Water Heater Warranties: Which Brand Offers The Best Warranty

Water Heater

What do you do when you realize your water heater is not working as it should? Should you buy another one right away or find out if fixing it is an option? The best solution is the latter: find out if it is fixable. And without a doubt, the best way to do so is using a warranty.

Most water heater warranties are similar in length and verbiage. However, they can vary by brand.

  • Tank water heaters have a 6-year warranty on the water heater and 1 year on labor.
  • Tankless units have a 12-year warranty on the heat exchanger, 5-years on parts, and 1-year on labor.

Some brands with the best warranty include A.O. Smith, Rheem, Bradford White, American Standard, and Bosch.

Manufacturers require you to register the water heater serial number for the warranty to be valid within a pre-determined number of days, typically 15 or 30 days.

With the right warranty plan, you can protect yourself from any unexpected repairs. This post will help you decide which brand offers the best warranty so you can have peace of mind.

What is the Typical Warranty on a Water Heater?

Most water heater trademarks usually have a six-year guarantee, nine or twelve-year guarantee. However, this differs from the manufacturer’s type and their products. The labor assurance from the factory is usually one year.

Though when your water heater becomes faulty, repairing it is pretty expensive. Even though this process is costly, the good news is that the manufacturers contribute a spectrum to the fixing.

Water heaters work the same way as any other type of gadget you purchase. And having a repair and replacement warranty ensures that you cover it in case of any issues. There are stipulations within the contract data. These are the ones that only apply if the drawback is on the factory and not the user. 

The Difference in Water Heater Warranties

Types of Water Heater Warranties

There are two general types: warranties covering the older water heaters and the newer ones covering the latest models.

Old water heaters have the potential to explode when their burner ignites flammable vapors from a liquid spill. Newer models of gas-powered water heaters are safer. They include an added safety measure in their design called Flammable Vapours Ignition Resistance (FVIR). This ensures it will not emit fumes into the air and cause damage or injury if there is any leak during use.

You will commonly find 6, 9, and 12-year warranties for water heaters. The main difference is the anode rod diameter on these devices. Here is the breakdown of the anode diameters according to the warranty duration:

  • 6-year warranty: 75-inch anode rod
  • 9-year warranty: 84-inch anode rod
  • 12-year warranty: 90-inch anode rod

Tank Warranties vs Tankless Warranties

  • 6-year warranties are found on residential tank water heaters
  • 12-year warraniies are found on residential tankless water heaters

The only way you can extend the life expectancy of these tanks within any of the above systems is to have technicians service and inspect these anode rods every three years. The same technicians must service the tank according to the product manual.

The Materials That Make the Water Heaters

It’s not easy for water heater manufacturers to disclose the materials they use in their products. This is because of dynamic commodity prices, design changes, competition, and a changing legal environment.

Although, it is pretty evident that heavier materials have more extended durability, thus, a longer warranty term.

Upgrading Warranties

If your old, leaky water heater is still under warranty and you want to upgrade it from the “Old Design” model to a newer one, it’s possible. Most manufacturers will extend the contract to an additional six years.

But you’ll need to pay for the installation of the new water heater as well as the upgrading cost. If anything goes wrong in that time, they will replace or repair it at no charge.

The only downside is that the new extension is that it is only an extension. This means that the water heater manufacturers will consider the warranty validity to the original installation date.

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Why Home Inspections Are Important

You can also purchase a home warranty covering old water heaters through a company like Americas Home Shield.

What Does the Water Heater Warranty Cover?

Most times, the warranty differs according to the brand. The change of a faulty thermocouple within the warranty period is free and the assembly of a new burner.

All warranties are different and limited in some way. Simply installing a water heater yourself can void the warranty. This is typically not the case if you purchased your water heater from a big box store like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

However, this clause is common with water heaters sold exclusively through distributors, like plumbers. Part of their agreement states that no one other than the authorized dealer and their representatives can install their products.

Here are some of the general things that manufacturers cover in their warranties on duration:

First-Year:

The manufacturer covers some parts of the tank, the tank itself, plus the labor. This is for the original homeowner as well as non-commercial installation.

