The replacement cost of a gas or electric water heater depends on several factors which you have to consider. They include the nature of the water heater (tank water heater or tankless water heater), size of the hot water heater, type of water heater (electric water heater, solar water heater, or gas heater), system location, manufacturer, venting system, materials, geographic location, and so on.
The water heater is one essential household appliance because you can use it for multiple functions, including bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Unfortunately, over time, the water heater will develop problems requiring repairs.
Regular maintenance ensures the ensure efficiency and longevity of your water heater. However, like any other man-made equipment, it will reach the end of its lifespan, and you’ll have to get a replacement water heater.
If this is your first time doing this, you will need to know the water heater replacement cost in your area of residence, which, in this context, is Seattle.
Before we get to the water heater replacement cost in Seattle, let’s look at the various factors affecting the price.
Factors Influencing Hot Water Heater Replacement Cost
The Size of the Water Heater
This is a no-brainer. The larger the size or capacity of the water heater you need to install or replace, the higher the water heater installation costs. So, in essence, the cost you’ll incur to replace a 40-gallon-capacity water heater will be lower than the cost of an 80-gallon-capacity water heater installation.
This factor applies exclusively to tank-style water heaters. Its capacity ranges from 20-100 gallons. The number of people in the household or the size of the home determines the size of the storage tank water heaters. This is because the larger the home or the more the number of people in the house, the higher the household’s water consumption.
A 40-gallon storage tank water heater is ideal for a 2-person household. For a home of 3-5 people, a 60-gallon tank-style water heater will be sufficient. On the other hand, if the home houses at least five people, you should get a storage-tank water heater of 80-100 gallons.
The Nature of the Hot Water Heater (Tank or Tankless Water Heater)
The water heater comes in varieties. There is the tank-style water heater and the tankless heater. The tank water heater also has types that range from 20 gallons to 100 gallons.
It’s also much more affordable than the tankless water heater costs, which are at least double the price of a tank water heater. Also, the tankless water heater is harder to replace or install, meaning it will incur more labor costs.
The tank water heater is the more commonly used of the two. According to a survey, roughly 90% of the water heaters in the US are storage tank water heaters.
A tankless water heater works differently from a tank heater; it heats water as it enters the unit and channels the heated water to the faucets in the home. On the other hand, the tank-style heaters heat water and store it in their tank.
The lifespan of a storage-tank water heater ranges from 8 to 12 years. Unlike tankless water heaters, storage tank water heaters come in various forms – propane, electric, gas, and solar water heaters.
These water heaters are less energy-efficient than tankless heaters because they’re always on, take up more space during installation, and take less installation time.
Conversely, tankless water heaters have a much longer lifespan because they can last up to 2 decades. Their installation takes longer (2-3 hours), but they take up less space, thanks to the absence of a storage tank. As a result, these water heaters are not ideal for colder regions and larger homes.
Type of Water Heater
The two most common types of water heaters are natural gas and electric water heaters—the former works with a gas pilot light, and the latter with an electric coil. The water heater replacement cost of a natural gas water heater is slightly more affordable than that of an electric water heater.
The natural gas water heater is not energy-efficient but more cost-effective long-term. The reason is the high and increasing costs of electricity bills. In addition, the electric water heater is more suitable for smaller homes because it doesn’t require a venting system.
The less common types of water heaters include solar, propane, and hybrid heat pump water heaters. Their water heater costs vary, and it’s up to the homeowners to choose the most suitable type of water heater for their households based on the pros and cons of each hater.
Manufacturer or Brand
To a large extent, the cost of water heater replacement depends on the manufacturer. Some water heater brands, such as Bradford White or AO Smith, have expensive products, while Whirlpool or Kenmore has more affordable heaters.
So it stands to reason that if you want to replace a Bradford White heater, you’ll spend more than it will cost to replace a Kenmore heater.
The location of the water heater matters a lot. If the water heater is in an easy-to-reach place, there will be no additional costs for the water heater replacement. On the other hand, if the water heater is in the attic or basement, which are hard-to-reach places, it will incur additional costs for the replacement water heater.
The reason is that hard-to-reach places increase the tendency of the heater replacement to get damaged along the way. Going to the attic or basement involves climbing multiple flights of stairs, and any accident can cause significant damage to the water heater.
The labor costs include the cost of electrical wiring and plumbing for the water heater installation. A tankless water heater installation’s labor costs will be more expensive than the amount you’ll spend on labor costs for installing the tank unit because the former takes more time to install. They are determined by the number of hours involved in the work.
