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Old 01-10-2013, 12:58 AM   #1
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Gas water heater installation


My gas water heater recently started leaking (after 17 years of faithful service). So I had three different plumbing companies give me an estimate for replacing it. I was a little shocked when all 3 quoted a price at or around $1000. With the 40gal water heater costing roughly $400, that means the installation fee is $600. This seems very high, especially since the WH is super easy to access (it's not in a closet or an attic. Its out in a spacious and essentially empty garage.)

This has me seriously contemplating taking on this job myself.

questions:
- How difficult a job would this be for a plumbing novice? (I've been watching a lot of youtube instruction videos)
- Should I even attempt it?
Thanks.

Here's the current setup of the water heater:

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:15 AM   #2
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you have to remember that these companies have lots of overhead costs, Vehicles, gas, a shop, business fees taxes, insurance, even tools. these companies also may be using a higher quality water heater than just your average home supply store. this price usually include fittings, pipe, and any additional supplies or accessories. in addition most companies warranty their work so they have to add a little more for that.

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Old 01-10-2013, 07:53 AM   #3
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Since we do not know anything about you, how difficult it is, all depends on what you know.

Are you competent at sweating copper, and do you have the tools to do so?

Are you comfortable working with Gas, and have the tools to do so?

You can change the incoming gas connection to a range connector by most codes to make that part easier, and you have to sweat your stub assembly away from the WH so you dont melt the plastic dip tube, but thats about it.

You will want to change your incoming valve to a ball valve, also.

Turn off gas and water.
Drain tank, open fixtures above to allow water to evacuate system.
Install new tank incoming water valve etc.
Install range connector with teflon pipe dope on male pipe threads only, (not flared connections) Keep dope back from end of nipples min 1/8th inch.
Turn on water and fill tank. Purge air from all fixtures.
Attach flue pipe
Turn on gas and check connections with soapy water. wait a bit and smell. No gas smell? Light Pilot. wait 45 minutes, purge closest fixture with sediment screen off. Purge all other fixtures.
Set WH to desired temperature.
Enjoy hot water.

Or pay pro.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:08 AM   #4
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#1 Go back and add your location to your profile, yes it makes a big differance when we reply.
EG, since it's in a garage that tank should have been sitting on a stand.
http://www.inspectorsjournal.com/For...?TOPIC_ID=2879

Someone used used some galvinized pipe instead of black iron for the gas line.

In my area there needed to be a flex line to make the connection from the tank to the gas line, not solid pipe.

Globe valve has to be replaced with a ball valve.

Some areas code calls for the heater to be some how attached to the wall so it will not tip over in an earthquake.

Still others require the heater to be sitting in a drain pan so it it does leak the water gets drained outside.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:55 AM   #5
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Gas water heater installation


I'm not trying to sway you either way - but HVAC1000 has one of the most important points. You need to ask what the specific model the installer is going to use to compare costs.
In addition to Joe Captions points- I don't see a drip leg for the gas line.
You could be looking at about $100 dollars in additional parts/permits.
Will your city take away the old tank for free?
Do you have a vehicle large enough to get it home?
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:48 AM   #6
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In my area of Cleveland anything made of metal lasts an average of 41 seconds at the curb. Stoves and water heater generally do not make it off my dolly. As for your water heater, I would have a pro do it, not liking what I see so far. My parents hired a very reputable local handyman to do their water heater. When I saw his work I tore every piece of pipe out and started over, after I repaired the floor joist he cut. If that is what the best handyman can do, I will hire a pro in the future.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:54 PM   #7
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17 years huh? You sure? That heater looks like it came over on the Mayflower.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:08 PM   #8
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The water supply to the heater looks like 1/2".
In most area's 3/4" is required.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:29 PM   #9
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Yeah, I guess there are many more things to consider than just the cost of the WH and a simple install to that might justify the price quote. I just seems like a lot especially since one of plumbers said it only take around an hour and a half to 2 hours to complete.

Thanks for install tips. While I have all the equipment necessary for the job, my skill level is novice at best.( I've only soldered a few times ) And the idea of gas is probably my biggest apprehension. It does make me a little nervous but I guess that's healthy and normal.

My current WH is a '96 American but I'm guessing a lot of the things on the water heater (gas pipe, flue ) are probably original to the house (early 60s built and definitely need to be replaced. As far as the WH brands used by the plumbers I got the estimates from - One uses AO Smith, the other two use Rheem. One good thing about a possible self install is that I do have a truck for getting it home and the city does curbside pick up of appliances every other week, so those things wouldn't be a problem.

Thanks for the insight and tips. And thanks for bringing up a lot of things I need to consider that didn't cross my mind initially. I think I'll get a couple more quick estimates, and if they're all in the same ballpark of the previous estimates (or cheaper) I'll just have a pro do it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:35 PM   #10
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those are both very good professional brands of water heaters and i have never had a problem with either one.

and hey if you think those prices are high at least you arent looking to replace a power vent water heater those get expensive fast.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
#1 Go back and add your location to your profile, yes it makes a big differance when we reply.
EG, since it's in a garage that tank should have been sitting on a stand.
http://www.inspectorsjournal.com/For...?TOPIC_ID=2879

Someone used used some galvinized pipe instead of black iron for the gas line.

In my area there needed to be a flex line to make the connection from the tank to the gas line, not solid pipe.

Globe valve has to be replaced with a ball valve.

Some areas code calls for the heater to be some how attached to the wall so it will not tip over in an earthquake.

Still others require the heater to be sitting in a drain pan so it it does leak the water gets drained outside.
Joe is being nice......

I'm just a simple DIY home owner....and even I'm thinking "Oh crap!".

Besides what Joe pointed out....

No drip leg on the gas line...

Ya know, the replacement would be a lot easier if you had flex lines for both the water and gas.

This is what my water line connections look like. If I had to swap out my tank, it would take me longer to drive to the store to get it than it would to swap it out.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:51 PM   #12
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What you want to bet that time quoted does not making any of the needed changes and he just comes in and keeps it the way it is.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
What you want to bet that time quoted does not making any of the needed changes and he just comes in and keeps it the way it is.
Yea......you won't find me taking a bet on that one.....

Which is why I do so much of the work myself.

BTW....ignore the fact that the plumbing for the PRV is not complete......it's on the list.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
EG, since it's in a garage that tank should have been sitting on a stand.
http://www.inspectorsjournal.com/For...?TOPIC_ID=2879
My AHJ let me put my FVIR right on the floor with no stand. Actually, I wanted a non-FVIR on a stand, but apparently you can't buy non-FVIR any more.

Quote:
Globe valve has to be replaced with a ball valve.
Should be replaced, yes. But globe/gate valves are still legal so far as I know?
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylernt View Post
Should be replaced, yes. But globe/gate valves are still legal so far as I know?
They are legal....but I have yet to see a globe valve that has been installed for any amount of time that would fully close.

I deal with them all the time (industrial stuff). We do ball valves only....

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