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The Best Water Heater Brand According to Plumbers

5 min read • April 26th, 2024

Heil Plumbing

When it comes to essential home appliances, your water heater ranks high on the list, impacting everything from your morning routine to your utility bills. But not all water heaters are created equal, and choosing the right brand can mean the difference between consistent comfort and unexpected cold showers. So what is the best water heater brand?

Watch the video below OR keep reading to learn about the best water heater brands according to a master plumber.

To answer this question, we draw on the expertise of Eddie Heil, a master plumber with decades of experience in a family-run plumbing business. This blog will guide you through understanding water heater lifespans, selecting the best brands for reliability and support, and even a bonus tip for those of you who may be considering whether to jump at the latest deal on a new water heater from a big box store. (Spoiler alert: your typical local plumber won’t warranty box-store products).

the average water heater lifespan is 10-12 years

Understanding Water Heater Lifespan

First off, it’s important to know that the lifespan of a water heater can vary significantly even if you choose a reliable brand. Your water quality and how well you keep up with regular water heater maintenance (especially if you have hard water*) also have an impact on how long your water heater will last.

Generally, you can expect a conventional tank water heater to last about 10-12 years. However, with optimal conditions and regular maintenance, some units have been known to last up to 30 years and, in rare cases, even 40 years. However, waiting too long to replace a water heater can lead to inefficiencies, at best, and to an expensive house flood, at worst.

Being proactive about replacement can help you avoid the inconvenience of unexpected issues, particularly when you least expect them. We at Heil Plumbing can attest to the fact that water heaters often fail at the worst possible times (think Christmas while entertaining a house full of guests). Check the age of your water heater, and if it’s about time, it’s a good time.

*Hard water, or water containing high levels of minerals, tends to leave sediment inside the tank, and can drastically reduce the efficiency and longevity of your water heater.

Best Water Heater Brands According to Plumbers

So here’s the million-dollar question: is there a best water heater brand? The answer is yes and no. Yes, there is a “best” brand, but no, it isn’t just one brand. AO Smith, State, and Bradford White are all very dependable brands and are known by professional plumbers for top-quality gas and electric water heaters. Master plumber Eddie Heil put it this way, “AO Smith, State, and Bradford White are all great choices in our experience. To name a ‘best’ is a little difficult because the ‘winner’ might vary depending on the region of the U.S. in which you live (depending on their sales and support presence in that region).”

What’s more, these three brands have made our top water heaters list not simply due to the quality of their appliances but also due to the quality of their customer support. Though these are practically “set-it-and-forget-it water heaters” (especially if you are on public water), these brands also excel at making parts for repairs easy to come by regardless of whether you have a gas and electric water model.

So where’s the best place to buy an AO Smith, State, or Bradford White water heater?

a picture of a big box that may not carry the best water heater brands according to plumbers

Water Heater Brands We Don’t Recommend

While there are many good water heater brands, there are others that we suggest you avoid. Ruud and Rheem are two brands that have not performed well in our extensive experience as professional plumbers.

One big issue with Ruud and Rheem is their customer service. When things go wrong, it’s tough to get in touch with someone who can fix the problem. Because of these ongoing issues with their products and services, we recommend choosing other brands that are more reliable and have better support.

Purchasing a Water Heater: Big Box Store vs. Local Plumber

When it’s time to buy a new water heater, you have a couple of primary options: purchasing from a big box store or buying through a local plumber. Each option has its advantages and considerations:

  1. Big Box Stores
    • Advantages:
      • Pricing: Often, big box stores can offer competitive pricing due to their bulk purchasing power. This might appeal to those looking for upfront savings.
      • Selection: These stores typically have a wide range of models available immediately, providing plenty of options to choose from.
      • Convenience: Let’s be honest, it also seems more convenient to be able to buy from a big box store. No waiting on a plumber to make a recommendation.
    • Consideration:
      • Professional-grade models: appliances from big box stores might not always be professional-grade.
      • Limited Warranty: Finally, your local plumber will not usually warranty a unit that they did not sell and it makes sense — they cannot guarantee its quality. So the best you’ll get is a warranty on the installation and service.
  2. Local Plumbers
    • Advantages:
      • Quality and Professionalism: Local plumbers often provide higher-quality models that are intended for professional installation.
      • Expertise and Customization: A good plumber can assess your home’s specific needs, recommend the best model for your situation, and ensure that it’s installed correctly.
      • Support and Warranty: Local plumbers typically warranty the water heater itself if you buy from them. This can offer peace of mind that any issues will be handled expertly.
    • Consideration:
      • Cost: Sometimes, the upfront cost when buying from a plumber can be higher than purchasing from a big box store, a turn-off for the budget-conscious homeowner.
      • Trust Issues: Trusting a professional with both the purchase and installation requires confidence in their expertise and honesty.

The Best Installers of the Best Water Heater Brands

Choosing the right water heater involves more than just selecting a reliable brand; it’s also crucial to ensure it’s installed by a trusted professional. Homeowners should invest time in researching their local plumbers. Focus on their reviews, their reputation, and the length of time they’ve been in business. And here’s one final tip: figure out whether a plumbing service is independent/ family-owned or if the business is just part of a larger corporation. Bottom line, you want to uncover if you will just be considered another customer, or if your business means more. You want to find out how much your plumber really cares.

Heil Plumbing’s Expert Services

If you’re in the Baltimore or D.C. area and looking for a water heater, Heil Plumbing is here to help. Whether you need assistance in Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, or Montgomery County, we’ve got you covered.

We love providing our customers not just the best water heater brands available but also three generations of plumbing experience every day.


Heil Plumbing Team

8177 Mission Rd Jessup, MD, 20794, United States

(410) 799-7727

Schedule Service


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