Is your water heater in the middle of your bathroom or kitchen? Maybe it is in a hall closet or taking up space in the center of the basement. The only solution you may have is to move it. But this can be a costly endeavor when paying someone else to do it for you.
Some plumbers will charge you about $40 a foot per water hose, so $80 per foot for both hot and cold. Then you have to pay for the electrician, which may be another $500 – $800. And then there are labor costs for both which range from $75 – $200 per hour. So, about $655 – $1,080 for one foot.
Of course, this is just an estimate and does not take into account any parts or tools you may need or extra work such as moving your existing plumbing, electricity, and water pipes. The above price is just for an hour of work to move a tank one foot. If you have to move it five feet, you are looking at upwards of $5,000.
Table of Contents
- It is a Complicated and Time-Consuming Job
- Just Get A New Water Heater Too
- You Can Save Money
- Cutting Corners is Dangerous
- Moving an Electric Water Heater
- Step One: Turning Off the Power
- Step Two: Turning Off the Water
- Step Three: Disconnecting the Pipes
- Step Four: Disconnecting the Electricity
- Step Five: Tilting the Tank
- Step Six: Moving the Tank
- Step Seven: Hooking it Back Up
- Step Eight: Filling the Tank
- Step Nine: Light It Up
- Moving a Gas Water Heater
- Related Questions
- Are There Any Specific Questions to Ask My Plumber?
- Should I Switch to a Tankless Water Heater?
It is a Complicated and Time-Consuming Job
In fact, moving a water heater is typically more complicated and expensive than putting in a new water heater. That is because of all the pipes and electricity that need to be rerouted. You will be dealing with three professionals who charge high per-hour rates, a plumber, electrician, and possibly a gas man if you have a gas water heater.
You could get lucky and have nothing to reroute. Maybe if you only have to move it a foot or two, you can get by without having to get an electrician or gas man in there. You can just deal with the plumber. But, in most cases, you do not get that lucky. Here are the typical steps you will have to pay for:
- Adding to the water supply and return lines
- Adding or rerouting electricity
- Adding or rerouting gas lines
- Creating a temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve
- Providing a new overflow
Just Get A New Water Heater Too
Is your water heater less than five years old? If not, you may want to consider replacing it as well. Otherwise, you are going to have to pay to have a new one installed in a few years. The average life expectancy of a water heater is about 10 years.
The cost of installation for a water heater is typically about $1,000 so it makes sense to go ahead and replace the water heater now and save money. Make sure you get the right size for the number of people in your home and the number of bathrooms you have.
|People in the Home||Bathrooms||Tank Size||Cost|
|One or two||One||30-gallon||$300 – $1,200|
|Two or three||One or two||40-gallon||$400 – $1,700|
|Three or four||Two or three||50-gallon||$500 – $2,300|
|More than four||More than three||75 – 80-gallon||$1,000 – $3,000|
You Can Save Money
You will be able to save a lot of money by doing some of it yourself. But if you have a gas water heater and you have to rewire things, you will need to work with a contractor to get those jobs done. Unless you are a certified electrician or gas plumber, you will need the experts to do what they do to make sure everything is properly hooked up.
Cutting Corners is Dangerous
Doing it yourself can be a dangerous choice because of the nature of the design. You have to make sure that everything is hooked up correctly and there are no leaks, or you could be looking at a gas leak or explosion. If you do not put on the TPR valve, you are also risking an explosion from pressure buildup.
Moving an Electric Water Heater
If you have an electric water heater and you do not have to move it far, you can probably do it yourself. You will just need a few tools and maybe an extra pair of hands for the actual moving part. Otherwise, just follow the steps below.
Step One: Turning Off the Power
In any job, the first thing to do is to turn off all of the power to whatever you are working on. Go to the breaker box and turn off the breaker to the water heater. Use a voltage meter to make sure the power is indeed off. You do not want to get electrocuted.
Step Two: Turning Off the Water
You will also need to turn all the water off to the water heater. Then you will need to drain the tank. Hook a garden hose to the drain valve and run it outside, into a floor drain, or into a bucket or sink. Turn a hot water spigot on in a tub or sink to help it drain faster.
Step Three: Disconnecting the Pipes
Disconnect the outflow pipe and inlet pipe to the water heater. Take off any connectors and save them for reuse later when hooking it back up.
Step Four: Disconnecting the Electricity
Take off the electricity cover plate on top of the water heater. Undo the wire connector to reveal the power connections. Unscrew the ground, white, and black wires.
Step Five: Tilting the Tank
This is where you will need help. Get a friend to help you tip the tank over to drain the last of the water. Once it is drained, close the drain valve and plug the outlet and inlet pipes.
Step Six: Moving the Tank
Keeping your friend handy, have them help you move the tank onto a moving dolly and to its new place. Double-check to make sure all power is off before moving.
Step Seven: Hooking it Back Up
Hook the red fitting to the hot water pipe with the arrow pointing out and the blue fitting to the cold pipe pointing toward the water heater. Use plumbing tape on the threads to prevent leaks. Tighten everything up with your wrench being careful to thread it correctly.
Step Eight: Filling the Tank
Turn on your tank’s water supply and open the water valve to fill up the tank. Make sure you turn on one of your hot water faucets to bleed the air from your pipes.
Step Nine: Light It Up
Light the pilot light with a long match or lighter. Continue to press on the reset button for one minute. Then set the control setting to “on” and put the burner panel back to cover it up. Be sure the temperature is set at about 120 degrees. Too low can promote bacteria and too high can burn you.
Moving a Gas Water Heater
To move a gas water heater, you will need to do all of these steps as well as unhooking and capping the gas line, running more lines, and hooking back up the gas. If you are not experienced with gas, you may want to get a gas man to do this step. If you want to do it yourself, we suggest you do some research about gas water heater moving first.
Are There Any Specific Questions to Ask My Plumber?
Yes, you should always be sure to question any professional you are looking to hire. The first question is always to see their licensure. Here are some other important questions to ask:
- Do you have full coverage insurance for this job?
- Who are your references?
- Can I get a quote in writing first?
- Do you have any examples of your work?
- How long will this job take?
- What kind of pipe will you be using?
Should I Switch to a Tankless Water Heater?
If you are moving your water heater, it is probably because you need the space. If you need more room, you may want to consider a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater is about one-quarter of the size of the smallest tank water heater and it can go in a cabinet or on the wall, taking up no space at all. But as usual, there are pros and cons.
- They do not take up any floor space
- They are more efficient because they only heat the water when it is needed
- They last 15-20 years rather than 10- 15 years
- You get instant hot water when you need it
- They cost more upfront
- The temperatures may be inconsistent
- You will need a larger unit to serve large families just like tank water heaters
- Special venting may be required
Both tank and tankless water heaters usually need professional installation, especially if they are gas. Tankless is a good way to get more space but depends on your hot water use, how many people live in the home, and how many bathrooms you have. Otherwise, it is just not worth the change.