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Water Heaters

I’m amazed by how many water heater manufacturers there are. On second thought, it makes sense that there should be so many. Practically every building that you see has at least one water heater in it, and nearly ten per cent of them will need to be replaced each year. (A water heater lasts about ten years.) That’s a lot of water heaters.

A generation ago, water heaters were made better and lasted longer, but price-conscious customers forced the manufacturers to make them cheaper and cheaper. But not all brands are the same. A good water heater will cost more than a cheap one.

A water heater must be replaced when it rusts internally and begins to leak around the bottom. If your unit is rusty around the bottom and is near ten years old, you’d might as well replace it at your earliest convenience, rather than to wait until it fails at some inconvenient time.

Old units collect sediment in the bottom of the tank, which will interfere with a gas burner’s ability to heat the water quickly. Electric models, on the other hand, have their two heating elements higher in the tank and heat the same, regardless of the sediment.

Elements do go bad in electric water heaters. It can cause the water to run cool almost immediately, or all of the water might be lukewarm from the start. It is best to have the plumber change both elements during one visit, even if only one has quit working.

The costs of installing a water heater, as in all plumbing jobs, vary. A “medium” water heater replacement, including all parts and labor, will set you back $600-$700. I don’t charge anything to come by and take a look and give you a firm quotation.

Most water heaters are guaranteed by the manufacturer for five or six years, but that usually doesn’t cover the expense of having a plumber do the labor. Even getting the warranty serviced usually requires a significant amount of the plumber’s time, which drives up the cost to the customer. It is better to get a good quality product so that the warranty, hopefully, will be a moot issue. I stick with the name brands sold by the plumbing supply houses, and none of them has disappointed me.