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What’s the Cost to Repair or Replace a Water Heater in New York?

January 15, 2018


Having water heater issues? Depending on the age and condition of your water heater, what seems like a simple repair could turn into a complete system replacement.

To help you budget for whatever solution is in your future, we’ve listed the average prices for a water heater repair and replacement below:

We know—those are pretty wide ranges. But that’s because there are a ton of factors that affect the price of water heater repairs and installations. We’ll talk about those factors below.

Not interested in the details and need a plumber ASAP? Contact us and we’ll send one right over.

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Factors that will affect the cost of your water heater repair

In this section, we’ll explore the main 4 factors that affect the cost of a water heater repair:

  1. The age of your water heater

  2. The type of water heater you have

  3. Whether the unit is under warranty

  4. The contractor you choose

1. The age of your water heater

Typically, the older your water heater is, the more the repair will cost.

That’s because the more wear and tear a water heater has, the more likely that several components will need to be repaired and/or replaced (vs just one faulty component).

Depending on the model (gas vs electric/tank vs tankless), water heaters can last anywhere from 8 to 20+ years. So, if your water heater is nearing its 8th birthday (or is older), you can expect slightly more expensive water heater repairs.

Is your water heater much older than 8 years old? Is it starting to need frequent repairs? Then you might want to consider cutting your losses and just have your water heater replaced altogether.

2. The type of water heater you have (tank vs tankless)

Usually, tankless water heater repairs cost more than tank water heater repairs.

Why? Well, tank water heaters, by design, are more simple water heating devices (water comes into the tank and is kept hot until it’s needed by either gas burners or electric heating elements). And their simplicity usually results in easy, low-cost repairs.

Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, are more complex devices (water travels into the unit and gets heated directly and is immediately delivered to a hot water tap—not stored). Because there are more components involved, tankless water heater repairs generally take more labor/materials to complete.

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3. Whether the unit is under warranty

If your water heater is still under warranty, the repair cost will be considerably cheaper.

Usually, water heaters are covered by 2 different types of warranties:

  • Labor. This type of warranty is usually offered by the contractor who installed the water heater and lasts for 1 to 2 years (sometimes longer). This warranty covers the cost of labor for any needed repairs but won’t cover the cost of any replacement parts needed.

  • Parts. This type of warranty is offered by manufacturers (i.e. Reem, Bradford White, etc.) and covers the cost for any replacement parts needed but doesn’t cover labor costs. A parts warranty usually lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 years.

Not sure if your water heater is still under warranty? We suggest first looking up your manufacturer’s website online. Then search the website for your water heater model. The warranty details should be included on the product page.

If you’re still not sure after a quick online search, try contacting the professional who installed the water heater. They should be able to determine whether your water heater is still under warranty or not.

4. The contractor you choose

The more experienced the contractor, they more they typically charge.

That said, beware contractors who offer very low prices. Often, choosing a contractor who promises rock bottom prices will cost you more in the long run. You see, a rushed or sloppy water heater repair will lead to even more repairs further down the road.

If you’re having trouble looking for a quality plumber to handle your water heater repairs, follow the tips below.

Choose a plumber who:

  • Is licensed and insured in the state of New York

  • Guarantees their work and covers the repair with at least a 1-year warranty

  • Has been in business for at least 5–10 years

  • Operates out of a physical corporate office (not out of a truck)

Need professional water heater repair in the New York Metro Area?

Just ask us. We’ll inspect your unit and offer an upfront, flat-fee estimate on your water heater repair.

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Factors that affect the cost of a water heater replacement

In this section, we’ll explore the main 5 factors that affect the cost of a water heater replacement:

  1. The type of water heater you choose

  2. The size of the water heater

  3. Whether you’re switching fuel types

  4. The efficiency of the water heater

  5. The plumber you hire

1. The type of water heater you choose

When it comes to choosing the type of water heater you want, you have 2 choices to make—do you want a:

  1. Tank or tankless water heater?

  2. Gas or electric water heater

Let’s look at how those 2 decisions affect cost...

Tank vs tankless

A tank water heater is:

  • Typically cheaper to install than a tankless water heater
  • Better suited for larger homes with a high hot water demand

A tankless water heater is:

  • Typically more expensive to install than a tank water heater
  • Is better suited for smaller homes with low hot water demand

Note: If your home doesn’t have a gas hookup (and you don’t want to install one), we don’t suggest choosing a tankless water heater. Electric tankless water heaters are known to be very inefficient (meaning high monthly energy bills) and can’t keep up with a high hot water demand.

How a tank water heater works 

A tank water heater works by receiving cold water from your home’s main water line. The cold water fills the storage tank and is heated via gas burners or electric heating elements. The heated water is stored in the tank until hot water is needed somewhere in the house.

How a tankless water heater works

Compared to tank models, tankless units are much more complex. They doesn’t store water. Instead, as soon as a hot water tap is turned on, cold water rushes into the tankless unit, is heated very quickly and then gets sent immediately to the tap. Special piping and venting is required for this process, which might mean some minor retrofitting to your home.

