A hot water heater is a must for nearly every home. Whether it’s for a hot shower or you simply want to wash your hands, you always want to have hot water available to you. Not having hot water simply isn’t an option for most people.
If your water heater malfunctions in any way, it could leave you without hot water, which can be very stressful.
Your water heater system, whether it’s a hot water tank or an on-demand unit, likely has a manufacturer’s warranty that will take care of certain situations, but not all of them. A warranty will often extend for many years – 6 is typical for a domestic hot water tank. The warranty will typically cover you for replacement parts for any failure.
There are things, that a hot water tank warranty may not cover that you might otherwise expect it to. While you can and should always check your heater’s warranty to see the specifics of exactly what it does and does not cover, we’ve assembled a general list of costs you can expect.
Here are some things that warranties typically do not cover which you will want to plan for.
1. Diagnostic Charges
Finding out what’s wrong with your plumbing may not be simple, and neither is finding out what’s wrong with your water heater if something malfunctions. It takes time and a sharp, trained eye to figure out exactly where the problem lies, and exactly what needs fixing.
Diagnostics is the process of inspecting the unit for damage, checking for failures that may have caused faults and looking at other factors that may not be readily apparent, such as something besides the water heater that may be causing a no hot water.
The diagnostic service may also include a phone call with the manufacturer’s technical support department which the manufacture may require before they will approve a warranty replacement of any kind. Together, the manufacturer and the technician will also determine how it needs to be fixed. This time may take from one to several hours to completed depending on how complicated your system is.
Diagnostics are essential to the proper testing and repair plan for your hot water. The cost of this service is never included under the manufacture’s warranty.
2. Labour Charges to Replace Parts
There are several parts to a water heater. There’s the cold-water valve, hot water outlet, dip tube, pressure relief valve, pilot assembly, drain valve, the tank itself and many more. While a part may be provided by a water heater warranty, the labour to replace it usually is not. Plus, depending on where a certain part is located, it might be difficult to get to, and this cost can add up.
Technicians are trained to find exactly what needs to be replaced, and how to do so safely and efficiently. The process of replacing parts will include the removal of the faulty part, replacement of the new part, and testing to ensure there are no further issues. Everything must work together.
3. Hot Water Tank Disposal Fees
If the warranty has allowed for the full replacement of your leaking hot water tank, they will only provide the tank. They will generally not want their old hot water tank back, nor provide for it’s disposal. A hot water tank isn’t something you can just throw into the garbage bin. Even with a large appliance recycling program, they are heavy, unwieldy and often leaking water! Your plumbing service company can remove it for you, but there will probably be a nominal cost.
R&B will remove your old tank and deliver it to the recycling facility as part of our disposal charge.
4. Warranty Documentation Fees
The process of obtaining the replacement parts or hot water tank will often require time on the phone with their warranty department as well as collaboration with the tank supplier to process the paperwork and provide the parts. The dealer will often charge the service company a fee of anywhere from $35 – $150 to process the paperwork involved in the warranty tank. This paperwork as required by the manufacture is not covered by your warranty. These are administrative fees.
5. Gas Permit for Gas Water Heater Replacements
There are a few different types of water heaters. There natural gas, and electric are the most common. If you are using a gas-powered water heater, you will need to have a permit even if it’s being done under warranty.
Since gas water heaters hook directly into the gas line of your home, it can be dangerous if not done correctly. A permit ensures that a qualified professional will install or replace any necessary units or components within a strict guideline of rules to ensure it is as safe as possible.
Doing this type of work without a permit is not advisable, as there can be many unforeseen consequences if the proper steps are not taken.
A permit will ensure that the work is done properly and safely, by a qualified professional, but is not covered by the manufacturers warranty and will need to be purchased from the municipality or gas safety branch.
The inspection process of closing a permit can have unforeseen costs as well.
6. Installation of Expansion Tank, Upgrades to Venting to Bring up to Code
Sometimes when a water heater is installed, it‘s either not installed in accordance with Plumbing Code or the code has changed in the years between. The result of a new or retrofitted water heater can be that changes need to be made to the surrounding and supporting equipment to bring it up to code. An expansion tank is one such example.
An expansion tank is used to lessen the possibility of pressure damage to the water heater and other parts of the hot water system including piping. Safety should always be something to consider with an appliance like this. In a closed water supply system, an expansion tank makes sure that the pressure created when the water is heated has somewhere to go.
Without an expansion tank, you run the risk of damage to your heater, and possibly the rest of your plumbing as well. This is why plumbing code requires that all gas fired hot water heaters have an expansion tank installed. It is also very common for them to be left out of an installation.
The addition of an expansion tank to your hot water system is not included in the warranty.
Venting is what carries the exhaust air to the exterior of the home, and on occasion this is also something that might need upgrading to bring it up to code. The venting size is important and sometimes the venting size requirements will change over time. Having this up to code is very important.
What we’ve learned – the Good the Bad and the Ugly
So, while your warranty likely will cover the parts that may arise with the use of a water heater, there are things that it may not cover that you want to be prepared for.
Diagnostics will help you figure out exactly what is wrong and is the first step in fixing anything and taking preventative measures.
Labour is what will get those things done by qualified professionals who will see that the work is done safely.
Should disposal of an old water tank be necessary, this can also be taken care of by professionals, making sure it’s done properly and safely.
Permits and upgrades may be necessary.
Unfortunately, once you pay for all these extras, your ‘warranty’ work can end up costing several hundred dollars sometimes almost as much as a new hot water tank and the warranty is still only going to be valid from the date of the original installation.
Do you have questions? Like if your water heater is under warranty and what that warranty might cover? Call R&B and we’ll give you all the information that you need before we get to site.