How do I Hot Water Heater in Chicago?
February 17, 2014 12:40 PM   Subscribe

So we've started fixing up our condo a bit with an eye on selling it later this year. I managed to install a new dishwasher all by myself, and am feeling pretty good about it. Of course, a day later we notice that there's a puddle of water under our 18-year-old hot water heater, so I can't really rest on my laurels. More Inside!

Just looking at it, I'm not super comfortable replacing it myself, but I could be swayed. My question: what do I need? We've got a 1600sf 2/2 condo: we are myself, Mrs. Okt, and baby Okt. I'm seeing through, (say) sears that installation on a $380 kenmore unit is $400, am I going about this backwards, eg , should I find a plumber first and have him source the unit? Any recommendations about who to call in Chicago are greatly appreciated.
posted by Oktober to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you want to get some more closet space, consider getting a tankless hot water heater. The good news on that is, since it's an energy saver, you may be eligible for rebates from the state, the county, your municipality and your local power company.

Yes, they're more expensive to install, BUT you do get all those rebates AND it's a great selling feature.

Your local power company should have a list of qualified vendors, if you can't find someone recommended.

This isn't a job you can do yourself, especially if it's gas.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2014

If it's a gas hot water heater, I'd leave it to the pros.

Heck, if it's an electric hot water heater, I'd leave it to the pros, but that's only because I am not comfortable using an acetylene torch to solder pipes. If you are, then maybe go for it, but proceed with caution.
posted by tckma at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yep, it's gas. I'll look for a plumber (and get a quote from home depot, i guess?)
posted by Oktober at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2014

Best answer: Two warnings about tankless systems: they don't play well with HE washing machines (hot water flow is too slow to make the heater kick in). Secondly, if you don't have a second exhaust gas flue in your condo, you'll need to install one which can be pricey.

I'd get a plumber (or Abt or Home Depot) in and let them quote the unit + installation. If you bring in your own unit from the hardware store, they might not support you or warranty the tank if something goes wrong or gets damaged during installation. Ask about that.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Find out which plumber Home Depot contracts to in your area, if possible. Hire that plumber directly without going through Home Depot. I did this when I had central air installed in my house and ended up saving quite a bit of money, since HD takes a cut from their contractors' jobs and thus the contractors add a bit to jobs they get through HD.
posted by tckma at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2014

Best answer: Abt, Abt, Abt. They are the best in Chicago by a long shot. For a couple of different houses, I've bought stoves, refrigerator, dishwashers, range hoods, vacuum, microwave, washer, and dryer. When our dishwasher underwhelmed us (we bought one of those Bosch eco-friendly ones that didn't heat dry), they came out, took it back, and swapped it for a different model. They reliably have the best prices, and you can haggle a bit with them to save a few extra dollars. I love Abt more than I love any store or brand. It looks from their website like installation will be $350, which seems like a decent deal.

For hot water heaters, self-installation is dangerous because you will need to hook up the gas line and you will need to properly vent the exhaust. Both can be tricky.
posted by AgentRocket at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I purchased from Abt and had them install my hot water heater and agree that they are pretty great!
posted by misskaz at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2014

Response by poster: Looks like it was a false alarm: I caught the leak this morning, it was on the pipe leading off to the humidifier. That's an easy hour's work for a plumber, but thanks everyone!
posted by Oktober at 7:33 AM on February 18, 2014

Just in case others come looking - I have used Abt for most appliances and they are great. They are rarely the cheapest option but they do a good job. They have extremely knowledgeable salespeople who can make good recommendations based on what you are looking for - I have found that Home Depot and the others can't do this at all, because their salespeople are underpaid/undertrained, I suspect.

For plumbing I have used Power Plumbing for years - same deal, not the cheapest, but they do good work that lasts. They put in my last hot water heater.
posted by Mid at 10:40 AM on February 18, 2014

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