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Water Heater Installation Cost Guide

Most homeowners don't give their water heater a second thought until something goes wrong, and an unexpected blast of cold water shoots forth from the shower head, or the hot water tap only runs cold. While the average water heater repair cost is $463, it can range based on the issue at hand.

Given its heating capacity, if your hot water heater is in need of repair, contact a local plumbing pro immediately.

National Install a Water Heater Costs

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by ImproveNet members.

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Average reported cost

based on 10548 cost profiles


Minimum cost


Maximum cost

Most homeowners spent between:




National Install a Water Heater Costs
Average reported cost $850
Number of Cost Profiles 10548 cost profiles
Minimum reported cost $55
Maximum reported cost $1,500
Most homeowners spent between: $755 to $929

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Table of Contents

  1. Water Heater Repair Cost
  2. How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Water Heater?
  3. Common Water Heater Problems
  4. Common Tankless Water Heater Problems
  5. How to Adjust Hot Water Heater Temperature
  6. How to Replace A Water Heater Thermocouple
  7. How to Maintain Water Heater
  8. DIY or Hire A Pro
  9. Find A Pro

Water Heater Repair Cost

When a water heater breaks down, the average cost of a repair is $460. Most homeowners pay between $240 and $549 to have their broken hot water heaters fixed. The final cost of having a water heater repaired will depend on the type of water heater, the scope of the problem and whether additional repairs to the natural gas supply, plumbing or electrical systems are needed. Water heater repairs should only be done by an experienced, trained and licensed professional. 

How Much Does it Cost to Replace A Water Heater?

An average water heater tank lasts about 10 years. If you’re not sure whether to repair or replace a water heater, a good rule of thumb is to never spend more than half the cost of replacement on a repair. According to our hot water heater installation price guide, the cost to replace a hot water heater is $850. Therefore, if your repair bid comes in above $425 and your hot water heater is more than seven years old, you may want to consider replacement versus repair.

Furthermore, if a costly part is broken, replacement may be a wise decision, as more parts could soon fail. When water heater tanks begin to leak, repair usually isn't an option. A new water heater is likely to be more energy efficient than your older heater, so a replacement could yield significant savings on your monthly energy bills. Additionally, some homeowners find that local building codes have changed and that after their water heater is repaired, upgrades to the venting system, drain pan and other components are needed. This will increase your water heater repair cost.

Common Water Heater Problems

Unlike other areas of the home, there are few issues that come up from a faulty water heater. As such, your water heater cost should not stray far from the average above. Furthermore, professional plumbers have identified five common water heater problems:


In conventional water heater tanks, one of the most common problems is corrosion. When metals get wet, corrosion can occur. Hard water can cause corrosion of the tank from the inside out, resulting in leaks. Some water heater specialists install galvanized unions that feature plastic nipples on the tank's top. Furthermore, all water heaters have anodes. They help prevent corrosion by allowing corrosion within the anode rod instead of the water heater unit.


If you see a puddle around your water heater, do not panic. Most of the time, this is just condensation. Chances are, if the hot water heater is dripping or slowly flooding, it’s condensation.

If your hot water heater is spraying or flooding from the pipes, you have a problem. Chances are, there is too much pressure going through the pipes, there is a loose pipe somewhere in the system or there is a corroded section of the tank. If you see such a problem, turn off the water valve that connects to the tank right away. 

To help identify the cause of the leak, please watch the video below. 

Thermostat Issues

While thermostats are most likely not the cause of the issue, it still pays to test them. Luckily, you can buy a hot water heater thermostat tester that will easily show if a repair is needed. The tester should have a light on the end. Once you plug the tester into all terminals, you can determine whether or not the thermostat is the cause. 

For more guidance on thermostat testing, click here. 

Pilot Light Sensor 

Your pilot light sensor, while small, can easily disrupt your hot water heater. If your pilot light went off, your thermocouple likely shut off the gas to the pilot light. Luckily, this is an easy repair we will address later on.

