The new water heater

The new electric hot water heater is now installed, plumbed, and the electricity has been hooked up. The control panel says that it’s working, which means that I must have gotten the electric right, and the tank filled, without leaking, so I guess I did the plumbing right, too! Now we’ll see if it works.

We were using the boiler — the same one which provides steam for the radiators, and which burns heating oil — for hot water, and that’s killer expensive. I set the plumbing so that I can still get hot water from the boiler if the water heater fails.

We actually bought the water heater at Lowe’s a couple of weeks ago. We weren’t intending to get it then, but were there to pick up something else, and I went back with Elaine to discuss which model we wanted. We picked the 80 gallon model, which was $597; the 50 gallon model wasn’t that much cheaper, at $547. Then, I noticed, in the aisle, was the same model we had selected, but the box was open. I flagged down the plumbing human, and asked why that one was down, with the box opened. It seems that someone had purchased it, and then couldn’t get it into their basement. “Well, how much of a discount do I get if I buy that one?” I asked.

“I can give you 10% off,” he replied.

“And can we get our military discount off of that as well?”

“Yes, you can.”

So, the 10% off for the box being opened brought the price down to $537.30. Then, because PFC Pico was with us and had her military ID, we got 10% off of that as well, bringing the price down to $483.60. :) The 6% sales tax bought that up to $512.62, but if I had had to pay the 6% on the full price of $597, that would have been $35.82 in sales tax, rather than the $29.02 we paid, so I saved $6.80 in sales tax as well. :)

I do like a bargain!

Of course, I had to buy some plumbing and electrical parts, but if I had had it installed professionally, I’d have wound up with those expenses as well as labor. PFC Pico was with me for that as well, and her military discount saved about $7. Copper is outrageously expensive right now, and a 25 ft roll of 10/3 Romex was $37 all by itself, and a Square D 30 amp beaker about $17. :(

PFC Pico just informed me that the water in the bathroom basin is now lukewarm, so I guess that everything is working. I even painted the basement walls around the water heater white, because our grey rubble-stone foundation makes the basement as dark as a cave, so now I can see things in that area better.

19 Comments

  1. Gotta love the military discount at Lowes. I’ve saved probably at least a grand over the last few years buying materials and fixtures for our little cabin.

    What kind of plumbing pipe and couplings did you use? I plumbed our cabin with the PEX pipe and fittings. Stuff works great and no soldering.

    When I need an appliance, I always check for returns first. Sometimes the discount can be as much as 30% off and usually it’s just a cosmetic problem like a small dent or scratch. Also, they still give you the manufacturers guarantee.

  2. You guys are poison, that means you Mike G. I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’. ” but if I had had it installed professionally, I’d have wound up with those expenses as well as labor”

    Are you guys out of your freekin’ minds?

  3. Mike, I used pex and brass fittings. One additional thing about pex: if you pipes do freeze, pex will actually give a bit rather than split, like copper of PVC.

    Hoagie: by doing the work myself, Elaine knows just how manly I am. :) I suppose that it’s true that I could have had a greater economic impact had I called a pro, very slightly increasing the velocity of money, but, then again, I wouldn’t have had that money to spend on other things . . . .

  4. When we did the kitchen remodel, we were planning on using our old refrigerator for a couple more years, but had still ordered the cabinets with room for a larger model. Then, one day I walked into Lowes, and right out front was a stainless steel, new refrigerator, with a small dent in the side; it had been a display model. Since the ‘fridge was going to sit in a cabinet anyway, the dent was going to be hidden, and it was marked down around $1,000. I snatched that one up right away!

  5. Did you go with a 240 volt hook up? The standard household 120 system’s recovery time to bring a fresh 80 gallons up to usable temp is much too long for an active family most mornings. Additionally, aftermarket heating coils (about $35 each, most units take 2) are much more efficient. They screw in from the sides.

    Make sure you earthquake proof the installation. Wouldn’t want that new heater on its side in the dark leaking water and connected to a hot electrical box. This is experience talkin’

  6. Also, if you have hard water and don’t soften it be sure to flush your HW heater every year. Mineral deposits build up quickly (they look like a bushel of loose corn kernels) and can accumulate to the point they cover the lower heating coil insulating it and causing the upper coil to do most if not all the heating, which not only burns it out prematurely, it reduces the unit’s capacity.

