Robin Jade Conde

PODCAST: Water Heater Woes

In this episode of the Structure Talk Podcast, Reuben Saltzman shares a recent experience with a water heater and the importance of installing a leak detection system to prevent potential damage. He recounts a previous incident where a water heater leak caused significant harm to his house, underscoring the necessity of early detection. Reuben also delves into water heater warranties, discussing the warranty process and offering tips for handling warranty claims. The conversation shifts to the maintenance and replacement of anode rods in water heaters, with a focus on Reuben’s challenging experience with a specific brand, Bosch. 

He emphasizes the importance of reviewing user manuals and warranties before purchasing water heaters and advises against buying water heaters with stringent maintenance requirements. The hosts also touch on a listener’s unfortunate experience of being overcharged for a water heater replacement, stressing the need for obtaining multiple bids and ensuring fair pricing when hiring contractors. They tease an upcoming series where they will interview home inspectors from different regions to discuss regional differences in home inspections.




The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.



Reuben Saltzman: Good morning, good afternoon and good night whenever you are tuning in to hear our voices. We are back with yet another episode of the Structure Talk Podcast. This is gonna be a loaded episode. We’re packing three episodes into one today. This is a bonus pack. We’ve got three separate topics. But before we dig in, Tess, how are you doing? What’s new in your world?


Tessa Murry: Hey, Reuben. It’s good to see you as always. I’ve been good. I’ve been kind of juggling these two different businesses and taking some trips. Just got back from a quick weekend up to Bayfield, Wisconsin, which I’d never been up there before, but it is absolutely beautiful and it was like in the mid-70s and sunny and the fall colors are popping. So did some kayaking and some exploring and it was really, really nice. But it’s good to be home and good to be back. And good to see your face, sir.


RS: You picked a great time of year to go up there. I bet it was just gorgeous with all the trees turning and whatnot.


TM: It was. Yeah, we got lucky for sure, for sure.


RS: Okay.


TM: What’s new in your life?


RS: We just had our paintball event, our annual paintball event that we do with the fine folks over at All Around. It’s a fundraiser. This year we raised $22,000 for Tunnel to Towers. It’s a great organization that helps to build mortgage-free accessible homes for first line, I don’t know, workers who’ve been injured at their job, like medical professionals, firemen, military people.


TM: Wow.


RS: Yeah. So good cause…


TM: Good cause, yeah.


RS: And good fun, good full day of shooting each other. We did one thing at the end of the day where Charles and I, we said, “If you pay 100 bucks, you can shoot us, [laughter] but you gotta get us… We get a running start. We get like 20 yards or 20 feet. We get to run. After we pass this log, you can open fire.” And we have like seven or eight people sign up to do that. And so that was painful. I got shot, Tess. I had gone like five… I took like five steps and I got shot in the butt. I’ve got the biggest welt on my butt cheek now. ‘Cause it was so close! It was so painful!


TM: And you wonder why I always passed on those opportunities to go paintballing with you. [laughter]


RS: I still wonder. I still wonder. [laughter] Those were extenuating circumstances. But still, for the extra 700 or 800 bucks that we raised, well worth the slight bit of discomfort that I experienced in the moment. But yeah.


TM: That’s awesome.


RS: It was a fun day. And you know what I realized? I realized, why didn’t I even… Why didn’t I talk about it on the podcast? ‘Cause we’re inviting anybody to come. You don’t need to be a part of our companies.


TM: Yes.


RS: This is open to anyone who wants to come out and have fun with us. So next year, Tess, we gotta… You gotta remind me. I gotta remember, maybe two months before the event and a month before the event, we gotta start sharing that link on the podcast to get more people to come.


TM: Definitely. Do you do it around the same time every year, Reuben?


RS: Yeah, yeah. End of September, beginning of October. It’s supposed to be a great time of year where it’s maybe 50 degrees and you can have a few layers on and have a sweatshirt and all that. But…


TM: Not this year.


RS: Not this year. We were on t-shirts. It was hot.


TM: It was brutal. Yeah.


RS: It was really hot. Yeah.


TM: Extra brutal.


