Ashburn, VA

How much does water heater repair cost?

$150 – $700 Average repair cost – standard tank
$300 – $1,300 Average repair cost – tankless

Water heater repair costs $150 to $700 on average. Water heater service costs $100 to $350 to replace the heating element, thermocouple, igniter, anode rod, dip tube, or thermostat. Water heater gas valve replacement costs $150 to $600. Water heater flushing costs $75 to $250. A tune-up costs $100 to $500.

Get free estimates from plumbers near you or view our cost guide below.

Reviewed and approved on June 15, 2021, by Tom Grupa and 15 expert water heater repair services on HomeGuide.

Hot water heater repair cost

Hot water heater repair costs $150 to $700 on average for a tank. Tankless water heater maintenance costs $75 to $300, and tankless repairs cost $300 to $1,300. Water heater flushing costs $75 to $250. Leaking tanks typically require replacing the water heater for $600 to $1,800.

Water heater repair cost - tank and tankless - chart
Water heater repair cost - tank and tankless - chart

Water heater repair costs
Service Average cost to repair
Anode rod replacement $150 – $350
Blown fuse / tripped breaker $10 – $20
Circulator pump replacement $150 – $680
Dip tube replacement $100 – $300
Expansion tank replacement $100 – $400
Flue pipe replacement $100 – $350
Flush and clean tank $75 – $250
Flush and descale tankless $75 – $300
Gas control valve replacement $150 – $600
Heat exchanger replacement $600 – $1,300
Heating element replacement $100 – $350
Igniter repair $75 – $350
Leak repairs $100 – $1,000
Pilot light replacement $50 – $200
Pressure relief valve replacement $50 – $300
Thermocouple replacement $100 – $325
Thermostat replacement $100 – $350
Timer replacement $100 – $350
Tune-up $100 – $500
New tank water heater replacement $600 – $1,800
New tankless water heater replacement $800 – $3,500

*Minimum service call-out fees of $50 to $200 may apply.

  • Plumbers charge $45 to $150 per hour for hot water heater repairs and maintenance.
  • Tank water heaters last 8 to 15 years. Tankless water heaters last 10 to 20 years.
  • Consider replacing a water heater over 10 years old or if the repair costs are more than 50% of the replacement cost as it's more cost-effective.

Average cost of water heater repair

The following table shows the average cost to repair common problems for a standard tank water heater.

Average cost of hot water heater repair - cost
Average cost of hot water heater repair - cost

Average cost of hot water heater repair
National average cost $455
Minimum cost $50
Maximum cost $1,500
Average range $150 to $700

*Based on 349 project costs reported by HomeGuide members. Total pricing depends on the type of water heater, age, problem, and any additional plumbing or electrical repairs.

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Gas water heater repair costs

Gas water heater repair costs $50 to $600, depending on which part malfunctions. Thermocouple replacement or gas control valve replacement are the most common repairs needed for natural gas water heaters.

Electric vs. gas water heater repair cost - chart
Electric vs. gas water heater repair cost - chart

Thermocouple replacement cost on a water heater

The cost to replace the thermocouple on a water heater is $100 to $325. The thermocouple detects whether the pilot light is lit and signals the gas control valve to turn on the gas flow. Thermocouple replacement is the most common repair needed for gas tank water heaters.

Water heater gas control valve replacement cost

Replacing a water heater gas control valve costs $150 to $600. The valve controls the flow of gas to the unit, allowing the pilot light to ignite and releasing gas to the burner to heat the water in the tank. The gas control valve contains the thermostat and pilot light controls.

WARNING: If the gas control valve malfunctions, shut off the gas supply immediately and contact a plumber for emergency repairs. A faulty gas control valve may cause a dangerous gas leak, fire, or explosion.

Pilot light replacement or lighting cost

Water heater pilot light replacement costs $50 to $200. The pilot light produces a flame to ignite the gas burner. Plumbers charge $45 to $150 per hour to reignite the pilot light, and the task typically takes 1 hour or less.

If the pilot light doesn't ignite, the problem may be due to a faulty thermocouple or gas control valve.

WARNING: Follow the instructions in the water heater's safety manual before attempting to relight the pilot light. Never try to light it by hand if the gas water heater has an electronic ignition system.

Water heater igniter repair cost

Water heater igniter replacement costs $75 to $350. Electronic ignition systems create a small spark to ignite the gas and light the pilot light.

Water heater flue pipe replacement cost

Replacing a water heater flue pipe costs $100 to $350, depending on the pipe's length and configuration. The flue pipe—also known as the vent—carries gas exhaust from the water heater to the home's exterior. Damaged flue pipes or improper venting may release toxic gas into the house.

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Electric water heater repair costs

Electric water heater repair costs $100 to $350 on average, depending on the type of repair and parts required. Replacing a faulty heating element is the most common repair needed for electric coil water heaters.

