Where to buy new water heater?

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I need to replace my current 9 year warranty/40 gallon gas water heater. I'm rather new to this process so I'd like to get your thoughts and experiences.

Is Home Depot a good place to buy the water heater and do their service people do a good job with installation?
Ballpark range how much should I expect to pay? Also, what's the typical installation fee or does HD install for free like their other appliances?

Thanks in advance for reading my post. Your advice is much appreciated!

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For what it's worth, there are only a handful of major manufacturers that actually make tank water heaters:
American Wate... (more)

Jason986 (Dec. 18, 2011 @ 1:56a) |

I used to live near a Lowe's and a Home Depot that were almost next to one another and quit going ot the Lowe's after a ... (more)

larrymoencurly (Dec. 18, 2011 @ 5:30p) |

Ouch! What kind of water heater was that?

comprx (Dec. 18, 2011 @ 9:57p) |

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All of the above will depend on where you live. Home Depot may be good if you like the water heaters they sell. Installation is pretty routine. Depending on where you live you may need a permit from your town & need to pay a permit fee. You may need to have extra work to bring your water heater connection up to code. I am sure Home Depot & Sears both charge for installation and they will not get permits for you if you need them. You can get a quote & then find a local plumber to see if the cost is close to what the plumber charges. My guess is you are looking at around 1K all in.

Fourteen years ago I walked past the utility room in my house and the carpet felt squishy - the water heater was leaking. I drove over to Home Depot, got their 40 gallon gas Mor-Flo and a drain pan, and drove it home in my minivan. I picked a plumber out of the phone book and he installed it for under $200 the same day. The Mor-Flo is still going strong.

Buckmann said:   Fourteen years ago I walked past the utility room in my house and the carpet felt squishy - the water heater was leaking. I drove over to Home Depot, got their 40 gallon gas Mor-Flo and a drain pan, and drove it home in my minivan. I picked a plumber out of the phone book and he installed it for under $200 the same day. The Mor-Flo is still going strong.

Today that water heater costs 400 and a plumber is probably another $400. But i put one in myself or about $400 from Home Depot last month.

It all depends on how long you think you'll live in the house. If it's for a long time I'd go with an OSSmith unit from a local plumbing supply. They are known to last for years. I sold a house a year ago which had one still going strong after 35 years. A friend put one in 12 years ago and it's still fine. Another friend with properties says from his experience he buys the shorter warranty ones as they tend to last the same as those with longer warranties. All these thoughts refer to gas units.

Just spent $1,100 on a replacement Rheem 40 gal., pan, and installation. Used the plumbing company that services our place since the previous Rheem was over 15 yrs old and started to leak. Don't recommend newbies to try and replace it themselves.

I got a bunch of rental properties and it depends on your area. I just tend to get the 6 year ones. Depending on the area and the water, they typically last 6-10 years. You can make them last longer by replacing anode rod in the tank every 3-4 years. Basically the 6 year ones have one rod, the 9 maybe one extra long or two short ones and the 12 year ones have two. Some also say to the drain the tank of sediment once in a while. Some HDs sells the anode rod, but they sell the aluminium one. They say Alzheimer people have high aluminum levels so you might be better off getting magnesium rods. It's why you don't drink hot water and you run the cold water a little in case there's any backflow.

Reviews for The Home Depot brand GE water heaters aren't that great and I recently had to repair one that was only 4-5 years old, the thermostat went and they shipped me a whole new part for it. Had another one die out after 5.5 years, luckly it was fully covered under their warranty, but they made me bring it back to Home Depot and gave me a new one. With plumbers and other brands, they typically let you peel the sticker off the old tank and they give you a new one without the sticker so you don't get the warranty again.

In general, I pay around $75-$150 to have one put in. Depends on your area, I found a plumber through craigslist and I got the water heater so all he had to do was hook it up. You can usually check the license of the plumber just to make sure it's active and he can pull the permit if needed. I think HD typically wants $300-$350 to put in a water heater plus permit cost. That basically covers the plumber picking up the water heater, driving it over and getting rid of the old one. If you just get the water heater and just have it there in the basement, it's a very simple hookup, takes more time draining the old tank than hooking up the new one. In my area, there are also metal guys that will come take the old tank. They usually advertise in craigslist. Depending on your city, some city trash also take the old tank so all you have to do is roll it to the curb.