RS: Yeah. And I… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the heat. I will never complain about the heat. I like the heat. But yeah.


TM: For paintball, it’s not helpful. [laughter]


RS: Paintballs were a little bit more painful this year.


TM: Yeah, yeah. Well, so we’re gonna be diving into a topic today that’s also gonna be a little bit painful, I think, emotional maybe for you. This is a fresh kind of situation that you teased on last week’s podcast episode. But do you wanna tell our listeners what we’re gonna be discussing today?


RS: Yeah. We’re talking all about water heaters and we’re coming at it from a few different angles. So we’ll talk about outrageous replacement costs. I recently did a blog about that. Just ’cause prices for water heater replacements are all over the board. I think there’s some companies that are just absolutely gouging consumers. Number two…


TM: These are prices from the manufacturer, or are you talking about prices from the contractors that install them?


RS: Contractors that install them.


TM: Yeah.


RS: And so, we’ll touch on that and we’ll talk about my recent tale of victory. I’ve got a tale of victory to share with you, Tess.


TM: Yes. Love that.


RS: And then the downside of that whole tale too. I also have a small loss from that one. So let’s get into my story first. So, I’ve shared the story on this podcast. I shared it probably many years ago where I had a little point of use water heater, not tank, I wanted to say tankless. It’s got a tank. It’s a two-and-a-half gallon tank. It’s something I installed underneath my kitchen sink. It took about five minutes to put in. It’s basically, you disconnect the waterline to your faucet, you hook it up to the water heater, and then you run a waterline from the water heater to your faucet.


RS: You just put it in-between the two. I’m using flexible lines, and then you plug the thing in and that’s about it. And I came downstairs one morning and the floor’s all wet and I’m thinking, “Oh, great. What a hassle. Now I gotta mop up my kitchen floor and the bottom of my sink base is all wet.” And I’m all frustrated first thing in the morning. But then I go downstairs after like an hour later, I clean it all up, I go downstairs, [laughter] and that’s where I found the real damage. My exercise room was just destroyed. There’s water pouring out of the ceiling and there’s water in the walls and it was a big to-do. So that took maybe four months, five months, maybe six months for the disaster team to come out and rebuild the room and all this other stuff. Huge hassle.


TM: Yeah.


RS: This time, when I replaced the water… I bought the same water heater.


TM: You did?


RS: Yeah. I bought the same one. I just figured this is kind of a fluke. They should not go this fast. It has a six-year warranty.


TM: Okay.


RS: So it shouldn’t go that quickly. So I bought the same one. But this time I installed an emergency pan underneath the water heater. It could have been a simple cookie sheet. I chose to use the bottom of a laundry basket. I just cut the laundry basket apart with some tin snips and I stuck this thing underneath there and I installed… Now, if it leaks, of course, it’s gonna overflow. But Plumber Joe or Home Inspector Joe on our team did a blog post many years ago about this leak detection system. It’s called Guardian. It’s not the only one out there, but this is the one he wrote about. And it’s basically, you’ve got this electronic Wi-Fi valve that gets connected to your water main, and you don’t need any tools, it’s just this clamp that goes over the main valve on your water shut-off at your house. So you clamp the thing on there, you connect it to the internet, and then you got all these sensors that get installed throughout your house in strategic locations.


RS: So I took one of these sensors and I put it in that tray. And the idea is if the sensor gets wet, it shuts off the water to your house. Well, you know where this is going. I get home one night, I can’t remember where I was, but I get home, there’s nobody home, and I go to wash my hands or something and there’s no water. So I call up Anne, I’m like, “Baby, what’d you do? There’s no water at the house. What are you doing?” And she go, “I have no idea. I haven’t been home. There was water when I left.” Well, okay. So then I go in the kitchen, there’s no water there either. But I’m hearing this little beeping. I open up the kitchen cabinet door, sure enough, it’s that little sensor. It’s beeping on me.


TM: Oh no.


RS: And I check the water tray, it’s all full of water. And the thing had caught the water leak at my water heater. I mean, I assume that’s what it was. I ended up taking the tray out, the sensor out, turned the water back on. I got the water heater propped up. I dried it all, and then I got it propped up on some 2 x 4’s so I could watch it really carefully. And I turned the water back on and sure enough, the tank failed again. It’s the second time.


