Navien Tankless Water Heater Comments and questions

Discussion in 'Tankless Water Heater Forum' started by willl, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. ionltd

    ionltd New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Illinois
    Actually I was charged $125 an hour for 2 apprentices at 11 hours, so you can do the math since mine wasn't perfect. Total $1375
    Was charged $2469 for a navien nr-210(a) Also charged $431.17 in materials

    How's that?

    My son is a doctor with 11 years training so far and doesn't make $687.50 a day.
    Hope I got that math right. I don't want to lie
  2. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    Total cost $4,275.17?

    What does he do three billings? Or breaks out costs?

    He needs a business education
  3. ionltd

    ionltd New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Illinois
    I'm at work now without the bill in front of me, but yes it was $4200 something and if that's what you added it up to be, then assume that's the amount. I'm afraid to say without having the bill right in front of me because I don't want to be accused of being a liar again.

    And why would you say it was 3 billings? There was plenty of room for that info on one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.

    And NO, there was absolutely no breakdown except what I wrote above (minus the per hour amount)
    the bill showed the cost of the unit (not the model number, I added that) the total labor for 2 "men", the materials, then a total.

    So perhaps you're seeing why this has been such a PIA and I feel we're getting screwed.

    And I want to thank you for giving me the idea to check the retail pricing for the nr-210A. I totally understand why you asked if we had purchased the unit ouselves and the plumber only did the installation. My husband and I each have businesses of our own and would understand an upcharge for labor if that was the case. But as you can see we paid a premium price for the unit at $2469 since I found that it retails for anywhere from $1129-$1899. And that's retail where anyone can purchase it, not just licensed plumbers, builders, or contractors.

    And on top of being gouged, the damn thing doesn't even work right.
  4. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    Yes the $ excessive in my opinion, even if it worked right
  5. ionltd

    ionltd New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Illinois
    So what would a job like this cost?

    When I asked him about the $125 charge per hour for the apprentices and was that normal, he said "that's not how we look at it" and the the apprentices didn't actually make that.

    I'm sure a majority of licensed plumbers are honest and fair and really are experts at their jobs. I think so even more now after reading and writing on this board. I'm certain many of you are embarrassed by this guy.

    I will be contacting the BBB in my region and won't be paying this full amount even if he gets it to work right. He'll have one more chance to fix it, then I think it's best to find someone else.
  6. AAnderson

    AAnderson In the Trades

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    Aptos, CA
    I'm jumping in here late in this thread. i have been installing tankless for over 30 years and was named the Authorized Service Provider of the year (western region) for Rinnai and have installed Navien as long as they have been available here in northern California. There are several things to consider when purchasing a tankless and the first is the model based on requirements. The second is, will the gas in the home provide enough BTU to function and this is calculated at full demand of all gas appliances in the home combined. If the home is natural gas, is the meter large enough to supply the addition of a tankless. In your case of a 210, less than 180K BTU. Is the total run including branch lines sized to the job? Replacing the the old tank with a tankless and using the existing 1/2" will work but only to the degree of gas available but is not correct for the application here.
    Considering this has been installed, I would ask the company owner to bring a manometer and first check static gas pressure and then run the Navien with about a 3 gpm flow and note the difference in gas pressure measured in inches of water column. Secondly, over ride the thermostat and fire up the HVAC and note the drop in gas pressure and record this. Now turn on each of the remaining gas appliances in the house and does this drop pressure below the minimum for the 210 model?
    If you do not have a recirculation system in the house a non A model might have been a better choice if the plumbers did not program the A model for internal recirculation causing it to fire on a regular basis to keep the 1 liter buffer tank hot in stand-by.
    As far as navien offering any opinion as too installation costs, they have no business doing so. They are not plumbers nor installers and should be taken to task for doing so. It takes me about 10-15 hours to install a tankless which includes installing a dedicated gas line from the meter, bringing electricity to within 4' of the installation site, proper venting and reconfiguration of water lines including an install kit for future service. navien's are up to 90 lbs and mounting them on a wall takes care and planning. here in earth quake country, even more attention than normal. Their hours are not out of line but it depends on exactly what was done?
    navien is not gas convertible and I' m not clear if they attempted to change the gas type? I did replace a 240-A last thanksgiving where the original contractor installed an NG where LP was the gas and the heat exchanger failed in less than a year.
    As far as the apprentice charges, it's not out of line but sending two apprentices out, I question. it should have been one journeyman/ one apprentice. Regardless, navien is still new on the market and few companies have enough experience with them to fully respect and understand their complex installation and service requirements. They are an excellent product and navien has yet to understand the need for trained service providers and on-going training of installers.
    A complete professional installation for tankless with a company charging a base of $120 hr can result in a cost of between $3-4,500 so the total is not out of line. If they are charging for travel time, this adds to the total cost.
    What a company charges and what they pay employees is an internal matter and not relative to your installation. Plumbing companies have high fixed operating costs not associated with many businesses. Here, many companies have 2, four color pages in the phone book at $3,400 per month per page. Add monthly liability, workman's comp, vehicle expense, brick and mortar fixed cost, communication, utility and office support and management cost and one can develop a fairly comprehensive cost accounting to determine P & L statements. So don't assume you are being unduly over-charged.
    Could you specifically list the problems in order of magnitude?
  7. ionltd

