Water Heater Maintenance Cost/Benefit Analysis: How Important is Maintenance?

More down time = more money down the drain!

Let’s discuss the real cost/benefit analysis of using your existing maintenance crew to service your water heater vs. renting a water heater (which includes free service on your heater by a guaranteed-trained water heater technician). It can mean the difference between days without hot water or just a few hours.

The Real Cost of One Maintenance Man: Cost Breakdown

  • In the simplest terms, assume your maintenance guy is making at least $26/hr. With 2,080 workable hours in the year (not including overtime), you’re looking at at least $54,080/year.
  • Figure an additional 1/3 on top of that for loadings (including benefits, taxes, etc) and you’re looking at a total of around $72,107/year.
  • So, you’re essentially paying one maintenance man around $34/hr.

Well, I’m Already Paying Him, So What’s My Loss?

So now you may be thinking, “I’m already paying the guy and he’s already on site, so he might as well fix my commercial water heater.” First, check out our post about water heater explosions for an idea on why improper water heater maintenance may be risky. Large commercial water heaters are much more complicated nowadays due to sophisticated electrical components – do you really want to take that risk?

Second, the average maintenance crew is likely going to have their hands full with a plethora of other on-site issues. If your business is anything like the rest, your maintenance team probably has a lot more to deal with than fixing water heater problems. However, a trained water heater technician has only one goal in mind at the start of each workday: fixing water heaters.

Third, your maintenance person – while undoubtedly skilled in many areas – is likely NOT a highly trained water heater technician. This means he might even not be capable of fixing any problem with your water heater when they arise. Contrast this with a trained water heater technician – someone who knows the ins and outs of your average commercial water heater, which is undoubtedly a complicated piece of equipment. Equipment that’s critical to your business operations.

And, unless your maintenance person IS a highly trained water heater technician, he or she will likely take much longer to fix the problem than someone who is trained to do exactly that: fix water heaters. As we know, time is money, so you’ll end up paying more the longer it takes to diagnose the problem and fix your water heater issue.

Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness of troubleshooting a water heater. Someone without the proper knowledge of water heater troubleshooting could start at step #3 instead of step #1, resulting in misunderstanding of the problem or even making things worse. A trained water heater technician understands how to quickly identify and isolate the problem, and knows what steps to take to get the issue fixed and restore your hot water as fast as possible.

Lastly, does your maintenance crew work on weekends, after normal business hours or on holidays? If not, you can’t afford to wait DAYS for hot water. When you need hot water now, you’ll be paying your maintenance person overtime for the inconvenience–and it’s likely they’ll be unable to fix the issue.

However, a water heater technician covered under a water heater rental plan is at your fingertips almost immediately, no matter the time of day, day of the week or time of the year. That’s 24/7 water heater service, even on holidays! This means minimizing downtime which also means minimizing lost profits and unhappy clientele.

The True Cost of Commercial Water Heater Maintenance

Now that we’ve highlighted some of the key advantages to enlisting a trained water heater technician covered under a Reliable Water Services protection plan vs. using your own maintenance person, let’s take a closer look at even more additional costs you may incur when paying your staff to attempt to fix your hot water equipment. (And that’s in addition to that $72,107/year you already pay your maintenance man!):

  • Diagnostic Equipment – To accurately repair a commercial water heater, advanced diagnostic equipment must be purchased.
  • Training – To ensure that that heater is repaired to the manufacturer’s specifications, you could run into some complicated liability issues if your maintenance man isn’t properly trained on that equipment. Not to mention, your maintenance man also needs to be a licensed plumber.
  • Wholesale Parts – Fixing that commercial water heater will require purchase of the exact parts needed to complete the job. Because your maintenance man most likely has not established a working relationship with major commercial water heater parts providers, one part changeout alone could run you ¼ to ½ the cost of the entire heater!
  • Time is Money – If you’re paying your guy 4 to 8 hours to work on your commercial water heater or boiler, you’re looking at an inefficient use of time. After all, his time could be better spent fixing beds, hoists, HVAC and/or lifts and maintaining your grounds. After 4 to 8 hours of paid work by an untrained maintenance man, your water heater might not even be fixed in the end or it could be fixed improperly, which means more future breakdowns and more liability for you.
  • Trained water heater technicians know the exact order to troubleshoot your commercial water heater problems, so they can narrow down and pinpoint exactly what’s wrong. Your maintenance man might fix things out of order, which, again increases the amount of time spent.

Commercial Boiler? Could Mean Repeat Repairs

What if you have a boiler or indirect water heating system supplying your business with hot water instead of a tank-type commercial water heater? Is it still just as critical to have a trained technician fixing your equipment? The short answer is “Yes!”

Boilers can be just as complicated as water heaters and just as easy to misdiagnose. In fact, a boiler can even have MORE hidden issues to watch out for because the tubes inside the unit can become clogged and blocked which can lead to boiler failure and water leaks. If you don’t enlist the help of someone trained to understand and repair your boiler, those boiler issues might be easily overlooked, again, causing you more issues (and more money!) down the road.