As for specific brands, I recall reading that Sears has good ones, they have a good R value but they don't always have the one you want in stock so if you're not in a rush it might be ok. Also there are specific brands that are only carried by plumbing supply houses and those are better also. I think when I get the 6 year ones, I use a Lowes 10% off coupon (at the post office in the mover packet) at HD and get it for around $350-$375. I also see lots of houses where people put them in themselves, main mistakes I see are not putting in a tube for the relief valve or not long enough, not having a vacuum breaker, no shut offs and not running or securing the gas line properly.

Sears and HD brands are good. The ones at Lowes had some pilot issues so not sure if that has been fixed yet. Read the reviews and see if thats been fixed.

Install is easy. Heck give your handy neighbor $100 to install. A lot of plumbers charge $200-500 to install one around here and they are not that hard to install.
You can get a 6 year over a 12yr and add a extra andode rod to make it a 12 year version. But I also agree don;t use aluminum rods, only use magnesium rods.

henry33 said:   ....Some HDs sells the anode rod, but they sell the aluminium one. They say Alzheimer people have high aluminum levels so you might be better off getting magnesium rods. It's why you don't drink hot water and you run the cold water a little in case there's any backflow.

...

An aside, last I heard, Al has not been definitely tied to Alzheimer as its not known if its a cause or an effect. Would worry more about Al pots and pans, foil, cans etc. for food.

But the reason not to drink hot water or to run cold water first before drinking is to avoid lead from the solder in pipes and fixtures, especially in older houses when lead content was higher.

There's no evidence that consumption of aluminum causes Alzheimer's, and this has been studied for something like 40 years. The real reason to avoid aluminum anodes is because they don't protect as well against corrosion as magnesium anodes do. Zinc is also used for protective anodes, but not in water heaters or car exhausts because it provides no protection above about 110F.

I can't imagine HD service being worse than Sears, although I have no experience with Sears installing water heaters, only with goofing up repairs on other appliances, and I'd be reluctant to buy service from a company that's bleeding $100M a month. OTOH we bought 3 electric water heaters from Sears because they were the cheapest (odd size, 66 gallons, for solar).

HD and about everybody else charge for installation of water heaters because a LOT more labor is required to install a water heater than a refrigerator, oven, TV, etc. So unless you buy a super overpriced heater, expect to shell out anywhere from $150-$500 for installation. If possible, get a heater where all the connections are in exactly the same locations as the original heater's -- gas inlet, hot water outlet, cold water inlet, overpressure/overtemperature relief valve. If you manage to find such a heater, DIY installation won't be difficult. Otherwise expect 2-5 hours of DIY work (easiest: CPVC or PEX plastic pipe, both approved for hot water; use only CPVC glue with CPVC pipe, not PVC glue!)

Water softeners are really rough on water heaters and can completely corrode anode rods in a year, and once the anodes are gone, the heater will start to corrode badly.

A 6-year heater will probably be minimally insulated and have only one anode rod. You could slip an insulation blanket over it, but be really careful doing this with gas units, to avoid blocking the gas vent. Heat traps, either the loop type or check valve type, can save $10-20 a year in energy.

Where is your water heater currently, and do you want it be there going forward?

I only ask because last December, I caught my 9yr old water heater starting to leak into the drip pan, but mine was in the attic. You can only imagine the scenarios that ran through my head of the destruction/mold/etc it might have caused had I not caught it in time.

I paid to have it relocated to the garage, and new plumbing run to it. I feel 100x safer. Food for thought, in case you're in a similar situation, as it would have been a poor financial move to have the aged WH moved, only to have it go out a short time later.

Also, depending on where you shop, certain brands are exclusive to the store, or unavailable at the retail level at all (only to plumbers or via plumbing supply stores)

Good luck..