    ionltd New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Illinois
    Thanks AAnderson for your reply
    You sound very experienced and I wish you had been the one to install my water heater.

    The differences I see here have a lot to do with location. I don't know if you read all the posts where my situation is involved, but I'm located in a small town of 1700 people in the midwest. The cost of living is exponentially different here than it is in California. A $250,000 house here could be worth $1,000,000 so what is normal labor costs for you aren't normal here. I have been to your beautiful neck of the woods and can attest first hand that your costs can't be compared to ours. It is NOT normal for an apprentice plumber to make $62.50 an hour here and according to my research, it isn’t even where you are.

    In response to your other pricing considerations...This plumber is a 3 man group works out of the "owners" garage, so I doubt that overhead is much of a consideration to their "high fixed operating costs". He has no advertisement in the yellow book, his total telecommunications consists of the 3 cell phones that he and his 2 apprentices carry. No office support, extra management, none needed. So I doubt if they spend as much time with their accountant going over "P and L" statements as they do keeping possums out of the garage.

    In the 25 years we’ve lived in our house, we used 2 other plumbers. One has retired and the other has recently taken a large construction job and has been unavailable, so we do have some experience of the going rate of a plumber in our area. When we needed some work done (a new sink and toilet) for our machine shed, my husband was happy that this guy was available to come out within 1 week. For those simple jobs the time spent was reasonable and the job done correctly. But I guess we should have been more curious as to why he was so easily available when we called to ask him to replace our leaking PROPANE tank water heater.

    I say PROPANE to assure you that no new gas lines were run. Wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to install a new Navien that needed a different gas source when propane was what was there already and Navien has a propane heater…..Since it was installed in the exact spot of the old tank heater next to the furnace, no new electricity was run. No recirculation water pipes were installed. And obviously the time spent didn’t go towards “respect and understand the complex installation and service requirements”
  8. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    In my neighborhood (central MA) condensing tankless installations (done CORRECTLY) run ~$3-4KUSD, and non-condensing units run ~$2.5-3KUSD, but often more if they require a lot of stainless venting (in which case it's often cost-competitive to go with a condensing version & plastic venting.)

    Tankless manufacturers usually make both propane and natural gas versions since the differences required at the manufacturing level are quite small, but there are no "dual-fuel" versions. Both require adequate fuel supply plumbing, which ususally means a significant up-sizing when replacing at standard tank heater (it's 5-6x the burner, after all!) Any professional gas-fitter understands the issues with propane as well. It's the same problem, different (but similar) fuel. A propane line IS a gas line- it's just a higher BTU/volume gas. At the pressures it is delivered to combusion appliances propane is a gas, not a liquid, even if it's stored in the tank as a liquid. From an installation complexity point of few propane & NG units are identical, but the version needs to be correctly matched to the fuel.

    Fuel line undersizing is a total rookie-mistake (in this case easily avoidable by the RTFM method- as in "read the f'n' manual"), and leads one to wonder what other important stuff they might have missed. Installing a tankless is far more similar to a condensing-boiler installation like installing tank-type hot water heater. If these guys were installing condensing boilers for a living instead of bathroom & kitchen plumbing odds are it would have been done right the first time. They've bitten off something bigger than they were compentent to handle, and are trying to bill you for their learning curve.