Each aspect of a boiler can be replaced without needing to replace the entire unit. Due to replacement of parts, it’s possible to have what is essentially a brand new boiler on the inside that is housed in a 20-year-old outer shell. Does your maintenance man know how to save you money on your boiler?

When it comes to whether to replace a part or replace an entire boiler, considering the substantial difference in cost, most people will opt to have the part fixed rather than replace an entire piece of equipment. With a commercial water heater rental plan, each of those fixes is covered under your plan. But if you choose to pay your maintenance person for each of those fixes, the repair costs can add up quickly. The choice is up to you!

The Importance of Proper Water Heater Sizing by Trained Water Heater Professionals

While we’ve covered this topic in-depth in our post on correct commercial water heater sizing, these two critical takeaways on proper water heater sizing are also relevant here:

  1. Capable as they are, do not depend on your maintenance crew to create a plan for commercial water heater sizing for any new projects you decide to undertake. Commercial water heater sizing is best left to the pros! Your water and heating bills alone are worth professional sizing.
  2. Getting your water heater sizing right the first time is critical because when your equipment isn’t properly sized, you’re sure to run into repeat problems needing repeat repairs, costing you repeat expenses!
Water heater maintenance costs can easily get out of control of untrained hands are working on your water heater equipment! A trained water heater technician will know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it - fast - so your water heater is always in good hands.

Along with sizing, your maintenance crew may not know some important differences between commercial water heating equipment and residential water heating equipment. For example, a residential water heater is NEVER enough hot water to properly run a restaurant, regardless of how small. In fact, using a residential water heating unit in a commercial setting can change the length of the unit’s warranty from ten years to just one year, leaving you out a substantial sum of money if that commercial water heater breaks down.

Another example has to do with recovery time, meaning the time it takes for your equipment to create and replenish your hot water supply. A residential water heater simply can’t produce enough hot water fast enough to keep up with commercial demand. So while it might seem like a good idea to purchase a residential unit and save a couple hundred dollars up front, but your business will pay for it BIG TIME later in poor performance.

A trained water heater professional knows the particulars of commercial water heating and can help you make choices that will help your bottom line now and into the future.

The Benefits of Renting Your Commercial Water Heater

Plain and simple: You save a boatload of money!

Think about it this way: that 4 to 8 hours you’re paying your maintenance man to attempt to repair that equipment is equal to (or more than) the cost of one month’s water heater rental fee – with ZERO additional money out of your pocket for training, parts, wasted time and more!

Big $$$ Savings:

  • No Capital Expenses
  • No Parts to Inventory
  • No Training Costs
  • No Need to Purchase Diagnostic or Other Equipment
  • Potential Tax Advantages
  • No Workers Comp Costs when your maintenance man is injured fixing the equipment

Here’s a Big One: Minimize Your Downtime!

If your water heater in your apartment complex, hotel or restaurant goes down after hours (which is typically outside the hours of 7am to 3pm – so it’s very likely), your maintenance man will be unable to secure the necessary parts and equipment required to fix your water heater. So you could be down anywhere from overnight to several days without any hot water.

And as we all know, more down time = more money down the drain! With a commercial water heater rental plan from Reliable Water Services you can count on 24/7 water heater service and replacement–even on holidays.

Same-Day Replacement Across Industries

Immediate repairs on your failed hot water equipment are critical to your business operations, no matter which of these categories you fall into:

  • Craft Breweries who need perfect temperature consistency and hot water for cleaning.
  • Senior Centers whose maintenance staff don’t have time to waste worrying about hot water with all of the other mechanical pieces to keep on top of…and who can’t afford to be out of compliance.
  • Restaurants who need hot water for sanitation and can’t afford a health code violations.
  • Hotels whose guests expect hot water for showers and may take their business elsewhere if they don’t get what they need to start their day fresh.
  • Apartments where hot water is a legal right for tenants and critical for keeping renters happy.
  • Food manufacturers whose manufacturing lines shuts down without hot water for sanitation or production.

Imagine this scenario happening in your business and then imagine your relief, knowing you could have a highly trained water heater technician on site as soon as possible to fix your commerical water heater problem quickly. There’s no substitute for the peace of mind you will get from a water heater rental plan from Reliable Water Services, with branches in Wisconsin and Indiana.

So put some thought into how your maintenance man dollars might be better spent; sit down and hash out your own cost/benefit analysis. You could end up saving thousands of dollars. Plus, you’ll be eliminating a ton of headaches for you, your crew, your staff, your customers, and your business!

Perfection Kerosene Water Heater” courtesy of Flickr user Don O’Brien. All other images courtesy of Incirlik Air Force Base.

Smart Rental Plans

Reliable Water Services provides affordable rental & service options on a variety of commercial equipment – water heaters, boilers, water softeners & more – throughout Wisconsin, Indiana & surrounding portions of the Upper Midwest. As a B2B company, our specialty is helping businesses where no hot water is not an option – and we’re available for service 24/7 because that’s when our customers need us.


No upfront equipment costs – it’s all part of the package!


Our plumber or yours? Either way, the installation cost is covered!

Service Calls

Call 1-800-356-1444 for emergency water heater service, day or night.


Whenever your water heater fails, we replace it—fast.

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