Do Plumbers Work On Water Heaters? (Explained)

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. For more information, please visit our Disclaimer Page.

While water heaters sound like part of a home’s HVAC system, they’re a part of the plumbing system. If your water heater has an issue, the most appropriate professional to call for repairs or replacement is the plumber, while electricians may be required to fix specific faults.

water heater in modern boiler room

Is Water Heater HVAC or Plumbing?

The distinction between HVAC and plumbing can get incredibly confusing at times.

Since a water heater is related to both heating and pipes, you may wonder if water heater installation and maintenance are a job for a plumber or an HVAC specialist.

To answer this question, it’s important to know what these two professionals do. HVAC means heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and the name pretty much explains what it’s all about.

An HVAC specialist is responsible for installing and maintaining air conditioners and heating systems.

Plumbers, on the other hand, deal with pipes and most things related to the water system in the home. They install and maintain pipes, bathtubs, and toilet systems and ensure that they conform to the current building codes.

While it may seem like a water heater should be in the HVAC specialty, they are actually in the plumbing specialty.

The confusion stems from the misconception that HVAC specialists are responsible for everything that concerns heating and cooling inside of the home.

However, that is far from being the case. Your home’s HVAC system only concerns appliances that are designed for cooling and heating the home.

Since water heaters only regulate the temperature of the water that flows through your home’s plumbing system, it is essentially part of your house’s plumbing system.

The next time your water heater develops an issue, call a plumber and not an HVAC specialist. While a few professionals specialize in both plumbing and HVAC, hiring a specialist is much more efficient and saves you money.

Do Plumbers Work on Water Heaters?

If your water heater has a problem, you may be unsure as to whether to call a plumber or an HVAC specialist to work on the equipment, and your confusion is justifiable.

To be fair, a water heater is a very complicated piece of equipment. Understanding how a water heater works will show you why it’s almost impossible for a single professional to fix all problems related to your water heater.

For the most part, you should always call a plumber to fix all issues related to your water heater. Plumbers are specifically trained to specialize in water heater repairs, and they shouldn’t need help from another professional.

However, if the problem is related to another field, your plumber should also be able to diagnose the problem and subsequently recommend an experienced professional to fix the problem.

For issues relating to low water pressure, leaking water, dirty water, or no hot water at all from the water heater, you should always get a plumber.

However, you may need an electrician if the problem is related to the wiring, the circuit breaker, or the fuse box.

Since it’s hard to diagnose these problems if you’re not a professional yourself, it’s always easier to let an experienced plumber determine who is the best fit for your task.

How to Know If Your Water Heater Is Faulty

Sometimes, your water heater may appear to be completely functional, when it needs an urgent replacement. If you can’t tell the warning signs of a faulty water heater, you may never know your water heater is no longer capable.

Firstly, a water heater’s average lifespan is around seven years. If yours has been around for that long, you shouldn’t worry about a repair; just prepare to get a replacement once you start seeing signs of fatigue.

Also, getting rusty water from your water heater is a huge warning sign. Water heaters should output clean water, and not rusty water with sediments that are unsafe for usage and consumption.

Generally, if you can no longer get your water heater to perform as well as you’d like, you may be needing a replacement or repair soon.

A water heater that’s incapable of heating water to satisfactory levels is simply in need of a replacement.

Plumber on the kitchen.

Should You Buy a New Water Heater from a Retailer or a Plumber?

For replacing your home’s water heater, you may be unsure whether to buy from a retailer, where it may be fairly or cheaply priced, or from a plumber, where they’ll recommend a quality product.

Even with the lower prices advertised on retail water heaters, buying from an experienced plumber is almost always the best choice for a water heater replacement.

If the lower prices aren’t enough proof that you’re buying an inferior product, here are some other reasons why you may want to buy your next water heater from a plumber, as opposed to a retailer.

After-sales service

While this isn’t what many people think about when buying a water heater, it’s quite important. When buying a water heater from a retailer instead of a plumber, you’re basically on your own.

You only get the giant product, with no help on how to install or maintain it or they may recommend an installation service that may not be that good.

When buying from a plumber or plumbing company, however, you also benefit from expert installation services after the sale. This saves you the stress of having to hire a separate plumber to help with the installation.

Moreover, most plumbers will offer you a warranty term where you don’t have to pay for repairs if the water heater develops an issue within a specified timeline.

However, with a water heater purchased from a retailer, the plumber can’t guarantee the quality of the unit.

That makes it impossible to offer any kind of labor warranty unless you get one from the manufacturer; except because no US manufacturer offers labor warranties on water heaters.

Heater quality

The goals of a retailer differ significantly from that of a plumber. While a plumber tries to get you the best water heater for your home and use case, a retailer is more fixated on making more money.

While none of these goals are inherently bad, you should know the best person to hire only from their different goals.

The goals of the plumber will be to choose the best quality water heater suitable to your home’s circumstances, while a retailer simply wants to sell and possibly get a commission from the sale.

The fact that they offer a labor warranty makes this even truer. If the heater malfunctions in no time, the plumber will have to return for a free repair, while that only means another sale for the retailer.

Also, installing a superior product will save you the headache of issues down the road. A cheaper product may be cheap to buy, but with repairs, that may end up costing more than the higher quality product itself.


Installing a water heater you bought from a retailer is a bit of a hassle. Some experienced plumbers will refuse to install it, and you’re stuck with either settling for inferior plumbers or taking up the manufacturer’s installation offer.

There are obvious issues with both options. Firstly, you don’t get to choose the most experienced plumber for the task. If you’re using the manufacturer’s installation option, you may not even have any choices.

Spending the extra money to acquire skilled installation services, a higher-quality product, and a labor guarantee is well worth it, making it clear that purchasing your water heaters from a plumber rather than a store is preferable.