If you’re not sure which option is right for you contact a professional. You can also check our Energy.gov’s comparison between tank and tankless water heaters.

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Gas vs electricity

Gas water heaters usually cost more upfront than electric models but gas water heaters also offer lower monthly energy bills.

Why? Well, a gas water heater is slightly more complicated to install. That’s because the installation requires hooking the unit up to the home’s main gas line.

However, most New York homeowners opt for gas water heaters because the lower price of natural gas (compared to the rate for electricity) means lower monthly utility bills. Usually, the monthly savings quickly pays off the higher installation price of a gas water heater.

2. The size/capacity of the water heater

The higher the capacity of the water heater, the more the unit costs.

Tank water heater sizing

Tank water heaters are sized based on how much hot water the tank can hold. This is measured in gallons. Tank water heaters vary in their capacity and are available in different sizes from 30–100 gallons.

The size tank water heater you need depends on:

  • The number of people in your home

  • Your hot water demand (i.e. the more hot water appliances you typically run at the same time, the higher your “demand”)

If you currently have a tank water heater that meets your hot water needs well, we suggest just replacing that unit with one of the same size. However, if you’re not sure the size of your current water heater is correct, have a professional determine the correct size you need.

Tankless water heater sizing

Tankless water heating sizing is a bit more complex than tank water heater sizing. Tankless units are sized according to each unit’s maximum “temperature rise” given a certain “flow rate”.

  • The temperature rise refers to how high the unit can heat up the cold incoming water before that water reaches you (measured in degrees).

  • The flow rate refers to how much hot water the unit can provide in a minute (measured in gpm—gallons per minute).

Let’s see this sizing method in action:

Tankless water heater sizing

Screenshot taken from a Google Shopping results page

Above, you’ll see that this tankless water heater model can provide hot water at a flow rate of 6.7 gallons per minute as long as the unit doesn’t have to heat the water any higher than 45 degrees.

Here’s the secret: The higher the temperature rise needed, the lower the unit’s flow rate (and vice versa).

For example, the unit above can provide more gallons per minute (up to 8.4 GPM) if needed, but the temperature rise drops, meaning the water will be 10° colder (35° temperature rise as opposed to 45°) than it will be at 6.7 gpm.

The tankless water heater size you need depends on:

  1. How many hot water appliances you plan to use at the same time (this gives you the maximum “flow rate” you’d need from the water heater)

  2. How hot you want your hot water (this gives you the “temperature rise” you’d need from your water heater) Note: New York’s incoming cold water is usually 47°, meaning if you like your hot water to be 110°, your needed temperature rise is 63°.

A little confused? That’s okay. Tankless water heater sizing is complex.

Luckily, a professional can calculate what size you need. It's always a good idea to have a pro do this for you because if you get a tankless unit that's too big, you risk high monthly utility bills. And if it's too small, you won't ever have enough hot water.

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3. The efficiency of the water heater

The higher the efficiency rating of your water heater, the more it will cost.

Every water heater has its own “EF” rating, which determines how “efficient” it is. The higher the EF rating, the more efficient the unit. This number is based on the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel the unit consumes on an average day.

A water heater’s EF can range from .58% to .96%.

Not sure what efficiency you should choose? It all comes down to how much you want to spend upfront:

  • If you're able to spend more upfront, go with a super efficient water heater (high EF rating).
  • If you're on a budget, settle for a mid-efficiency EF rating.

4. Whether you're switching fuel types (electric to gas)

If you’re switching from an oil fired or an electric water heater to a gas water heater, there will most likely be additional costs associated with this.

If your home doesn’t currently have a gas hookup, you’ll need to:

  • Have a utility company install gas lines to your home

  • Install a chimney lining

  • Have your new gas water heater professionally installed

While converting to gas can be an extensive (and pricey) endeavor, many homeowners in the New York Metro area opt for this conversion because gas prices are cheaper than oil or electricity.

Want to learn more about converting to gas? Just check out our blog, “What Does it Cost to Convert from Oil to Gas in New York?”.

5. The plumber you hire

The more experienced and skilled the plumber, the more they typically charge.

Don’t gamble with this one. Choosing a lower-priced plumber just to save a few hundred bucks could leave you with:

  • Higher monthly energy bills

  • Inadequate hot water

  • Many expensive repairs down the road

Instead of choosing a plumber based on the lowest installation prices, we suggest vetting professionals based on whether:

  • They are licensed and insured by the state of New York

  • They are experienced in water heater installs and repairs

  • They’ve been in business for at least 10 years

  • They have a physical storefront location (vs operating out of a truck)

  • They provide an upfront estimate in writing but only after an onsite consultation

  • They offer at least a 1-year labor warranty

Need a quote for a water heater installation or repair in New York?

We’ll send over a plumber who will perform an onsite consultation before offering a fair quote in writing.

We offer installations and repairs with a solid 1-year labor warranty (and 50+ years of experience in water heater installs).

Having other plumbing issues? Browse our plumbing services to see how we can assist you.

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