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Would Love to Be in Some Hot Water

Many thanks for those who offered advice on water heaters. We did decide to go with a tankless gas unit because of the need to recover space to be able to reach our electrical panel. We called around to see what plumbers would charge for installation. The experience reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movies:

I got a bid out of the gate at from Home Depot’s installers was 2500. Second bid was 4200 from a local plumber. Third bid was 1000, which is about what I expected the job to run. This is just labor for installation, and some parts. I had explained that we’ll buy the hardware. I would expect if I were to undertake doing this myself, the whole job would take me a weekend. I’d also have to buy a 250 dollar 6″ masonry coring bit to core the hole for the vent, and then rent a coring drill, if I didn’t want to feel like I was trying to escape from Alcatraz by chipping through the masonry with the tools I have.

I figure 10 hours would be a generous estimate for the number of hours it would take a pro. Given that, the 2500 bid was 250/hr and the 4200 bid was 420/hr. I don’t think the Endodontist who did my root canal was pulling down 420/hr. I could hire a decent lawyer for that kind of money! I’m wondering if the 4200/hr bidder ever gets people to accept those kinds of bids, but I guess people do or they wouldn’t be in business. Needless so say, we’re going with the 1000 dollar bid. For 4200 bucks I’ll chip through my masonry walls with an ice pick myself!

One thing I had to do yesterday was install an outlet in the area the water heater is going to be mounted to power the micro-controller on the unit. The most expensive bidder wanted a separate circuit, and I have no spare stabs in the box. That seems silly to me. I can understand a furnace, sump pump, or stove — something the integrity of the house depends on or is a heavy draw — but is it really a disaster if you lose hot water from a breaker trip? The low bidder just wanted an outlet, so that’s now done. Hopefully I can be done with taking showers out of a bucket of stove heated water by Tuesday.

17 Responses to “Would Love to Be in Some Hot Water”

  1. anon says:

    Call around, the places that rent the coring drills generally rent the bits as well. If not, rent a hammer drill and a chipping hammer. Start with a pilot hole, mark the circumference, then drill in from both sides to reduce spalling. Drill closely spaced holes around the circumference, and chip out what’s between.

    • Bitter says:

      Nah, we’re just going to call the guy who gave us the reasonable estimate tomorrow morning. Too much going on this week and month for Sebastian to take on the project at this point.

  2. persiflage says:

    While I’m sure Bitter has appreciated a taste of life as her pioneer ancestors “enjoyed” it, my recommendation to Sebastian, in the interest of peace in the household, would be – hot water, asap.

    • Bitter says:

      You have no idea. My biggest pet peeve has been the laundry. Turns out that new fangled washing machines require hot water even if you are washing on a cold cycle. I found this out when it threw an error and I had to take my partially wet and soapy load out of the washer and over to the sink where I washed them by hand, moved them back to the washer with a hefty bit of soapy water still in them, and then ran the rinse/spin cycle twice.

      I finally perfected the method of washing my hair without a shower today, but hopefully I won’t have to use what I learned again.

  3. Right after I read this post I noticed one of the display ads. It was from HVAC Quotes and was an offer to compare quotes on the best rated hot water heaters. How appropriate!

  4. Kevin says:

    My parents just replaced their water heater. They discussed a tankless heater. The plumber offered to install a tankless. However he said it needed to be cleaned each year. Which apparently involves acids or other corrosives and was strongly suggested to be done by a pro. Instead they put in a 50 gallon gas water heater. But they don’t have the whole access issue you have.

    What is the power draw and water capacity of your tankless heater? I looked at one years ago to replace my water heater and to run a shower like I have you either needed a 208v power one or a gas fired one.

  5. Roberta X says:

    You either installed a GFCI receptacle or the circuit it’s on already has a GFCI breaker, right? If not, please do. It’s cheap insurance.

  6. Wally says:

    I’m going for a gas tankless as well, within the next month and I’m curious: What was the reason for selecting Rheem? I’ve looked at Rinnai and Noritz, but not Rheem. Is perhaps the Rheem an attractively-priced rebranded Rinnai or Noritz?

  7. Patrick says:

    When we ran bids for our roof to be done, I was told by some in the business that when the price is unreasonable it is generally because they don’t want to do the job. Personally that doesn’t make sense to be because I’d never come back and ask them again. Instead they should just say they are too busy right now to take the job.

    • Bitter says:

      I’m with you on this issue. The same goes for contractors who came out for estimates and then totally blew us off. Even if I have a job big enough that they would want to take, then why would I ever call them again based on how they treated me before?

      I think the other thing that annoys me is that if the project was too small, they just should have said it upfront. It’s not like I didn’t explain what we were looking for on the phone when I made the first call. Ironically, it was the cheaper outfit that actually wasn’t sure they could have someone give us an estimate for a day or two because they were so busy with big projects. :)

    • aeronathan says:

      The contractors I’ve known, those types of bids were when they didn’t want a particular type of work. Like say if they wanted to focus on commercial and industrial work and not residential. If you’re doing that you don’t care if anybody calls back and there’s always the chance some sucker pays up and you make a lot of $$ for little work…

  8. Robert says:

    Me & the wife were driving through a neighborhood of rather expensive houses. She asked what type of people lived in them and I answered “Oh, doctors, lawyers, high level politicians, plumbers…”

  9. Consider having an electrician bridge a second panel for you. Then you’ve got plenty of slots for later improvements.

  10. Sigivald says:

    Yeah, for $4200 you can buy a hell of a hammer drill and DIY, even with renting a corer, and save a pile of money.

    And you get to keep the drill.

  11. mikee says:

    Writing as an experienced home renovator, get references and check them before letting the low bid contractor into your house. He can do thousands in damage before you realize he is in over his head, and then you get to pay for that mess to be repaired and start over paying more for the job you want done.

    Get references! Check them!

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