuel source, such a gas line or electricity, for cloudy days.

The capacity of your water heater tank determines how much hot water you will have available at once. You can choose your tank water heater size as per your requirements. Here’s an easy way to go about it:

  • 30-gallon tank – one to two people in the house
  • 40-gallon tank – two to three people
  • 50–60-gallon tank – three to four people
  • 60–80-gallon electric system or a 50-gallon natural gas or propane system – more than four people

A permit is almost always required for water heaters. There will be an inspection once the work is done to make sure your new water heater has been installed or replaced properly, and that it will not create a hazard to the building occupants.

Unfortunately, there are many things that can go wrong with a water heater installation. The dangers may include scalding, bacteria growth, fuel gas leaks, fires or explosions, water leak damage, structural instability or carbon monoxide asphyxiation.

Make sure that someone who is properly trained and licensed is the one to repair, replace or install your water heater . They will make sure that all the safety features are in place, and that the heater (whether running on solar power, propane, gas or electricity) is installed to the current local plumbing code.

Without a permit and inspection, a hot water heater replacement can be extremely dangerous.

If you’re trying to decide between a DIY project vs hiring a pro, you must keep in mind that although it’s not hard to install a water heater, it’s best to leave the work to experts. Especially since it may require electrical modifications.

Many building jurisdictions allow you to install a heater if you’re confident enough to do the modifications yourself, and it's your own house.

However, certain building codes require you to hire a licensed electrician. That’s because, improperly installed water heaters can become a fire, explosion and health hazard for your building and its occupants.

Additionally, hiring a contractor will make your bathroom renovation easier, quicker, and hassle-free.

Knowing how to replace or install a hot water heater will help you plan out your home improvement better, besides giving you an advantage over those who don’t. Here’s a step-by-step guide so that you know exactly what you’re getting into.

  • 1. Turn the electricity supply off
  • 2. Drain the water tank
  • 3. Disconnect the electrical as well as plumbing
  • 4. Remove the old water heater
  • 5. Prepare the new plumbing lines
  • 6. Connect the electrical wiring and supply lines
  • 7. Turn the water on
  • 8. Connect the temperature as well as pressure discharge pipe
  • 9. Turn the main power on
  • 10. Bleed the hot water lines

Water heaters play an important role in a house. They ensure that hot water is available throughout your home – allowing you to bathe, wash dishes and do your laundry.

Most hot water heaters come with a 15 year warranty. If yours is 15 to 20 years old, or is not doing its job up to your satisfaction, it’s time for a replacement.

Here are a few water heater problems or signs that your heater is on its way out:

  • You start getting gritty or discolored water
  • There’s an unusual smell in the hot water
  • There’s always insufficient hot water to use
  • The water heater makes weird sounds
  • Its TPR valve is either leaky or faulty
  • The water tank is leaky or rusted

Once you decide to get a water heater installed in your home, you need to know how much of an investment you should have for this home improvement.

Naturally, when it’s time to replace a heater, you have to know the cost in order to calculate what you can afford to spend.

It’s also the best way to ensure that you don’t stumble across any unwelcome surprises during the execution of your project.

Acquiring a free estimate for your hot water heater replacement cost will help you create a realistic budget for the replacement.

Getting an estimate through Kukun’s water heater replacement cost estimator is easy. Just follow the steps below to get your custom, personalized total cost in minutes!

1. Enter the type of remodel from the two options below:

  • Replace existing one: This project includes replacing an existing water heater, connecting the new heater to your existing plumbing, and average labor cost as well as material costs. Please note that code compliance may incur an extra cost.
  • Install new one: This project involves installing a new water heater, connecting it to existing plumbing, and average labor and material costs. Please note that code compliance may incur an extra cost.

2. Choose the type of heater you currently have from these options:

  • Electric
  • Gas

3. Select the size of your heater tank/capacity from the following options:

  • 40 — 50 Gallon
  • 50 — 75 Gallon
  • 80 — 105 Gallon

If you have a tankless heater, this is where you can mention it.

4. Enter your property details

Enter the full address to get ROI /recoup value of your house or just give zipcode to get just the renovation cost estimate.