The people handling these installations must use a product manual.

Past First Year:

The manufacturer covers some water heater parts plus the tank repair and maintenance. Labor is not part of the compensation.

Note: These time constraints may differ from brand to brand.

Things not covered under warranty

  • The replacement of the Anode rods is not part of the compensation.
  • Any maintenance like an unscheduled inspection or cleaning of the burner parts
  • Repair using features not belonging to the brand of the water heater.

Are all Water Heater Brand Warranties the Same?

Not all water heater brands provide the same warranty as the others. When shopping around for a water heater, you want to make sure that the features of each one are comparable and check out their warranty terms.

You’ll be happy if your storage tank has more coverage for 10-15 years. In that case, an issue that the brand covers under the warranty term include all parts or labor needed.

What to do if Your Water Heater Warranty has Expired?

If you’ve moved into a home with an expired water heater warranty, you can consider buying insurance to protect against replacement costs for your water heater.

It might be worth considering knowing how long your water tank has been around. You can investigate this by looking at any of its labels or stickers. They will tell you when technicians last serviced and inspected it for safety purposes.

It is not uncommon for tanks without these tags to go beyond their life expectancy. Suppose yours is one such instance, then investing some money in insurance is a good idea. This could save even more later on down the line.

Are Water Heater Warranties Pro-Rated?

In some instances, they are.

It will help if you protect your water heater with a tank leakage policy. This will give you money for the purchase of an upgrade if it leaks before 12 years. However, to be eligible for this coverage, you must inspect and replace the anode rod every three years, or else your old system may rust out early.

And installing an expansion tank at home can help prevent high-pressure issues that lead to frequent failures and plumbing problems in general.

Are There Instances That a Warranty Can Become Null and Void?

Some warranty is possible to become null and void. One example is if you do not activate the warranty in the first thirty days. 

If a local service technician does not verify the installation, the installation coverage may not get the green light. The need to have such verifications is to ensure that the environment during installation will not lead to the water heater ruining before its time.

A great example is installing a gas water heater in a dump surrounding, poor ventilated, dirty crawlspace and a place with dirt and chemicals. In such a case, the warranty becomes null and void. This is because all these conditions will lead to the ruin of the water heater.

The device must have a good air supply, a clean environment, a dry floor, and no trace of corrosive chemicals affecting the machine’s performance. Chemicals destroy any combustion water heater parts. And dust and dirt can initiate FV failure and trigger a lock-out.

Another instance is if you install an electric water heater in a wet surrounding. Also, if the wire, the breaker is small, or if there is no ground wire. In that case, that installation is not under warranty.

Read the warranty document carefully to mitigate going against any manufacturer code.

What Brand of Water Heater is the Most Reliable?

Deciding on the best water heater to install is quite a chore because several water heaters to select. Regardless, here are a few brands to start with:

A.O. Smith Warranty

One of the best brands is A.O. Smith. The company has been around since 1874 and is still a household name in the North American market today, with its headquarters located in Milwaukee. Originally started as a hardware store, AOS now manufactures water heaters for residential use across America from coast to coast.

Its warranty covers most repairs that are in their terms. For 6-year water heaters, the manufacturers lower the tank warranty to one year. And for 10-year models, it decreases to three years.

The components warranty reduces, although only by one year, instead of the previous policy’s two years.

The company’s new repair policies apply to the tanks themselves and the components that go with them. A.O.Smith has halved the Parts warranties, with six months instead of a full year per model type.

A.O. Smith Website

Rheem Warranty

The second brand with a highly regarded name in the water heater industry is Rheem.

Rheem’s philosophy is simple – heating water for homes.

Their line of products has expanded over the years. Rheem’s water heater portfolio includes solar-powered models and gas, electric, tankless, and heat pump varieties.

But is that Rheem’s most popular product by far? The company now sells more than half a million new storage water heaters each year in North America alone. And because they’re so easy to maintain with a low risk of leaking or breaking down as traditional tanks do after just 10 or 20 years. They come highly recommended too.

