Definitely a conspiracy. Although I’m usually a conspiracy rejectionist, this time? No question. Conspiracy.

The existing (dead) heater had a six-year warranty. Today is exactly six years plus six weeks after we installed it. In other words, exactly six weeks past the warranty — and without any kind of warning, it’s gone.

Coincidence? I think not.

Today, I was hit with The Bill to replace the now-extinct indirect hot water heater. I am in recovery, hoping the next cup of coffee will bring me back to life. That plus two Excedrin.

With a lifetime warranty, the installed indirect electric tank will cost $2400 but a mere $2000 with just an 8-year warranty. The more expensive tank is repairable while the less expensive one is a throwaway. So, in addition to the money — which I am going to spend whether I like it or not —  I’m trying to figure out if we will be alive in eight years. If we’re both dead, we won’t care about hot water, right?

Good bye old water heater!

My son whacked me when I explained I was trying to calculate the odds of living long enough to need an extended warranty, so I shut up about it. But the idea is stuck in my brain. I’m sure buying the shorter warranty would guarantee our longevity and I’m worried that the extended warranty will finish us off prematurely. I’m not superstitious, not me. After I gave up trying to determine our odds of long-term survival, I dove into the bills to see if I could lower payments for the rest of the month. If I trimmed everything all the way down, as far as I can, I will save FIFTY dollars. I can skip next month’s oil bill, but that’s next month.

I looked at the numbers and knew I can run, but can’t hide. I took a deep breath, took half of the money we have remaining in the world and put it into checking. It was there for an emergency. This is an emergency. I sincerely hope we are out of emergencies. I can’t afford another.

We are too old to live without hot water, so no matter how I feel about it, we need the tank. Whether we’re going to live long enough to need the warranty remains to be seen. Calculating survival odds turned out to be above my pay grade.

But the thing is, the existing heater had a six-year warranty. Today is exactly six weeks after the warranty expired and bang, it is dead. Gone. Finished. End of the game.

That’s got to be a conspiracy. This cannot be an accident.

Categories: Anecdote, Home, Humor, Photography

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21 replies

  1. $2000 seems like a hell of a lot for an electric water heater. It might be worth your while to shop around. I’m in the market for a new one myself. I live in a condo and the 11 year old Rheem water heater which still works well needs to be replaced, says the condo board. At the local homedepot a 50 gallon Rheem water heater with a 12 year warranty goes for under $600. I live in WA, but I can’t fathom a water heater would cost 4 times as much in your neck of the woods


    • To work with our particular heating system, double the price — on ANY water heater and not all companies make them. Add the cost of repiping because each heater uses different pipes which I am assured is NOT an accident and it designed to convince you to use the same tank. The company that made our tank doesn’t not seem to be in business around here, so it wasn’t even IN the equation. Anything with a warranty longer than six years, up the ante by some hundreds of dollars, depending. This same tank with an 8-year warranty was $400 less, but it was — as all our previous tanks have been — disposable. It breaks, they replace it. One more tank to the disposal site.

      So: will we live more than 8 years? The $400 meant lifetime fixes, no matter what AND it isn’t a throwaway. Everything can be removed and replaced. Should they ALL be made like that? Just saying. It also seems (who knew?) that it has been leaking for a while. There was a massive buildup of mud and filth behind the tank. No, we didn’t see it. No, we never thought to go looking behind the boiler in the far corner of the basement to see if there was something going on there. I’m pretty sure most homeowners enter the basement to do whatever they are doing — laundry, putting canned goods on shelved (or removing them), storing “stuff” and the distant corners, the ones behind the oil tank and the water tank and the heating unit are rarely visited. At least not by us.

      I wasn’t happy with the price. That is one of the understatements of my decade. It was pretty much half of all the money we have left in the world, leaving us scarily poor. Our day-to-day lives will be much the same because that doesn’t run on savings — it’s social security and what we humorously call a pension and while it isn’t much, it’s steady. Some months are more expensive than others and vacations were always the biggest “hit” of the year. We didn’t take a vacation this year, not even a couple of days in the mountains. The weather was sucky and I didn’t see the point in going to the White Mountains to watch the fog drift by. Glad we didn’t.

      We could have gotten an inexpensive electric water tank which would not run through our heating system with a 5 or 6 year warranty for less than $1000. That would pretty much guarantee that in a few months, we would need to replace our heating system. The only reason it keep working is because is runs continuously. Slowly in warm weather, more in cold weather. It is old … 29 years old, actually and by all accounts ought to be dead by now … but the water heater keeps it working. And that cheap water heater would raise our electric bill by $30 to $50 per month, so the savings would disappear faster than you can say “WHOA ELECTRIC BILL!”

      One other thing: the price of the tanks depends on where they are made. The locally made ones cost more or less depending on shipping costs. A lot of the time you see a great sticker price and then you look and see the shipping cost is pretty much the same as the tank’s cost. Again, made on the west coast? A lot cheaper than here where your $600 tank would cost $1200 (I know, I priced them because they are one of the companies that makes indirect water tanks which is what we need). Then add the plumber. You can do the work yourself, but you can’t get rid of the tank without a permit and we don’t have one and can’t get one — our town does NOT have a dump, unlike every OTHER town in the valley. Do not ask way, there is no answer. We had one, we sold it to another company, so they use it and the rest of us? Too bad, no dump, pay to have anything bigger than a toaster hauled away.

