Water heater warranties: Cost and coverage

Make sure you're protected for those inevitable breakdowns

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Finding out your water heater has conked out when you’re trying to take a shower is a terrible start to anyone’s day. Water heater repair costs $200 to $900, while replacing a water heater can cost $800 to $3,000. Luckily, it’s probably covered by a warranty that may pay to have it fixed or replaced. Here’s what you need to know about water heater home warranties.

Key insights

Home warranties do cover water heaters.

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Your water heater may have a manufacturers warranty or a builders warranty.

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The water heater warranty company can deny coverage.

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Do home warranties cover water heaters?

Home warranty companies typically cover water heaters in a base package or as an upgrade. The company will generally send out a technician from their network to assess and fix the issue. If the water heater needs to be replaced, the warranty will usually cover it, though there may be limitations on the brand or model of the replacement.

What are the other types of water heater warranties?

There are several types of warranties, other than a home warranty, that can offer different levels of protection. Here's a breakdown of the various types of water heater warranties that a homeowner might consider.

Manufacturers warranty

A manufacturers warranty comes directly from the company that manufactured the water heater. It typically covers defects in materials or craftsmanship, focusing on critical components like the heating element, tank, thermostat and other internal parts. Generally, these warranties do not cover damages due to improper installation or lack of maintenance. They specifically address failures from manufacturer defects.

The manufacturers warranty for a water heater can range, on average, from six to 12 years, depending on the brand and model. Some high-efficiency models or premium brands may offer longer warranties. For example, Rheem water heater warranty coverage includes a one- to 10-year parts warranty and a one- to three-year warranty for labor. On the other hand, A.O. Smith water heater warranties offer only one year of labor coverage on a select few water heaters and one to 10 years of parts coverage.

Builders warranty

If your water heater was installed as part of new home construction, the builders warranty might cover it. This type of warranty covers the integrity and installation of various components of the new home, including plumbing systems like the water heater.

Like manufacturer warranties, builders warranties generally cover issues related to installation and materials used but not problems from wear and tear or external damage. Builders warranties offer two years of protection for plumbing components.

Extended warranty

You can purchase an extended warranty from a third party or sometimes through the manufacturer. An extended warranty adds to the original manufacturers warranty and can sometimes encompass issues not covered under the original warranty, like labor costs.

Extended warranties can vary greatly in terms of length and what they offer. They are usually customizable based on the homeowner's needs and the coverage level you need.

Unlike the manufacturers warranty, an extended warranty comes at an additional cost. The price can depend on the extent of coverage and the extension duration.

Water heater warranty costs

Each warranty comes with its own costs. Manufacturers warranties are included in the purchase price of the water heater. Home warranties involve an annual fee, typically between $450 and $600, and most require a service fee ranging from $75 to $150 each time a technician is dispatched. Extended warranty costs vary, depending on the term length and package details.

Manufacturers warranty vs. home warranties

Understanding the distinctions between a water heater manufacturers warranty and a home warranty that includes water heater coverage can help you make informed decisions about protecting this essential home appliance.

A manufacturers warranty is provided directly by the manufacturer and specifically covers the water heater against defects in materials or workmanship. It typically covers major components such as the tank, heating elements and internal parts.

Most manufacturers warranties for water heaters last for six to 12 years.

A home warranty is a service contract that covers repairs or replacements of multiple home systems and appliances, including water heaters, due to normal wear and tear. This means it has a broader coverage than a manufacturers warranty. It's also not limited to defects but extends to issues arising from regular usage.

When it comes to coverage terms, the manufacturers warranty coverage can vary depending on your brand and model but generally ranges from six to 12 years. Home warranties are usually annual contracts that you can renew each year.

Both have different coverage scopes. Manufacturer warranties usually only cover issues that are clearly due to manufacturing faults. They do not cover problems resulting from improper installation, insufficient maintenance or external factors like water quality, which can significantly impact the heater's life span.

Home warranty coverage includes many problems, regardless of the cause, as long as they result from everyday use. This can include failures of heating elements, thermostats, tanks and other components.

Choosing the right coverage

While a manufacturers warranty on a water heater provides specific protection against defects, a home warranty offers broader coverage that includes wear and tear, providing a more comprehensive safety net as your water heater ages.

