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Power-Vent Hot Water Heater Install Cost

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Initial post: Oct 14, 2011 12:26:43 AM PDT
Does anybody know how much it should cost to have an AO Smith Vertex or State Power-Vent hot water heater installed. 3 contractor quotes came back around $3700. Considering I can get a 90% efficient AO Smith from a reputable plumbing supply for $1700, the $3800 price tag seems ridiculously extreme.

Posted on Oct 14, 2011 3:21:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2011 3:23:52 PM PDT
J. Prince says:
What is this replacing? This heater requires a gas supply suitable for 75.000 btu, a condensate drain, pvc venting, and a 120 volt outlet. How does this compare to you current heater?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2011 5:48:18 PM PDT
Matt Wid says:
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Posted on Oct 16, 2011 8:54:47 PM PDT
JC Remo says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2011 11:04:29 AM PST
J. Edwards says:
Run into this sometime. With everyone's ability to price product on the internet, there is often an instant assumption that they are being cheated in some way by service people. And to be fair, sometimes they can be.
You have to remember $1700.00 is just for the heater and that's all. No accessories, fittings, permits, inspections, or alterations to existing plumbing. And as someone pointed out earlier, the Vertex Direct Vent requires 76,000 BTU for operation.

What is SUPPOSED to be done is a BTU calculation for your WHOLE system when upgrading BTU's on an appliance to make sure that everything can have normal operation with required water column pressure while all operating at the same time. Some don't think this will happen, but it is not as uncommon as some would think. Furnace, water heater, dryer or whatever else are turned on and expected to run with most people never giving it a thought. It's more of a problem with tankless heaters that commonly require 199,999 BTU's and higher.

Point being is that some things may need upgrading that justifies costs many homeowners don't realize.

The fact that you have gotten 3 bids all coming back at "around $3700.00" should be an indication that this is a "reasonable" price for what is being asked to be done. The contractors have costs, insurance, liability etc. that some cannot even imagine. (Contractor myself). We have to be actively responsible and PAY for:

Workmens Compensation.
General Liability.
Health Insurance.
Any retirement plans.
Truck Insurances.
And window time. Window time? That's the downtime/travel time between jobs that can't be billed. Can easily be 2 to 3 hours a day. And then all of the above must be covered on 5 hours! Sometimes I miss checking in and having the company worry about it.

Back on topic. Most of the time I find all of these "super efficient" or tankless systems to have too many drawbacks and costs to be recommended to my customers. 95% of the time you will be better off all the way around installing the same old boring tank that has been around for years. Yes, I've done the numbers and am Rinnai certified. Also installed Rheem/Paloma. Still, 95% of the time, just put in a normal tank type. Low maintenance, less worry, less installation costs to you, and if you really work the numbers, majority of the time you will never see a payback. Ever.

Final note is that I stopped putting in State/A.O. Smith a couple of years ago because I found that their FVIR system too problematic and causing homeowners too many maintenance issues. Plus, they decreased their internal tank quality in my opinion. Saw many more premature leakers.

Install Rheem or Bradford White.

Water heating needs are not always simple, and must be sized properly for everyone to be happy. To re-state though, you have received 3 estimates all within the same range of price. That's enough supporting evidence that it is a reasonable price that you will get what is being asked to be installed and the contractor should be insured, the job inspected, and it all be reasonably profitable for the company.

Too wordy? Good luck!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2011 5:25:09 AM PST
John O says:
You've convinced me --- I've got a Rheem, installed w/new house in 1979 --- still functioning normally w/no maintainance since installed. I think the key to trouble-free is installed downstream of softener.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 10:46:36 PM PST
If you already have a Power Vent water heater, it is really not too much of a problem. Are you aware that the venting can not be switched or converted from the "normal" (3" or 4" sheet metal vent to the 3" PVC vent). Also, a PowerVent W.H. operates off of 120 volts. The vent must exit through the side of the building or room and there are ertain distances and the number of elbows that are allowed. The $2100.00 price difference seems high but you have to consider these and other factors. Also, how much does a certified plumber cost in your area? I am $139.50 an hour plus parts.

Posted on Dec 4, 2011 4:08:38 PM PST
ejk52d says:
Not to far out of line with the cost of being in the plumbing business. If they are licensed and insured etc.....If you are having it done on the side then it should cost a lot less but then your taking a risk...

Posted on Dec 14, 2011 12:18:13 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 14, 2012 6:12:38 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2011 1:15:54 PM PST
J. Edwards says:
I do this everyday. And I don't have a clue what it is worth because I am not looking at it. If you don't do this daily, you have even less idea what it is worth.

I get called in often when DIY'ers that have HGTV mess with things like this or the guy that built their deck convinces them he can do it telling them "it's just a couple of holes and some pipe...." Then I have to explain why it is not working correctly and it will cost MORE than if they had someone that knows what they are doing take care of it in the first place.

They screw up some of the controls on these things costing them. Or they can have a gas leak & explosion. Or CO and someone dying. Not trying to give scare tactics but it does happen.

What kind of fuel pipe does he have? What are the distances and sizes? What's the pressure? What kind of regulator is necessary? What other appliances are factored into the load? All this and more go into doing things right. There's alot more to it than some PVC, a hole, and a flex connector.

He's gotten 3 estimates that are close in price. There is a reason they are all this close. Think about it.

And again, my opinion is to put in a "regular" type water heater.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2012 7:03:13 AM PST
Sunset says:
I just got two estimates for my area in Maryland. One was for $1545 and the other was $2680. Both included installation and removal. This was for a 50 gallon water heater

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2012 5:31:55 PM PST
R. Hayes says:
I bought a state and total price, install incl. was $2600.

