Yesterday I noticed water coming out of the water heater and I knew we needed to replace the tank. I called Ricardo, but he is in Mexico partying with his girl and won’t be back to the States until early next month. I called a friend and asked for a plumbing recommendation. He told me to get the specs from the current tank then buy a new one with the same specs. We installed an A.O. Smith water heater when we first bought our house, which was almost 15 years ago. I went to Lowe’s and brought the same brand with the same specs.
My friend told me Tilo, a contractor, would come around 11 am to replace the tank. Then I watched a YouTube video from Lowe’s showing how to replace an electric water heater. The process didn’t seem to hard and I could pull it off, but I didn’t have the confidence to do it myself.
Tilo arrived around 11 am. We went to Lowe’s to pick up some SharkBite connectors. He cut out the copper pipes to take the old tank out and reconnected them using the SharkBite connectors. Unfortunately, one of the pipes was bent; therefore, he took it back out. As he tried to pull the SharkBite back out, he bursted the pipe that was connected to the tank.
We headed back to Lowe’s to pick up a SharkBite that would connect the pipe into the tank’s faucet and another SharkBite connector. He accidentally picked up the SharkBite Check Valve. When he installed it, the arrow on the SharkBite Check Valve was pointing up, which blocked the water from entering into the tank. When he turned the water back on, he didn’t realize that the water was not filling up. When he turned the power on, we heard a loud pop. We assumed that the coils were burned. He tested the top coil and it was fine, but the bottom coil had no current.
It was already 2 pm; therefore, we headed out to Chipotle for lunch and went back to Lowe’s to pick up another coil. After replacing the bottom coil and filling up the water, we waited for the water to heat up. Nothing happened. He decided to take everything out, return the tank to the store, and buy another one.
Seeing him struggle with the copper pipes, I suggested the flexible pipes based on the video I had watched. The flex pipes were a big time-saver. He connected the water pipes in less than half an hour. We waited and waited, but still no hot water. It was already around 8 pm. I told him to go home since the manual stated that it could take up two hours to heat up the water. He charged me $250, but I gave $300 since he already spent all day. We still didn’t have hot water.
The Diagnostic Scam
The next morning, January 19, 2022, I got anxious and googled for a plumbing company and came across an ad from My Plumber Plus for a $49 plumbing repair diagnostic. I called to make an appointment. The technician came, looked at the water heater, gave me two quotes: about $450 for repair and about $650 for repair and parts. The only things he did were turning on the hot water at the sink and scanning the power line with non-contact voltage tester. I asked for the diagnostic and he said he just had to fix it. I thanked him for coming in and paid $49 for nothing. What a scam. I would steer away from My Plumber Plus.
Tilo came back in the evening trying to figure out why the water heater was not heating up. He started with the power wires. One of the wires broke off inside the wire cap. He rewired it again and we could hear the coil working inside the tank. Luckily I didn’t pay $450 to My Plumber Plus for such a small fix. I should have kicked myself in the ass for not opening up the power wires to inspect, but I learned.
From watching YouTube video, observing Tilo, and helping him installing the water heater, I gained valuable experience and gave me a peace of mind. I kept having the recurring fear that the old tank would just bottom out on me one day. Now I can be reassured that I can minimize that risk. Furthermore, I will be able to replace the tank myself in the future. Being a homeowner, I have to be responsible for so many things in the house. With the except for the HVAC unit, I can handle almost everything in the house. Being a handyman would cut down the cost of fixing and replacing things around the house, which make me enjoy living my house more and not having be in constant fear.
The lowest quote I had received from a dozen of plumbing company was $1,700. In addition to saving about $750 from hiring a company to install the water heater, I learned the hands-on experience.