Hot Water Heater Repair, Install Q&A with Master Plumber Roger Patterson

After over 30 years repairing hot water heaters, me and my team have seen almost everything. From maintenance to warranties to new installations, here are your answers to pressing issues, in our most recent Q&A.



How do I know if my hot water heater needs to be replaced?

Tank leaks. Once we diagnose and come to the conclusion that it’s the actual tank leaking, that leaves one option: replace the water heater. When a tank leaks, there’s no part to repair it.


What is the lifespan of my current water heater?

In Central Texas, the normal life span of a tank-type water heater is 10 years. After 10 years, even with maintenance, it’s lived a full, happy life. That’s when we help you weigh the cost and benefits of repair versus the cost and benefits of installing a new water heater.

In this situation, the question to ask is, is this tank worth putting more money into, or is the smarter investment to replace it with an 8-year full warranty on a new installation?

For repairs, Roger’s Plumbing offers a two-year warranty—which is much longer than most companies.

For new installations on tank-type water heaters, we offer extended warranties, on top of the warranty given by the manufacturer.


What is the basic cost estimate of repair, versus replacing a water heater?

Every home is different. Every demand for hot water is different. Once we know your specific usage, then we determine the best option. We like to ask the following questions when diagnosing the best recommendation for a customer.

  • 1) How long do you plan on living in the home?
  • 2) How many people live in your home?
  • 3) What amount of hot water (roughly) does your household use?


Sometimes just an upgrade in the tank size of your water heater is sufficient to meet the demands of your household.

We use a points system to determine how much life is left in an existing water heater.

If a family had its water heater for four years, we’d rank that as a “0,” because 4 years is still pretty young. Then we’d examine how often the heater runs out of hot water. If they say “Occasionally,” which his a mid-range answer, we’d score it as a “2.” Lastly, we ask how long a homeowner plans to stay in their current home. If they say 4 to 6 years, we’d rank that as a “2” also. Average repair of a tank-type water heater is around $200 to $259, a score of “3.” Factor in the state of the water heater—if there’s any rust or corrosion, and you get a pretty accurate diagnosis.

Our scale system runs from 0-15. A point system of 8 means you’re near the life of what most water heaters last in Central Texas. Anything 10 or above would make replacing your water heater a wise investment. Between 0 and 8, it’s worth the repair cost.

It’s our experience that 10 years life is your max on a water heater. We’ve seen some last 7. We’ve seen some last 15. This point system helps us determine the best option for you to consider.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tankless water system?

Tankless water heaters allow for a continuous flow of hot water, meaning you could shower for two hours and the water would remain warm. When you look at replacing a tank water heater with a tankless water heater, there are different pipes for water and gas involved. If it’s gas, there’s a different venting system as well. A normal, tank water heater requires 50,000 btus, whereas tankless water heater requires a much larger gas line, at 200,000 btus.

Tankless water heaters are much more efficient.

However, when you start weighing the cost of the install, the gas line and new venting system, it’s important to ask when you’ll reap the money-saving benefits of a more efficient unit.

They’re designed to last 10-20 years. Typically you’d get your money back after 5. Sometimes the retrofit cost exceeds the basic install, extending the wait-time for return out to 10 to 15 years. Because of this, many homeowners choose conventional water heaters.


What are problems that you see most when you go out on hot water heater repair calls?

Usually, there’s a water leak or something that’s leaking. If it’s not the tank, it’s the supply lines where the water ties into the tank itself. It could be an installation issue that wasn’t really designed to last 8 years. In that case, we re-pipe the hot or cold water. If one side is leaking, logic dictates that the other side will very soon start doing the same.

With our high installation standards, a homeowner’s tank will be good even if it starts to leak. We use rigid piping that minimizes extra re-piping in the future and opts against flexible connectors. They don’t have as great a flow ratio. Plus, they aren’t something we can put the same length of warranty on.


What are the different types of tanks and how long do they last?

