How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Heater?

by Matt Schmitz
technician with water heater

The good news is: With any luck, after this, you won’t have to replace your water heater again for at least a decade. We suppose that makes the bad news pretty obvious: We regret to inform you that you're not gonna be able to buy yourself any more time with ye olde water heater. It’s time for a total replacement. Of course, your first question is, “How much is this gonna cost me?” And, of course — we’ve got the answer.

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Replacing your water heater is a little pricier than some other appliances because installation involves several different elements and variables, including:

  • The cost of the unit itself
  • Materials for installation
  • Labor from a licensed plumber
  • Permits for installation
  • The current state of your plumbing
  • The positioning of your pipes
  • Hauling away your old unit (optional)
  • Whether you wish to install a water heater in a new spot
  • If you want to convert from electric to gas or from tank to tankless, necessitating rewiring your home or adding a gas line
  • Anything else that increases the number of hours it takes to complete the job
Water heater control valve

According to HomeServe data, the national average cost to replace a water heater is more than $1,700. But don’t forget to factor in another hundred bucks or so for the diagnosis fee, which your chosen contractor will almost certainly charge to come to your house, determine what the issue is and recommend a course of action, regardless of what you wind up doing.

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The biggest among water heater replacement costs is the type of unit you’re installing. At the low end of national averages, you could pay as little as $928 for an electric water heater with a 30-gallon capacity, whereas at the high end, you could pay more than $4,700 for an external tankless water heater capable of heating 9.4 gallons per minute.

Additional expenses such as a new drain pan, earthquake strapping or exhaust venting could tack on several hundred more dollars. Meanwhile, regional pricing and cost-of-living variations where you live could raise or lower your replacement price: A Kentucky household, for example, could pay 1,300 bucks, all told, while a homeowner in Idaho might fork over nearly two grand for the same-size unit.

Below, you can find national and state-by-state average totals for water heater replacement and, beyond that, price ranges for the different types of water heaters you might be installing as well as a list of the most common additional expenses and their average costs — all to help you estimate how much your new water heater’s going to set you back.

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For a broader look at water heater pricing, check out our cost guide covering pricing averages for both repair and replacement state by state. And for a deeper dive into what factors into how much you’ll pay to get your water heater fixed without a full replacement, go to our state-by-state repair cost guide.

All figures are based on aggregated HomeServe data reported by our network of thousands of contractors across the nation. Where insufficient data was available to determine a verifiable average, we’ve noted so. Also note that the following regional averages should generally be assumed to refer to conventional “tanked” models — the most common type — as opposed to tankless or “on-demand” models, which can cost roughly twice as much.