Rheem Website

Bradford White Warranty

Bradford White’s business philosophy believes in quality, and you won’t be able to buy their equipment at a store. The products are only available through authorized representatives or wholesalers because of the high importance of producing great gear for anyone willing to spend some extra time finding it.

Besides having one of the best warranties around (10 years), this company’s products come with an instant-on feature that will make you feel cozy in no time. They even have different size options for whatever type or style suits your home better.

Please read our review of Bradford White water heaters.

Bradford White Website

American Standard Warranty

American Standard offers a standard four-year warranty for all of its heaters. Industry standards are typically two years, but American Standards is more than some brands offer and equivalent to the industry average.

Their products come with a one-year warranty for the first five years and 10-year warranties after that, making it easy to keep things clean and running smoothly while also having peace of mind in case something goes wrong.

American Standard takes pride in their craft, so they want customers like you to have confidence when deciding what brand faucet should go into your new kitchen remodel. If anything were to ever break down on its own, there’s someone ready at hand who will get right back up to fix any issues.

American Standard Website

Bosch Warranty

You’ll find Bosch products with some of the most extended warranties out there. In short, this is a highly respected brand that produces high-quality and reliable items you can trust for years to come – so don’t buy cheap if quality matters.

Bosch warrants that the heating element will remain free from leaks for an average of five years. Provided it is installed and properly maintained by a qualified service contractor, this warranty lasts up to date with Bosch’s newest models. Or until 5-years after installation, depending on where you’re at in that timeframe.

Bosch warranties its products against defects in materials and craft under regular use for as long as they remain functional. They warrant their product so well because they want your heater to last longer than other brands. And this is without costly repairs or replacements due to faulty parts.

Bosch Website

How Long will a 6 Year Warranty Water Heater Last?

A 6-year water heater means the warranty is only six-year, while a 10-year model comes with an extra five years of coverage. A standard metal rod will keep your unit looking and functioning like new until it reaches its expiration date.

A six-year water heater might seem impressive at first glance, but don’t be fooled. This type typically lasts just one year before breaking down or giving out on you. If that sounds too risky to you, then go ahead and invest in a ten-year tank instead, which gives you up to five additional years on top of the original warranty. 

You’ll also get some bonus protection from corrosion thanks to included rods capable of foiling pesky rust buildup over time.

Which Warranty Should You Choose: 6 or 12-Years?

When you do the math on both costs you save, the shorter warranty has a more significant percentage of labor and material coverage. However, that cost does not include other items that may need fixing too.

  • 6-year warranties are found on residential tank water heaters
  • 12-year warraniies are found on residential tankless water heaters

So to get this part correct, you will have to talk to an experienced technician because they have the knowledge to guide you with which to go. The references depend on the brand in question.

Are Water Heater Warranties Transferrable

Every water heater manufacturer has its own warranty policy. Typically water heater policies are not transferable. However, that is not the case for all companies.

You should ask to read the warranty paperwork. If the owner does not have it, you can do a Google search of the model number to try and locate one online. Most manufacturers have this information printed in the user manual.

If all fails, contact the manufacturer’s customer support.

Conclusion

You should always ensure you buy the most appropriate water heater to avoid using a lot of money to repair it. Make sure you get the proper warranty on your new water heater.

The last thing anyone wants is for their tank to break down when they least expect it. Even so, having no one available to fix it immediately. Even more frustrating is getting a hefty bill to get the repairs.

That’s why we recommend getting a high-quality, dependable brand that offers a great warranty. Select one of the brands we have covered above, and you will not be disappointed. We also suggest constantly comparing contracts before making any purchase decision.

Also, understand each brand’s warranty in detail before signing anything. This way, you know what kind of protection you are purchasing. And even after getting a brand you trust, get a certified technician to help you install it or verify its installations.

Most warranties become null and void because of small mistakes you could easily avoid.

Resources

15 Best & Most Reliable Water Heater Brands In The World

A Guide to the Best Water Heater Warranty

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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