TM: Oh my gosh.


RS: Right?


TM: What?


RS: Yeah.


TM: Okay. How old was it?


RS: Two and a half years this time.


TM: And how old was it the first time it failed?


RS: I don’t remember. It was probably even less than that. I think this one actually lasted longer than the first one. But yeah. It filled again. And it’s got a six-year warranty. So…


TM: Wow. Thank goodness for all of your devices that you installed to catch something like this again.


RS: No doubt, Tess. Thank goodness. So…


TM: Oh my gosh.


RS: That was a huge tale of victory. And…


TM: Wow.


RS: We should put a link to this in the show notes. It’s this Guardian Leak Prevention System. They cost right around 300 bucks on Amazon. They used to have them at Lowe’s. I just bought mine off the shelf at Lowe’s. They don’t have them there anymore. But you can still get them on Amazon. I’ll say, I’m not endorsing their specific product. I’ll say the app was kind of buggy. I had a lot of challenges getting the app to set up properly. But bottomline is it did its job.


TM: Yeah. Yeah.


RS: And yeah, prevented a catastrophe at my house.


TM: That’s amazing. Does that app also allow you to just shut off the water anytime you want from any location? Like if you’re up north…


RS: It does.


TM: And it gets really cold and you’re like, “Oh shoot, I forgot to turn off my water,” you can do it from anywhere?


RS: It does. Yep.


TM: That’s a nice feature.


RS: It is. Yeah, it’s really cool. So I’m a huge fan. I’ve got a sensor installed underneath my dishwasher. I’ve got another sensor right by my water heater, the traditional water heater in the basement. And then I’ve got another one, I can’t remember it. I even said this in my video. I can’t remember where I put it. It’s either under or behind my refrigerator, and then another one by the washing machine. What do you think is more likely to leak, Tess? A refrigerator ice line or a washing machine?


TM: Wow. [laughter] Do you have braided stainless steel connectors at your washing machine, or are they the rubber hoses?


RS: Of course I do.


TM: Okay. Probably your ice maker waterline.


RS: Okay.


TM: I don’t know.


RS: I don’t know either.


TM: Are we making bets on this? [laughter]


RS: I once had a washing machine leak. I lived in St. Louis Park in a town home and the washing machine was in a second floor bathroom. It was this town home right on Alabama, if anybody knows the area. And I had a… It was the second floor bathroom. That’s where the washing machine was. And I’m in the kitchen downstairs and all of a sudden water comes pouring out of the ceiling. There was something internal in the washing machine that had disconnected and it just discharged all over the floor.


TM: Oh my gosh.


RS: I’ve had it happen with a washing machine. I’ve never had an ice maker leak, but I’ve heard tons of stories about ice makers. So I don’t know. Maybe I should…


TM: Yeah. Well, now that you say that, I can think of all of the washing machines that I’ve found leaks on at some point during home inspections, like coming from internal, like an internal leak. So…


RS: Yeah.


TM: That’s tough. Yeah. Well, so these little devices are everywhere in your house. You got these little things keeping an eye on all these potential leak areas and it saved you.


RS: It saved me. It saved me. And I’m a huge fan. I mean, my insurance deductible is, I believe it’s $1,000. So I mean, okay, yeah, you got insurance, but just putting this system in, the 300 bucks is a much better deal. And talk about the hassle, the aggravation, the time. Oh, even if it costs thousands of dollars, it would be totally worth it for me. So it’s not like I’m trying to sell this device, but I am encouraging people to put these systems in their houses or a system like it.


TM: Yeah, yeah. No, I think that’s a great tip. Now, would you say, Reuben, everybody that listens to this show knows how handy you are in all the projects that you do, what skill level does it take to install one of these devices, both the little water sensor alarms and the shut-off at the main?


RS: I’d say it’s less work than it would be to replace your kitchen faucet…


TM: Really?


RS: If that puts it into perspective.


TM: Okay.


