A while back I had a plumbing contractor come out to give me a price on upgrading our water system. New water softener, iron filter, water heater, and a few other misc. upgrades.
$4,000.00. The guy was here on time and really knew his stuff. He even had one of those cool metal clipboards which all the best contractors have. He suggested either lining our chimney or switching the water softener over to a power-vent. The water heater is the only item currently using the chimney and it doesn't generate enough heat to burn off the moisture in the chimney. This could lead to problems.
That's fine with me, since I'd like to take the chimney down below the roof line so I could patch the roof where it currently exits the roof. This removes one major area that is prone to leakage.
The thing I really liked was that he gave me a full written estimate which detailed all of the items that would be done for the price. None of the existing copper from the pressure-tank to the softener and iron filter would be kept, it'd all be replaced with larger diameter pipe, new on/off valves, etc. All new.
Today I had another company come out. The guy who showed up really puzzled me. He knows plenty about pipe sizes and about the water softener/iron filter combination that they sell, but beyond that, he didn't seem to have a clue. I asked about a power vent for the water heater and it was like I was talking another language. That made me nervous. His sales-pitch was pretty much non-existent.
I asked about pricing and he just said $1,900 for the water softener/iron filter, and they'd change pipes as necessary. He didn't know what the water heater would cost but said it might require electrical upgrades. Um, no, it won't. I had those done and pointed out all the dedicated outlets and breakers.
By the sound of it he'll also want to re-use the existing flexible gas supply line for the water heater. Um, no way. It was done half-ass 15-20 years ago and I don't want it like that any more. No written estimate for a job that could cost $3,000 or more, either. Makes me wonder how these guys have stayed in business.
So let's just say the water heater costs $1,000.00. (the first company figured $900). I'll be about a grand less than the first company, but is it worth it? I'm leaning towards the more expensive contractor because he not only spelled out what was going to be needed, but also put it in writing.
In theory there should be no surprises, since they're replacing everything except the pressure tank. I'll talk it over with the wife tonight and make an appointment in the next day or two to have the work done.