Don't forget to check if your local utility company is offering cash rebates for installing a new, more energy efficient water heater.

fix your old one with parts! www.midwestapplianceparts.com www.appliancepartspros.com www.searspartsdirect.com www.partselect.com. be green lets recycle our old machines and fix them if we can!

Have a GAS hot water heater installed by a licensed profession! They use natural gas (or propane) which is highly combustionable; they must be vented properly to reduce danger of carbon monoxide poisoning; they consume oxgyen so need air source; and they have flame or spark which can ignite gas fumes (like in a garage). Like others said a permit is often needed with an post install inspection. Electric ones are easier to install.

Reviews for The Home Depot brand GE water heaters aren't that great and I recently had to repair one that was only 4-5 years old, the thermostat went and they shipped me a whole new part for it.

Second to that. I will never buy GE. GE does not make them but they put their brand name on it. My electronic thermostat went out in 3 years. First this 3rd company went through debugging routine prior to sending part to me. Instruction to install was crazy. Even my regular plumber could not install it properly. Asked PSE&G to install it and installer walked out after he saw part. Finally, some plumber charged me 250 to replace the part. He told that he had gone through special training in order to install this electronic parts.
If it is this complicated to install, why does GE (or 3rd party) install themselves? Their warranty means nothing in this case. I will refuse to touch GE for any water heater in the future.

you will never learn unless you try to do it yourself,,and then you can kiss-off overpriced gouging plumbers and electricians the rest of your life..get a friend who knows,buy the tools needed so you have thme for next time.. i dont buy at homedepot anymore for certain reasons, i use Lowes,but thats a personal choice..good luck...HDLF

CollegeSavings said:   Reviews for The Home Depot brand GE water heaters aren't that great and I recently had to repair one that was only 4-5 years old, the thermostat went and they shipped me a whole new part for it.

Second to that. I will never buy GE. GE does not make them but they put their brand name on it. My electronic thermostat went out in 3 years. First this 3rd company went through debugging routine prior to sending part to me. Instruction to install was crazy. Even my regular plumber could not install it properly. Asked PSE&G to install it and installer walked out after he saw part. Finally, some plumber charged me 250 to replace the part. He told that he had gone through special training in order to install this electronic parts.
If it is this complicated to install, why does GE (or 3rd party) install themselves? Their warranty means nothing in this case. I will refuse to touch GE for any water heater in the future.


If you read the warranty, it's basically 1 year parts and labor and for years 2-6, it's only parts. So the part was free, but I had to pay a plumber to put it in. Luckily with gas, it's pretty straight forward. It also took a couple of days to receive the part, but tenant just had to put up with relighting the pilot each time it went out. I believe the plumber had also tried replacing the thermocouple but that didn't work. HD is pretty popular in this area and there's lots of them and they have them in stock so when the water heater goes out and the tenant complains, it's easy to run to HD and just grab one. Also most plumbing supply houses do charge more for their water heaters.

As for fixing old water heaters, most of the time when they fail, it's because they rusted out. Oh as for HD service, I believe they just contract out to a local plumber so it's the luck of the draw, you're better off finding one to install it either through yellow pages or local craigslist, will probably be cheaper than HD.

Also my local gas utility doesn't offer rebates for regular hot water heater, however they do for those instant hot water systems. However, if you do the math, it's still cheaper going with a hot water tank. Some of those instant systems require lots of gas and need a 3/4 gas line plus enough gas line pressure to run it. Lots of times you might only have 1/2 inch supply and getting things repiped wouldn't be worth it.

As for DIY, if it's a direct swap, it might be ok, check for gas leaks and all that. However I've also seen water heaters installed where a tall went in for a short and the vent pipe angled down instead of up or there was no furnace cement between the thimble and the chimney. At least have a plumber come by and check your work if you can find one willing to do so.

The recent earthquakes on the east coast and mid-west should be a wake up call to all. If your gas water heater is not securely strapped to wall studs or supporting structure now would be good time to add this safety feature.

Edit: I forgot to add that you should make sure that the gas line to the water heater is a flex line.

