Seattle plumber recommendations?
February 10, 2022 10:57 AM   Subscribe

It's been a while since the last Seattle plumber Q, so thought I'd re-up it...

I'm looking to replace a regular electric water heater with a gas tankless (either indoor or outdoor), so any advice on that welcome too. I may even include a battery backup so it will work in a power outage.
posted by sapere aude to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I had a regular (i.e.: tank-full?) gas water heater replaced last year by O'Neill Plumbing and I was perfectly satisfied with the experience. While this is based on a single job, I would like to add that when the pilot light in my heater went out a few days after they installed it, they came out to look at what happened, determined in ~15 minutes that it had to do with the painters who were painting the exterior of my house accidentally blocking some vent, and didn't charge me for the return visit (which I really appreciated).
posted by mhum at 11:29 AM on February 10, 2022

Best answer: Terry, the owner of Jake the Plumber is our go-to guy; reliable and smart. Prepare for sticker shock if you haven't hired a plumber lately. :)
posted by lois1950 at 11:56 AM on February 10, 2022

Response by poster: lois1950, you are not kidding...I called up one place and off the top they threw out a $6K estimate(!). My first thought is they are filtering out the less serious types, but now I'm wondering...
posted by sapere aude at 12:57 PM on February 10, 2022

Best answer: We had our solar hot water heater replaced by NW Mechanical last year, and they did good work. We tend to use Quality Plumbing for our more generic plumbing needs. Haven't had any issues with either. And yes, water heaters are expensive. $6K seems higher than we ended up paying for ours though, it was more like $4.5K.
posted by Windopaene at 1:30 PM on February 10, 2022

Best answer: I replaced a tank heater with a gas tankless in a Seattle house, and I regret it. The install was quite expensive and the gas exhaust was a big pain. If you don't have an ideal exhaust run, it can shut itself off unexpectedly by detecting gas fumes. The "instant-on" (and off) nature of tankless results in a lot of unburned gas which you can smell outside. In reality we never had a situation where we wanted hot water running longer than a regular tank would've done. And, in case of power outage, an insulated water tank is actually a great energy store. You will have hot water for quite a while and Seattle doesn't have multi-day outages enough to be worth paying thousands extra (you might as well save the dollars and use them on a hotel stay, if that ever happens). The gas bill is cheaper than electric (for now), but I don't think you'll recover those costs in 10 years. Personally I also regret tying the house to a fossil fuel, one that could be outlawed in new construction in many parts of the world soon.

Fox Plumbing were the installers, so that'd be a negative on them, given the issues with running the exhausts; Bee's Plumbing is who I use now and they are excellent.
posted by radagast at 4:43 PM on February 10, 2022

Best answer: We used Bee’s plumbing recently and they were pretty good.
posted by bq at 9:53 PM on February 10, 2022

Best answer: Hah. I came in here with recommendations for NW Mechanical and Bee's Plumbing and I see I was beaten to the punch on both counts.

Specifically to your question, NW Mechanical replaced our residential boiler a few years back and I was pretty shocked when the city permit inspector came out and asked who did the install, because when I answered that it was NW Mechanical they were like "oh great ok," looked inside my boiler room for maaaaybe 30 seconds and issued the permit. Those guys always find SOMETHING to give me shit about but apparently they trust this company. That said, you will pay a premium for that reputation.

And Bee's came to our house when we had a leak spraying water everywhere within two hours on a holiday. So professional, great communication, I'll absolutely call them again.
posted by potrzebie at 11:13 PM on February 10, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks to it turned out, my existing electric tank heater blew an element a few days after posting this. Because I didn't have the electrical and venting for the gas tankless figured out yet, I just had the elements replaced for FAR less than a new electric tank or the whole tankless hog. And on the bright side, they were able to put in higher wattage elements than they replaced, so that should help my hot water situation, which was part of the reason I was considering tankless anyway. So I buy myself a few years to dither about it (after which I'm sure the price will be way more than 6K, sigh.)

I went with Bee's, and couldn't be happier with them. It may have been dumb luck, but they were able to come out within an hour or so and were done in another hour. Answered a lot of Q's about tankless as well, and didn't push a lot of extra services. So I'm now another big fan.
posted by sapere aude at 8:39 PM on February 17, 2022

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