By Gene and Katie Hamilton
The behind-the-scene workhorse that keeps everyone happy in a household is the hot water heater, which supplies comfortable bathing, and clean dishes and clothes for everyone. When a gas-operated heater stops producing hot water, usually after a good service life of 10 years or more, a replacement unit is needed sooner, not later, to keep everyone happy and humming along.
A plumber will charge $720 to remove the old unit and replace it with a 40-gallon energy-efficient, gas, hot water heater. This includes the labor and material. If you have good plumbing and electric wiring skills and tools, you can make the swap for $480 and save more than half for your efforts. Plan on spending a good six hours making the switch. But you'll need to have your gas company or a licensed plumber make the final fuel connections. Check with your local building department to find out exactly what's required.
No matter who makes the replacement, schedule in some time to clean and paint the area after the old tank is removed and before the new one is installed. Use a shop vacuum to clean out dust and dirt and give the walls and area a quick coat of paint if it’s needed.
The job involves disconnecting and removing the old unit and muscling it out of the house - no easy task when you have to get the brut through a narrow hallway or up a steep basement stairwell. In most cases, a plumber will remove the old unit, but if you do it yourself, you may have to pay your garbage service an extra fee to dispose of it.
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Here's Lowes instructions to Install a Gas Water Heater.
TIP: Once a year partially drain the tank to remove the sediment that builds up so the unit can work efficiently.
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to replace a gas hot water heater with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020