Everything you need to know about water heaters

21 October 2021

An electric water heater and tank is an appliance that heats water with electricity. Regardless of your water heater’s capacity (40 gallons, 60 gallons or 80 gallons), there are signs that will tell you it needs replacing. Read on to learn more.

When you need to change a water heater

There are several warning signs that it’s time to change your water heater.


The first sign is age. It’s recommended that you change your water heater every 10 years, even if the warranty period is 12 to 15 years. Insurers are the ones who insist on 10 years—they’ve had to pay up too many times when old water heaters caused water damage.

Water quality

If your hot water has a slight colour or odour to it or contains rust, it may be time to make a change. And if there is rust on the heater or no hot water, or if the circuit breaker is tripping frequently or water is leaking, you may need to do it right away.

Rent or buy?

You can either rent or buy your water heater. Renting costs a bit more (from $600 to $1,000), but you’ll be able to call on a service technician at any time if repairs are needed. It’s up to you to carefully weigh both options.


The price of a water heater will depend on the make:

  • Rheem EcoSense
  • Watts, Reflecto-Foil
  • Honeywell
  • Advantage
  • Stiebel Eltron
  • Rheem
  • Giant
  • Bradford White
  • Power-Pipe
  • Eccotemp
  • SharkBite


The price will also depend on its capacity:

  • 40 gallons
  • 60 gallons
  • 80 gallons

If you decide to change the water heater yourself, you only have to pay the purchase price, which will range from $250 (for a mini water heater with a tank) to $950. You will then need to arrange to dispose of your old water heater.

Cost of having a plumber or installer replace your water heater

As noted above, the cost of replacing your water heater will vary depending on the make and size of the water heater. However, you might get a better price if you purchase through a plumber, because plumbers benefit from economies of scale by buying their water heaters in bulk. In addition to the cost of the hot water heater, you will have to pay for labour and the cost of taking away your old one. You may also have to pay a surcharge if you have too many stairs. If you buy and have the water heater installed through a home renovation store, you can pay $350 to $700 for the water heater and $225 to $300 for installation. Working with a professional will get you on average an 8- to 10-year warranty on the tank (compared to 6 years if you install it yourself) and 1 to 5 years on the parts. When replacing a water heater, it’s also recommended you take advantage of the opportunity to install a drain pan. This is very practical if the heater leaks, as it will direct the water directly to a drain.

Water heater types

There are two types of water heaters on the market: electric and gas. Electric water heaters cost less than gas water heaters. Note that if you have an electric water heater and want to replace it with a gas one, you will have to pay to change the power supply as well (gas connection, ventilation system, etc.).

How do I change a water heater?

No matter which make you choose (Bradford White, Giant, Rheem, etc.), you can always install a water heater by yourself. However, since this will require working with both electrical current and water, it’s best to have a plumber and electrician remove the old water heater and install the new one to avoid the risk of electric shock.

Tips for maintaining your hot water tank

A few simple operating and maintenance tips will help extend the life of your water heater before having to replace it.

  • There’s no need to cover your water heater with an insulating blanket
  • Test your water heater’s safety valve at least once a year
  • Drain your water heater once a year if your water heater comes from a well
  • Drain the tank once a year if the water in the municipal system is particularly hard

Replacing water heater parts

Water heaters have parts that can fail or wear out prematurely. Any defective parts will therefore need to be replaced. Our partner plumbers can repair the various parts and components of your hot water tank, such as the water supply valves, drain valve, temperature and pressure release valve, thermostats, and electrical components.

Emergency water heater replacement by a plumber

Is your water heater leaking or no longer working? Whether it’s in your home, your condo or a rental unit, you’ll need to have it replaced quickly so you or your tenants will have hot water again. Our plumbers are available 24/7 for emergency plumbing work.