Electrical Wiring Issues

Finally, as you can see, there are a lot of tubes and wires connected to your hot water heater. All need to be free of disruption or high pressure to work correctly. If your issue does not relate to one of the four problems above, it’s likely an electrical wiring dilemma. 

Common Tankless Water Heater Problems

Taking up less space, many homeowners have transitioned to a tankless water heater. Just like their predecessors, tankless water heaters are not immune to injury.

Some of the most common tankless water heater problems are:

No Hot Water 

Needless to say, if you don’t have hot water, the tank is not working. Ironically, this problem seems to pop up more with tankless water heaters than traditional models. If you don’t have hot water, first check the shut off valve. If it’s open, check the burner, control panel and all pipes. If there are any issues, it could prevent the water from heating up.

No Flame or Issue with Burner

Your tankless water heater needs a flame to heat the water. If there is no flame, first check your electric and gas lines. Next, check to make sure the condensation is not causing it to go out. Finally, if the flow rate is too high, the burner may not light.

Low Water Pressure

The only thing worse than a cold shower is a cold shower with bad water pressure. After attempting the preceding troubleshooting issues, make sure there are no blocks in any of the plumbing. Ironically, most of the time, it’s a block in the system.

Thermostat Issue

Please see thermostat issues for traditional hot water heaters above.

How to Adjust Hot Water Heater Temperature

If your hot water heater is leaking, contact a local plumber right away. If you’re dealing with a less severe issue, like cold or very hot water, you may be able to fix the issue yourself. In order to fix, you have to adjust the hot water heater temperature.

Most plumbers recommend a hot water temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Sadly, most dials are not labeled, so the only thing to do is test the actual water temperature. First, run the water for five minutes. Pour yourself a glass of water and test the temperature with a thermometer. Adjust the dial right or left depending on the temperature. Wait one hour and test again. Once you find the ideal spot on the dial, mark it with a permanent marker. This way, you’ll know the exact spot for 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Maintain Water Heater

How to Replace A Water Heater Thermocouple 

Your hot water heater needs the pilot to be lit. It is the small flame that ignites the burner. First, try relighting it. If it goes out again, then you most likely have to replace the thermocouple. 

First, turn off the shut off valve. Make sure it is at a right angle. Then, unscrew the three nuts that connect the gas lines to the hot water heater. You should now be able to pull out the entire burner that holds the thermocouple. Take a picture of the burner and notice how the thermocouple is placed. Then, take it out and bring it to your local hardware store. You have to buy a match for your hot water heater type. Place your thermocouple in the same spot at the old. Reattach the three nuts and light it up.

How to Maintain Hot Water Heater

Of course, there are always certain maintenance tasks you can complete to extend the lifespan of your hot water heater:

  1. Flush the Tank: You have to remove sediment from your hot water heater. The only way to do this is to flush the tank at least once a year.
  2. Check Pressure Valve: The pressure valve shields your tank if it overpressurizes. The pressure valve protects your tank from exploding.
  3. Monitoring: As we said earlier, hot water tank leaks can be serious and as such, you must monitor your tank periodically. If a leak is evident and it’s not condensation, contact a local plumber.

To see how to complete each step above, please see DIY Tips For Water Heater Maintenance.

DIY or Hire A Pro 

Your hot water heater, while a simple appliance, can be a dangerous one, as you’d expect when it’s holding extremely hot water. Be that as it may, when it comes to general maintenance, relighting the pilot light or replacing the thermocouple, passionate DIYers can accomplish these feats on your own.

However, if your tank is leaking, you can’t find the issue or you need to replace your hot water heater, we highly recommend calling the pros.

Find A Pro

There’s nothing worse than a cold shower. While some issues may be evident when it comes to your hot water heater, others are not. If you think your hot water tank is in need of repair, let ImproveNet connect you with up to four local plumbers today!

Last updated on Jun 29, 2016

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