Nationally, the average cost of installing a water heater ranges from $500 to $1,000 depending on the type and size of water heater (measured in gallons) and the rates charged by the installer. Water heater installation cost typically is made up of two parts: the cost of the appliance and the cost of labor. This service typically includes installation of the new system, adjustment of pipes as needed and disposal of the old appliance.
You may not think about the cost of replacing a water heater until something suddenly goes wrong with the workhorse appliance that lets you take toasty showers, bathe your dog and get your dishes squeaky clean with hot water. You may not even realize there's a problem until your hot water suddenly goes ice cold or you soak your socks by stepping in a puddle from a leak.
Nobody likes cold showers, so you'll probably want to get a new system right away. While you might be tempted to save money with a do-it-yourself water heater installation, it's probably best to leave this job to the pros. Why? Installation can involve plumbing, dealing with gas lines and performing other tasks that can be risky for the average homeowner.
What's in this cost guide?
- What types of hot water heaters are there?
- What affects the cost of a water heater install?
- What is the labor cost to install a water heater?
- Water heater repair vs. water heater replacement
The four main types of water heaters, from most common to least common, are: a gas tank water heater, an electric tank water heater, a tankless gas water heater and a tankless electric water heater. Here's a rundown of the installation costs, including the unit, for different types of water heaters:
- Tank water heater installation cost — The cost to install an electric or gas water heater typically ranges from $350 to $2,000 nationwide.
- Tankless water heater installation cost — The cost to install a gas or electric tankless water heater system typically ranges from $2,000 to $5,000.
You'll want to consider both the upfront cost factor and the energy factor when deciding whether to get a tank-style or a tankless water heater.
Here are some of the main factors that go into choosing a new water heater and may affect installation cost:
- Gas vs. electric — This simply refers to the fuel source used by the water heater. Gas heaters use gas to warm up the water while electric water heaters use electricity. Costs are similar for tank-style water heaters, though a gas tank water heater may cost $50 to $100 more than an electric tank water heater. A gas tankless water heater typically costs at least $500 more than an electric water heater.
- Tank vs. tankless system — Storage tank water heaters store gallons of water so hot water is available at any time while tankless options heat up the water on demand. Tank-style systems are easier and cheaper to install, but tankless systems can save you money on energy costs in the long run. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a gas tankless water heater can save you $108 per year in energy costs while an electric tankless water heater cansave you $44 per year.
- What size water heater you need — Tank-style systems range in size from 20 gallons to 80 gallons, with the 40-gallon size being the most common. Larger water heaters tend to cost a little more. For example, a 50-gallon tank may cost about $100 more than a 40-gallon tank. If your household size is more than two, you'll need at least a 40-gallon tank. If it's more than five, look in the range of 60 to 80 gallons.
Other factors that can affect the cost include the location of the system in your home. If it's difficult for the installer to access your old water heater in an attic or basement, or they have to haul your new heater up several flights of stairs, the pro may tack on an additional fee. Some systems, like those in Rheem's line of home appliances, include integrations that notify you of leaks and other problems which add to the water heater cost.
When pros give you an estimate of the cost of water heater installation, they typically quote a flat fee that includes both the cost of the unit and the labor required to install the new water heater and handle plumbing and gas line needs. It is possible to purchase a new unit yourself at a home improvement or plumbing supply store, and common water heater brands include: A.O. Smith, Bosch, GE, Kenmore, Rheem and Whirlpool. After you buy the heater that suits your needs, you can pay a pro for installation. The labor cost for the project typically consists of a plumber hourly rate ranging from $45 to $150 per hour (on average, nationally) multiplied by the number of hours to do the job. If a water heater install takes a typical three hours, you could pay $135 to $450 for the labor to install a water heater, but you may pay more for a complicated job that takes longer. For example, if you're getting a water heater installed in a newly constructed home, the job could cost more because the plumbing work required involves running new pipes.
Get a free estimate for water heater installation.
The lifespan of a water heater is 10 to 15 years, so water heater replacement is more common than repair. Eventually the anode rod that prevents corrosion inside a tank-style heater will wear out, making the water rusty and metallic-tasting. This means your water heater needs to be replaced. If your water heater is fixable, a water heater repair costs $150 to $400 on average nationwide. If you replace the anode before it completely fails, you can extend the life of your water heater.
Do you need a new water heater installed in your home? Research the types of hot water heaters to decide which one you want, then get several bids to compare costs and find a pro who can quickly get the hot water flowing again at your house.