Trying to keep a water heater replacement from turning into a disaster.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Melissa2007B, May 11, 2013.

  1. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Hi guys,

    I posted awhile back here, about a pressure valve, some of you may recall. Well now things are seriously screwed up. We're in the Denver area.

    This is a UBC modular house that was put on a foundation around late 2004 and we moved in, in late December that year. Has a Rheem 40 gallon gas heater and PEX plumbing in the crawl space.

    Our water heater failed on Friday night. I went to take a shower and only ice water. So I called a 24 hour place - ARS Rooter ( big national chain ) that said they did free estimates and weekend work at no extra charge. They said they'd be out today ( Saturday ) from 12:30-2:30, and that they carry water heaters in all their big trucks and can do the work if we approve it. Great.

    So while we're waiting, they called and said they can't make it from 12:30-2:30, and now it will be 4-6 PM. Starting to make me nervous. I have allergies and if I don't shower every night before bed, I get itchy, and I already didn't shower last night and am itchy. We we wait and they don't get here by 6 either. I call and they said the guy is on his way. He finally gets here at 6:30, only he doesn't have a water heater with him, he's a tech who was doing rooter work.

    So he does a bid sheet and I don't recall ever seeing it cost this much for a water heater, though we haven't bought one since before 2004, maybe 1998 in the last house. The deal?

    $1300+ for a standard 6 year warranty and no maintenance calls.
    $1600+ for some maintenance calls and I think, an 8 year warranty.
    And $1800+ for the "Deluxe", which includes 3 years of draining it and 2 rod replacements, which supposedly extend the life to 10 years and they claim the warranty, parts & labor for that long. Hard to say, and trust someone, though, being these are one line scrawled stuff on a pink invoice sheet, not much details. But this is all for the same water heater model, but supposedly it lasts longer if they do the maintenance stuff and 2 rod replacements for the "Deluxe".

    But then the tech has to first go get a heater, about an hour's round trip downtown somewhere. He leaves at around 7:05 PM and returns around 8:20 with a supervisor and a water heater. The supervisor is supposed to help him get done quicker. So they're looking at it and talking and saying that they will have to cut

    Hi guys,

    I posted awhile back here, about a pressure valve, some of you may recall. Well now things are seriously screwed up. We're in the Denver area.

    This is a UBC modular house that was put on a foundation around late 2004 and we moved in, in late December that year. Has a Rheem 40 gallon gas heater and PEX plumbing in the crawl space.

    Our water heater failed on Friday night. I went to take a shower and only ice water. So I called a 24 hour place - ARS Rooter ( big national chain ) that said they did free estimates and weekend work at no extra charge. They said they'd be out today ( Saturday ) from 12:30-2:30, and that they carry water heaters in all their big trucks and can do the work if we approve it. Great.

    So while we're waiting, they called and said they can't make it from 12:30-2:30, and now it will be 4-6 PM. Starting to make me nervous. I have allergies and if I don't shower every night before bed, I get itchy, and I already didn't shower last night and am itchy. We we wait and they don't get here by 6 either. I call and they said the guy is on his way. He finally gets here at 6:30, only he doesn't have a water heater with him, he's a tech who was doing rooter work.

    So he does a bid sheet and I don't recall ever seeing it cost this much for a water heater, though we haven't bought one since before 2004, maybe 1998 in the last house. The deal?

    $1300+ for a standard 6 year warranty and no maintenance calls.
    $1600+ for some maintenance calls and I think, an 8 year warranty.
    And $1800+ for the "Deluxe", which includes 3 years of draining it and 2 rod replacements, which supposedly extend the life to 10 years and they claim the warranty, parts & labor for that long. Hard to say, and trust someone, though, being these are one line scrawled stuff on a pink invoice sheet, not much details. But this is all for the same water heater model, but supposedly it lasts longer if they do the maintenance stuff and 2 rod replacements for the "Deluxe".

    But then the tech has to first go get a heater, about an hour's round trip downtown somewhere. He leaves at around 7:05 PM and returns around 8:20 with a supervisor and a water heater. The supervisor is supposed to help him get done quicker. So they're looking at it and talking and saying that they will have to cut pex and other stuff out of the way, will have to make a trip to Home Depot for parts ( on Saturday night? ) and this setup doesn't even meet code now ( no pressure overflow tank? I think we discussed this here awhile back when I posted about the pressure valve ). So I asked them if it will cost more for all this, and they said “noâ€, because I was getting the “Deluxeâ€.