  7. It’s a 220 volt heater, hooked up with 10 gauge wire and a 30 amp breaker.

    As for your experience, that doesn’t sound like much fun, but if my water heater actually fell over, it would probably trip the breaker when the entire weight was on the electrical connections; one would probably pull loose. The water heater weighs 206 lb empty, and with 80 gallons of water in it, it would be up to 872 lb, and the connections won’t support that kind of weight.

  8. Hoagie: by doing the work myself, Elaine knows just how manly I am. :) I suppose that it’s true that I could have had a greater economic impact had I called a pro, very slightly increasing the velocity of money, but, then again, I wouldn’t have had that money to spend on other things . . . .

    I bought a toilet for my condo about 6 months ago (the old one had sprung a leak). The toilet itself was cheap, about $100 less than what I paid the plumber to install it. I suppose I could have done it myself, but I’d never done it before and would probably never do it again. So why not pay a guy who’s no doubt done it hundreds of times and would almost certainly do it right? Further, my unit is on the 3rd floor, and had I installed it myself and the thing later sprung a leak, it could have flowed into the lower units causing thousands of dollars in damage that I would then be responsible for. That made it not a hard choice to make.

  9. Eric, you should have called me: toilets are easy installations, and I’ve done them several times. You have to actually work harder to foul it up than to get it right.

  10. To fly an airplane, and I took one lesson, is not an easy task even when moving even a little faster than highway traffic. Too many things even in a Cessna to look out for. Now flying a plane that move around 600 mph, I would crap myself. So, Eric, hats off to you for that feat. Now installing a water heater, toilet, sink, tile, siding, wiring receptacles, building additions to me are a piece of cake. They’re static. They don’t move at the speed of sound (unless I’m working with natural gas and a water heater that could take off like a rocket :-D ). There are a lot of DIY books on the simple subjects that make it simple. The best pamphlet I ever bought was a Sears how to do basic house wiring. It was practically simple as “A” connects to “B” etcetera. But the Community College I went to had courses in all that.

    But one thing I have observed in my 40+ year career in all phases of construction, is the good workers had an inate ability to do the work, and others will never get it. I am sure in flying, there is the same such as a Chuck Yeager, where the ones who can never learn are 6 feet under one way or another.

  11. @ Hoagie:

    Not really. I’m a lead carpenter with over 30 years experience. I did my own wiring as well as the plumbing and all the construction. I think I know what I’m doing. ;) But I’d rather take a beating than paint.

    Also, they make books that show you how to do all this stuff and there thousands of videos out there that take you through it step by step.

    (When it comes to working on my vehicles though, I take them to a professional.)

  12. Mike G wrote:

    But I’d rather take a beating than paint.

    Absotively, posilutely! The only thing worse than painting is taping, mudding and sanding drywall.

  13. Eric, you should have called me: toilets are easy installations, and I’ve done them several times. You have to actually work harder to foul it up than to get it right.

    PS: By the time I’d paid for the plane ticket to get you from PA to MLPS and back to do the work, it would have cost a LOT more than what I paid the plumber!

    Seriously though, even if I had done it myself and was 95% sure I’d done it right, since I’m away from my place a lot, I wasn’t going to take even a 5% chance of it springing a leak and ruining the units below me.

  14. Seriously though, even if I had done it myself and was 95% sure I’d done it right, since I’m away from my place a lot, I wasn’t going to take even a 5% chance of it springing a leak and ruining the units below me.

    Ball valves fix that problem fast. Isolate the potential problem makers.

  15. Maybe. But I don’t know what a “Ball valve” is, and if it fails when I’m away, I’m screwed. Last year I was in CA for 6 months while my place sat empty. This Feb I broke my foot and had to camp out at my parents’ house for 2 months while it healed (they winter in Florida and were gone the whole time), so again a leak could have been deadly. Plus, the plumbing crew that did install the new toilet carted away the old one, thus relieving me of that responibility, too.

  16. Plus, the plumbing crew that did install the new toilet carted away the old one, thus relieving me of that responibility, too.

    But, the old crappers make nice planters, especially in the city.

    Planter

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