If you’ve already decided that you want your water heater replaced, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us right away. You can give us a call at (916) 988-0266 or use the Service Request feature on our website. However, if you’re still deciding what the right choice is to make in your situation, or you simply want to do more research, then we think that you will find this page very helpful.
- Water Heater Replacement Options
- How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Water Heater?
- When Water Heater Replacement Makes Sense
- Should You Repair Your Water Heater Instead?
- Should You Do It Yourself?
- Ready To Get In Touch With Us?
Water Heater Replacement Options
If you have come to the conclusion that you need to replace your water heater, you have several options to consider. Some of the most popular options are explained below. Each option has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages in terms of price, capabilities, energy costs, longevity, and so on.
When going the replacement route you’ll also want to consider the various “types” of water heaters. The two main areas of difference will be power source and whether or not water is stored in a tank. As for power source, the options are gas, electricity, and solar. When it comes to storage, “standard” units use a tank (usually 40-100 gallons) to store heated water while “tankless” units do not store heated water and instead heat the water “on-demand” as needed.
Gas Water Heaters (Tank Storage)
Tank water heaters powered by gas are the most common today. These units use natural gas or propane to fuel a flame that keeps the tank of water heated and ready to use. When you access hot water from a faucet in your house, water travels from the tank, through your plumbing, and out of your faucet. The water that leaves the tank is immediately replaced with cold water–however, this cold water is added to the bottom of the tank. When hot water leaves the tank, it is pulled from the top of the tank. This gives the cold water time to be heated before rising to the top and being used in your home. When you run out of hot water, it’s because your tank is unable to heat new water quickly enough to keep up with the demands of your household.
In terms of pricing, gas units are typically a bit more expensive than electric units but much less expensive than tankless units. However, when compared to electric units, gas units tend to be more energy-efficient and will provide lower energy costs over the long-run.
When choosing a new water heater, something you’ll want to consider is the size of the tank. There are different methods you can use to calculate the right size of tank for your needs. Here is a simple rule of thumb: if your home has 1-3 people who shower every day, a 40-60 gallon storage tank will likely be sufficient. If you have 4 or more people in your home, then you’ll want to consider a 60-100 gallon storage tank.
Another way to decide what size tank you should get is to consider your current unit. Do you feel that it has met the hot water demands of your household? If so, getting a new one of the same size is a safe bet. On the other hand, if people in your home frequently experienced hot water shortages, then you might be much happier with a larger unit.
Electric Water Heaters (Tank Storage)
Electric water heaters are similar to gas units in most respects. They both store heated water in a large tank so that it is ready for use when needed. The biggest difference, of course, is that they are powered using electricity rather than gas.
The water is heated inside the tank using one or multiple “heating elements” that are in direct contact with the water inside the tank. A thermostat measures the temperature of the water. When the temperature of the water drops below the desired temperature, the elements are heated using electric current until the temperature of the water reaches the desired temperature.
When compared to gas units, electric water heaters have some significant disadvantages. For one, they tend to have a slower recovery rate, meaning that an electric unit is more likely to have a harder time keeping up with the hot water demands of your home. Since they run on electricity, they also will not be able to heat your water during a power outage.
The biggest disadvantage perhaps is the operating cost. Electric water heaters are less energy efficient than gas, and thus will have a larger impact on your utility bill. However, if your home is solar powered, or you don’t have access to natural gas, it still might make more sense to go electric. You can also use a timing device to turn off your unit when you don’t need hot water, which can significantly lower your energy costs.
Tankless Water Heaters (Gas, Electric, Solar)
As the name implies, tankless water heaters do not rely on a storage tank to keep hot water ready. Instead, these units will heat the water as needed. That’s why these units are also referred to as “on-demand.”
The biggest advantage tankless water heaters have over standard tank units is that they never run out of hot water. The only time you will seem to run out of hot water is when the demand put on the unit at any given moment is higher than the output capacity of the unit. For example, if you have multiple people showering at the same time, or while running the dishwasher, then you run the risk of creating demand that exceeds the capacity of the unit.
Another big advantage of tankless water heaters is energy savings. With a standard unit, the water in the tank must be constantly kept hot so that it is always ready when you need it. This means that energy (gas or electricity) is always being consumed even if you’re not using any hot water. With a tankless water heater, this is not an issue. Since water is only heated when at the moment it is needed, there is no energy wasted on heating water so that it can sit around until it’s used.
Tankless units also tend to have a longer lifespan than standard tank units. Typically, you can expect a tankless unit to last over 20 years.
The biggest disadvantage of a tankless water heater is the price. The initial investment for both the unit itself and the installation is usually significantly higher when compared to a standard tank unit. Even if cost savings may eventually accumulate over time due to reduced energy costs, most people still decide to go with a standard tank unit.
Tankless water heaters are available in both gas and electric. In this case, electric is more efficient. The reason is that, with gas, a pilot light (a small flame) must burn continuously so that it is ready to heat the water when you need it. With electric units, energy is only consumed when they are used. However, most people will opt for a gas unit since electric units will often require expensive upgrades to your home’s electrical system.
What you’ll want to look at when buying a tankless water heater is the gallons per minute (GPM) rating. This will tell you the rate at which the unit can produce hot water. Taking a bath or shower will consume 3-4 GPM. Your dishwasher will consumer around 1.5 GPM. Your washing machine around 2 GPM. Thus, if you want two people to be able to take a shower at the same time, you’ll want a 6-8 GPM unit. If you want to be able to take a shower while washing clothes in your washing machine, you’ll want at least 5-6 GPM.
Which One Should I Get?