National Average Job Cost for Water Heater Diagnoses and Replacement

  • Diagnosis: $99
  • Replace: $1,741

State by State Average Job Cost for Water Heater Diagnoses and Replacement

1. Alabama

  • Diagnosis: $87
  • Replace: $1,402

2. Alaska

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: Insufficient data

3. Arizona

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: Insufficient data

4. Arkansas

  • Diagnosis: $78
  • Replace: $1,509

5. California

  • Diagnosis: $71
  • Replace: $1,589

6. Colorado

  • Diagnosis: $92
  • Replace: $1,535

7. Connecticut

  • Diagnosis: $59
  • Replace: $1,590

8. Delaware

  • Diagnosis: $74
  • Replace: $1,552

9. District of Columbia

  • Diagnosis: $87
  • Replace: $1,468

10. Florida

  • Diagnosis: $102
  • Replace: $1,469

11. Georgia

  • Diagnosis: $91
  • Replace: $1,372

12. Hawaii

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: Insufficient data

13. Idaho

  • Diagnosis: $87
  • Replace: $1,942

14. Illinois

  • Diagnosis: $87
  • Replace: $1,452

15. Indiana

  • Diagnosis: $82
  • Replace: $1,424

16. Iowa

  • Diagnosis: $85
  • Replace: $1,520

17. Kansas

  • Diagnosis: $84
  • Replace: $1,488

18. Kentucky

  • Diagnosis: $88
  • Replace: $1,345

19. Louisiana

  • Diagnosis: $87
  • Replace: $1,496

20. Maine

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: Insufficient data

21. Maryland

  • Diagnosis: $84
  • Replace: $1,424

22. Massachusetts

  • Diagnosis: $69
  • Replace: $1,669

23. Michigan

  • Diagnosis: $82
  • Replace: $1,464

24. Minnesota

  • Diagnosis: $84
  • Replace: $1,524

25. Mississippi

  • Diagnosis: $80
  • Replace: $1,443

26. Missouri

  • Diagnosis: $83
  • Replace: $1,428

27. Montana

  • Diagnosis: $94
  • Replace: $1,579

28. Nebraska

  • Diagnosis: $92
  • Replace: $1,439

29. Nevada

  • Diagnosis: $59
  • Replace: $1,421

30. New Hampshire

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: $1,968

31. New Jersey

  • Diagnosis: $64
  • Replace: $1,479

32. New Mexico

  • Diagnosis: $74
  • Replace: $1,438

33. New York

  • Diagnosis: $84
  • Replace: $1,521

34. North Carolina

  • Diagnosis: $89
  • Replace: $1,686

35. North Dakota

  • Diagnosis: $102
  • Replace: $1,611

36. Ohio

  • Diagnosis: $88
  • Replace: $1,558

37. Oklahoma

  • Diagnosis: $89
  • Replace: $1,453

38. Oregon

  • Diagnosis: $104
  • Replace: $1,439

39. Pennsylvania

  • Diagnosis: $76
  • Replace: $1,459

40. Rhode Island

  • Diagnosis: $81
  • Replace: Insufficient data

41. South Carolina

  • Diagnosis: $84
  • Replace: $1,556

42. South Dakota

  • Diagnosis: $94
  • Replace: $1,577

43. Tennessee

  • Diagnosis: $82
  • Replace: $1,603

44. Texas

  • Diagnosis: $88
  • Replace: $1,564

45. Utah

  • Diagnosis: $76
  • Replace: $1,590

46. Vermont

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: Insufficient data

47. Virginia

  • Diagnosis: $84
  • Replace: $1,592

48. Washington

  • Diagnosis: $89
  • Replace: $1,626

49. West Virginia

  • Diagnosis: $81
  • Replace: $1,423

50. Wisconsin

  • Diagnosis: $81
  • Replace: $1,438

51. Wyoming

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Replace: $1,588

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Water Heater Price Ranges by Type

  • Tankless, externally mounted: $4,211.67 (7.5 gallons per minute) to $4,703.04 (9.4 GPM)
  • Tankless, internally mounted: $3,743,85 (7.5 GPM) to $4,404.52 (9.4 GPM)
  • Electric water heater: $928.20 (30 gallons) to $1,327.86 (80 gallons)
  • Natural gas water heater: $1,020.05 (30 gallons) to $1,939.82 (75 gallons)
  • Natural gas, direct vent: $1,488.57 (30 gallons) to $2,968.66 (75 gallons)
  • Natural gas, power vent: $2,888.14 (40 gallons) to $3,663.53 (75 gallons)
  • Propane water heater: $1,208.99 (30 gallons) to $2,046.75 (80 gallons)
  • Propane, direct vent: $2,147.49 (40 gallons) to $3,055.08 (75 gallons)

Additional Expenses Contributing to Water Heater Replacement Costs

  • Installing water heater on a stand or shelf: $70.20
  • Drain pan: $94.04
  • Earthquake strapping: $129.26
  • Exhaust venting: $114.77
  • Expansion tank: $118.60
  • Water heater stand or platform: $151.61

What Goes Into the Price You Pay for Installation?

As you can see, the biggest price for a water heater is simply the unit itself. However, when calculating overall costs, you also need to remember the price of installation. Installation costs for a water heater replacement will include the price for materials like pipe fittings, the price of permits and the price of labor.

For materials such as pipe fittings, valves and connectors, you’ll usually need to pay an extra $8 to $10 per foot. Permit fees vary widely. Some regions don’t require a permit at all, while others may charge a fee of up to a few hundred dollars to get a permit for the installation. When calculating labor costs, some plumbers may charge per hour while others may provide a flat rate for water heater installations. Expect to pay about $45 to $150 per hour while a plumber installs your heater. When you call the professionals to install your tank, expect it to take about one to three hours to install.

Which Water Heater Brands Cost the Most to Install?

Different brands sell their heaters for different prices, but some may build stronger heaters than others. When it comes to picking brands, you'll probably want to find something that balances affordability, reliability and durability. Consumer Reports has given high rankings to A.O. Smith, Rheem, Whirlpool, GE and Kenmore.

  • Rheem tends to be a brand that lets you save money, with tank water heaters retailing for around $400 to $2,300.
  • A.O. Smith heaters are about the same, but they can cost up to $3,500.
  • Noritz appeals to those in the market for a cheaper tankless water heater, with models retailing for as low as $515.
  • Rinnai-brand tankless heaters, on the other end of the spending spectrum, cost anywhere from $900 to $1,995.

Are Energy-Efficient Models Worth It?

When trying to calculate water heater prices, many homeowners wonder whether they should bother thinking about energy efficiency. Most energy-efficient models will be a little pricier than standard models, but purport to offset that cost via reduced monthly utility bills.

To determine if an energy-efficient model is worth it, you need to look at its annual operation expenses compared with the operating costs for cheaper, non-energy-efficient models. Multiply these annual savings by the projected lifespan of the water heater to estimate whether it’ll be cheaper to get an energy-efficient model in the long run.

Generally, savings will depend on factors like your local energy rates and the level of energy efficiency. According to Energy Star, a high-efficiency tank water heater will save you somewhere between 10% and 20% on energy costs. A high-efficiency tankless water heater could provide even bigger savings of 45% to 60%. This can add up to as much as $1,800 in savings over the lifetime of the tank, making energy-efficient models cheaper overall.

How Long Before You Need to Replace Your Water Heater Again?

When calculating total water heater costs, it's helpful to take into account the average lifespan for the product. The typical hot water heater tank will last about eight to 12 years. Meanwhile, the average tankless water heater will last around 15 years to 18 years. Because tankless water heaters do not corrode as much, they last far longer. If you're able to pay the higher price up front, you may find that the annual price of the tank ends up being lower due to its longer life span.

Signs of Trouble (and How to Avoid Them)

Potential signs your water heater is going out include:

  • Banging or rumbling noises from the tank
  • Hot water that looks red or yellow
  • Unusually high energy bills
  • A sudden decline in hot water temperature
  • Leaking around the tank

Performing regular maintenance, like flushing your hot water tank and replacing your sacrificial anode rod, will help your tank last as long as possible. If you notice any problems, call for water heater repair promptly before the damage gets worse. With a little regular care of your tank, you can avoid having to pay water heater replacement costs any more often than is absolutely necessary.

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