    I hope you get this sorted out soon. If they got/get it right, they deserve to get paid, but it's more about confidence in it's being right after they're done rather than the hours spent or $/hour. They shoulldn't be allowed to keep running up the bill by spending more hours using your house as their learning-lab, and you should tell them so. Don't pay until the job is done & done right. If they pull out based on that you may/may-not owe them anything for the unit itself - if it's a natural gas, not a propane unit, it doesn't belong there, you need to get rid of it, and you shouldn't have to pay for it. Photograph and documant EVERYTHING, who said/did what, when including the conversation with the Navien tech, etc. If they got it half-right and it's mostly-installed, it shouldn't take a competent tech more than a few hours to complete the project. What you eventually pay them will have to be negotiated, and the costs of properly commissioning the unit need to be factored in.

    When they're installed & maintained correctly tankless units are great- they take little space, can fill ANY sized tub, they use zero fuel when you're off on vacation, and you don't run out of hot water when 5 guests take showers after a paint-ball fight party. :) Whether it makes financial sense depends a lot on fuel costs and how much hot water you use, but in most US markets propane (even burned at 80-90% efficiency) is pretty pricey stuff, often more expensive per delivered BTU than retail-electricity.
  9. Rick's P&H

    Rick's P&H New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Watch for other Navien issues

    We have a Navien CR-240 A LNG installed and we a very unhappy. Within two years we have had the water flow sensor replaced, then the circuit board replaced (which they were very slow to decide to send and from investigation this is a major issue with the units, as is the water flow sensor) and now we have had a minor flood as a result of a cracked Adapter A 90 degree fitting in the unit. They keep sending parts but don't seem to think that there is any need to replace the unit. So far we have spent a lot of $ on plumbers and contractor time. I guess they do replace under warranty one piece at a time.
  10. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    This reads like a spoof looking to slam the product. You register as ricks plumbing and heating yet mention you paid plumbers to fix your unit, not to convincing.
  11. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    And on another website you also registered same day, same name, similar post but claim to be a plumber? A plumber pays another plumber to fix it? Whatever tankless company you work for or represent, I hope your business picks up soon.
  12. Rick's P&H

    Rick's P&H New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Hi,
    The information I posted is not a spoof it is true. I wish it had been. I have all the broken parts, invoices and fed-ex and UPS slips to prove it. I'm the office asst for Rick's P&H and we paid our plumber at the time. To follow up on what happened after the Customer Service Manager "Dave" was so rude on the phone and advised me that they don't "Just give away new units" the fellow on the front lines of the phone ended up having sent to me an "upgrade kit", at least that was what is was referred to on the invoice. It was FULL of everything from a new circuit board, water flow valve and two of the fitting that had cracked, along with tubing and more. Funny how it was never mentioned that there was an "upgrade kit" available for this unit. Think they might have some problems??
  13. MechGuy

    MechGuy Plumber @ Mechanical Contractor

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Iliinois


    I saw this and just couldn't stop myself from commenting.
    First, unless you contracted the installation on a T&M basis (Time and Materials, open end charges) you don't have much to complain about but that the site is left clean and the unit performs properly.
    You seem, from your garage, advertising and staffing comments to think you own the Company.
    It's an absolute that on well water a tankless needs softened water and and from a salt based softener not some "Black" boogie woogie lame magic softener you got off a cereal box. Tankless is almost maintenance free if you do so otherwise you'll have a plumber in every other year or so and he will have been trained (at Sales meetings) to use that as a "Foot in the door" for additi0nal charges beyond descaling.
    Navien does have an extensive 17 line "Upgrade Kit" for the CR series and most of those problem are addressed in the NR series. However, Navien doesn't contact every Registered Owner of a CR to upgrade them.
    As to your water problems, you have to turn 2 faucets on to make the PUMP run and pressurize the System. Your Pressure Tank is probably waterlogged and needs repressurized or replaced and/or upsized for your utilization. Navien should initiate at about .75-1.0 GPM so if it doesn't the flowmeter needs replacement.
    Point of inquiry are all your aerator/restrictors clean? This is the # 1 cause of slow initiation.
    Plumbing Cos exist on Billable Hours and from them have to cover all hours worked by an employee not just those on your job. True Billable Hours in a week are customarily 60% and that has to pay 100% of Wages & Benefits plus the 40% non-Billable.
    You bought this Navien based on 98% EF probably w/o regard for quality and reputation of the unit. Sometimes the highest EF doesn't get you the best unit. A Takagi, Noritz or Rinnai would have served you better but then they also might have needed to be adjusted above 4500'. Experience in an Installer is crucial to overall satisfaction with the units performance.
    SORRY BUT I'D NEVER T&M A TANKLESS INSTALL FOR ANYONE. IF YOU CAN'T ANTICIPATE ALL THE REQUIREMENTS AND BID IT, GET OUT OF THE TANKLESS BUSINESS.
    Last edited: May 5, 2010
  14. MechGuy

