By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Let's face it, there's not a lot of excitement when it comes to replacing your electric water heater. It's worked hard, done its job and lived its course, and no longer able to function. The American Council for an Energy-Effficient Economy suggests that when you're looking for one, select a unit properly sized for your household. A 40-gallon tank is the most popular sized water heater. For a family of four a good choice is a 50-65 gallon unit.

An electrician will charge $509 to replace a 40-gallon electric hot water heater and remove the old one. This includes the labor and material. If you have experience with electrical projects and tools, you can buy the unit for $275 and replace it and save 46 percent. But if you have any doubt about doing it yourself, definitely hire a pro.

The replacement involves wiring the circuits of the heater into the electrical system of the house and connecting the new heater to existing hot and cold water pipes. You'll need a pipe wrench, neon voltage tester, hacksaw or tubing cutter, and a carpenter's level. To simplify the job, get a water-heater installation kit with a flexible copper connector.

The worst part of the job is manhandling the old unit for removal, which is particularly challenging if it's tucked away in a basement where it's not easy to reach.

The average price to install an electric water heater noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself. Tweak the data by adding your ZIP Code to find a local cost.

Would you do this project?

Poll Results

  • DIY57%
  • PRO43%