There is no tankless option for electric that is energy-efficient, but they do make a heat pump for electric water heaters that are just as efficient as a gas tankless one.

Electric water heaters with the heat pump use the same amount of electricity. They’re just a different size water heater. A lot of times they won’t fit in the area that a typical water heater fits. They’re a great idea if you have the room, say in an attic, to place a water heater. Every home is different and every application that we design is personalized.


Tanked Water Heaters have a standard manufacturer warranty of 6 years on the parts and 6 years on the tank. You can get extended warranties, which is one of the options we provide as well. You can get a warranty as high as 12-years on the tank for a tank-type water heater.

When you get into high-efficiency latest technology via gas or electric, the manufacturers have a greater warranty on them.


Gas, Tankless Water Heaters include various parts such as a heat exchanger that allows water to pass through. Some manufacturers offer a 20-year warranty on the heat exchanger.


The third option is an electric, tankless system with a heat pump. It’s just as efficient as the gas, with a warranty of up to 10 years. These heaters are larger in size. They’re a great idea if you have the room, say in an attic, to place a water heater. We design and recommend the best fit system for you once we see your home and space you have available.


What will add life to my current water heater?

The best way to get the most out of your water heater, to give it the longest life possible, is to follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance. Draining and flushing is a minor thing done every year. When we install a water heater, we replace the factory valves with full-flush valves, to ensure the highest efficiency.

There are internal parts designed to replace every 3 years, some 6 years, so we check on that to avoid premature tank leaks. Roger’s Plumbing comes out at no charge each year for routine maintenance, throughout the duration of the warranty.


Is an extended warranty a good use of my money?

Well, the question is: How long do you want peace of mind? Water heater repairs can disrupt normal hygiene. Most people want a water heater they don’t have to worry about. And these people are exactly the audience that extended warranties like ours, with the free maintenance, benefits the most.


What caused my water heater to stop working?

When we go in, we evaluate a few things. If we do a hot water heater repair, we want to see if there is a probable cause so you don’t have another repair down the road.

Sometimes there are installation issues.

Another common issue is too much water pressure coming into the home. Every plumbing fixture you have is designed to have a working pressure of 75 psi, and water pressure is the exact same thing.

Sometimes it’s water quality issues. In areas with hard water, you might want to flush that water heater more than once a year. Filtration systems are the best solution in this case, if only for the hot water.


What areas around Leander have hard water?

Leander as a whole, compared to the rest of the nation, has pretty hard water.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Leander would be around a 5, because of the high level of Lyme and minerals.

The minerals collect at the bottom and reduce the efficiency of the water heater. The areas around Leander like Pflugerville, Round Rock and Georgetown have the hardest water. They typically all have filter systems in place for their water heaters. It’s not as bad when you go South or West of Austin, into Cedar Park and Leander.


Do you sell an extended warranty for units you repair or fix that are already three or four years old?

No. Warranties are only for new installations.

We can do preventative maintenance and add life to a water heater by annually coming out, but we don’t offer new warranties on heaters we come out to repair that we have not installed ourselves.

We don’t charge for draining water heaters.

What we do charge for is replacing the factory manufacturer drain with a full-flush valve, to maintain the original efficiency it was designed for.

Water heaters older than 5 years require special maintenance procedures that we do not perform, like replacing the anno-rod. I’ve been involved in plumbing for 30 years, we’ve been in business 20 years. It’s too high-risk, due to deterioration of the tank.


What is your preferred member diamond club?

If you want preferred status, priority hot water heater repairs and peace of mind for only pennies a day, then you’ll want to look into our diamond club and see if we still have some spots available.


Final thoughts?

Maintenance is key. With water heaters—and is true of any device involving moving parts, which has water flowing through it—maintenance is the key to anything and everything. Get your water heater checked yearly. And if you choose Roger’s Plumbing, we’ll come out at no cost.

We serve customers in Leander, Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Georgetown, Buda, Kyle, Lakeway, Westlake Hills and Pflugerville.