    MechGuy Plumber @ Mechanical Contractor

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Iliinois
    FYI The CR series of Naviens had problems which required individual components to be replaced and upgrade kits installed. Also I know of 2 units where cracked components caused cabinet flooding and or basement flooding.
    Hopefully the NR Series corrected these issues but truthfully who can tell.
    Early installs also suffered from the usual installation problems of gas line undersizing, too small gas meter etc.
    On any unit we install we pick up the 2-5th year Warranty Labor not covered by Mfr and as it sets currently I would not install Navien.
    I wouldn't say don't buy the NR Series but be prepared and skeptical and have only a great Installer do it.
  15. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,705
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Do you know what other water heater needed "Upgrade parts" to work properly and still is a piece of junk? The Whirlpool water heater. So far till this day they have not impressed me. All they have proved to me is they are trying real hard to fix problems that should of been addressed before these units ever hit the market. I say stay away from Navien for a while longer till they get a product out there that has proven itself in the field.
  16. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    Exactly what is in a Navien Upgrade kit?
  17. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    Some say it's a Noritz, others, Rinnai or Takagi, still others a 75 gallon atmospheric drafted tank with a standing pilot... ;-)

    But she doesn't need an upgrade kit nearly as much as an installer with a clue. Anybody willing to send 2 newbies out on a project then tell the customer that gross mis-functioning result is "normal" when it doesn't meet even a casual RTFM-verification test deserves to lose money on the deal. She shouldn't be the one financing their ad hoc education.
  18. Joeconsumer

    Joeconsumer New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Minnesota
    My Navien Story

    Greetings,
    I recently had a Navien LP240A tankless installed by a plumber friend. Relocated home, not living there yet. After work I had to check out my new heater. I went to a sink that was the closest to the unit (approx. 12 feet of Pex) and anxiously turned on the hot water. Within 10 seconds I had very hot water. So hot I turned the temp down from 130 to 120 and left satisfied.
    Two days later I checked it again to see what 120 felt like. I waited and waited and finally, hot water came out. It took about 45 seconds to get WARM water. Longer than a minute to get hot water. I invited my plumbers tech guy to come out and take a look. He claimed it runs fine. Plumber friend is coming out tomorrow to see for himself per my request.
    I took my infarred thermometer and checked the temps from zero to 1.5 minutes and this is what I logged:

    Seconds Temp
    10 61
    15 66
    25 81
    30 84
    40 83
    50 87
    60 96
    70 103
    85 107
    90 104

    Prior to logging these numbers, the heater had not been operated since the night before. And I did increase the temp to 130. Changing temps is a challenge too. Not very user friendly.
    When the heater runs, it seems to fire up and wind down. This is while the water runs wide open. I would have thought the heater would maintain a more constant sound of burning LP. That's why the water temp actually went down a couple times. 84 to 83 and 107 to 104.
    So the jury is still out. I know the heater can operate properly due to my satisfaction the first time I used it. Researching on-line lead me to this forum and another forum that discusses simular problems. Apparently more than one person stated they had to have their electronic board replaced. I hope that is all I need to have done. Otherwise there will be a lot of wasted water. If I can not rectify this problem, I will not use this brand or any other brand. I will begin the search for a super insulated water heater.
    I will keep you posted on the results.

    JC
  19. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    Chances are your internal circ is not programmed properly on the remote WHICH GAVE YOU THE DELAY

    "Changing temps is a challenge too" Oh come on how hard is it to push buttons on the remote?
  20. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    It's not the button-pushing, it's the RTFM-factor. ;-)

    I agree- the recirculation timer on the internal mini-tank was probably not programmed to be cycling for the time of day that you tested it, so heating up the mini-tank induced a delay. See p.20 of the manual on how to set that up.
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