It depends on your situation and priorities. If you would prefer to make a relatively modest initial investment, then stick with a standard tank unit. When choosing between electric and gas, gas will probably be your best bet unless you do not have access to natural gas or your energy costs are significantly offset by solar power.
To calculate the energy cost savings of gas versus electric water heaters, you can use this calculator.
If your main priority is the convenience of never having to worry about running out of hot water, then maybe a tankless unit is the right choice for you. Tankless should also be your first choice is your top priority is to minimize greenhouse gases since tankless units will consume the least amount of energy.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Water Heater?
The total cost of replacing your water heater will include both parts and labor. Both of these costs vary greatly depending on what kind of water heater you want to replace your old one with, and who is doing the work.
- Parts—your new water heating unit
- Labor—removal of old unit and installation of new one
- Supplies—mounting hardware, venting, valves, connectors, fittings, etc.
- Disposal—removing, hauling away, and disposing of your old unit, hardware, fittings, etc.
The price of your new unit will depend on what kind you want. Standard tank units typically range from $600-1,000 for a decent quality unit with a tank around 40-50 gallons. If you want a larger tank, the price can be higher. Tankless units vary greatly in price but the most popular units are usually around $900-1,400.
Similar to the cost of the unit itself, labor can vary greatly. If you are swapping your existing tank water heater with another tank water heater, the process is usually relatively straightforward. However, if you are swapping out your tank water heater for a tankless unit, then that will often require the installation of new piping and venting.
Sounds complicated? That’s because it is. The easiest thing to do is just call us to get a free quote. We never charge by the hour, only by the completed job. This takes all the guesswork out of it so that you will always know what the final price will be, parts and all before we get started. If you’d like a free quote, please get in touch using the Contact Us page or by calling (916) 988-0266.
When Water Heater Replacement Makes Sense
Your Unit Has Reached The End of Its Life
Once your unit is approaching the manufacturers specified lifespan, you should anticipate failure. While often these issues can be fixed with a repair, it’s also the case that more failures are likely to happen and continue happening. Very quickly, the repair costs alone are going to begin to outweigh the cost of replacing your unit.
Check your existing unit for stickers that were put there by the manufacturer. ALmost invariably these stickers will have information you can use to determine when the unit was made. If the manufacture date isn’t explicitly stated, you can often “decode” the date based on the serial number or other information found on the sticker. With a bit of searching on the web, you should be able to find the information you need to figure out the date it was made.
The average lifespan of standard tank water heater is about 10-12 years. For a tankless unit, it can be over 20 years.
You Need More Hot Water
Do you find yourself running out of hot water in your home more often than you’d like? If so, a unit with a larger tank might be right for you.
Keep in mind that it’s often possible to reduce hot water demand in your home by simply changing up your daily routines a bit. For example, plan things out a bit so that only one person is bathing at a time and nobody is washing dishes when someone is bathing. Depending on the number of people you have in your home and your work schedules, making and sticking to such plans may be difficult.
You Want to Lower Utility Costs
As already explained, some water heating units are more efficient than others. Standard tank units that run on gas tend to be more efficient than those that are electric. Tankless units powered by gas tend to be more efficient than tank units. Electric tankless units tend to be even more efficient.
If energy savings are important to you, we recommend that you pay attention to the energy factor (EF) of the new unit and compare it to your existing unit. This will give you a relative idea of the cost savings that you will experience.
Should You Repair Your Water Heater Instead?
There are three considerations you want to make when deciding if you should replace your water heater or simply repair the unit you already have.
- How old is my current unit?
- Do I want to upgrade?
- How much will a repair cost?
If your current unit is beyond it’s intended lifespan, then you should almost certainly replace it. Chances are very good that soon it will begin to fail if it hasn’t already and there are very likely much better and more efficient units on the market.
You might have the need or desire for a different or better unit. For example, you might want a bigger tank, or you might want to switch to tankless. In these cases, replacement is likely the way to go.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider the price of replacement versus repair. We’d be happy to help you out with a free quote if you give us a call at (916) 988-0266 or use the Contact Us page to send us an email.
If you’d like more information about water heater repair, you should check out our water heater repair services page.
Should You Do It Yourself?
This decision definitely depends on a few factors. We’d recommend you make the following considerations:
- Am I mechanically inclined?
- Have I worked on plumbing before?
- Do I have all the tools?
- Is it worth the time it will require?
If you don’t answer a strong “yes” to all of those questions, then you might want to reconsider doing it yourself.
While replacing a water heater isn’t the most complicated procedure out there, it’s very helpful if you’re the type of person who is mechanically inclined and have had previous experience working on plumbing. Otherwise, you might quickly find yourself in over your head.
Even more important are the safety considerations. First, since water heater tanks are big and heavy, there is the very real risk of injury. At the very least, you should be physically fit and have at least one relatively strong person there to help you. Second, since you are dealing with gas lines, there is the risk of causing a fire or even an explosion.
You also want to consider if you have the tools. Any tools you do not have will need to be borrowed or purchased, which could easily drive up the cost of your project–and that’s not considering the time invested, which, if everything goes perfectly smooth, can easily take upwards of five hours. When you factor in unexpected trips to the hardware store and disposing of your old unit, it’s a project that can easily span multiple days.
Now, if you are changing the type of water heater you have–for example, going from electric to gas, or tank to tankless, then the complexity of the job grows substantially. In that case, we definitely suggest that you call a professional.
Ready To Get In Touch With Us?
If you have any questions regarding the replacement of your water heater, please feel free to get in touch with us. Whether you’re ready to replace your water heater or you simply have some questions you would like answered by a professional, we’re here to help. You can give us a call at (916) 988-0266 or use the Contact Us page. You can also find out about our other services in our plumbing services section.