Installing a new water heater promptly after the old one fails is crucial for restoring hot water for daily hygiene, washing, and cooking. This project typically costs $906 to $3,910, but the type of heater, tank size, and other factors will affect your total price.* Our guide explains common costs and signs it’s time for replacement.
*Unless otherwise noted, cost figures in this article are based on 2023 reports from The Home Depot, Homewyse, and HomeGuide.
The Cost of Water Heater Installation
The national average for tank water heater installation is between $906 and $1,583 for the unit and labor, and tankless water heaters cost around $1,833 to $3,910 to purchase and install. The cost of installing a water heater will vary depending on the type of heater, tank size, and additional work required.
Cost by Type
One of the most significant cost factors affecting a water heater installation is the water heater’s fuel type. The list below breaks down the national average cost for different fuel types of tank and tankless water heaters. Expect tankless water heater installation costs to be higher.
- Electric ($550 to $2,000): Electric water heaters promote energy efficiency by heating water on-demand. Electric heaters are quieter than other types of water heaters and don’t require any direct vents for installation, which lowers costs. You may have to pay for additional electrical work depending on your current electrical system.
- Propane ($600 to $3,500): Propane water heaters perform consistently in areas with unreliable electricity supply. Propane is a clean-burning fuel, making these systems more environmentally friendly. Due to their design and on-demand fuel source, propane units offer flexible installation and use less space.
- Gas ($700 to $4,500): Natural gas water heaters are ideal for households seeking a convenient and environmentally friendly solution for their hot water needs. Generally, gas models, especially tankless units, have a higher heating capacity than electric units, so they’re a great option for large households with high water demands. You may need to pay for a new gas line installation, depending on your current gas lines’ condition.
- Oil ($1,000 to $3,000): Oil water heaters are particularly suitable for areas where other fuel sources, such as propane, aren’t readily available. This system also requires a storage tank of home heating oil to function.
- Solar ($1,500 to $6,000): Solar water heaters use solar panels to heat water, which can result in substantial energy savings. This high-end unit is an excellent choice for environmentally conscious homeowners who want to run their entire house on high-efficiency systems.
Cost by Size
The other most significant cost factor is the water heater’s size. Water heaters are measured in gallon capacity, and performance is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Here are the average cost ranges, including labor and materials, for various water heater sizes:
- 30-gallon tank: $300 to $1,000
- 40-gallon tank: $350 to $1,600
- 50-gallon tank: $400 to $2,500
- 75-gallon tank: $900 to $3,500
- 80-gallon tank: $1,000 to $4,000
Factors Affecting Cost
When installing a water heater, there’s more to it than hooking up a tank or a unit to your plumbing system. The total cost of your water heater installation varies based on local labor and permit costs, any additional features, and several other factors explored below.
- Accessibility: Where you intend to install the water heater matters. The installation process might be more straightforward if you’re replacing an old unit with a new one in the same location. However, if you change the location, extra work will be needed to reroute plumbing and potentially ventilation systems. Expect higher costs if you install it somewhere new.
- Additional features: Certain water heaters have extra features such as energy-saving technology, smart controls, or anti-scale mechanisms. While these features can enhance efficiency and convenience, they may also require more intricate installation procedures, increasing costs.
- Labor: Hiring a professional with experience and expertise installing water heaters is crucial. A skilled installer can get the job done efficiently and accurately, ensuring proper connections, minimizing leak risk, and ultimately saving you potential repair costs. Labor costs for professional plumbers range from $50 to $200 per hour.
- Permits and codes: Depending on your local regulations, you might need permits for water heater installation. Meeting building codes and safety standards is paramount, and adhering to these guidelines can involve additional time and effort for the installer, which can translate to higher costs.
- Plumbing: Sometimes, your plumbing system might need tweaks to accommodate the new water heater. This could include upgrading pipes, installing new water lines, or adjusting water pressure. Such modifications can add to the installation expenses.
- Region: Installation costs can vary based on where you live. Different regions have varying labor rates and material costs, which can influence the overall price.
- Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial for safe water heater operation. If your chosen unit requires specific ventilation modifications or the existing ventilation needs adjustments, this can drive up installation costs. Adequate ventilation ensures the release of potentially harmful gasses, such as carbon monoxide.
Signs That You Need to Replace Your Water Heater
Recognizing the signs that it’s time to replace your water heater is essential to prevent unexpected disruptions and potential damage. Here are some common signs that indicate the need for a new water heater:
- Age: Water heaters typically have a life span of around 8 to 12 years. If your unit is approaching or exceeding this age range, it’s wise to start considering a replacement. Water heaters become more prone to leaks and breaking down as they age.
- Inadequate hot water: If you’re suddenly experiencing consistent lukewarm or cold water flow, your water heater might be struggling to maintain the proper temperature. This could be due to various issues, such as a failing heating element or sediment buildup.
- Increased energy bills: As water heaters age, their efficiency diminishes, causing them to consume more energy to heat water adequately. If you notice a sudden spike in energy costs without any other plausible explanation, your water heater’s declining efficiency might be to blame.
- Leakage: Puddles or moisture around the water heater are red flags. Even small leaks can lead to significant water damage over time. If you notice leaks, it’s crucial to prevent further problems promptly.
- Noises: Excessive rumbling, popping, or banging noises are often due to sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank. This buildup reduces efficiency and can cause cracks. If these noises persist despite flushing the tank, it might be a sign the unit is on its way out.
- Odors: Foul or metallic odors in your hot water can stem from bacteria buildup inside the tank. While this issue could be solved with proper maintenance, it could also signal a deteriorating tank that requires replacement.
- Rust and corrosion: Rusty water, especially from the hot water tap, indicates corrosion within the tank. Rust compromises the tank’s integrity and can lead to leaks. If you notice rusty water or visible corrosion on the tank’s surface, it’s time to plan for a replacement.
- Visible damage: Physical damage to the water heater, such as dents, cracks, or a compromised pressure relief valve, can compromise the unit’s safety and efficiency. In such cases, replacing the water heater is advisable rather than risk further issues.
Professional vs. DIY Water Heater Installation
Professional installation offers a wealth of benefits. Expert plumbers know local building codes, safety regulations, and proper installation procedures. They also ensure the water heater is correctly connected to gas lines (if applicable), plumbing, and ventilation systems. Professional hot water heater installation minimizes the risk of leaks, gas exposure, or other hazards.
In contrast, do-it-yourself (DIY) installation poses notable risks, such as improper connections, leaks, inadequate ventilation, and potential harm to yourself or others. While a DIY install might appear cost-effective initially, the potential for costly repairs far outweighs the short-term savings. Additionally, many manufacturers’ warranties require professional installation, which means DIY installation could void these warranties. Professional installation guarantees a safe, efficient, and compliant setup, while DIY installation risks immediate and long-term complications.
We recommend professional water heater installation. When you hire a professional plumber to install your water heater, you get peace of mind from proper installation and full advantage of any warranties or guarantees. We suggest you obtain at least three plumbing quotes to compare closely to get the best option for your budget and needs.
Our tool helps you gather quotes from the top plumbers installing water heaters in your area.
Water Heater Installation Cost FAQ
How long does it take to install a 40-gallon water heater?
On average, a 40-gallon hot water should take professionals two to three hours to install.
What is considered old for a water heater?
With regular inspection, draining, and flushing, most water heaters last anywhere from eight to 12 years, and electric water heaters last a bit longer, from 10 to 15 years.
How long should I wait to run water after a new water heater?
After installing a new water heater, waiting 30 minutes to an hour is generally recommended before running water through it. This allows the water heater’s tank to fill up and for the heating element or burner to heat the water to the desired temperature. However, ask your contractors what they advise.
How do I prepare for a new water heater installation?
The best step a homeowner can take for water heater installation is to turn off the gas supply or electricity to the existing water heater. You’ll need to shut off the gas supply valve for gas water heaters. Turn off the circuit breaker connected to the water heater for electric water heaters. Additionally, locate the cold water supply line that feeds into the water heater and turn off the water supply by closing the valve. This valve is usually located above the water heater.