    But here it is, 8:45 and they haven't gone to Home Depot yet, and they're saying it will take at least an hour to drain the tank and then 3 hours to do all this work.

    A little voice inside my head has been getting more and more nervous all day, so at that point I'm thinking that this could turn into the night job from hell and they may not get it done anyway tonight, AND may want to charge me more for it too. I'm getting VERY nervous about this. I looked up their company on Google, for reviews and can't tell that much from what I saw there – both good and bad, but they're a big national chain.

    So at 8:45 I told them I'm canceling this job. I'm just gonna have to sleep another night, itchy and grubby and clear my head in the morning.

    Meanwhile, while all this waiting was going on, I looked at Home Depot's site and water heaters there run $400 something to $700 something for one with a 6 year, though I WILL NOT TOUCH anything with GE on it! ( don't get me going about GE! )

    I also notice that Roto Rooter offers this kind of work too, and their name is more familiar to me, but I STILL don't know who to trust, that can come out FOR SURE tomorrow ( Sunday ) an NO extra charge and GET THIS DONE RIGHT AND REASONABLY PRICED for us!

    Any ideas?

    I'm attaching a couple of photos for you to see what it looks like.

    As we stand now, this job is canceled with ARS Rooter, but I imagine that if you guys said they were wonderful, perhaps we could get them back earlier tomorrow. Ideas?

    Right now I'm just tired, itchy, grubby and disgusted.

    Water heater 1.jpg Water heater 2.jpg
  2. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,980
    Location:
    New York, NY
    I know that a lot of people have some bad stuff to say about Sears, particularly with respect to whole-house HVAC systems, but I have to say that they did right by me with an electric water heater replacement.

    We had one in the apartment over our garage blow out one night, with water pouring through the ceiling onto the cars and other stuff below. Killed the power, cut off the water. Went on the Sears web site the next morning. Saw that they have a same-day installation if you order before noon-ish. But you have to call, not order online. They wanted literally half what my local plumber wanted to provide the heater and install it. He would install a State heater, they would install a Kenmore heater manufactured by State. So similar product, much lower markup on the heater and much lower installation charge.

    The guys they sent to do the job were a well-respected local-ish mechanical contracting firm that is licensed to do both electrical work and plumbing. This wasn't some "tech" that came out; it was a licensed plumber and electrician. The mechanical contractor recommended and I agreed that we should install a drain pan under the heater so when it eventually fails again, no cascade of water into the garage. Too bad my trusted local plumber had never thought of that. The drain pan was another hundred or so; well worth it, and they did a meticulous job of penetrating the exterior stucco without damaging it to install the drain. I really couldn't be happier with the guys that Sears sent, and, like or lump it, Kenmore is the most popular brand of water heater (not saying it's the best, but it is the most widely-installed brand). And like I say, this one was made by State, a standard brand.

    So I of course don't know about Denver, but if I had to do it all over again, I would call Sears at 1-800-549-7853 which is their number for same-day water heater installation. It looks like on the web site they have a 6-year, 40-gallon water heater, natural gas, for $398.99, plus $239 for installation in Denver, plus $35 for a permit. $129.99 more if you need a new expansion tank. Don't know what the charge is for emergency installation, and the selection of water heaters available for same-day installation might be more limited, but that's their standard fee, which would set you back about $675 all in. About half of what your Rooter guys wanted. Similar to my experience.

    Hope this helps. Whatever you do, let us know how it turned out.

    By the way, the 6-year in home repair agreement on the water heater I mentioned is $83. We have repair agreements on a number of our appliances and the service has always been excellent. They show up, diagnose the problem, order the part f they need it, which comes in a day or two, then come back and install it. Not completely optimal -- you'd love to have that range repaired immediately -- but it's a cost-effective approach that has worked well for us over the years.

    And, for what it's worth, I just had a look at some other threads about water heaters on here. One of the pros -- Dunbar Plumbing -- actually recommended Kenmore gas water heaters a couple of years ago, saying he prefers them because their design and specs on R-values are better than the competition.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  3. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,516
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Sears is fine and will stand behind there work.

    Some Big Box stores install also.

    If you think that a company that charges more on off hours is no good then You can Install it yourself.

    You can buy stuff on Epay for $.01 if you don't mind paying $20.00 to ship a $1.00 item.

    The travel cost and everything is in the bill somewhere.


    Did you pay for the work that you had canceled ?


