Standing gas wall heater...replace all of it?

The gas company recommended we replace our 15-20 year old standing gas wall heater.

The Mr. Handy affiliated heater replacement company wants to charge us $1600 to replace A) the mechanism that lights the gas and regulates the flame, [which apparently had a tiny leak], and B) a “box” like structure that sits above this mechanism, catches the heat and funnels it upward to the flu.

I’m wondering if I really need to replace this “box” or is this only a way to pad the bill.

This box has some discoloration due to the heat, but it does not seem have been at all weakened by the heat over the years. Knocking on all parts of the box gets the same, solid sound.

Money is tight and I’d like to keep the cost as low as possible…without burning down the house.

Anyone out there know what the hell I’m talking about, and whether or not it is likely that this box needs replacing?

Many grats.

$1600 to *repair *an old wall furnace? Wow. Someone must behind on their Jaguar payments.

Wall furnaces go for about $400 - 600 complete, and are not difficult to replace. They can be messy though - I replaced one a few years ago, and dislodged a bunch of soot and dead mice when the old one came out. A bunch of vacuuming later, and the new one slid into the same space. Some screws to hold it to the studs, a screw or two to hold the vent together and that’s about it for physical installation. After that, you connect the gas, and the two wires for the thermostat.

If you’re nervous about such things, you can call PG&E and they’ll come out to check it out, light the pilot and adjust it. AFAIK, they still do this for free.

If you’re really nervous about such things, it still shouldn’t cost $1600 to have someone replace the thing.

You almost certainly will need a permit, depending on what county you’re in. Some counties may require the gas connection to be made by a licensed professional.

ETA: I don’t know who “Mr. Handy” is, but call around to places like Home Depot, Lowes and Sears as they all do installations.

Thanks gotpasswords, but apparently $1500 is the going rate to replace a gas wall heater here in the SF Bay Area.

I called Sears, Home Depot and Lowes, on your suggestion, but they only offer install and service for central heat/air. I went to the phone book and got one free estimate in person and one over the phone, both more than the $1600 bid I got from the first guy.

Yes it does seem outrageous for a job that seems to require less than an hour to swap-out the gas valve, (which cost between $100 and $200 online) but what are ya gonna do? I don’t know which valve replaces the one I have, and I don’t want to burn down the house.

FYI: Mr. Handyman is an umbrella advertising/referral company for local install/repair companies of various types. Yelp (2 reviews) were positive, “Great, but a bit pricey.”

I thought they were a company offering professionals to do small jobs, like mine.

Hell, this is California. Winter here is 55 degrees and five days of rain. I’ll keep looking.

Thanks for responding.


Yes you should replace the whole thing. If the gas company is recomending changing it. You probably have a cracked heat exchanger. burning down your house is one of the lessor worries. Carbon Monoxide poisioning is a greater danger.

Rats. Okay, I’ll bite the rather expensive bullet—but I’ll be running the heater 24/7/365 to make sure I get my money’s worth. Thanks Snnipe 70E.

Now, how do I apply for a government bail out?

That box on top is eventually eaten through and the carbon monoxide and other combustion products go through the air in your home. You should probably just buy a new efficient model.

That’s three for replacing the whole heater, none against and one for buying a new house, (me).

I think I see a trend here.

Thanks much, Harmonious Discord.

Anyone got a house with a working heater for under $1600?