Posted on Jan 12, 2012 8:46:58 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2012 11:18:28 PM PST
OldAmazonian says:
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Posted on Jan 14, 2012 2:41:16 PM PST
WH LADY says:
My gas water heater was installed in 1997 and is working perfectly fine. However, I had an "energy audit" done on my house and the contractor said that when I have to replace the present water heater, I will have to install a power vent, or tankless, heater because there is "minimal draft" with the present heater. Can anyone address this for me? If the current water heater is working fine, why can't I just replace it with a regular water heater if and when it fails? Thanks for any input!

Posted on Jan 16, 2012 1:02:52 PM PST
phat puddock says:
I would say that you should ask your auditer for his or her qualifications regarding the proper instalation of a gas water heater. I would expect that when installed your heater/tank was venting properly. What changed? Have a plumber or Qualified gas fitter inspect and certify your instalation. People forget that combution air needs to come from somewhere. Do you have B or C venting , Do you have a make-up air vent terminating at or near the tank burner? poor venting can be dangerous!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2012 2:53:14 PM PDT
I had the exact same issue. my gravity vent hwh did not draft well. they tested this with a co meter and said co was leaking, small (tiny?) amounts but it should have been zero. At least that is what the gas company said. They recommended a power vent hwh. I also needed a new boiler. My Peerless began to leak. So they convinced me to install a $13,700 tankless power vent boiler. At 96% efficiency! I liked the sound of that. So I did it and am quite happy so far. I had propane bills one winter in excess of 6000$! Holy carp. This winter I have gone since Dec 21`on one tank of propane (400 gallons) and as of MArch 30, Im at 5%. Am also using a wood insert in my fireplace and this helps alot. So these two items may save me up to 4000 a year on propane. Although twice the cost of a new Peerless, it should pay for itself in a few years. The 6000$ propane bills were killing me.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 5:56:11 PM PDT
E. Armstrong says:
By the sounds of it, he was telling you that your water heater wasn't drafting very well. That means that while the hot gas is supposed to be going up your chimney relatively quick, it's not. Sure, you're heating water, but you're only a small failure away from a carbon monoxide issue. A water heater isn't as likely to be a silent killer as a furnace is, but it still isn't anything I would ever mess with.

The suggestion that you have to go to powervent is a little much though. You need to address your draft issue, yes. But that doesn't automatically mean that you need to double the replacement cost of a water heater for the life of the house from now on (which is what switching to powervent does, when you have an existing chimney). It may be as simple as bringing in fresh air from the outdoors, and terminating it near the bottom of your heater. There may be other reasons. It's too hard to tell over the internet, and that is why you pay a true professional to do these things for you.

For anybody else reading these things.....there is a general rule of thumb for pricing installations. It surely does NOT work every time, but it gets you close more often than not. Take the cost of all the materials involved in the job, double it, and that is usually around your total cost. For some more complicated things, multiply by 2.5 instead. Don't try to figure building an entire house this way, or having a 20 cent washer changed in a faucet (which NOBODY will do for 40 cents), so obviously it has limitations. Hope this helps somebody. And don't forget, hourly services are NOT like retail. If buying 1 hour of their time costs you $100, you can also figure that 10 hours is going to cost $1000. There is no quantity discount on time. When that guy loses a day of his life, there is no recuperating it.

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 3:14:33 PM PDT
WH LADY says:
Thank you - this seems to be a reasonable solution!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 1:54:39 PM PDT
Chris Newman says:
Wow! Thanks for all the info! Not too wordy at all! I've been thinking of replacing my 18 year-old water heater when it goes. I will take your advice and replace it with the same type I already have.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:01:59 PM PDT
Chris Newman says:
I would also suggest that a carbon monoxide detector be installed. Carbon monoxide is not something to be fooled around with - it really is a silent killer. The detectors are not expensive and certainly worth the small amount of money spent when they can save lives.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:17:20 PM PDT
Chris Newman says:
You know, I have a feeling that you believe in jury-rigging. I had a (now ex-) friend do a large amount of work on my house. And everything he did he did wrong. I ended up with over $8,000 worth of damage because he didn't take one minute to put the insulation back on the pipe he was working next to - it burst in two places. And he claimed there was no insulation in the attic (which I swept up every day for weeks as it fell through the hole in the ceiling caused by the water). He gouged my bathtub with his tools and refused to repair it. He was sloppy, lazy, and ended up stealing from a friend he was working with by telling him that I had decided the job wasn't worth as much as we had agreed upon (a lie).

It's not worth it. My entire floor was installed incorrectly, my window blinds were left in the rain and rusted, the living room wasn't even painted completely, the wall around a window is cracking (both vertically and horizontally), the porch and entry light no longer work, and the baseboards are so far from the wall that a dropped potato chip can disappear behind them. He never finished the bathroom vanity and he told me that it was normal for puddles of water, along with mildew, to show up when I used my washer and dryer (he hadn't bothered to hook the exhaust hose to the outside of the house).

My Dad was a plumber; an ethical, good, knowledgeable plumber. My ex-friend was not licensed and I was stupid and naive enough to believe him when he told me how much money he could save me. NEVER AGAIN - no short cuts. If it is to be done it should be done correctly.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2012 10:48:52 PM PDT
J. North says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 1:44:36 PM PDT
Happy says:
Thank you Mr. Edwards. Your post just saved me a lot of time, money and extra work.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 1:49:37 PM PDT
Happy says:
I bought a new hot water heater from Home Depot a couple years ago. The deal was that if they installed it then the hot water heater was guaranteed for life. Free replacement and only labor charges to put the new one(s) in. I don't know if they still offer that deal but you might want to check it out. The whole thing (50 gallon unit) cost about $750 with installation at the time.
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Discussion in:  Home Improvement forum
Participants:  29
Total posts:  43
Initial post:  Oct 14, 2011
Latest post:  Mar 14, 2015

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