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Ontario family pays more than $4,000 renting water heater for 28 years

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Ontario is one of the few provinces in Canada where millions of residents rent rather than own their water heaters.

While renting may come with peace of mind if you have a break down or require servicing, over time, the rental costs can add up and they are generally a reliable appliance that typically lasts 15 years or longer without many issues.

“The thing about a rental is they just keep going and going and going.” said Gary Burger of New Lowell, west of Barrie, Ont.

Burger and his wife Gloria Booth have been renting the same water heater for the past 28 years that came with the house when they moved in. Burger said the water heater still works great and has never once required a service call.

“We really think we should have bought this water heater a long time ago. That's all we want to do is buy it and get rid of that bill," said Booth.

Booth said she decided to add up how much they paid in rental fees over 28 years and was shocked when it came to $4,162.

“I was sitting down doing a new budget and I said to Gary, ‘We've got to take care of this once and for all, let’s just deal with this.’” said Booth.

Burger said he made several calls to Reliance Home Comfort, the company that owns the water heater, but he said he couldn’t get through to the proper department to get a price on how much the buyout would be.

“We've paid all this money over 28 years and the buyout should be nothing because of all the expenses we paid already," said Burger.

CTV News Toronto reached out to Reliance Home Comfort on Burger’s behalf and a spokesperson said there was no record of Burger contacting them about a buyout.

On Reliance’s website there is information regarding returning your water heater and a 1-866-767-1702 to answer water heater return questions.

MORE: Ontario woman shocked by $6,200 bill for water she didn't know was being used

Mike Kolatschek, manager of Corporate Communications with Reliance Home Comfort. told CTV News Toronto in a statement, “Our buyout prices are fairly and reasonably calculated based on the value of the installed equipment and having regard to its age. Taking into account the facts of Mr. Burger’s situation, our calculation yields a zero payment and we have advised Mr. Burger that there is no amount owning.”

That was good news for Burger who said he will consider buying a water heater instead of renting one when the 28 year old water heater needs to be replaced.

Clients who rent water heaters can have them repaired free of charge if there is a problem and no additional costs for parts or labour.

Water heater tanks sell for between $500 and $1,500, depending on the make and model, and installation costs start at around $500 and go up depending on the complexity of the install.

Owning a water heater can also be a selling feature when you list your home as the new buyer won’t have to take over an existing rental contract.

Tankless on demand water heaters cost more to rent and purchase.

It's not just water heaters that can be rented, many companies are now offering rental options for air conditioners and furnaces. While you won’t have a large upfront cost, overtime you will pay more renting instead of owning the equipment.       

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