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Thread: Costs/Estimates & Anode Replacement?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Erika's Avatar
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    Question Costs/Estimates & Anode Replacement?

    Hi All,

    I returned home to find our 1998 A.O. Smith 50-gallon gas WH leaking out the bottom a couple of weeks ago. We drained it, sucked up the water from the floor, etc., then I started researching and getting estimates on having a new unit installed.

    After a lot of research, I decided Bradford White looked like the best choice because A.O. Smith doesn't really provide any warranty at all (they have a billion conditions, want people to pay shipping to & fro, admin charges, labor, etc., EVEN if the unit is a lemon and fails in the first year) and Rheem heaters have had a ton of consumer complaints regarding quality and warranty issues.

    So now I'm getting estimates on the B.W. replacement, and I'm really shocked because they range from $1000 to $2000! That's for removing the old WH, installing the new B.W. and a 5-gallon(?) expansion tank. We need earthquake straps and a drain pan, too, but we have the straps already and would like to buy our own pan (putting it under the new one during install and plumbing it in the next month).

    The estimates seem to be going up, too. Two weeks ago, the top price for a Rheem or A.O. was $1200, with most of the estimates around $1000. Now I'm hearing $1300-2000 for a Bradford White, and I know that brand doesn't cost that much more. One company here even charges the same for B.W., Rheem and A.O., so the price difference can't be that huge.

    Our budget for the job is about $1000, which seems quite reasonable from what I've read and everything. I even saw a Canadian guy on this forum just had a B.W. installed for $800 Canadian!

    Are these plumbers taking me for a ride because I'm the female half of the couple getting the estimates?

    Is $1000 a reasonable ballpark for removing & hauling away the old WH plus installing a new B.W. and expansion tank?

    My only other concern w/ the B.W. is potential anode replacement. We only have about 24" of clearance between the top of our current WH and the ceiling. With the periodic maintenance, I'm hoping our new WH will last 8+ years. Does it sound like we'll have enough room to replace the anode in the B.W. unit? Or is 8+ years realistic if we can't replace the anode, but can drain the W.H. periodically and do other DIY maintenance?


    Thanks in advance for reading this and your thoughts!

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    You've come to the right site!

    RE: cost of WH replacement - I can't comment, but personally if I were in the Seattle area I'd call Terry or his son to do the job (Terry is probably too modest to suggest this himself!)

    RE: anode replacement - you are in the 99th percentile of homeowners in that you know that anodes should be replaced! Very few homeowners are aware of this. The good news is that you can buy segmented replacement anodes which sort of fold up so you can install them without a lot of headroom. One source for these is at a site called waterheaterrescueDOTcom.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    The prices sound comparable to what we charge here. Prices vary widely across the country so I really cannot comment on them in your area. The price is what you can get someone to do the work for not what it costs in Canada or Florida...

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default water heater

    Your lowest price is about twice what it is here, but the heater's location can change that. The brand of heater should not change the installed price to any great extent, since they are all cost about the same. I do not REPLACE anodes, because by the time they are used up they should have done their job.

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    DIY Junior Member Erika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    You've come to the right site!

    RE: cost of WH replacement - I can't comment, but personally if I were in the Seattle area I'd call Terry or his son to do the job (Terry is probably too modest to suggest this himself!)

    RE: anode replacement - you are in the 99th percentile of homeowners in that you know that anodes should be replaced! Very few homeowners are aware of this. The good news is that you can buy segmented replacement anodes which sort of fold up so you can install them without a lot of headroom. One source for these is at a site called waterheaterrescueDOTcom.
    I think we're too far south and east for Terry, but I can give him a call today.

    That's great info on the segmented anode; thanks, Steve!

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    DIY Junior Member Erika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    The prices sound comparable to what we charge here. Prices vary widely across the country so I really cannot comment on them in your area. The price is what you can get someone to do the work for not what it costs in Canada or Florida...
    Which prices, though? There's a big difference between $1000 and $2000 for the same unit and situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Your lowest price is about twice what it is here, but the heater's location can change that. The brand of heater should not change the installed price to any great extent, since they are all cost about the same. I do not REPLACE anodes, because by the time they are used up they should have done their job.
    We do have a higher cost of living all around, so I'd expect them to be higher here than in AZ.

    The WH is in our laundry room downstairs, next to the furnace. There is easy access through the garage, so it shouldn't be hard to get things in and out with a dolly.

    I do expect to pay a little more for a Bradford White compared to a Rheem or A.O. Smith, but it certainly shouldn't be hundreds or a thousand more.

    The company I'm strongly considering hasn't been out here yet, but they do charge the same regardless of brand and said that while they can't give firm prices on the phone, $1000 sounds about right for the work we want done. I'm just hoping they don't get out here tomorrow and start tacking on hundreds in unnecessary charges, although maybe my knowledge and husband's presence will deter that kind of behavior.

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    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erika View Post
    I think we're too far south and east for Terry, but I can give him a call today.

    That's great info on the segmented anode; thanks, Steve!
    My pleasure!

    Another thought on planning ahead for anode replacement - when your new WH is being installed, might be good to ask the plumber to take off the anode, wrap the threads generously with Teflon tape, and reinstall it - it will never be easier to remove than it is right out of the box. Often, when they've been in use for a while, they are extremely difficult to unscrew unless you have an impact wrench.

    On mine, I try to remember once a year to unscrew the anode and inspect it, then re-wrap the threads with Teflon tape- which also serves to make sure I can unscrew it when the need eventually arises.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erika View Post
    Which prices, though? There's a big difference between $1000 and $2000 for the same unit and situation.
    The $1,000 would be close on a regular gas water heater, $2,000 would be close on a power vented model.

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    DIY Junior Member Erika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    My pleasure!

    Another thought on planning ahead for anode replacement - when your new WH is being installed, might be good to ask the plumber to take off the anode, wrap the threads generously with Teflon tape, and reinstall it - it will never be easier to remove than it is right out of the box. Often, when they've been in use for a while, they are extremely difficult to unscrew unless you have an impact wrench.

    On mine, I try to remember once a year to unscrew the anode and inspect it, then re-wrap the threads with Teflon tape- which also serves to make sure I can unscrew it when the need eventually arises.
    If all goes well, it's getting installed in the morning, so I'll try to remember to ask about that since we definitely want to do some upkeep on this WH. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    The $1,000 would be close on a regular gas water heater, $2,000 would be close on a power vented model.
    Yeah, it's just a regular one. The company that will likely do it charges $840 for the basics, plus probably up to $150 for the expansion tank. That's reasonable from what I've seen, especially since they work on weekends at no extra charge.

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    DIY Junior Member Erika's Avatar
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    Okay, the guy from Washington Water Heaters just left, and he did a fantastic job! He even gave us info on maintaining our furnace and showed us how to do simpler repairs on the new WH.

    And all for $1070, including sales tax. They even gave me free earthquake straps for ordering online.

    He said anode rods don't really go in this area because we have soft water, and our new Bradford White should last a good 15+ years.

    Anyway, I'm very happy with the job and appreciate your help!

    Now we're off to take a HOT shower.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    You did OK. I recently had a new Rheem Power Vent installed. It was a simple remove and replace the old power vent, so not much vent work to do, just adjust to the new size. Labor, new flex lines and sales tax was $325. So with the cost of the water heater, I was out slightly over $1K.

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