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Water heater element replacement cost

Replacing a hot water heater element costs $100 to $350. The heating element features metal coils that convert electrical energy to heat the water in the tank. Most water heaters contain one heating element at the top and another at the bottom:

  • A steady supply of lukewarm water indicates a defective upper heating element.
  • Hot water that runs out quickly indicates a defective lower heating element.
Sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank corrodes the lower heating element. Flushing the tank every year improves the water heater's performance and extends the heating element's lifespan.

Hot water heater thermostat replacement cost

Water heater thermostat replacement costs $100 to $350 for parts and labor. The thermostat regulates the temperature in the tank, turning on the heating elements when heat is needed. If there is no increase in water temperature when the thermostat's temperature is increased, the part may be faulty.

  • If the thermostat fails on a single-element water heater, the unit produces no hot water.
  • If the upper thermostat fails on a two-element water heater, the unit produces no hot water.
  • If the lower thermostat fails on a two-element water heater, the unit produces a limited supply of hot water.
Electric water heater thermostats may be replaced individually. Gas water heater thermostats are contained in the gas control valve assembly, and the whole assembly must be replaced instead.

Blown fuse / tripped breaker

Replacing a blown fuse costs $10 to $20 per fuse. Hire an electrician to inspect the water heater if the unit frequently trips the circuit breaker, which may indicate a faulty thermostat or wiring problem.

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Tankless water heater maintenance cost

Tankless water heater maintenance costs $75 to $350 for a routine flush or $300 to $1,300 for repairs on average. Most repairs are avoidable by flushing and descaling the unit at least once per year. New tankless water heater installation costs $800 to $3,500.

Tankless water heater repair and maintenance cost - chart
Tankless water heater repair and maintenance cost - chart

Tankless water heater flush cost

Flushing a tankless water heater costs $75 to $350. Flushing, also called descaling, is recommended annually to remove mineral deposits that cause corrosion and damage the unit's internal components. Areas with hard water should flush tankless units more than once per year.

  • Installing a water softener costs $800 to $2,500 and reduces mineral and sediment buildup in water heater tanks, extending its life.
  • Failure to perform routine flushing is the #1 cause of breakdowns for tankless water heating systems.

Cost to replace a tankless heat exchanger

Tankless heat exchanger replacement costs $600 to $700 for labor alone or $1,200 to $1,300 for the part plus labor. Manufacturer warranties cover labor for 1 year and parts for 5 to 12 years, depending on the brand. The heat exchanger transfers heat energy from gas or electricity to water flowing past it.

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Additional water heater service costs

Local building codes may require additional upgrades to the water heater, such as a venting system, supply pipes, drain pan, or expansion tank.

Water heater tune-up cost

A water heater tune-up costs $100 to $500 and may include some or all of these services:

  • Check for leaks and corrosion
  • Drain and flush a tank unit or flush and descale a tankless unit
  • Clean the burner assembly
  • Clean the intake filters
  • Replace the anode rod
  • Test the water temperature and pressure
  • Test the pressure relief valve, gas control valve, and heating elements
  • Test the flue pipe for proper venting
  • Make sure each faucet is getting hot water
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Water heater flush cost

A professional water heater flush costs $75 to $200. Draining and flushing clears the tank of sediment buildup that may damage the lower heating element, corrode the tank, or block the drain valve. Flush the tank at least once per year to improve the water heater's performance and increase its lifespan.

Plumber repairing water heater and flushing the tank
Plumber repairing water heater and flushing the tank

Anode rod replacement cost

Anode rod replacement costs $150 to $350 by a professional plumber or $20 to $50 for the part alone. The anode rod is a core of aluminum, magnesium, or zinc that prevents rust and corrosion in the tank. Plumbers recommend replacing the anode rod every 3 to 5 years.

  • Aluminum rods are the least expensive but provide the lowest level of protection.
  • Magnesium rods offer better protection but cost more and may cause an odor in hot water.
  • Zinc rods are made of zinc and aluminum, provide longer protection, and minimize odors.

Water heater pressure relief valve replacement cost

Replacing a water heater pressure relief valve costs $50 to $300 on average. The pressure relief valve, or TPR valve, is a safety feature that releases excess pressure if the water in the tank overheats. Repair a faulty pressure relief valve immediately to prevent an explosion.

Water seeping slowly out of the pressure relief valve may indicate excess sediment buildup in the valve, tank pressure that is too high, or a failing valve.

Dip tube replacement cost

Dip tube replacement costs $100 to $300 by a plumber or $10 to $20 for the part alone. The dip tube transfers cool water from the top to the bottom of the tank, where it is reheated by the heating element. When the tube fails, cool water mixes with hot water, lowering the temperature.

