Is $4000 usual to install gas water heater?


Old 03-25-15, 12:09 PM
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Is $4000 usual to install gas water heater?

While a plumber was replacing galvanized pipes with copper in the common area of a condo where I rent my unit out, he said I really should replace my 2003 50 gallon Bradford White gas water heater with a 40 gallon new one, although I haven't had problems with it. He replaced the 30 gallon water heater for the unit next door during the re-piping for $2500 including new parts and permit/inspection.

He said he'd charge me $4000, even though the price for a 30 gallon and a 40 gallon is the same, because the neighbor's water heater is closer to the pipes (or something like that). The two water heaters are on opposing sides of the same ground floor wall, about two to three feet apart.

The neighbor wrote me a list of things the plumber would be installing, to help me decide whether the price is too high:
Bradford White 40 gallon water heater
thermal expansion tank
drain pan with overflow channeled to outside the building
another overflow valve channeled outside the building
new temperature and pressure relief line
ten year warranty
cost of Los Angeles Building and Safety permit and inspection


Small indoor tankless water heaters sound good except for electrical requirements I don't meet, and the homeowners association discourages outdoor ones.

Are there any brands of regular water heaters that stand out?

What is the usual price range for this?
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Old 03-25-15, 12:24 PM
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In my opinion anything over $1000 is highway robbery...
Old 03-25-15, 12:26 PM
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Run as fast as you can from that plumber. The heater alone is under $500, and there's no way in the world $3,500 is a fair amount for any additional items, plus labor.

Wow, just wow....
Old 03-25-15, 12:58 PM
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This is exactly why we recommend at least three bids on a job.
Old 03-25-15, 01:08 PM
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I'm a California contractor. I believe in paying a plumber for skill and knowledge, but this is nuts.

I don't even have to ask to know that you probably called a "big name" company that charges crazy rates because they have nice looking trucks and advertising.

Hire a licensed plumber. Ensure a permit is pulled.

I worked on a house once in SD, the customer called a plumber while I was off one day. The plumber changed a water heater ball valve and outdoor hose bib. $950.00
Old 03-26-15, 12:29 AM
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The plumber was hired by the homeowners association to replace galvanized pipes with copper. He also came to my unit to see why both the bathroom and kitchen faucets had very little flow when the toilet flushed. While he was there, he said I should get a new water heater.

His first price was $4300 but then he came down to $3978. He said if I didn't get a new water heater, the inspector was the type who might not pass the rest of the work, and the association would have to get more work done for more money.

It turned out that he'd already set the inspection for the next day, so there wasn't time to replace my water heater before the inspection after all.
Old 03-26-15, 02:22 AM
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Wonder what he charged the home owner's association? Since it is your fees that partly paid him I'd be darned interested on how much the HOA paid him and who made the decision to use him.

(Well I probably wouldn't be wondering, I'd probably be screaming at the next HOA meeting about the crook they hired.)
Old 03-26-15, 04:58 AM
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Work must be in short supply . . . . so they have to charge more when they get a good gig !
Old 03-26-15, 05:54 AM
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Sounds darn near criminal to me...
Old 03-26-15, 07:56 AM
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I also find it odd they spec'd copper, when PEX is so much easier and cheaper to use? Sounds like a scam with more than just the plumber involved.
Old 03-26-15, 09:29 AM
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I thought copper lasts longer, though, comparing the prices at PEX Piping vs. Copper Piping - Articles, I can see that the difference is big enough to go with PEX anyway .
Old 03-26-15, 11:49 AM
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I know by know this has been beat to death but something keeps dragging me back.
As a contractor this guy gives us all a bad name. I'm in MA but the prices can't be that much different.
I called my supplier and got prices for your listed items out of curiosity.
They don't carry BW tanks, this for a AO SMITH which is a very reputable tank. Next, it's a small thing but every tank comes with a new relief valve. With everything you listed and allowing for price differences the stock couldn't have been more than $500.00.
Keep in mind that this is a replacement, on top of that, not a new installation so everything was already in place. Inspection fees differ but I bet that almost could have been included in the $600.00 figure.
What I think I would do is meet with the Association and let them know and if they are above board they should be looking into another plumber to stop this guy from doing to others what he did to you.
If he lost the account I would suspect that would take a serious bite out of his income, at the very least and he would have to actually go to work like the rest of the honest plumbers out there, and there are honest ones.
As Trooper said. "IT IS CRIMINAL" and is nothing short of strong arm tactics what this guy did.
The end of my rant.
Old 03-27-15, 02:32 PM
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Thanks to everyone who gave your opinion. The plumber just called to see if I want to go ahead with the work, and he was shocked when I told him every comment here said his price is way out of line. When he started to name all the components he was including, I assured him that I had included those in my description and everybody still believed his price was too high.

I mentioned that I don't think there's anything wrong with my water heater, and he said there isn't, adding that he thought I wanted to get a new one because my neighbor got a new one, and I may well have asked the price just to know for the future.

He really did sound surprised at your reactions.
Old 03-27-15, 02:46 PM
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Of course he sounded surprised. I'll bet that he doesn't get a homeowner (or anyone else) to question his prices but maybe once in a hundred attempted sales. More likely as not he works on a salary plus commission basis and his commission for "upselling" any job is a significant portion of his overall income.

Good for you in resisting.
Old 03-27-15, 03:28 PM
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About 2 years ago, our gas water heater went out. My brother-in-law is a plumber but he lives & works in another town about 40 miles from here & isn't licensed to work in my city. When I called him for advice, he told me where to go buy the heater, what kind to buy & what needed to be done to install it. I am no plumber by any stretch, so he gave me the name of a guy here in my city that he knows.
I think my 40 gallon gas water heater was like $400 & the guy he recommend, brought two guys with him, had it installed in about an hour & replaced some lines that were now required by codes & charged me $200 for the install & new lines etc whatever, whatever.

So for $600 I had a new 40 gal water heater installed. I am in north Louisiana.

Hope this helps
Old 03-30-15, 05:21 AM
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I must have had that mans relative give me an estimate to install a sliding glass door. One man one days labor New vinyl sliding glass door $15,000.00. Not sure of the cost of the door, but a New wood Andersen (top of the line in Minnesota) cost $2,000.00. Some people are just really proud of their work.

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