How We (Almost) Got A New Water Heater for $25

Monday, October 15, 2018

When we bought our first house, we knew we would probably end up being right in the "witching hour" of major appliance replacement. You know, that time when everything seems to break all at once? We suspected we'd fall prey to this just given the crap-tastic, 11 year old, builder grade appliances the we'd inherited, and the fact that most big appliances start to fade off to appliance heaven after about a decade, anyway.

We were right.

The AC went out first on a hot, muggy, summer day. It had been leaking coolant apparently, and then completely died, leaving us with a 90 degree home our first summer here. $4K later, we had a working air conditioner. Side note: I really, really, really wish I had asked my Realtor who to call (this was before I was one) for an HVAC service. I went with one of the big box appliances repair companies, and paid about $1200 more than I should have for a new air conditioner. Always ask your Realtor who to call... we know who's got good pricing!

A few months later in the fall, our dishwasher broke, and then the handle broke off our microwave. Being picky, I decided if we were going to replace those two appliances, we might as well do the whole kitchen suite so they all matched (we were going from black to stainless steel), so we did. Another $4K later,  I told myself "that's IT." We're not putting any more new appliances into this house. The next buyer is going to have to take care of *something* and not just reap the reward from our investment. So, I signed us up for a repair and replacement plan with our local gas company just in case  (here's the PSNC program if you're local peeps!and held my breath that the furnace and water heater held out until after we moved.

We got so close, guys. SO close.

It looked like everything was going fine, until our buyers had their inspection. Turns out, the thermostat on our water heater was broken, so water was about 20 degrees cooler than it should have been at the temperature setting.... somehow I didn't put two and two together when I had to start turning my showers up higher than normal last year, but in hindsight, it makes sense. Thankfully, our buyers are awesome and only asked for it to be repaired.

I had almost completely forgotten about our repair plan through the gas company until I sat down to call a local plumber for the repair (which I had estimated to be around $400), and noticed a piece of mail I hadn't opened from our gas company, PSNC. It was a notice that our repair plan had changed servicers... OMG. How could I have forgotten? I called them up, they scheduled a technician to come out the next day.

The techs were really savvy and handled everything with the gas company regarding servicing and making their recommendations for repairs. Since the repair was about $350 (nailed it), which is about 1/3 the cost of a new water heater, the gas company just goes ahead and replaces it. I guess it saves them money vs. doing the repair, then 6 months later you call back and they end up giving you a new one anyway. PSNC called me back within 2 business days, let me know they'd approved the replacement due to age and repair cost, and asked when I'd be home to schedule installation.

I'll be honest, at first I was really annoyed, because now I was going to have to spend money we really need for our new house, putting in a brand new water heater I'll never even get to use.

Until... PSNC told me my total bill: $25.00. 

I said "$25.00? And then they charge me the rest after installation?"  The helpful woman on the other line said "No, Ma'am. You have the full service repair package. You just pay the service charge. The replacement is covered."

Jaw. Meet. Floor.

The excitement of this news was short lived, however, when about 40 seconds later she said "Oh, Ma'am I'm so sorry. I read this wrong. You're on the limited service package. You'll have to pay a deductible of $200.00 with the $25.00 service charge." Dangit.

Apparently there's two tiers of this plan - the $7/month plan with a $200 deductible, or the $11/month plan that's fully covered. Apparently I cheaped out and did the low end plan, so I had to pay some out of pocket. BUT, BUT, all is not lost! I had 3 water heater replacement quotes for our new house and the quotes ranged from $1800 to $1250, so I will take my $225.00 brand new water heater any👏day👏of👏the👏week!

While I'm annoyed that the dang appliances all bit the dust under my reign, I'm happy that the people buying our home will have nice, new appliances to enjoy. The technician is here now installing it, and my wallet is SO happy with the savings.

We've also decided to sign up for this same plan for our new house. The water heater at the new place is aaaaaaancient (literally 35 years old), and definitely past it's life expectancy (3 times over), so this is a little bit of a gamble. BUT, if we can do the $11/month plan for 90 days, we can call in a technician and have it replaced for free (for real this time, I checked). Please send me ALL of your good vibes, prayers, luck, and mojo that Ol' Faithful keeps kicking for 90 days so we can get it replaced for some serious savings!

If you're in North Carolina and have a water heater that's over 8 years old, I cannot recommend this PSNC program enough. Definitely sign up, or see if there's something similar in your state!

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