RS: In fact, it’s unquestionably less work than replacing a kitchen faucet. So if you’re… If you can do a kitchen faucet, you can certainly do this.


TM: Okay.


RS: But a lot of people aren’t comfortable doing a faucet. So it depends.


TM: Hire a plumber.


RS: Yeah.


TM: Okay.


RS: So that’s part one. That’s my tale of victory, disaster averted. And I just blogged about that last week, so I got a couple of photos showing that in my blog. But now, part two, obtaining my third water heater. So I’ve helped many friends replace water heaters, traditional water heaters, and they come with either six-year, nine-year, or 12-year warranties. I’ve always encouraged my friends, get the 12-year warranty. It’s well worth the price. And I’ve helped many people replace water heaters that failed less than 12 years, or whatever the warranty period was. And in the past, we’d just take it back to the retailer and the retailer would take care of it. They’d swap it out, “Okay, yeah, we see the serial number, it’s clearly less than 12 years old, it’s covered under warranty, we got you.”


TM: Nice.


RS: Well, retailers have kind of locked down on that. And when I took my little point of use water heater back to my retailer of choice, they said, “No can do. We can’t help you. You need to go through the manufacturer.” And I kinda… I gave them the stink eye a little. I was like, “Really? It says right in the manual to take it back to the retailer,” and they’re like, “Yeah, but that’s not how it works. You gotta go through them if it’s… You only go through us if it’s within a year.” And I kinda… I wasn’t mean about it, just, “Okay, alright, I’ll give it a shot.” So I called up the water heater manufacturer, told them my problem, they said, “Yeah, no problem. Just send us a picture of the serial number, proof of the leak,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I got proof of the leak. I got a beautiful video coming right out of the tank.”


TM: Nice.


RS: “I had the foresight to record this video before I removed it. Got that. Yeah. What else do you need?” They said, “Oh, and a picture of your sacrificial anode rod, your magnesium anode rod. Just give us a picture of that and we’re good. We’ll send you a new one.” And I said, “Oh, okay. Alright. This is interesting. The anode rod, okay.”


TM: Okay. You have to take it apart to get that out?


RS: Oh, Tessa, you have to take it apart to get it out. Now, on a traditional water heater, you don’t really need to take it apart. You need to drain some water out and the access, it’s like this nut, it’s a 1 1/16th-inch nut at the top which connects to the anode rod. And on my water heater at my house, in my basement, it’s exposed. I mean, there’s not even a cap on it. But to get that out of a traditional water heater, you’ve gotta crank on that thing. I tried doing it once at a house I used to live in, and I’m giving it all I got, and I am a strong guy, and I’m cranking on that thing, I could not get it, I ended up having to put a big bar on my socket wrench, or a big pipe to get some leverage, and I started cranking on the thing, and then my whole water heater starts twisting and I’m like stressing the water lines and I’m thinking, I’m gonna destroy this just to try to see what this looks like. And that’s where I gave up.


RS: So I have never removed an anode rod.


TM: Oh my gosh.


RS: But on the little guy, the little two-and-a-half-gallon tank, it’s not nearly as involved. But to do it, you do need to fully uninstall your water heater. You need to disconnect the water lines, you need to unplug it, you need to take it out of there, and then you need to dump it upside down, you need to drain all the water, and then you need to remove the cover, and it’s the heating elements and the anode rod, it’s all together, and you need to take all this out. So it’s like, you need to disassemble this thing. And so I did all that.


TM: Oh my… So you’re saying these manufacturers make it real easy… [laughter]


[overlapping conversation]


RS: It is such a hassle. Yeah.


TM: Wow.


RS: Who’s gonna actually do this?


TM: 95% of homeowners are not gonna be capable of doing that.


RS: Oh, yeah, yeah. This is advanced stuff.


TM: Yeah. That’s crazy.


RS: Not impossible, but it was a pain in the butt. But I did it, and I take it out, here’s the heating element I’m looking at, I’m like, where’s the anode rod? And I’m not seeing it. And then I realize, oh, it’s supposed to be right here. And I can see the place where the anode rod is supposed to be connected, it’s completely gone.


TM: What?


