Water heaters are supposed to last between 10 and 15 years, but sometimes people don't get that lucky. When a water heater breaks, it is usually considered an emergency and can be a difficult expense to deal with. Sometimes, a water heater doesn't need to be replaced, but instead can be repaired.
Installation and Equipment Cost
Depending on what water heater the homeowner decides to purchase, they can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500. Installation will likely run anywhere between $200 and $400, with a total cost ranging between $700 to $1,900. The average price is around $750 for most water heaters with the size the house needs being the biggest factor. Most often a water heater is replaced with one that is about the same size as the old one.
Replacing It Yourself vs. Hiring a Professional
Very little plumbing knowledge is required to replace a hot water heater. Some people don't feel comfortable doing this, so for them it's just easier to pay someone to do it. An individual homeowner can save some money by opting to hire a knowledgeable handyman off Craigslist or a similar source rather than paying a plumber. Just be sure to check credentials and ask for references before hiring. When hiring an independent contractor for a job like this, don't pay for the services until the job is complete.
A homeowner choosing to replace the water heater himself should start by turning off the old water heater and disconnecting it from the gas hookup. Remove the water supply lines and begin draining the old heater. This can be accomplished by hooking a garden hose up to the water spigot, usually located on the side of the water heater, and allowing the contents to drain somewhere outside the house by opening the drain valve. This process will likely be finished in about 20 to 30 minutes.
When this is done, remove the old unit and replace it on the heater pedestal with the new one. It's a good idea at this point to have a helping hand with you, because water heaters usually weigh about 100 pounds and can't easily be lifted by just one individual. Hook up the lines and natural gas fixture. Relight the pilot light and allow the water heater to refill with water, a process that should take about 30 minutes.
Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater is the latest in innovation. These water heaters are more expensive, but homeowners who decide to install one will receive a tax credit. This type of water heater costs anywhere between $800 and $5,000, depending on the capacity. That's a big jump in price.
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