Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick.
What’s that noise? Well hello – it’s our 13 year old tank water heater. My friend, your time is almost up – you’re well past your expected lifetime you know. You’re the time bomb in my attic over my master bedroom suite. Tick tick tick. I’ve been eying you suspiciously for a while now, waiting… wondering… when are you going to leak? Will it be when I am at home? Will it be when I am out of town for a week? Will you ruin two stories of dry wall and insulation? Well, I am not going to let you rain on my parade.
I’ve been procrastinating on this, but one of my neighbors came home to water streaming down the outside of their house recently. Their old water heater blew. Yikes! I didn’t want that to happen to me too. Time to get proactive.
Boy there are a lot of choices out there for water heaters! I would love to do a solar one or maybe a tankless. Unfortunately those are about $3,000-$7,000 installed and even with the 30% federal tax credit that’s a bit painful. I don’t know if I’ll find a new job outside of NC so I can’t justify that kind of expense for a house I might wind up selling. Tank water heaters have gotten a bit more efficient as well, even if they aren’t quite as good as the solar or tankless models. My target was a nice energy star tank water heater that was about the same configuration as my old one to facilitate easy installation. Why you ask? Because my husband and I were going to install it ourselves. In this land known as Frugalistan you never pay someone to do something that you can do yourself.
My job was to pick out the water heater, arrange for delivery, and make sure that I bought enough parts to do the installation without multiple trips to Home Depot. (there are a lot of things to consider – let me tell you!) His job was to wield the propane torch for the copper piping and to provide the brawn to break the seal on the gas line. Oh, didn’t I mention? Yes, we have a propane gas heater! There’s nothing like playing with highly combustible materials on a Friday night. Together we were responsible for getting 175lbs of new water heater up two flights of stairs. I got the job pulling on the handles of the appliance dolly. Hurray! Those things are big and it sure isn’t easy maneuvering up two staircases each having a quarter turn. Good thing I eat my spinach.
I have to say – this was a surprisingly *easy* job. Cutting, fluxing and soldering copper pipe is a no-brainer. The gas line was a little disconcerting, but we reused all of the black iron pipe, so that wasn’t an issue either. The worst part of it was moving the water heater vertically. Down for the old one was easy, up for the new one was the hard part.
New water heater – $675, plumbing supplies – $100, the satisfaction of a job well done – priceless.