    Good Luck
  4. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    SORRY but bad news you can not have anybody install a standard gas water heater
    you have a modular home and need a water heater designed for your home !

    it needs to be a sealed combustion venting system that fits your home,
    so you need a plumber that can get this type and install it for you
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Millions of "modular homes" use "regular water heaters". The ones specified for "mobile homes" have strapping so the do no shift if the modular is moved to a different location, which almost none ever are. There are two things you can count on;
    1. if there is "no charge for after hours", then you would have paid extra during regular hours, there is no "free lunch", and,
    2. If it has "rooter" in the name, and/or it is a "national chain" you will definitely pay more.

    Companies that charge the prices you were quoted do NOT depend on repeat customers. They want to get their money on the first job then move on to someone else. As one plumbing company in this area said, "I just want to get into every house in Phoneix ONCE".
  6. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Interesting. From what I've heard over decades, I sure wouldn't trust them for car repairs. I thought they were strictly a 9-5 M-F operation with water heaters though, but will try that number, thanks.
  7. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO

    No I can't install it myself. LOL Small stuff, sure, like that pressure valve, but I have zero plumbing experience and don't want a disaster.
  8. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I just went round & round with them for 20 minutes, through all kinds of extensions and was finally told they don't work on weekends!

    Come on guys. This has been going on since Friday night, I'm itchy, disgusted and could barely sleep last night! We need this replaced TODAY!

    Update: I just called Roto Rooter for an estimate before 1 PM today. I printed your post about Sears. With an expansion tank it would still be around $800 plus probably tax. So if they say a lot more, I'll show them the printed page and see. Then we have a choice of getting it today or waiting for Sears tomorrow, I suppose.

    But knowing Sears, Monday could be so busy for them, that they might not even do that.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  9. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,516
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    Sounds like a good time to go down to the nearest creek with a bar of soap.

    The water may be cold and you may make it into some drinking water or Coors beer.

    I wonder what that taste is sometimes.


    Good Luck.
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
  11. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,516
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    That just means that they bend you over and ream you out, I think.

    But they will do you on a Mothers Day Sunday.


    When I used to work for Monkey Wards, it was surprising the amount of customers that wanted to take it up in Trade.

    Labor Maybe, but someone has to pay for the missing parts.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  12. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    So you said yes to the first company then changed your mind after they went and picked up the new tank and were starting the job? They should have looked first to see that they would have needed pex fittings (most plumbers would have had these on board) but he wasn't going to charge more to go get what he needed. Don't be suprised if you get a bill in the mail for their time.
  13. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO

    Don't need a creek, we have ice water coming out of the shower without this water heater. I tried it the first night and as soon as it went over my head, I shut it off! Our water here in the Denver area comes from snow melt, so it's about 35 degrees right now!

    And as for beer, I might drink one every 6-12 months, IF I remember to. :p So at that rate. I can do better than Coors - usually a Samuel Adams. :)
  14. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Sorry about your need for chemo. I'm 64, and for as long as I can still stand and shower, that's the way I'll go.
  15. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO

    No, they hadn't started yet, read the whole accounting above. And they told me they'd be there in early afternoon, then 4-6, all that. And after they finally did arrive at 6:30, with all the goings on after that, I was having a really bad feeling about letting them start work at 9 PM when they said it would take 4 hours.
  16. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    So you feel that 2.5 hours of their time is worth nothing?
  17. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    It might normally be, but with a whole day's worth of shenanigans, they scared me off, and I figure their time offset my time that they wasted, plus not getting it done yesterday, like they originally promised they could. I wouldn't have them back here, after all that went on yesterday.

    Oh, and these guys all have "free estimates" anyway, with no trip charges.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  18. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Well Roto Rooter just came by for their free estimate and they wanted in the ballpark of $1600 just for the basic parts & labor, and wouldn't even tell me exactly because they have a 60 something percent parts markup and everything comes from Home Depot. They said it would be a GE water heater, which really blew it with us. I just won't buy a GE anymore, ever again.

    So another showerless night and will try Sears tomorrow...
  19. Melissa2007B

    Melissa2007B Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Are all the Kenmore ones manufactured by State? That would be great.
  20. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,980
    Location:
    New York, NY
    My understanding is yes. For the money you save with Sears and waiting a day, I might just peel off fifty bucks of it and go have a nice hot shower at a nearby motel. I hate it when stuff is broken, but that savings is too significant for me at keast to ignore.

    On Sears being busy on Monday, it would seem that this would just mean that they woukd put more staff on, like a restaurant does on Friday nught.
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