A Guide to the Best Water Heater Warranty (2024)
A residential water heater is a home system that’s responsible for heating up water for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and space heating. If your system fails, a home warranty can protect against the unforeseen costs caused by a breakdown.
In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team will discuss the importance of protecting your water heater, how to find the best water heater warranty, and which home warranty providers offer this type of coverage.
In the last 30 days, more than 2,500 people bought home warranties from the above providers.
Cost Breakdown of Common Water Heater Repairs
If your water heater unexpectedly breaks down, a home warranty can save you money on costly repairs or an entire system replacement. Below are some of the most common causes of water heater breakdowns, what can be done to resolve the issue, and the average cost of related repairs and maintenance.
The pilot light will not ignite on gas heaters
Replace the valve or thermocouple
$45 to $150 per hour
Your water has a rusty color and a strange odor or taste
The anode rod may have extensive corrosion and requires replacement
$20 to $50 per hour, plus labor costs
The water in your home won’t heat to the specified temperature
It’s possible that the dip tube is broken and needs to be replaced
$150 per hour, plus replacement parts cost
Life Span of Water Heaters
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors states that tankless water heaters typically last for 10 years, while conventional systems degrade between six and 12 years. If you don’t have a water heater warranty when your system starts to fail, you could be out hundreds of dollars on necessary repairs and replacements.
Water Heater Warranty vs. Home Warranty
Most manufacturers include a water heater warranty whenever you purchase a new system. In most cases, you’ll have to register your system’s serial number (found in your warranty information packet) within 30 days after installation to receive coverage. This may cause problems for homeowners who inherited a water heater after buying a home if the previous owner didn’t correctly register the unit.
Additionally, once the manufacturer’s warranty expires, homeowners face the risk of paying for repair or replacement costs completely out of pocket; this can become expensive as water heater installation costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Sometimes, a manufacturer will offer an extended coverage plan to lengthen a warranty. However, this extended protection may not cover both parts and labor for repairs or replacements.
To guarantee that the essential parts of your system are protected, consider investing in a home warranty. A home warranty is an annual service contract that protects major systems and appliances in your home, including your water heater, whenever they break down due to normal wear and tear.
Read more: What Is a Home Warranty?
Making a Claim with a Manufacturer’s Warranty vs. Home Warranty
To request service under a manufacturer’s warranty, the policyholder must locate a licensed dealer in their area. While most qualified technicians can repair a water heater, many manufacturers limit who can perform the work. If there’s not an approved repair technician in your area who can tackle the necessary repairs, you may experience delays in resolving the issue.
On the contrary, most home warranty companies have a dedicated network of experts who are qualified to repair water heaters and other covered home systems and appliances. After a claim is accepted, the provider will generally dispatch a technician within 48 hours.
Cost Difference Between Manufacturer Warranties and Home Warranties
On average, a home warranty costs around $300 per year for basic protection and $600 per year for more comprehensive packages. Homeowners are also responsible for paying a service trade fee to a technician once they arrive to diagnose or make a repair. These fees generally range between $75–$125 per claim.
Water heater warranty costs will differ dramatically between manufacturers and vendors. For instance, Home Depot offers a five-year warranty for $69 on systems that are purchased from the store. Rheem also provides an extended water heater warranty for $115 when the installer uses an upgrade kit during installation.
Best Water Heater Warranty Providers
Of all the home warranty providers in the industry, the following two are the best for offering water heater protection.
Liberty Home Guard
American Home Shield
Get a free quote
Water heater coverage
Covered under Systems Guard and Total Home Guard
Covered under ShieldPlatinum™, ShieldGold™, and ShieldSilver™
Liberty Home Guard (LHG) offers extended protection for essential systems and appliances, including water heaters. Along with its specialized coverage options, Liberty Home Guard stands apart as our preferred provider for the following reasons:
- Covers 50 states
- Provides 24/7 claims processing via phone, online portal, chat, and mobile app
- Offers 38 unique add-on coverage options
- Responds to service requests within 48 hours
- Includes a 60-day workmanship guarantee, double the industry standard of 30 days
- Maintains an A rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and excellent customer review scores
American Home Shield (AHS) offers extensive coverage for water heaters and other home systems and appliances. In addition to its affordable coverage, American Home Shield offers the following key features:
- Covers 49 states (all but Alaska)
- Has a claims center that’s open 24/7/365
- Provides generous coverage caps
- Responds to service requests within 48 hours
- Allows policyholders to select service fees of $75, $100, or $125—a higher fee results in lower monthly payments
- Boasts a B rating from the BBB
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of water heaters?
There are several types of water heater models that all function slightly differently.
- Storage tank—Equipped with a reservoir, the heating process in this type of heater occurs within the storage tank.
- Tankless—Also known as on-demand heaters, tankless water heaters directly heat water without the use of a reservoir. Tankless options are popular due to their small stature and the option to mount on a wall with little disruption to your space.
- Heat pump—These transfer heat, rather than generating it directly for providing hot water.
- Indirect—These tie into a home’s heating system to create hot water.
What’s the difference between a gas and electric water heater?
The primary differences between gas and electric water heaters are the heating components. A gas unit includes its thermostat on the control valve, while electric models feature a separate temperature controller. Gas water heaters are also equipped with safety features like a heat-limiting device to prevent overheating and a thermocouple to disconnect the fuel during an emergency.
Which water heater is best for my home?
The type of water heater that makes the most sense for your home largely depends on the space you have. For instance, a tankless model has a much smaller footprint and is ideal for small, single-family homes as opposed to a unit with a large storage tank.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our home warranty ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each provider. We conduct research by speaking with company representatives, requesting quotes, analyzing sample contracts from each company, and conducting focus groups and consumer surveys. We then score each provider against our review standards for coverage, value, trustworthiness and transparency, availability, and customer service to arrive at a final score out of 100.
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