Water Heaters

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • I've had it with water heaters.  We've lived in our home for 22 years.  And in those 22 years we have had to replace the water heater 6 times.  (Last 2 didn't even last 3 years.)  I've purchased GE, Rheem, and AO Smith, Sears/Kenomre and always by the one with the longest warranty.  Brand doesn't seem to matter, they all prematurely fail.  And it's not just at my house either.  I've have rental property and for 10 year only had to replace one or two.  But in the last 10 years I have replace 12.  And like for my house I've buy the ones with the longest warranties.

    ​Last night my tenant who has a 3 week old baby called to say the water heater is leaking all over her kitchen floor.  Sure enough the tank failed leaving her with no hot water.  This water heater had just been replaced 2.5 years ago and has a 12 year warranty.  (Previous water heater lasted over 20 years.)  What's with these well known American selling products that fail prematurely?

    I prefer tank water heaters over tankless.  Should there be an earthquake I will have several days worth of water in the tank.  And if there's a power outage there will be hot water with a tank water heater.  Would not have any hot water with a tankless because they re quire electricity. 

    Anyone else find water heaters just don't last anymore?
    ​Any recommendations on brand of water heaters that will last?

    I would recommend a tankless water heater that operates on gas, as mine does, and buying some 5 gallon jugs to store water in for earthquakes.  While the water heater is a resource for water in an emergency, storing your own water is just as easy.  This one reason should not keep you from going with a gas tankless.  There are 10 people in my house.  I installed my tankless gas water heater over ten years ago.  NOT ONE SINGLE PROBLEM EVER.  You may need a plumber to install a gas line, but if you have a gas dryer, you can install it on the exterior of the building, adjacent to the dryer area to limit the run to plumb gas to the water heater.  Your heater is causing never ending problems, probably is costing you a lot of money, and the only reason you won't go tankless (because it can be gas powered) is to have water in an emergency?   There are better options...

    From a happy single mother with a large family, and tenants, all of whom share one tankless, gas powered, water heater.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

2013 - 2104 Recommendations

New Water Heater Needed

Feb 2014

We need a new water heater, and maybe some new pipes. Do we call a plumber? A contractor? I'm new to the whole house improvement world, so advice and recommendations for learning the process before we buy anything would be helpful as well as specific recommendations for people to work with. Plumb Confused

Hello, Regarding a new water heater install/replacement. First, if you care, you are supposed to pull a permit. That said, a contractor or a licensed plumber will probably require one to be pulled. A general handyman, may not. There are some code issues, but this is an expense, and legal issue you may want to consider. Depending on the difficulty of the swap out, you should be able to go with either a plumber, handyman, contractor. I suppose it all depends on your level of comfort with liability and cost. It sounds as if you maybe a new homeowner, so if you are not sure about how to proceed and not interested with learning (but that is probably not the case, otherwise you would not be posting here) you could hire a contractor. The contractor may then hire a plumber, a carpenter if needed and a add their fee. Trouble is most contractors will not want to take on such a small project. A plumber should be able to do the job, but if there turns out to be construction issues,you may again need to find that person. Personally, I want to know what is going to be done, what is the correct way to do it, what are the options for water heaters; size, efficiency, lifespan, etc. And since I can do the work, I usually end up doing the job myself after I've figured out all the pieces. I've installed several water heaters, they are pretty simple, IMHO. If you would like some assistance, I'd be willing to talk to you more about it. Good luck, Tim

Great local plumber can help with water heater, make trust-worthy recommendations--super nice guy, won't overcharge, honest,, the best! Sammy Capurro, Capurro Family Plumbing, 510-220- 6697 Raissa

Just another recommendation for Anam P of a Green Eagle Plumbing. He recently did number of plumbing problems at our house, installed new tankless water heater and fixing our toilet and a sink drain.etc , All were done efficiently, cleanly, and with a smile. Again he is super nice guy and he does perfect work . You can reach him at 510 928 0759 Ben G Ben G

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Hot water heater needs to be replaced

April 2011

We really need a new hot water heater and are considering an on- demand one. After doing some reading it seems like there are some issues and do not save that much money per year. Do you have one? Do you love it? Hate it? Also, we could use a recommendation for a licensed plumber to relocate and install it. Many thanks, Barbie

I highly recommend Brian Borghi of Borghi Plumbing in Oakland for any hot water heater replacemtn. He alos does tankless water heaters. Contact 653-6281 very reasonable, professional and offers great advice too.

Rey Lacayo of Lacayo Colt Plumbing and heating is a excellent plumber and very good guy. He has done a major plumbing remodel at my home, including tankless water heater installation, complete new copper pipes that ties into a 80 year old system, two new bath rooms etc. etc. He also does small jobs and he is my go to guy when the furnace stops or the sump pump stops draining completely. He is easy to reach, returns calls immediately, comes by to do the work quick, and best, he is efficient, jobs are done well and quickly and therefore reasonably, certainly in comparison to the large firms that have a lot more overhead. I highly recommend Rey for big and small plumbing and heating jobs. His number is 510-336-3496 office, and 415-726-8549 cell. Larry

Need a new water heater

May 2010

Our hot water heater is on its last legs so I want to start looking now for an energy efficient replacement. I know there's a lot of options out there and find it all a bit overwhelming. Any suggestions on a good expert/plumber who can sort through what's available and give us good, solid advice on what would work best for us and our budget? Thanks Reva

