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"Friday evening we noticed no hot water. Taking a look at the water heater I noticed the pilot light would not stay on when I lit it after holding/releasing the red" button. After multiple attempts I resign to admitting there must be a problem. I don't really want to fool around with gas so I would rather call a professional. I call early Saturday morning and leave a message. Their tech returns my call within 30 minutes as promised - so far very good. My understanding from Internet is the thermocouple is most common cause of this problem. Tech goes right to saying its going to be the controller, couple hundred of dollars for the part, plus since it is a weekend it's going to be $150/hr with a two hour minimum plus parts. So my guess is ~ $600. I ask about the thermocouple and he says we could try that but his experience says it's going to be the controller. In shell shock, I say I'll call back after discussing with the wife. This figure sends me back to the to Internet to see how hard it is to replace the thermocouple. After looking at a couple of youTube videos I figure I can try to do it and call back if it does not work. Run down to OSH for the thermocouple for about $8, then have it installed in about 15 minutes. Everything seems to be working now. I am not sure how to grade . They have a good rep on Angie's List, and the weekend rate may be the going rate. Their guy was prompt in returning my call and was courteous and friendly. So the determining factor was what was his motivation for going straight to the controller - something I can't know. Was he trying to pull one over on me, or was he just wanting to prepare me for the worst? If I need plumbing help again I might give them another shot - but I am not certain of this.

-Gary L.

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Angie's Answers


You have to put your self in the shoes of a business that is in business to turn a profit of some sort. All businesses have different overhead which in turn decides what their bottom line would be on their services. I personally would not go with an unlicensed professional for this type of install. You are messing with gas, venting issues, electrical wiring{electric water heater} and updated code issues such as a drain pan and tempature and relief drain lines for heaters that currently do not have them. I do agree that there are some companies that are way out of line for their installs but most of these companies are the really big companies that have very high overheads  I would assume. Tank type water heaters have changed over the last several years and with these safety changes come bigger prices. The price of steel thanks to China is skyrocketing and tank type water heaters are made of steel. Most wholesale plumbing supply companies cannot match what the big box stores are selling at retail to consumers. I happen to think from research that heaters such as Rheem, Bradford White and AOSmith who have been in business forever make a better product than what you can buy in the big box outlets. You also have to take in consideration the location of the water heater that is being replaced. Is it in the house, basement, garage or attic. Most 40 and 50 gallon water heaters that are purchased in a plumbing wholesale store in Texas cost between 300-340 for a 6 year warranty heater with 6 year on parts and tank. Speaking of warranty. Most big box companies will take a least 24 hours to a week to get your warranty problem taken care of. Most reputable plumbing companies will give same day service if they installed the heater.

So lets break down a typical install at cost to a licensed plumber in Texas

Heater: $315, water shut off $6.50, water flex lines or unions to code $20, gas flex line and cut off to code $12, misc fittings $15, Total $368.50 Lets add a 35% profit which is some what low  for a business $129, Total 497.50

This doesnt  include permits, pan and drain or any venting issues. The vent must go from the heater to the outside of roof using double wall vent.

Cost of permit on average $60

Most plumbing companies allow for 3 hours of time for a water heater. This includes picking the new one up. Delivering out to house. Draining and removing old water heater. Hauling off old heater. Installing new heater up to code. Going down to city and pulling permit.

Average Labor charges for heater installs $400

That would make this install run without extras on any code issues $957.50

I just had a 50 gallon gas water heater installed in my house for $1200 but I needed a pan installed. I used a licensed plumber.





I've seen and heard mixed reviews.  They aren't really popular here due to our super hard water which clogs and rots everything it sits in.  A company I used to work for tried electric units about 10 years ago in several homes but had to replace many of them within a few years because the build-up from the hard water hindered their productivity to little more than enough supply to run a sink.  I've heard better success with gas units since there are no electric elements to burn out and gas can get hotter, faster to get through the deposits on the tubing walls inside the unit.


Standard electric water heater usually take a 30 amp circuit so they are often wired with 10 guage wire.  Electric on-demand units large enough to service an entire house usually take 50 amps (or more) from what I've researched in the past.  That means they need a 50 amp breaker and will be wired with 6 guage wire.  By the time you factor in the initial cost of buying the much more expensive on-demand unit and rewiring for it I'm not sure you'll save money in the long run. 


A better and cheaper option would be to put a timer on your standard water heater so it only kicks on during typical demand times.  They have override switches so you can turn it to cycle normally when you are off of work or need it during the day/night if not during the preset times.  A cheaper point of use water heater at the kitchen sink will ensure you have hot water there even when the main heater is off.  This is usually the point that requires hot water the most frequently.  Remember that your water heater will hold hot water for over an hour once it has cycled off.  Take advantage of that.


Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX


Depends a lot on your configuration - he may have been including direct outside venting because your existing heater/furnace duct was not large enough to handle the added load, and may have figured running larger piping to the jetted tub and maybe upsizing the valve and flex tubing at the gas line. This all assumes you have adequate access and installation space for the larger tank - they tend to be fatter rather than much taller.

I would talk to several plumbers - if you get quotes from 3 or more, it should become obvious right off if one is high-balling you. Of course, do not tell the others what the other's bids were.

The water heater itself will cost about $1000-2000 for that size - about double a 50 gallon, which usually costs about $800-1500 installed (replacing an existing plumbed-in one). The larger heater may take a bit of beefing up of the support platform for the added weight, but assuming you have adequate headroom, installation cost using existing ductwork and piping would not be any more than for a 50 gallon, so say $2000-3500 range installed. The $4500-6000 definitely sounds high if it assumed using existing hookups.

