Why Insurance Companies Ask to Change the Water Tank Every 10 Years

November 24th, 2020

Hot water heaters don’t last forever and when they start to fail, homeowners can experience any number of symptoms ranging from the minor inconvenience of lukewarm showers or the major catastrophe of a flooded home. The plumbing specialists here at Plomberie Lalonde in Gatineau have dealt with countless insurance companies over the years, and while we’re sure your insurer is a kind soul who wouldn’t wish a cold shower on anyone, we know for a fact that insurance companies are more concerned with the consequences of a burst water tank than your personal comfort.

  • What’s the age limit for hot water tanks in my insurance policy?
  • What happens when a hot water tank bursts or leaks?
  • How can I tell the age of my hot water heater?

Hot water tanks and insurance policies

It is not uncommon for home insurance policies to include a disclaimer that hot water heaters and hot water tanks over 10 years old are not covered by insurance. It’s important to understand that we’re not talking about only the replacement cost for the water tank when your home water heater gives up the ghost. We’re talking about the potential thousands of dollars needed for clean-up, restoration and reconstruction in the event that your water tank leaks or bursts.

Some insurance policies will cover hot water tanks that are over 10 years of age but might stipulate a higher deductible for claims. Check with your insurer to find out the age limits and deductibles for hot water tanks on your home or tenant insurance policy.

What happens when a hot water tank bursts or leaks?

Since hot water systems are connected to your main water supply, when a water tank fails, it not only spills its contents (40-50 gallons of water on average) but leaves an open valve of water from the main water line (municipal or well water) flowing into your home. In the event of a leak or burst hot water heater, when the water tank is located in the basement, it is not unusual for several feet of water to have accumulated before the problem is discovered and stopped. When a hot water heater is located on upper floors (think apartment buildings) the damage can be widespread and disastrous.

What happens when a hot water tank bursts or leaks?

An aging hot water heater will start to have the tell-tale signs of not heating up your water as quickly as hot as you’d like. Hot water tanks often build up silt and debris over time which leaves less room in the holding tank for hot water, meaning you might run out of hot water available for showers, baths, laundry, or dishwashing.

Beyond the symptoms of a hot water heating system that is getting old, you can quickly identify the exact age of your water heater by looking for labels and stickers on the top or the side of your hot water tank.

  1. Check for the manufacturer’s label which should include the date that your hot water tank was made ;
  2. Serial numbers for hot water tanks include the date of manufacturing. Not all companies follow the same naming convention for the order of the numbers for the month and year so you might need to verify with the manufacturer of your hot water tank. Many hot water heater companies have instructions about how to decipher serial numbers on their websites. ;
  3. Plumbers and hot water tank installers will be able to help you identify the exact age of your water tank if you are unsure about how to read the labels.

If you are concerned that your hot water tank is getting close to the end of its life, and especially if it is nearing the 10 year mark or the age limit indicated on your home insurance policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to the plumbing team at Plomberie Lalonde in Gatineau. We’d be happy to answer your questions and explore options for your next hot water heating system BEFORE you’re stuck in a cold shower (or worse, heaven forbid).