Call Eric/Cal Plumbing, (510)229-8022. My wife and I had done our research and had our hearts set on a new tankless water heater to replace our leaking tank heater, mostly because our friends told us how energy efficient they are. When Eric from Cal Plumbing came by to look at our house, he said the layout of our house made us a poor candidate for a tankless. He advised us that a better choice for us would be to install a well-insulated tank water heater with a hot water recirculating pump...this would conserve water and get us hot water faster. And it was half the cost of a tankless! Other plumbing companies tried to sell us the more expensive tankless option, but we felt comfortable with Eric and knew he would do a good job (he personally installed the water heater himself, and it passed inspection easily). We couldn't be happier! Brian

Need to replace 19-year-old water heater

Jan 2010

We have a 19 year old water heater and feel that we are pushing our luck by not replacing it now. We are looking for recommendations for a good, honest and knowledgeble person/company. Our water heater set up is probably not up to code any longer so we are assuming it's not a quicky job. There will most likely be some extra plumbing work/maneuvering involved. anon

I highly recommend Justin Aulday of Aulday plumbing. I hire him as a sub contractor for all the plumbing work on my remodeling projects. He is very professional, does quality work, runs his own business and does his own work and is very affordable. Check him out, you won't regret it. His phone number is 510 815 0931 Idan

Eric , Cal Plumbing. 510-229-8022. Plumber. As honest as they come. Has done many plumbing jobs for us, the last being replacing our hot water heater with an exterior tankless water heater. It ended up being the only legal solution, in terms of the code requirements for venting, etc. He is great! CK

You should have an experienced, licensed plumber give you an estimate. We found out the hard way that even if a company is licensed, the plumber they send out to do the job may not know what they're doing. Eric with Cal Plumbing is knowledgeable about tank and tankless water heaters and does everything to code. He was effective in communicating what was involved in replacing our very old (20+ years!) water heater, and he charged us what he told us he would when he gave us the bid, even though it turned out to be a more involved project than anticipated. I highly recommend Eric: 229-8022. Happy Customer in Oakland

I highly recommend Hank the plumber. Our water heater stopped working, so I looked on Berkeley Parents Network and found a good review for Hank. I called him and he came right over. He recommended a fix, instead of replacing the heater. He was fast, honest and very reasonably priced. He is a contractor and can install new water heaters if needed. I will call him in the future. His phone number, 1 800 411-hank Michelle

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Water Heater Making Knocking Sounds

Sept 2009

How much water should a normal hot water heater 'overflow' pipe be draining? And where should it drain to?

Our hot water heater 'overflow' pipe just juts out the side of our house now. It seems to me it drains 'a lot'. It fills up a large-ish watering can every day. Is it supposed to overflow so much? This seems like a huge waste of water to me.

I don't like it sticking out the side of the house. I'd like to have it drain to the sewage system, but I'm really wondering if so much water should be coming out. I mean, if everyone's heater is doing this, I'm appalled at the amount of waste. It just doesn't seem right to me.

Where does your hot water heater overflow drain into? Any plumbers (professional or lay) have a sense of a 'normal' amount of water draining from the overflow pipe?


Your Water Heater should not be overflowing at all! There must be something wrong with the WH overflow pressure valve. Check with a plumber. Andus

Water heater is running out of hot water too soon

Dec 2008

Lately, our water heater has been running out of hot water much sooner than it used to. I don't see a leak, but we want to get it checked out. The water heater is the original from the house when it was built in 1985, so replacing it might not be out of the question in any case (we have lived in the house since 2006). We are in Walnut Creek and are wondering if folks out there have any current recommendations for whom we might contact for such work. Thanks!

The average life of a hot water heater is 15 years! Brenda

Hi, I've been repairing and installing hot water heaters for quite some time now and it sound like you have a broken dip tube. This is the tube the brings the cold water into the tank all the way to the bottom. It's usually plastic and over time it degrades and splits or breaks. This results in having cold water being released much higher up in the tank than it should be. The hot water at the top is displaced and suddenly you have a lot less hot water than you used to. Depending on the head room above the tank, it's a relatively simple and cheap repair. Most plumbers will simply tell you to replace the unit, usually for between $700.00 and $1000.00. Due to the quality of the water in most of the East Bay, I find that with timely maintenance and some simple upgrades and repairs, a water heater can last almost indefinitely.

Water Heater Making Knocking Sounds

August 2008

For the last few months, our water heater has been making a knocking/thumping sound after we've used the sink or shower from the master bathroom. It doesn't make any noise when we use water from any other source in the house (kitchen, second bathroom). Has anyone ever experienced this? Do we need to take action now? Linda

Sounds like you have a water hammer problem, not with the water heater but with the plumbing to the master bath. If this is the case, you need some risers (or extensions) on your hot water lines above your sink/shower connections. Ray

sounds like it's water hammer - pipes vibrating/slamming when the water is suddenly turned off - as it only occurs at those fixtures. is the sound AT the water heater? does it sound like pipes vibrating in the wall near the water heater? Jeff

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

2003 & Earlier

Efficient water heater for small house


I need a recommendation for an energy efficient water heater for my small house; and also someone to install it -- is this the kind of a job you need a plumber for, or are there companies that specialize in installing water heaters, or can a regular appliance store handle it? CD

You might want to try an on-demand heater, which heats the water going through the pipe only when you turn on the tap, rather than keeping a tank full of hot water all the time. We installed one; it was easy for us, but we're pretty handy. They're not cheap ($500) compared to a regular water heater, but the gas savings are looking pretty sweet right now. Be warned: this is not a good option if you like to run your dishwasher, washing machine, and hot shower all at the same time.