The First Lady Of Leisure

The life and times of Arielle

UPDATE: Water Heater Rocket Science

I never expected my legacy would be water heater reform, but I have learned some things in the last few weeks that are blowing my mind.  To begin with, consider the fact that every home and business has a hot water heater of some type otherwise they clearly would not have hot water.  Now consider the fact that 40 years ago water heaters were built to last 20-30 years.  Current water heaters now have a life of 8-10 years.  We have advanced in so many areas of technology and science but somehow instead of improving the product they make them like pieces of crap with shorter shelf lives so that we the consumer are forced to purchase them again and again because silly us, we have grown to enjoy hot showers and clean clothes and dishes.

So let’s flash back to August 21st after my blog post when I finally had a repair guy come out from Four Season Plumbing.  He informed me that the “computer” on the water heater was probably out and they could order it.  So we order it and on August 25th a new repair man shows up, installs the part that would have cost $600 (part and service call fee) and absolutely nothing happens.  So my 4 year old water heater is dead.  We order a new one from Four Seasons and it was installed the same day.  Meanwhile we spent over $2500 replacing an item that should have lasted 8-10 years.  It should be noted that because our house doesn’t have a chimney to vent through we need a special motor on top of our water heater which costs an extra $750.  How many of you even realized that hot water heaters vent through the chimney?!?

Fast forward to August 30th when I got an email from someone at Service Experts indicating they read my blog post and would like to look into my issues.  In the meantime, I do my research.  I take photos of my mother in laws water heater also installed by Service Experts because it has a giant sticker on it that says “24 hour emergency service 847-419-0909” which is the number I had called for service and was told they only install water heaters not repair them.

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I also found this on their website:

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Notice how they say they can repair water heaters, that leads me to my conversation with the General Manager (here on referred to as GM) of my local Service Experts.  Here is the breakdown of our conversation:

  1. When I asked when they stopped doing repairs and started doing only installation the GM said “you can’t really repair a water heater”.  According to him when they stop working they can’t be fixed they need to be replaced, “that’s why you have a warranty” he said.  So when they came out for a service call in 2012 to repair my water heater, they didn’t repair them at that time either.
  1. When I spoke with the apparent “after hours” employee I had asked if my water heater was still under warranty.  I was confused because there was a yellow sticker on it that said “6 year contractors warranty” and she informed me that no, we only had a 3 year warranty and it had expired a year ago.  GM told me that again I was given the wrong information because that water heater we replaced actually had a 6 year warranty which WAS STILL GOOD FOR 2 MORE YEARS!!!  GM was suprised that Four Seasons didn’t notice the water heater was still under warranty.   But he peaked my interest as to why they didn’t notice if those stickers are some sort of industry standard.
  1. GM asked me to call four seasons, his competitor, and ask why they didn’t tell me my warranty was still good because Service Experts techs are supposed to look and let a customer know even if the warranty and water heater were through another company.

So I called Four Seasons, twice.  It sounded like this was not an issue they were willing to pass along to a manager, given that I really just wanted clarification.  However, both people that I spoke with indicated that if the water heater wasn’t installed by Four Seasons it’s the customer’s responsibility to check, and that techs “can use their discretion” in looking into it.  Now let me clarify, had it been a parts issue, and I knew my warranty was still good, since I was not using the company that installed it, I would have had to order the part direct from the manufacturer, then Four Seasons could install it.  As a consumer, this is a very confusing process for an item that is ultimately meant to be disposable.

Ultimately, Service Experts wanted to make things right, and sent me a check for a little over the amount I paid for the new water heater (purchased from their competitor). Really though, at the end of the day, my situation is resolved because someone happened to read my blog from corporate and reached out to me.  However, this doesn’t change the fact that as a country we are producing very shitty water heaters.  Water heaters do have parts that can sometimes be replaced.  Service Experts says that based on local code they aren’t allowed to repair them…but Four Seasons is allowed to…so who knows what’s true and what isn’t.  What I do know for sure is that we all use hot water.  It so deeply enmeshed in our daily lives that we don’t even think about it till it stops working.  At least now I know my water heater is meant to be a piece of shit and it will be replaced by another shitty one in 10 years.  I made a point of getting the extended 10 year warranty this time…and I used a magic marker to write on it the date of installation, as well as 10 year warranty.  See, this old dog is learning some new tricks…

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