Decide whether the cost of a home warranty makes sense based on the age and condition of your water heater and other appliances. The manufacturers warranty may be sufficient if your water heater is new. However, as the water heater ages and the manufacturers warranty expires, a home warranty can protect against costly repairs or replacements.

Remember that a home warranty can also simplify home maintenance and budgeting by covering multiple items under one plan.

Pros and cons of water heater warranties

While warranties may save you money on water heater repairs and save you time by finding a repair technician, there are a few downsides.


  • Saves money on repairs or replacement
  • May choose a repair technician for you, which saves time


  • Limitations and exclusions in the coverage
  • The full replacement cost may not be covered by all warranties

What can void a water heater warranty?

The water heater warranty company can deny coverage for a number of reasons. Be sure to look over your warranty contract to find out what actions can void your water heater coverage.

Here are common factors that might invalidate your water heater warranty:

  • The warranty can be voided if your water heater isn’t installed according to the manufacturer's guidelines or local building codes. This includes incorrect settings, improper handling or using unqualified installers.
  • Making changes to the water heater that are not approved by the manufacturer, such as altering wiring, controls or other components, can void the warranty.
  • Many manufacturers require regular maintenance as part of the warranty terms. Neglecting routine tasks like flushing the tank of sediment, checking the anode rod and ensuring the pressure relief valve is functioning can lead to warranty voidance.
  • Using replacement parts not approved by the manufacturer may void the warranty. Non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts may not meet the system’s specifications and could lead to malfunction or damage.
  • Using the water heater for applications it was not intended for, such as in a commercial setting when it's designed for residential use, can void the warranty.
  • Some manufacturers require registering the water heater within a certain period after installation to activate the warranty.
  • Damage caused by external events like floods, earthquakes or fires usually isn't covered under standard warranties.

How do I know if my water heater is under warranty?

To determine if your water heater is still under warranty, you can follow these steps:

  • Check your receipt or user manual: Your purchase receipt or the user manual for the water heater may include warranty information. These documents often list the duration of the warranty and what it covers.
  • Look for a label on the water heater: Many water heaters have a label attached that includes the manufacture date and model number. This label can also indicate the warranty period directly or provide information necessary to determine the warranty status.
  • Locate the serial number: The serial number on your water heater can often tell you when the unit was manufactured, which is crucial for determining if it's still under warranty. The format can vary by manufacturer, but generally, the first numbers or letters might represent the month and year of manufacture.
  • Contact the manufacturer: Get the model and serial number and contact the manufacturer’s customer service. Based on their records, they can tell you whether your water heater is still under warranty.
  • Check the manufacturer’s website: Some manufacturers offer online tools where you can enter the serial number of your water heater to check the warranty status directly on their website.
  • Review the warranty card: If you filled out a warranty card or registered your water heater online when you purchased it, this might provide a quick reference for warranty details.
  • Ask the installer: If a professional installed your water heater, the installer might have records about the purchase date and warranty details.

Quick and easy. Find a home warranty partner now.


    What is the average life span of a water heater?

    A properly maintained water heater generally lasts eight to 12 years. However, if you own a tankless model, it can last up to 20 years.

    » LEARN MORE: How much does it cost to replace a water heater?

    How long are water heaters under warranty?

    A manufacturers warranty for a water heater can last six to 12 years, while a home warranty that includes water heaters can be renewed every year.

    Is it worth getting a warranty on a water heater?

    Repairing a water heater costs $200 to $900, while replacing a water heater can cost $800 to $3,000. A home warranty protects your water heater and many other systems and appliances around your home and costs $450 to $600 per year. So, a home warranty may be a good investment to protect your budget.

    Bottom line

    Water heaters are key players in your home's comfort, with life spans ranging from eight to 20 years when properly maintained. They come with a variety of warranty options to safeguard your investment. Manufacturers warranties cover defects, while builders warranties ensure proper installation and material quality.

    For added peace of mind, extended warranties offer additional protection beyond the original terms, and home warranties cover repairs and replacements from wear and tear. To get the most out of your water heater, it’s important to ensure it's installed correctly and maintained regularly and that you understand the details of each warranty type. This way, you can enjoy efficient performance and be well-prepared for any unexpected issues.

    Article sources
    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. Mr. Rooter, “Understanding Water Heater Warranties.” Accessed May 10, 2024.
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