How Much It Costs To Repair Your Water Heater

Waking up to a cold shower is not how most people want to start their day. Learning that the water heater isn't working and will take more than relighting the pilot is even more frustrating. The cost of fixing this vital plumbing fixture depends on many factors, including the type of repairs required, the extensiveness of the problem, the type of water heater you own, and whether you need emergency services. While many would assume most repairs are prohibitively expensive, the national average cost ranges from $150 to $750 — a small price for hot, relaxing showers and clean clothes. 

Even the most well-maintained systems can break down over time. Thankfully, fixing an existing water heater is often possible, with most people paying around $450 for a professional repair. However, replacing the unit may be a better option, especially if it means investing in a more efficient model that meets your family's needs and keeps your energy bills low.

Type of water heater repair needed

More complex and labor-intensive water heater issues will always cost more to repair than quick fixes. For example, if you find a dripping valve, repairs may cost around $75 for the components, though labor costs could be more. By contrast, if your unit has rust-colored water or makes loud sounds while heating, that could signal a problem with mineral buildup in the tank. In this case, you may have to flush the deposits out of the tank, which costs, on average, around $450.

In situations where there is substantial corrosion or internal failure, expect repair costs to rise even higher. In some circumstances, you may have to remove and replace the tank, which can cost anywhere between $600 and $2,000, depending on the size and sophistication of your unit. That being said, water heater repair costs tend to be lower than replacing the entire system; while the national average cost of a replacement is around $1,200 (via Homeguide), replacing specific components, such as the fuse, pilot light, and thermostat will often run you less than $150.

The type of water heater you have

The type of water heater in your home is another factor impacting your likely repair cost. One important consideration is the type of power keeping your unit operational. If you have an electric model, your repair costs will likely range from $150 to $650. On the other hand, gas and propane tanks can cost a bit more — up to $750 — due to the more complex structure of these water heaters. These models tend to suffer from valve-related issues, while electric versions are more likely to fail due to thermostat issues or heating element breakdowns.

If you have a solar water heater, repair costs could be as high as $900, depending on what needs to be fixed. These tend to require repairs to the collector area, which is vital to powering the system.

Also, keep in mind that the cost of a repair is also dependent on who does the work. If you plan to hire a professional, you'll need to pay labor costs, which are often charged at a per-hour rate from $50 to $150, with call-out fees of around $50 and added charges for emergency service of up to $100 to $200 extra. That being said, hiring a specialist with lots of experience may cost more upfront, but often leads to a speedier (and more reliable) repair.