A plumber will charge between $45-$200 hourly based on their experience level, while an electrician will charge between $50-$100 hourly.
So, a tank unit will attract between $150-$450 in labor costs, while a tankless unit will incur $650 – $1,850. On the other hand, the labor costs required to convert a tank system to a tankless system will be up to $2,500.
Water heater installation requires gas piping, vent pipes, water pipes, solders, connectors, fittings, discharge pipes, pressure release valves, and pipe thread compounds.
The same materials used in the installation depend on the type of water heater (gas or electric hot water heater). Therefore, the more materials are involved in the building, the more expensive it will be, and vice versa.
Your area of residence matters because the water heater installation cost will be more expensive in colder regions. The reason is that in colder climates, the water will enter the water heater at a shallow temperature, and the equipment will use more energy to heat the water to the desired temperature.
On the other hand, in a warmer climate, the water temperature will be higher and less energy will be expended to heat the water. Therefore, Seattle is considered a moderate climate because the winter is not extremely cold, and the summer season is not very warm.
Existing Water Heater Removal
It’s one thing to remove the old water heater and another item to install another one. Therefore, the cost of removing the old water heater will influence the water heater installation cost. This means that if your old heater were in a hard-to-reach place, its removal would cost more and vice versa.
Whether the water heater is a tank or tankless unit, the warranty period ranges between 8 and 12 years. However, the warranty may cost extra if the homeowner wants to extend the coverage period.
If the existing water heater is due for a replacement but is still under warranty, you may not have to pay for the new water heater installation. However, that is if the warranty covers replacement and repairs.
If the unit is undergoing regular maintenance, such a warranty will be voided and won’t cover the installation of the new water heater. On the other hand, some plumbers also offer a workmanship warranty for their services, which can protect the unit repair if the manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t already cover it.
Installation of a Water or Gas Line
This factor will only influence the water heater installation cost if you want to convert from one fuel source to another. So if you have to install water and gas lines to extend to the location of the water heater, the cost to replace your failing water heater will be higher.
Before a water heater replacement project is carried out, a permit must be acquired, and it costs money. The cost of this permit varies based on the work needed to be done and the type of water heater to be installed as a replacement.
When a new water heater must be installed, or an old one needs to be replaced, one of three things will happen. A new drywall needs to be framed, an enclosed area needs to be opened up, or an open space needs to be enclosed. These will cost money because you’ll need to hire a carpenter to handle that.
Expansion Tank Installation
Installing a water heater expansion tank is necessary because it ensures extra space for water that expands as it heats. In addition, several building policies require installing an expansion tank when replacing an old water heater.
Fuel Source Conversion
It will incur extra expenses if you want to convert your gas-powered water heater to an electric one or vice versa. As mentioned earlier, converting a fuel source will involve installing electrical wiring, water, and gas lines.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Heater in Seatle?
Electric Tank-Style Water Heaters
- $1,100 – $1,600 for a 20-gallon capacity
- $1,200 – 1,700 for a 30-gallon capacity
- $1,500 – $1,800 for a 40-gallon capacity
- $1,700 – $2,300 for a 50-gallon capacity
- $1,900 – $2,700 for a 60-gallon capacity
- $2,200 – $2,900 for a 75-gallon capacity
- $2,500 – $3,300 for an 80-gallon capacity
Gas Tank Water Heaters
- $1,300 – $1,800 for a 30-gallon capacity
- $1,500 – $1,900 for a 40-gallon capacity
- $1,700 – $2,500 for a 50-gallon capacity
- $1,900 – $2,900 for a 60-gallon capacity
- $2,500 – $3,200 for a 75-gallon capacity
- $2,700 – $3,400 for an 80-gallon capacity
Electric Tankless Water Heaters
- $1,600 – $1,700 for 1-2 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $1,700 – $1,800 for 2-3 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $1,800 – $1,900 for 3-4 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $1,900 – $2,100 for 4-5 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $2,100 – $2,200 for 5-6 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $2,200 – $2,300 for 6-7 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $3,000 – $3,600 for 10-11 gallons-per-minute capacity
Gas Tankless Water Heaters
- $1,900 – $2,200 for 5-6 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $2,100 – $2,300 for 6-7 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $2,300 – $2,500 for 7-8 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $2,400 – $2,800 for 8-9 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $2,700 – $3,200 for 9-10 gallons-per-minute capacity
- $3,000 – $3,600 for 10-11 gallons-per-minute capacity
Indicators That Your Water Heater Is Due for Replacement
This is easy to overlook, but not if you’re paying attention. When water heaters (both tank or tankless systems) are not working in optimal condition, certain signs will indicate it’s due for replacement. So, if you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s time to dip into your bank balance for the water heater replacement cost.