You need to know local code for gas appliances as this could have changed sinceit was last installed. If it's in a garage or area where combustibles can be stored, it more than likely needs to be 18" off the ground which would call for a "short" model water heater. Some newer gas models have a sealed pilot light and can bypass the stand process. Another area to check is the need for an expansion tank which can be a new code for some areas using city water. Since water pressure fluctuates, the expansion tank absorbs the pressure difference before it enters the water heater which would cause the saftey valve to "weep".

For what it's worth, there are only a handful of major manufacturers that actually make tank water heaters:
American Water Heater (Whirlpool, US Craftmaster)
AO Smith (Reliance, most Kenmore, & State)
Bradford White
Rheem (Ruud, Richmond, & GE)

Home Depot's have a GE label but are actually made by Rheem at the same factory in Mexico where Rheem/Ruud units are assembled. They may be made to a cheaper standard though (e.g. plastic drain valve instead of brass). Lowe's slaps a Whirlpool label on their heaters but they are made by American.

Up until 2003, the basic design of a standard gas tank water heater with a glass-lined tank was essentially the same from all of the above manufacturers (with the notable exception being the choice of metal for the anode rod [Al or Mg]). In 2003, FVIR compliance (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) was mandated and each manufacturer chose different methods to meet the requirement. In short, the burner chamber is now sealed on tank gas water heaters, the heaters sit directly on the ground (air enters the burner chamber through the side of the heater, not from underneath it), and the heater must have a method for shutting down if flammable vapors reach the burner.

Some of the designs have proven problematic in practice. Notably, American chose a tight screen that was (is?) susceptible to being clogged with dust. If too must dust accumulates on the inlet to the burner, you'll have cold water. Rheem's design is intended for one time use. There's a tiny glass vial in the burner assembly; if flammable vapors reach the burner, a small amount of the vapor ignites, cracks the glass vial, and immediately shuts off the flow of gas to the burner. The problem is the glass vial is not replaceable--the entire water heater must be replaced if the FVIR system trips. It's my understanding that if this happens in-warranty, Rheem will replace the heater; if you're out of warranty, you're out of luck. Bradford White used a re-settable "circuit breaker" for their FVIR system (i.e. if it trips, you just wait for for the vapor to dissipate before resetting the heater and relighting the burner). I don't know much about AO Smith's FVIR design.

Personally, I'd avoid American (Whirlpool) based on anecdotal problems with their FVIR system all over the web. Rheem is fine unless your heater is in a place where there's any real chance of the FVIR system activating (e.g. a garage or shed). Bradford White is usually only sold through plumbers. Stay with a model with a magnesium anode. Reject any heater that shows signs of mishandling on delivery (small dings in the exterior metal are insignificant; it's evidence of a drop or transportation with the box sitting with the weight of the heater against the thermostat control you should be looking for) as the heater WILL rust through quickly if the glass lining is cracked no matter how many anodes it has! Pay your installer to replace the shutoff valve on the cold water line leading to the heater with a quality ball valve if you currently have a gate or globe valve. It's best to use unions and flexible pipe when installing the new heater to facilitate easy replacement down the road (i.e. if you have solid copper pipe leading to/from the heater now, cut it back, sweat on a pair of unions and use flex copper lines to feed the new heater. The next time the heater needs to be replaced, just undo the unions and replace the heater and flex lines. No soldering necessary.)

daml said:   you will never learn unless you try to do it yourself,,and then you can kiss-off overpriced gouging plumbers and electricians the rest of your life..get a friend who knows,buy the tools needed so you have thme for next time.. i dont buy at homedepot anymore for certain reasons, i use Lowes,but thats a personal choice..good luck...HDLFI used to live near a Lowe's and a Home Depot that were almost next to one another and quit going ot the Lowe's after a few times because they were major idiots who kept getting prices wrong and who didn't know anything about what they sold or where it was located in the store. It also didn't help that the manager of that Lowe's was just as stupid and a sociopathic liar.

baronv said:   Just spent $1,100 on a replacement Rheem 40 gal., pan, and installation.Ouch! What kind of water heater was that?



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