RS: Yeah, two and a half years, the anode rod has disintegrated to nothing. There’s nothing left at all.


TM: Oh my gosh. Okay, you have to explain what an anode rod does for people that are listening that may not know.


RS: Well, I wish I could explain the chemistry. And for all the listeners, I’ve been talking a lot with my hands while Tessa and I are talking to each other here and I’m holding a replacement anode rod in my hands here, of course.


TM: Yeah. It’s very small. This is a mini anode rod. It’s cute. It’s like what, maybe like five inches long and…


RS: Yeah, that’s about right. Yeah.


TM: Yeah. A little pipe.


RS: Yeah, a little pipe. It’s made out of magnesium. And the idea is that this is a less noble metal or something like that than whatever’s inside the tank.


TM: It’s done some bad things in its life.


RS: Exactly. [laughter] It has done some very bad things and it is there to sacrifice itself so that the tank may live.


TM: Okay. Alright.


RS: They call it a Jesus rod. How’s that?


TM: Okay. Yeah, that’s a catchier name, I think.


RS: Yeah. So the whole point of this thing is that it’s supposed to degrade, deteriorate and whatever’s in your water that wants to attack the tank will attack this instead, and the tank gets saved because this thing is intact and it degrades. But once it’s gone, whatever it is in that water that wants to eat your tank just halves that in your tank and destroys it, and your tank leaks shortly thereafter.


TM: Jeez.


RS: So I took it apart and I’m like, “Oh, I know where this is going. They are not gonna honor this warranty at all ’cause my anode rod is gone.” So I sent them the picture and sure enough, they’re like, “Yeah, you didn’t read your user manual.”


TM: Oh, my gosh.


RS: And if you turn to page like 89 in the user manual or whatever, and you go to the back and you look at the warranty exclusions, they’ve got, “Here’s the top 53 reasons we won’t honor our warranty,” and number eight says “Damage caused by lack of maintenance of anode rod”.


TM: Of course. Of course.


RS: So there’s their out. And…


TM: Oh man.


RS: Tessa, get this though. Here’s what it says about how you’re supposed to maintain this anode rod. They say, “It is critical,” I’m reading verbatim now, “It is critical that the anode rod be inspected once a year,” once a year…


TM: Oh my gosh.


RS: “To determine whether it requires replacement,” I’m not done, hold on, “and it must,” emphasis, “must be replaced at least once every two years.” So whether it’s good or not…


TM: Wow.


RS: To get that six-year warranty, you gotta have a bunch of these on hand, you gotta check them every year. And they cost 10 bucks each.


TM: But the labor.


RS: The labor. Who’s gonna take it apart?” Uninstall your water, you take it all apart, check on it and go, “Oh yeah, it’s good. I’ve got… I’ll wait another year.” It’s like, no, you just replace it. So to get your six-year warranty, you need to uninstall it and replace your anode rod every single year.


TM: Is this just this certain manufacturer, this certain brand that has this problem? Or do you think that this is a problem across all of these different little mini on-demand water heaters?


RS: Tessa, that is a very fair question. I don’t know. This is Bosch.


TM: Okay.


RS: Maybe I should check one or two other manufacturers and see what they say.


TM: And see if they have a similar cause…


TM: You know what, Tessa?


TM: Yeah, or maintenance.


RS: Tessa.


TM: Yeah.


RS: We can do this. Let’s pause the recording. We’ll do it in live time. We’ll tell our listeners. Okay?


TM: Okay. [laughter] Let’s do it.


RS: Alright, we’re gonna pause this. Okay. So Tessa and I just spent the last 17 hours researching small point of use water heaters and reading all of the details of their warranties. And I’ll tell you what, the one that I’m referring to is Bosch. They’re the one who had this ultra-restrictive warranty. And we looked up… I looked up warranties for Rheem and Richmond. Richmond is basically the same as Rheem.


TM: Yeah.


RS: And Tessa, you looked up, who was it?


TM: It was, Ariston, which I’m not familiar with. But actually, I have a little potable, or a little on-demand water heater underneath my kitchen sink too and I’ve never really paid attention to it.


RS: Okay.


TM: So, yeah.


