Why does it seem so expensive to install a gas hot water heater?
I priced them at Home Depot (GE models) and they want $255 for installation
no matter what the size of water heater. Some of the models cost less than
the installation charge!
I'm just wondering what is involved with the typical installation - at least
for Home Depot.
I still want to price some at Sears but I assume the installation would be
Too bad I can't install these myself....
well home depot has to make some money and the guy they get to install
them makes some money.. if you do it yourself then you save big time....
it cost me about$12 to install mine.. had alot of parts and supplies and
the labor was free(me)....
There's no reason why installation should depend on the size of the
heater. Installation involves plumbing/vent connections being made, etc.;
that's the same whatever the heater size/price.
Home Depot's prices are higher for most things; they are charging for the
brand name even though they use local contractors to do the work. Also
it's higher because HD takes a cut and then the actual installation
contractor has to make a profit. Finally they may be allowing a safety
margin in case they encounter problems. That's one of the risks of
quoting a fixed price. Vendors who quote lower prices will often qualify
it by saying that they will quote a final price after they arrive and
allow you the option to refuse.
The GE water heaters are actually made by Rheem, GE just adds their name.
They are the same as the Rheem Fury (I think). Call local installers
directly for lower prices, but make sure they confirm the price before
doing any work.
The more I think about it I want to try and replace it myself.
I did see the flex pipe available at the Depot also although I have no
problem with sweating copper pipe.
The only thing I can think of that *might* cause me a problem is the gas
line connection/hookup - everything else seems pretty straight forward.
Any do this before that can give me some pointers?
I replaced mine in less than an hour.
Shut off the gas shut-off valve
Unhooked the old heater & drained it.
Tipped it over with the drain valve down & let it drain what was in
the bottom while I went to get the new heater.
Set the new heater in place & hooked up the water lines using the flex
pipe you mentioned above.
Connected the gas line - used pipe tape made for gas line joints.
Turned on the water & let it fill.
Turned on the gas & checked all joints with a mixture of water & dish
detergent - look for bubbles. If none, it's ok.
Lit the pilot & hauled the old heater out of the basement.
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Professional Shop Rat: 14,083 days in a GM plant.
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If there is a problem with the gas valve anytime during the warranty period
and the manufacturer finds any 'pipe tape,' aka Teflon tape, in the gas
valve, your warranty will be denied. Teflon tape is for water lines, if
even that. I don't care what the HD monkey said.
Actually, the best way to do it is to solder a foot long "stub" to
each fitting before they're even screwed on to the tank. This
keeps the intense heat far away from the in/out fittings on the
tank. It's not easy to cut them to the exact length you'll need,
so you leave a little extra, planning to cut some off. When the
tank is just about in position (your stubs are right next to the
cut in/out pipes) you can mark for proper length, leaving about
1/8" gap, move the tank far enough away so you can cut the stubs,
then put it in place and sweat the joints using an in-line coupler
fitting on each pipe.
That's standard procedure, at least in the one I recently
installed and just about every one I can ever remember seeing.
Exactly. When it's time for a new tank, you'll take out your
handy dandy copper tubing cutter, roll it around on the pipe right
above where the stubs were sweated to the fittings, and once both
of them are cut, you can pull the tank, clean up the leftover pipes,
and be ready to fit the pipes for the new tank. (remembering to
disconnect the gas too, of course!)
That's actually a bit of overkill! Mine is a length of PVC
attached to that same fitting that screwed onto the overflow
valve. I think it was $1.29, preassembled at the box store.
The whole idea there is that you should have a (working) floor
drain somewhere close to the bottom end of that overflow tube.
The concept of the water raising 4 or 5 inches is never an issue.
The whole idea of the tube is to direct the water at the floor
(rather than just spraying out into the room and maybe your eyes)
and nothing more.
Couple of other points: The gas line need not be intimidating. If
the big concern is matching up the old to the new, they *do* sell
flexi-connectors, just like you would use on a gas stove or clothes
dryer. They're the wider diameter and usually only a foot long.
(They're made just for this purpose, you don't need the ability to
move your water heater while connected, like you do with a stove)
And this is the perfect time to clean up that old (driping?)
knuckle buster turning shutoff valve with the lever type that
flips 90 degrees and gives a visual indication of on/off. They
are -so- much easier to use.
Where I live the gas company will install the gas line at no cost. This is
propane and copper tubing is used not black pipe.
So you may want to consult your gas company. I know some natural gas companies
do the same.
