Water heaters normally last 8 to 10 years. If you try to keep your heater any longer than this, you face an increasing risk of tank failure and leaking. If your home is connected with other homes (such as in a condominium or townhome setting), this risk extends to your neighbors. In multi-level dwellings, depending on which floor the water heater is located on, the average cost in damages (ex: water removal service, replacing wood floors and sheetrock, etc.) may run anywhere from $10,000 to $22,000! In these situations, the Association’s insurance only kicks above a certain level – this typically occurs only after the policy’s deductible has been fufilled. In some cases, this can be thousands of dollars later! Since Associations in Georgia are not required to carry water coverage, it is not unusual to see these deductibles set at $10,000 or even $25,000 - which means that homeowners need to make sure their HO6 policies cover this event.While some water heaters will “warn” you by rusting out at the bottom, others experience internal failures and end up leaving a big wet surprise. If the break is big enough, the catch-basin pan that (hopefully) you have underneath the water heater will not be able to contain the flow. Of course, it’s far cheaper to go ahead and replace the water heater before it bursts.
What about tankless water heaters? They can remove the risk of a massive water event, but are not an option for everyone. If you do not have natural gas lines, it is important to find out if the wiring in your home can handle the load required by a tankless system. Many older homes were not constructed to handle the levels of electrical use that now considered standard. Depending on the age of the home, it may cost thousands of dollars to bring power levels up to a point to handle a tankless system that can provide sufficient water for all of your fixtures.At the same time you are having your tank replaced, please please please have the hoses for your dishwasher, clothes washer, and commodes checked – as these are also prone to failure and have the potential for the same level of damage as a water heater. The best solution is to have these replaced with stainless steel braided hoses.
Only you can prevent flooding by being proactive with your appliances and hoses.