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Are Plastic Water Heaters Worthwhile?

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey weighs the pros and cons of a plastic tank water heater


  1. Determining whether or not a plastic tank water heater will work for you depends on a variety of factors:
  2. Time: Since plastic tank water heaters are significantly more expensive than traditional steel tank ones, you will need to live in the house for a longer period of time to see any cost savings.
  3. Energy Savings: If you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of the water heater, the plastic water heater is pretty comparable to steel tanks in terms of efficiency, so there won’t be a significant improvement.
  4. Fuel Type: This type of tank is only powered by electricity, not gas.
  5. Maintenance: The tank itself has a lifetime warranty, so it won’t need to be replaced. However, the metallic parts of the tank are not under warranty and will still require replacement every 5-6 years or so.
  6. Consider these factors when deciding if this type of water heater will work for you.

Determining what type of water heater will work best for you depends on a variety of factors, including how long you plan to live in the house, whether you use gas or electricity, and how much energy efficiency you hope to gain from the tank. Carefully consider these factors before deciding what water heater should be installed.

The plastic water heater featured in the segment is the Marathon electric water heater, manufactured by Rheem and can be found at home centers.

While the tank itself has a lifetime warranty, the parts on the tank will still need to be replaced periodically, so check in with your local plumber to make sure he or she is comfortable servicing this type of tank.