Heathcliff Bambino wrote:
$255 for installation is a huge ripoff. Typical Home Despot:
subcontract it to the low bidder, charge a premium rate, and pocket
the difference. If you can't do it yourself, but you know a good
plumber, ask him.
If you can handle a water heater (they are cumbersome, but not heavy,
easy two-man job), it isn't difficult. It helps if you know how to use
a brazing torch, in case you have to redo the water fittings or the
overflow pipe, and how to hook up a gas line -- or have a friend who
knows these things.
Some places may require a building permit, and many places require an
Easy as it might be, I don't do gas repairs, so I gave the job to Home
Depot. My heater was installed in April 2003, so based on your post, it
sounds like prices have changed since then.
Here's what the charges were:
50 Gallon Rheem Water Heater (best heater sold by Home Depot) (12 year
warranty 40K BTU) $298.00
Basic installation (includes delivery of new heater and disposal of old
heater and draining of old heater if needed) $169.00
New inlet valve (it definitely needed replacing) - this was paid
directly to plumber and the price is set by the plumber but quoted in advanc
$45 (parts and labor)
Upgrade flue to 4" as required by code - this was paid directly to plumber
and the price is set by the plumber but quoted in advance $150 (parts and
Plumbing permit (paid directly to local gov't) $30
It took the plumber and his assistant 90 minutes to remove the old water
heater and install and activate the new water heater. The plumber then
left and had 2 sheet metal guys come the next day to install the new flue,
which took another hour.
The plumber probably spent another hour picking up the new water heater,
disposing of the old water heater, and driving to my house.
The plumbing inspector came a couple of days after installation and approved
the installation. (The water heater was operational immediately after
installation, of course.)
In the somewhat expensive east coast urban area where I live, I consider
this a bargain. The workmanship, by the way, was top notch, although
there's no guarantee that another plumber subcontracted by Home Depot would
do as good of a job.
Changing from a 3" collar to a 4" collar at the chimney takes a bit of
savvy. Break out the wrong brick or make a mistake nibbling out the flue
liner and you could end up with a disaster. Every once in a while you hear
of a contractor having to have the whole chimney rebuilt, which isn't cheap
when the whole house is standing around the chimney. You pay for the risks
and talents involved.
Damn! I'd call that high! Near as I can tell the standard
HD installation fee is about what it would cost for a new
gas heater installation when replacing an electric water
heater. That's about what I paid for the water heater part
for a replacement package--electric to gas furnace and water
heater which include gas installation from the curb. If you
already have a gas heater installed, a replacement
installation should be (but apparently isn't) a lot less.
Was your upgraded flue due to purchase of a higher
efficiency heater? If so, maybe you should have bought the
cheaper water heater. My gas water heater, installed about
2 years ago, uses 3 inch flue and my furnace uses a 3-1/2
inch flue. And why would you need a plumbing permit for a
replacement? I sure wouldn't get a building permit for
anything I was just replacing. Do you guys need a building
permit to replace carpet, a stove, a garbage disposal, a
Every place is different and has different rules but I'm
glad I don't live on the east coast. Disposal fees here are
low or non existent (a Goodwill type store picked up my
electric one as a donation--5 years old with a 10 year
guarantee and worked perfectly).
I replaced my original electric water heater after being in
the house for 20 years (the one mentioned above) and changed
only the flexible connectors for a cost of about $20. And,
it only took about 1 hour for me to go buy the heater, put
in in my pickup and bring it home. After draining the old
heater it took about 1 hour to install and that included
moving the washing machine out of the way, cleaning the
floor, etc. A neighbor was taking a load to the dump so he
just took my old electric heater too because it wouldn't
increase his dump fee any. If I ever replace my current gas
water heater, I doubt that it would cost me more than $35
and take more than 2 hours including buying and bring the
new heater home and installing it. Thank God, I don't live
on the east coast!
Ok, some extra stuff I found out.....
The info I could gather at Home Depot from the outside of the boax as
well as an info packet out in the open mentions I could use flexible
gas connector only if code allows. Also it mentions a 'garage' stand
which looks like just the pegs under the water heater to elevate it
about 2 inches off the floor - again it says 'if code requires'.
Not sure about the code in my town. My current water heater has black
gas pipe and also has the water heater stand/pegs.
Who do I call to find out about code for these in my town?
HD also sells a connecting kit for gas heaters. $19 for 2 flex water
connectors, dialective nipples, and compression adapters (as my water
connections are not threaded). For $27 they also include the flexible
gas connector in another pack.
I still want to do this myself as I believe I have enough info and the
skills to tackle it.
Thanks to all who have replied.
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