Renting vs. Buying Water Heaters

Water Heaters: Buying vs. Renting

Ford vs Chev, Flames vs. Oilers, renting vs purchasing. Everybody’s gotta choose a side, but how do you know which one is better? Some decisions are easy, (Oilers, obv!) While others can be a little harder. I have had a lot of conversations with friends and clients over whether it’s better to rent or outright purchase equipment. More and more, plumbing companies are now offering clients the option to rent almost anything, I’ve worked at companies that offer both purchasing and others that are big into renting and have seen the pros and cons of both. The big four are water heaters, softeners, furnaces, and air conditioners. For this post I’m mainly going to try and stick with water heaters as I find the conversation about them a little more debatable than the rest. Maybe later this year I’ll give my rundown about the other three.

I want to stop and make a quick note here that ultimately there really is no right or wrong answer. You work hard for your money and whatever is best for you is what’s important! I just want to provide the ups and downs of either choice so homeowners can make the best educated choice for themselves and their families.

Renting

Pros:

In the short run renting a water heater is going to be the cheaper option. Depending on the size and style of the tank, with install and purchase a homeowner is likely going to have to toss out around $1000 – 2000 give or take. Whereas most companies offering rentals attract customers with extremely low affordable monthly rates and little to no install fees. Nobody is ever ready for their tank to fail, and when you’re faced with the choice of paying $100 or $1000 to get hot water back, the former looks a lot better in the moment.

Renting also takes away all the physical work for the homeowner. The rental company removes the old tank, puts in the new one and handles all maintenance and repairs during the contract. Everybody’s got enough problems already right?! Why worry about the water heater if you don’t have to? No hot water? Call up the company and most can provide same day service for repairs with no charge. One. Less. Worry. If you want to see your water heater last you’re also going to have to perform the maintenance, mainly changing the anode rod. And I can tell you right now, there is a very small percentage of homeowners changing those rods, if they even know they exist! Again, this is a service most rental companies will provide for their rentals.

If there is ONE type of homeowner that renting is the better choice for it’s landlords. I’ve always recommended renting in their situations. They can leave the rental info with the tenants and if there is an issue with the tank the renter can call for service.

Cons: 

If you want to rent, you’re gonna have to sign a contract. And whether its a contract for a water heater or a gym membership, let’s be real, the contract is always in the favour of the business. Nobody ever reads the fine print but most contracts will allow for rental companies to reap as much money and avoid as much responsibility as possible. Transferring contracts if you’re moving is usually pain free, but if you want buy out of your contract and purchase the unit you better expect to pay more than you think. Ultimately renting leads to the homeowner paying more money than if they would have initially purchased. If you have the money available and are even half decently handy, buying is for you.

Another negative aspect of the rental industry is the likelihood you will be paying for either a used tank or used parts to be installed in your home. For many rental companies it’s to their benefit to keep hot water tanks running as long as possible. Even if it means Frankenstein-ing tanks well past their usual life expectancy. This leads to customers paying premium prices for used goods.

Buying

Pros: 

A flat out purchase of a water heater will be cheaper than what you will pay through the lifetime of the rental contract. There is also a lot less risk a homeowner has to take with an unfamiliar company. If the service wasn’t what you expected it’s a lot easier to cut ties. If a homeowner has a specific brand of equipment they want to use, buying will also allow them that discretion. This is a bigger issue than many think. Sure, maybe you have a dud water heater. Sure, you don’t worry about how much the repair is going to cost because it’s a rental. But think about how much time and money is lost every time you’re taking time off from work to wait for the tech to show up to fix it.

Cons:

Hot water tank maintenance, ugggghhhhhh! Like I said earlier, most homeowners have never even heard of an anode rod, let alone given two thoughts about changing one themselves. Don’t get me wrong, in terms of home maintenance, it’s not as hard as cleaning the gutters, but it’s for sure harder than sealing the driveway. And we haven’t even touched on gas valve, or ventor motor failures. These repairs are costs that are placed on the homeowners shoulders to bear.

I know I’ve probably just tossed a lot of info at you in a pretty quick burst, I hope I didn’t bore anyone too much (I know water heaters aren’t as glamorous as kitchen cabinets). If you do have any questions though you can always call or email our office. We can also be reached at our Facebook and Instagram pages, which if you’re not following already, why not?

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