Hot water heater replacement

So I know labor costs vary wildly. But I just discovered the issue shown in the attached pic. Thankfully it’s just a 26 gallon indirect unit, but I am in tremendous fear that it’s going to break loose any moment and cause a world of issue downstairs.

Any idea what a nearly direct replacement should cost, labor wise? They don’t make the 26 gallon anymore, the smallest is a 41 gallon. I am cool with that, and it’s about $900 retail. The same brand is a near direct replacement from a plumbing perspective…

Part of me wants to be cheap and rip the indirect tank out and replace with a $400 electric 40 gallon. Especially since we plan on moving within a year or two. The other part of me thinks doing it right is the way to go, since we may keep this condo to rent out rather than sell. I can’t imagine the cost would be too much different either. Probably mostly in parts, since an electric standalone is about 400, and the indirect is 900. My utility is offering a $300 rebate for an indirect replacement hooked up to a Nat gas boiler, which ours is. Nothing for an electric one. The current tank is about 20 years old.

The picture shows very bad rust. Hopefully the rust isn’t inside the tank, too. I would replace it quickly with another indirect water heater, and be good for another 20 years (even if you no longer live there). Get a licensed plumber to do the install.

Here’s a page that describes indirect water heaters for those interested:


We just replaced a standard hot water heater with a 50 gal hybrid model. My local trusted plumber advised he would charge $200 to install it ($125 for a standard). I ended up doing it myself. Youtube is my friend.


@TheGMan trust me, as someone who just did (or rather, is finishing up) a full bathroom remodel, I agree that DIY is totally the way to go if you have half of a brain. However, the issue is that in NYS the whole licensed plumber/permit thing is a pretty big deal. Especially since we’re going to possibly sell within the next year or so. I would hate for some issue like that to come up and kill a sale, all because I decided to cheap out on the replacement.

Also, the utility $300 rebate is invalid without a contractor’s invoice. In your case, it would make sense to get the rebate ($200 install, $300 rebate means you profit $100). In my case, $300 is probably somewhere around the 10-15% range relative to the total install.

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jaytrader, not really a $100 profit since the indirect Heater Unit ($900) is twice the price of Electric Unit ($400). With the rebate the cost of the units is closer which results in a quicker payback period for the consumer.
GO gas, much faster recovery time plus less expensive.

Unless you have a trusted plumber ask friends/neighbors who they use. And getting more than one estimate is always a good idea.

If the install costs $200, and the rebate is $300, how is that not putting $100 in Gmans pocket?

It’s easy to say go gas and move on with your life. But one needs to consider gas service capacity, venting, and cost. there may be limitations to creating a hole in the foundation for venting. I think indirect are known to be very efficient and have fast recovery time.

Rebate is ONLY good on gas not electric.

The gas unit is $900 versus the electric unit which is $400.
That’s $500 difference minus rebate which is $300 Which now (after rebate) makes the cost difference of $200.

"Any idea what a nearly direct replacement should cost, labor wise?"
As to gas venting and service aren’t you looking just to replace what’s rusting out?

"My utility is offering a $300 rebate for an indirect replacement hooked up to a Nat gas boiler, which ours is"
Thought you were just considering or comparing changing it out? Plus have you considered the costs of removing the failing, rusting unit if installing electric hot water heater?

Ok, I have to say it. Why do you need a hot water heater? I mean, if the water is already hot, why would you need to heat it? Don’t you just need a water heater? :wink:


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I don’t think you read what I wrote to gman. I said, “in your case” which meant I wasn’t talking about my situation. Maybe I’m confused but it sounds like your frame of reference is not exactly accurate.

Its simple for me. I have a natural gas boiler with an Amtrol 26 gallon indirect hot water maker. They don’t make the 26 anymore, so an “upgrade” to a 41 is the path forward. Why? Because the plumbing layout is the same, thus cutting my cost by about 700 bucks, according to a plumber I talked to on the phone yesterday. The 26 gallon lasted 18 years. I want to be proactive while keeping costs as low as I can without cutting corners. Using the existing plumbing via going with an Amtrol is probably my best balanced option between cost, work required, longevity, and time.

Arguably, I could just let the existing one ride out until it really starts leaking. However, my office (I work from home) is right next to the boiler room. Biting the bullet and replacing the unit now is a good proactive measure to avoid being unable to work due to 26+ gallons of water dumping into the office. Think of it as an insurance measure, on top of the rest of what I mentioned.

Technically, it’s not a heater. It’s simply a holding tank which has a thermocouple in it to kick the boiler on. The water is indeed heated inside the tank, but the heating is purely a function of the boiler.

You told me to replace with a gas water heater. Then you quote something else, changing the context completely. I’m really trying not to be dense here, but you’re making it difficult for me to understand your points. Not a personal attack, so don’t take it as such. I just don’t think we are on the same page.