RS: So we looked up all these and none of them have any warranty exclusions related to the anode rod. And I looked up the use and care information and they aren’t really strict about the anode rod. They mention it. They’ve got a section on here that says, “Maybe you wanted to scale the heating element, not a bad idea.” And it said, “At this time, you can inspect your anode rod for degradation.”


TM: Okay.


RS: “It must be inspected and replaced if there’s any sign of depletion within five years of its installation… “


TM: Okay.


RS: “And within every three years thereafter.” So at some point within the first five years, they want you to inspect it versus Bosch, they say you need to inspect it at least annually.


TM: Yeah.


RS: Why the difference?


TM: Yeah. And mine just talks about de-scaling the heating elements as well and it talks about hiring a professional to do that ’cause you have to take it apart. But it does not mention the anode rod really at that point. Oh, well I guess it does have a part about replacing the anode rod, but it doesn’t say… Doesn’t have any exclusions in the warranty about that.


RS: Yeah. Alright.


TM: And then the warranty is good for eight years on the tank that I have.


RS: Okay. Alright. Well, I’m gonna consider this a experiment and maybe a lesson. I don’t know. I am in it now and I have purchased a bunch of replacement anode rods and I’m gonna be checking on mine annually and I will document my blog post with these photos showing what the anode rod looks like. But in the future, I will surely never purchase another Bosch water heater.


TM: Well, so I was just gonna say, you put it back in and you put in a new anode rod, so you kept it, you didn’t just like rip it out, smash it on the pavement and go with a completely different brand?


RS: Well, you know what, after the exchange, they did sell me one at a significant discount.


TM: Okay.


RS: But as I’m thinking through it now, it’s not even worth it. All the time I’m gonna spend uninstalling this every year and changing this?


TM: For the sake of research, I’m curious to see what the anode rod looks like after six months, and then 12 months, and then 18 months. How long does it take for that thing? Well, clearly, two years [laughter] at your house to be gone, but what’s it look like after a shorter amount of time? And you have… You’ve got a water softener at your house too, don’t you?


RS: I do. Yeah. It’s all softened water going in there.


TM: Wow.


RS: I don’t know how that affects, what it does to the anode rod. I think it would help, but…


TM: I would think so. But yeah.


RS: Yeah. We’ll see where it goes.


TM: Crazy. Well, thank you for sharing your tale of woe with all of us listeners, and you’ve taught us all something new about this, that there are differences in these little on-demand water heaters. So check the user manual maybe before you decide to purchase one and see what the maintenance requirements are and the warranties and all of that fine print that you never wanna read. It’s probably a good idea to read it.


RS: Yeah. I will surely never do that again. But I mean… Or the short takeaway here is if you buy one of these, don’t get Bosch. Sorry, Bosch, but [laughter] boo! You’ve got a terrible warranty compared to everybody else.


TM: Yeah. [laughter]


RS: Okay.


TM: Man, crazy.


RS: Alright. So that was the second part of our show. The third part, this is really quick, Tessa, is that we had a listener, or perhaps it was a reader email in talking about how he had a local plumber, you’ve seen their billboards all over town, charge him somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to replace his water heater. And we’re talking a 40 or 50-gallon water heater, just a traditional natural draft water heater. It’s not a power vent.


TM: Oh my gosh.


RS: It’s not anything special. It’s just the… There was a natural draft water heater there. They replaced it with a natural draft water heater. No extenuating circumstances. Nothing.


TM: No new venting? Nothing else?


RS: No new venting.


TM: Oh my gosh. Oh no, that’s terrible.


RS: That’s crazy. So…


TM: Yeah.


RS: I looked at Home Depot and just checking prices. What are they selling it for today? If you’re getting the water heater I’m describing, if you get a six-year warranty, it’s somewhere around $500, $550. You step it up to maybe a 12-year warranty, you might be paying 700 bucks, something in that range. But say around 600 bucks for a water heater. That’s about what the cost…


[overlapping conversation]


TM: Like a 40, 50-gallon water heater you’re talking about.


RS: Yeah.


TM: Yeah. Standard size.