There could be. Different municipalities have different rules (codes). However, I have never heard of a plumber being the code enforcement guy. I have never heard of a plumber being able to collect a fine from a homeowner. It may cost you $150 to bring it up to code, but that should be included in the repair cost. You would need to check with your city (usually Department of Code Enforcement or Plumbing Commission). If he put it in writing, you need to send them a copy.
Make sure they get a permit if required. Ask if they will haul away the old. Type of new heater installed and tank warrantee. What kind of parts will the price include, you should have an expansion tank installed and make sure they counter balance the pressure to match the static pressure in the home. Should also include new dielectic unions, do not reuse the old ones. See what the rate for extras is in case they need to do additional work. Check references if possible.

Tim Littrell
Littrell Plumbing and Bath Designs

Water Heater Installers in Modesto

Companies below are listed in alphabetical order. To view top rated service providers along with reviews and ratings, Join Angie's List Now!

A-1 Quality Plumbing

3892 Old Oak Dr.

A-1 Quality Plumbing Contractor

2601 Oakdale Rd. Suite H2 #179

A.B.P / All BayPlumbing Inc.

2632 Acapulco Way


3701 coye oak dr.

Abba Builders & Construction

517 Stein Way

American Heating & Air

762 W Los Felis Ave


16501 Ventura Blvd Ste 500


P O BOX 1451

AW Construction

3525 E. Forest Lake Rd


2204 Park E Dr

Bailey's Heating & Air Inc

310 River Rd


3917 Chatsworth Cir

Bier Construction

18824 Sugar Pine Dr.
Twain Harte

Call & Save Plumbing

PO Box 8067

cth Installations

2314 Reile Ave



Daniel Snedegar Handyman Unlimited

4637 E Service-Road

DaSu Distributors

150 McGee Drive

DB Enterprise

502 Coleman Ct

DeHart Plumbing Heating & Air Inc

311 Bitritto Way

Donald Mount Construction

PO Box 4279

Fred Hill Mechanical Inc

1137 Needham St

Freschi Service Experts

715 Fulton Shipyard Rd

Garcia plumbing and drain

4836 Littleton way

Generation Builders

P.O. Box 23

Green Home Solutions

3255 W. March


2331 Stagecoach Rd

Handyman Construction

4235 Oak Bay Drive


2364 Victory Ln



Hometown Handyman

1505 Colima Ave.

Honest Abe's Heating and Air

11857 N Lower Sacramento Rd

Hpi plumbing service

2908 E Whitmore

J H Simpson Heating & Air Conditioning

4025 Coronado Ave

jimmy hendricks construction

5425 nanette drive

JM plumbing

689 Chestnut street


1108 south 1st

Knights Plumbing & Drain

1177 Vanderbilt Cir

Knights Plumbing and Drain

426 14th St

Leffingwell Construction

1312 Princeton Ave.

Leo's Appliance Repair

2216 Driftwood Park Dr


4218 Technology Dr

Lingley Enterprises

P.O. Box 430


po box 690531

Mariposa HVAC Maintenance

1609 Bryn Mawr Way

Martin Plumbing

1221 Post Rd

McCain Construction

P. O. Box 577231

Mr. Drain Plumbing of Hughson

4268 Pioneer Rd

Mr. Drain Plumbing of Modesto

1268 N Carpenter Rd

Mr. Drain Plumbing of Riverbank

2767 Stanislaus St

Mr. Drain Plumbing of Turlock

2488 N Walnut Rd

Mr. Drain Plumbing of Waterford

12262 Yosemite Blvd

Mr. Rooter of Modesto

8951 Feliz Way

No Limit Builders

1801 Greger St

Old Republic Home Protection

PO Box 5017
San Ramon

ORConstruction Innovations

1217 chicago avenue

Pinnacle Plumbing Service

2401 E Orangeburg Ave

Preferred Plumbing & Drain

655 Birchwood Way

Preferred Plumbing & Drain

503 Bangs Ave

Preferred Plumbing & Drain

63437 Myrtle STE 440
North Highlands

Preferred Plumbing & Drain

793 South Tracy Blvd

Preferred Plumbing & Drain

1169 South Main St.

Priority Plumbing Co

P.O. Box 578157 Modesto, Ca

Pro Edge Services and Training Inc

12162 Chad Lane

RC Plumbing

P.O. Box 2348

Reliance Bldg & Maint LLC

121 Las Flores Ave

Reyes handyman Services

PO BOX 577004

Rooter Pro Plumbing

2591 Edgebrook Ln

Smart Energy Solutions

302 Court of Elm

Stillman Plumbing

P.O. Box 952

Stockton Ace Hardware

3201 W Benjamin Holt Dr

Super Drain Plumbing

1221 W Fremont

Thorsen's Plumbing Heat & Air Inc

2310 North Walnut

Tony's Plumbing Service

3900 Pelandale Ave

Top Estate Construction, Inc.

5013 Kimball Hill Circle

Top Notch Construction & Remodel Inc

1224 Yorktown Ln

Top Rank Heating & Air Conditioning Inc

9100 Elkmont way
Elk Grove




PO Box 231

Valley View Plumbing

2621 Stoneridge Dr

Variety Of Services

5579 Delhart

Vent and Cover

306-7337 137 st

W C Canepa

219 S Fairmount Ave


12637 S 265 W Suite 100

Warrens Heating & Air

3025 E Palm Ave.

Welborn Brothers Plumbing

1630 Milestone Cir

West Coast Heating & Air Inc

4085 Kalland Ct


1657 Wylma Way

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