And there you go! Your water heater installation cost estimate is ready!

With this estimate, you can analyze your finance options or hire a professional to get started on the work right away.

We are happy to offer you options for professional remodeling contractors who have worked in your neighborhood and who have been vetted by your neighbors.

You can explore each contractor's profile, check out their online reviews, and view all their previous permits before hiring them.

As part of any home improvement project, it’s best to keep a few things in mind:

  • Maintain your budget in order to manage a home renovation seamlessly.
  • Choose the most suitable type of water heater according to your needs.
  • Plan ahead and don't keep anything pending after your project starts.
  • Work with an expert. A professional will ensure that all permits and inspections are up to date.
  • A permit is required. An inspection is done to make sure that the water heater is installed properly and does not create a hazard to the building occupants.
  • Get a written contract from your contractor. The document should include the payment details as well.
  • Be sure to get a warranty or guarantee from your contractor.

Most standard water heaters last between 8-10 years. Having said that, the requirement to replace a hot water heater could arise anytime before or after this timeline. Here are five tell-tale signs that you need a new water heater:

  • Your existing water heater is deteriorating, or is more than 10 years old.
  • It's making strange noises as a result of sediment building up at the bottom of the tank.
  • You start getting rusty water out of the tap due to corrosion.
  • Your hot water doesn't last as long as it used to. That’s because older heaters lose some of their capacity to heat water due to a sediment buildup over time.
  • There are water puddles around the unit, indicating a leak in the tank.

A water heater works continuously to provide you with hot water for your daily needs. Electric water heaters typically run for around three hours a day to heat water.

Fortunately, newer, more energy-efficient, models may run for only half the time but give you good outputs. A standard water heater uses power of around 4000 watts.

Having the right size matters. Keep in mind that a water heater that's too small will not be able to provide you with enough hot water and will end up being overworked. This will over time lead to frequent repairs or premature breakdown.

On the other hand, a water heater that's too big could lead to higher energy bills unnecessarily. That’s because it would heat the water you won’t even require.

When it comes to a tank water heater, you can generally correlate its tank capacity (in gallons) and the number of people in the house. For example, a 36 to 46 gallon water heater is enough for 2 to 4 people while a 46 to 56 gallons is sufficient for 3 to 5 people.

When buying a new residential water heater, choose a heating system that provides sufficient hot water, energy efficiently -- saving you money. That’s why it’s important that you consider the different types of water heaters, in terms of size and fuel source, according to your needs. You can learn more about the different types of water heaters on Energy Saver 101: Water Heating infographic.

The wisest (and the cheapest option in the long run) way to heat your water is to invest in renewables such as heat pumps, solar thermal systems, and solar panels (through solar PV optimisers/diverters). Although their installation costs are high, the running cost of water heating is extremely cheap.

If you’re thinking of changing the location of your water heater, and rerouting the natural gas line or water line from its existing location, you will need to call in a professional water heater installer. This kind of job (disconnecting, moving, and reconnecting the heater) requires expertise and experience.

And, you must factor in the added expense of the repiping. If you need to move an existing water heater to a different location within the house, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500.

Ideally, water heaters should be placed against an external wall of the house to make room for the flue. Also, since water heaters (not including tankless heaters) can take up a lot of space, you want to place them in an area that is able to accommodate the size.

That’s why you will find most hot water heaters in garages, attics, or basements.

When choosing the best type and model of water heater for your home, there are some considerations that you must keep in mind. These include:

  • Fuel type or energy source (propane, natural gas, or electricity). The type of water heater it is will not only affect its annual operation costs but also its size and energy efficiency.
  • Size. One of the most important considerations before buying a new water heater is its size. A properly sized water heater will provide your household with enough hot water and maximize efficiency.
  • Energy efficiency. This efficiency ratio is reported in terms of the energy factor (EF). EF is the energy supplied in heated water divided by the energy input to the water heater. Higher EF indicates more efficiency.
  • Water heater capacity. The home appliance should be able to provide sufficient hot water at the busiest time of the day. A water heater’s ability to meet peak demands is indicated by its "first hour rating" which depends on the water heater tank size and the speed with which the cold water is heated.
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