RS: Nothing crazy. And so the rest of the cost is labor. They’re charging, I don’t know, $4,000 or $5,000 in labor. And Tessa, I made a video many years ago, very low quality. I had my dad the GoPro.


TM: I remember that. Yeah.


RS: Yeah. I ought to redo one so it’s better quality. But just going through the steps of showing, “Here’s what’s involved in replacing a water heater,” it’s not a full how-to where we discuss everything, but it’s just showing, “Here’s kind of the labor that it might take.” And seriously, it takes maybe two hours for someone who knows what they’re doing, maybe even less. It’s not that big of a deal. And when you calculate that hourly rate, that is just robbery. There’s no other way to put it. So this is a PSA. If you’re having your water heater replaced, go ahead and call one of the companies with the big billboards or whatever, but figure out what you’re going to be paying ahead of time and know that there’s tons of contractors out there who will… I talk to a few of the people that we recommend regularly. They’re on our service provider list. And they do them for somewhere in the neighborhood of about 1,500-1,800 bucks. That’s their typical price range for just swapping out a water heater.


TM: Wow.


RS: So look out. There are companies who are just delighted to gouge people…


TM: Predatory.


RS: And they do it under the… They’ve got this term, they call it flat rate pricing, and they’re like, “We don’t care what it is, what the circumstances is, it’s just flat rate pricing, we charge this.” And every time I’ve heard that term, I have found that it works in the contractor’s favor, not the consumer’s favor. I feel like this is code language for price gouging, but I don’t know, maybe someone could explain it to me.


TM: Yeah. Yeah, it’s always good to get a couple bids and use a contractor that has come highly recommended, good reviews, hopefully and, yeah, beware of those… I mean, that’s not $6,000.


RS: Yes. Yes.


TM: Wow. Crazy.


RS: That’s a warning. And I don’t know. That’s all I got. Those are our three water heater topics for today, Tess.


TM: Honestly, that’s a full podcast. Yeah, that is a full podcast. And thanks for taking us through that emotional rollercoaster, Reuben, and for giving us little wisdom nuggets to walk away from this with too, [laughter] appreciate that.


RS: Yes, absolutely. Hope people can learn from my painful mistakes.


TM: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, for sure.


RS: Alright, cool. Well, good show. Always a delight to see you, Tess.


TM: Good to see you, too. And Reuben, should we tease kind of an upcoming series that we’re gonna be doing here over the next two months?


RS: Oh yeah. Yeah. We’ve got a lot of guests lined up for the next, what is it, probably the next five to six shows?


TM: Yeah.


RS: Okay. Yeah. We have lined up home inspectors from all over the country, different regions, and we’ve handpicked some people that we’ve known over the years to be very knowledgeable home inspectors. And we’re gonna be talking to them about regional differences in home inspections. What do they look at when they’re in the deep south or when they’re in the Pacific Northwest? What’s different about these houses? And what do they do differently? What affects their home inspections? Is that right, Tess? This is your baby.


TM: Yeah.


RS: I should be having you sell this ’cause this project is more your idea.


TM: No, no, but you did a great job. No, you did a great job. And I think we’ve got listeners that are kind of spread out across the United States and a lot of times we’re talking about things, of course, that we see here in our very cold climate of Minnesota. Right? But we thought, wouldn’t it be great to just dive into some of these other different climates across the country and hear about the types of houses they have, the materials that are used, the construction methods, basements, crawlspaces, attics, location mechanicals, all these things, pests that they deal with, and just kind of learn, have a broader understanding of some of the things that inspectors see across the country? So we’re really excited to do this and to get to interview these all-star inspectors, we’re calling them, from across the country. So stay tuned over the next few weeks. We’ll dive in and tackle it climate zone by climate zone.


RS: Excellent. I’m looking forward to these interviews, Tess.


TM: Yeah, yeah. Me too. It’s gonna be fun.


RS: Alright. Well, if you have any thoughts on today’s show, any suggestions for future shows, any comments like, “Hey Reuben, you’re an idiot. Why didn’t you do this?” any of that, please send your thoughts to We would love to hear from you.


TM: Yeah, that’s great.


RS: Take care.


TM: Thanks.