The Water Becomes Cloudy, Brown, or Rusty
When a water heater has reached the end of its life cycle, sediment buildup in the system occurs, or the tank or tankless heaters become corroded. When this happens, water comes out brown, rusty, or cloudy through the system.
Usually, the solution will be to descale the water heater as part of its maintenance. However, if the issue persists even after descaling the electric or gas heaters, you’ll need to install a standard replacement water heater.
The Unit Is Noisy
When a water heater becomes noisy, it’s because of the contact the sediment makes with the walls of the equipment before it goes into the water. A heater, in good condition, is supposed to operate quietly when heating water.
The sediment buildup, if left unattended, will do more than cause your water heater to make banging or knocking sounds. It can also damage the entire system.
Since water heater repair costs significantly less than the amount you’ll spend to install a water heater, we recommend contacting a professional to check the issue before it causes you to have the system replaced.
On the other hand, if the water heater has served your household for over 12 years, perhaps it’s time to spend the bucks on professional installation for a new unit.
The Water Has a Metallic Taste
When water tastes metallic, it’s because it has very high levels of metallic content. This happens when the unit corrodes and the metal leaches into the heating water. If you use this water to cook, it could change the taste of your meal.
Descaling the unit will solve the issue and save money, but if it continues after repair, it’s time to install a water heater.
You’ll Spend More on Energy Bills
As the water heater approaches the end of its lifespan, it declines in energy efficiency. Unfortunately, this means it will consume more electricity than it used to. So, if you notice recent spikes in your monthly electricity bills, you may want to check your water heater, especially if you’ve used it for over eight years.
A simple solution will be to adjust the thermometer to 120-140 degrees. Still, if that doesn’t work, you should contact a professional water heater installer to install a new system.
The Water Is Not as Hot as It Should Be
Old water heaters are not as efficient in heating water as they used to be. This is because the heating elements are no longer functioning optimally. So instead of scalding hot water, you get water that’s lukewarm or barely hot at best.
To repair this, you need to replace the heating element in the unit. However, it’s due for a replacement if it comes down to needing parts already outdated or several functions of the heater malfunctioning.
This is inevitable thanks to several years of heating and cooling, which will naturally cause expansion and split the metal. If your heating unit leaks, you can have the place patched as a temporary fix, but the best course of action is to budget for the replacement cost.
The Number of Years You’ve Used the System
As mentioned earlier, tank-style water heaters have a maximum lifespan of 12 years, while the tankless system can last as long as 20 years. If the water heater has reached the end of its lifecycle or it’s very close to it, any amount of money spent on its repair will be a bad investment in the long run. Once the unit has reached the end of its lifespan, it’s time to replace it.
Can I Replace a Water Heater Myself, or Do I Need to Hire a Professional for That?
Unless you’re skilled in electrical wiring, water, or natural gas line installation, we recommend leaving this activity to the professionals. However, we understand you may be tempted to do it yourself to save money because the average water heater installation cost is expensive for some individuals.
Fixing a water heater takes a lot, and that’s why a professional best handles it. Permits and even inspections are required. If you decide to be cheap and carry out the installation yourself, you’ll spend more because you’ll still have to call a professional installer to rectify your mistakes.
Tips to Save on Water Heater Replacement Costs
There are specific ways you can reduce your water heater replacement costs without compromising the quality of the project and causing more problems shortly.
Get the Exact Unit Size You Need
Many homeowners make the mistake of buying water heaters that are too big or small for their homes. When you get an under-sized hot water heater, you may need to buy an extra unit to compensate for its inadequacy. For example, installing two 40-gallon units costs more than an 80-gallon unit. On the other hand, if you buy an oversized heating unit for your home, you’ve spent more than you should.
So, ensure you’re buying the precise capacity that suits your home. For example, an 80-gallon or 80-GPM heating unit is ideal for a 4-person household, while a 2-person family can use a 40-gallon/40-GPM team. If you stay alone, a 20-gallon/20-GPM is the capacity you need.
Use Rebates, Tax Credits, and Special Offers
Utility companies usually offer incentives such as special offers, tax credits, and rebates for the replacement cost of large appliances such as hot water heaters. For instance, gas heaters owners are eligible for a $150 tax credit.
Don’t settle for just one quote. To get the best deal, shop by getting quotes for your water heater replacement from 3-5 installers and pay for the best selection for your budget.