      And this IS a good, reasonably priced plumber. I know his other customers. He isn’t a ripoff guy.

      The good news: We have actual WATER PRESSURE! This is the best water pressure we’ve had in the past 17 years of living here. Something was seriously wrong with the other tank, probably from the beginning (plumber said it wasn’t properly installed and if we’d knows, we could have gotten someone to come and fix it … but who knew? Not us). And the hot water is no longer scalding, but normal. First time in the years we’ve been here.

      Will we live long enough to enjoy that lifetime warranty? That was one of the “bets” I wasn’t willing to make. I couldn’t bet on dying before the tank popped again. It was WAY outside my pay grade. We definitely paid more than the minimum, but minimum was not going to work for us anyhow. Maximum, close to, probably, but the difference because increasingly small and was mostly about warranty and easy of installation. Am I happy about it. No. It’s done. We’ve got hot water. Let’s just hope the company stays in business! Nothing like a lifetime warranty on a defunct company.


  2. Conspiracy. I definitely think that almost all appliances are made to last a few years and then be disposed of, and we start the cycle again. I guess it allows the younger crowd to get more bells and whistles and smart appliances. All, I want is something that works and is worth the money I’m paying.


    • On the up side, this one is pretty space station style and our water pressure is much better. Apparently the old one had been leaking and making a mess (behind it where no sensible homeowner ever goes!) for quite a while. But the recovery time from this is going to take time. I hope the rest of the emergencies have the good sense to wait!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing is built to last anymore…. so the warranties are short (or nonexistent) and the goods will always break down once the company is off the hook. When they start making humans to the same specifications they do products these days, nobody will ever get to experience their teenage years again…


  4. Nothing angers me more than when “business” takes such advantage and finds any and all loopholes to screw us over. It absolutely infuriates me since it seems to have become the norm instead of a subtle warning against a few companies, it’s not BUYER BEWARE and READ THE DAMN FINE PRINT, in my case with a massive magnifying glass. It is especially disheartening when it relates to those on fixed income, retired, disabled, or lets face it a number just getting by (of whom there are too many to count). Having gone through similar instances, I feel your frustration annoyance and yes, pain. As for longevity, You’ll be here, cause we all want you here… In other words “only the good die young” snickers loudly. couldn’t resist. XOXO Take care always. 🙂 I’m going to be around forever too cause I’m sure I don’t fall into that category haha


  5. They know it’s going to last until the warranty goes out. There was a time when they had a 10 year warranty, and the water heaters used to go out of commission just under the deadline. It work out well for us a couple of times. Now they’ve shortened the warranty. The game is rigged, Marilyn, we both know that.


  6. It is so frustrating isn’t it trying to budget for an indeterminate number of years. It’s awful that you even have to think about how long you might live/stay in the house.


  7. I’m with your son…. consider yerself wacked again. 😉


  8. This seems to be so often the case that a device, an appliance, a car battery, you name it, will fail shortly after the warranty expires. I think “they” somehow put a timer in these consumer goods that ticks off the days, month, and years written into the warranty and the timer automatically sounds an alarm at or shortly after the expiration date, which triggers the item to fail. Not that I believe in conspiracies either.


  9. Definitely a conspiracy. Our water heater had a ten year warranty and year 11? Dead! I bought a new water heater for my dad when his needed to be replaced and one year later? He died! I’m sure that was a conspiracy, too.


  10. You think differently about warranty as you get older. I keep a file for all warranty certificates but noticed I should clear it out now and again as they tend to expire. The new thing here is also to pay more for it too last longer. Mr Swiss refuses but I tend to do it for my computer stuff, although they never need it. They told us with the renovation work where we live, nothing more will need to be done until perhaps in twenty years, but then I will be past caring.


    • I had to decide if I thought we’d live more than 8 years. This was more than I could really deal with. If I bought the shorter warranty, we’d probably live forever and the tank would burst 8 years and 2 days after we bought it. Buying the lifetime warranty? My son was going to club me if I kept talking about it, so I shut up.

      And I couldn’t literally put money on not surviving more than 8 years. I know I do not want to fix this again. This is the third water heater in this house. We put one in a couple of years after we moved in, then 6 years ago, and here we are again. I would like this to last as long as we live here. And we can’t afford to do this again. One more emergency and we will be going loan hunting.


  11. I think it’s called planned obsolescence! Car batteries are typical offenders in this arena — they last just past their warranty, but if you are fortunate they die just before the warranty and can be replaced with a new warranty!

    Liked by 2 people

    • This was supposed to OUTLAST a standard tank. Six years is minimum and we paid a lot of money for it. We did have insurance, which they canceled as soon as we used it — which seems to be how it works. Basically, we are paying again the same money but I think we’re getting a better tank, I bought the “lifetime” warranty. It’s a full replacement warranty — but it’s only as good as the company. I have an electric bed with a lifetime warranty, except the company was absorbed by another company and they don’t honor the warranty. I think I have a lot of lifetime warranties for out-of-business companies. Hopefully, this will mean that come what may, we never have to go through this again. We’ve done this four times since we were married and it’s getting tedious.


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