Leaking water heater repair cost

Water heater leak repair costs $100 to $1,000, depending on the source of the leak:

  • If water is leaking from a fitting, bolt, or drain valve, tightening the fitting or valve may solve the problem.
  • Water leaking from the pressure relief valve may indicate the valve needs to be replaced.
  • Water leaking from the bottom of the tank typically indicates damage to the tank itself, and the whole water heater must be replaced.
  • Replacing plumbing pipes costs $1 to $3 per linear foot for copper pipes or $0.30 to $0.82 per linear foot for PEX tubing.

Cost to replace an expansion tank

Expansion tank replacement costs $100 to $400 for materials and labor. Water expands as it is heated, requiring more space. An expansion tank is a safety device that provides extra space for the fluid and relieves the pressure on a storage tank water heater.

Low pressure in expansion tank

The pressure in a water heater expansion tank must match the home's incoming water pressure, which typically is 40 to 70 psi. Expansion tanks feature a semipermeable inner membrane that loses approximately 1 psi per year. Use a standard hand-pump to increase pressure in the tank as needed.

Cost to replace a recirculating pump

Recirculating pump replacement costs $150 to $680. Recirculating systems circulate water in the pipes so hot water is available immediately, reducing water use by eliminating the wait for cold water to clear the pipes. Recirculating pumps save a family of four 12,000 to 36,000 gallons per year.

Water heater timer replacement

Replacing a water heater timer costs $100 to $350, including the part plus labor, or $40 to $140 for the part alone. A timer turns off the water heater at night or during times of day when hot water isn't used, saving on gas or electricity costs.

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Signs a hot water heater is going bad

Signs hot water heater is failing
Problem Possible cause
No hot water
  • Faulty thermocouple
  • Faulty heating elements
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Pilot light is out
  • Faulty gas burner or control valve
Hot water runs out quickly
  • Water heater is too small
  • Faulty lower heating element
Lukewarm water
  • Incorrect thermostat setting
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Faulty upper heating element
  • Cracked dip tube
Water is too hot
  • Incorrect thermostat setting
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Faulty pressure relief valve
Noises from the tank
  • Sediment buildup
Rusty or discolored water
  • Tank corrosion
  • Corroded anode rod
Foul odor from hot water
  • Sediment buildup
  • Tank corrosion
  • Corroded anode rod
Low water pressure
  • Leak
  • Faulty valves
  • Sediment buildup
Water leaks
  • Loose fitting or drain valve
  • Loose heating element
  • Incorrect water pressure setting
  • Faulty pressure relief valve
  • Tank corrosion

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When to repair or replace hot water heater

How often should I replace my water heater?

Tank water heaters last 8 to 15 years. Tankless water heaters last 10 to 20 years. Consider replacing a water heater over 10 years old or if the repair costs are more than 50% of the replacement cost.

Water heater replacement

Water heater replacement costs $600 to $1,800 for tank units and $800 to $3,500 for tankless units. Replacement includes the new unit, installation labor, and removing and disposing of the old unit. Bringing old plumbing up to code adds $75 to $500.

Will a new water heater save money and electricity?

New tank water heaters are more energy-efficient and save homeowners 3% to 9% on gas or electricity costs. Switching to a new tankless or hybrid heat pump water heater reduces energy costs by 8% to 34%, depending on daily hot water use.

Cost to remove old water heater

The cost to remove and dispose of an old water heater is $70 to $500, depending on if the tank has been drained and disconnected. Most plumbers include old tank removal and disposal in their new water heater installation cost.

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DIY hot water heater repair

Homeowners with plumbing experience may perform water heater repairs. Anode rods cost $25 to $50 and should be replaced when flushing the tank. Replacing a faulty dip tube or pressure relief valve costs $10 to $25 for parts alone. Thermocouples cost $20 to $30.

DIY water heater repair part costs
Part Price
Anode rod $20 – $50
Dip tube $10 – $20
Pressure relief valve $10 – $25
Thermocouple $10 – $30

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Who fixes water heaters?

Plumbing companies fix most water heater problems, including leaks, strange noises, rusty water, low water pressure, or no hot water. Hire a residential electrician instead if the unit trips the circuit breaker, overheats the water heater's fuse box, or has loose wiring that trips the unit's reset button.

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Hiring a plumber for water heater repairs

Hire a local plumber to repair a water heater. Before signing a contract, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates from licensed plumbers to compare.
  • Look for plumbers with experience repairing tank or tankless water heaters.
  • Check out their reviews and previous work on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are licensed, insured, and bonded.
  • Get an itemized estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

Questions to ask plumbers

  • Which part of my water heater is malfunctioning?
  • Should I repair the water heater or replace it instead, and why?
  • How much longer will the water heater last after repairs, and what can I do to make it last longer?
  • How long will the repairs take?
  • What additional costs should I expect?
  • Does a warranty cover the new parts?
  • Do you provide a warranty on the repairs?
  • What does your water heater tune-up service include?

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