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  1. #1
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    Apr 2012
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    Default Water Heater Choice

    I'm exploring replacing my 18-year old AO Smith n-gas water heater, pre-emptively, before it causes trouble.

    My first stop was the big box stores websites because of product/sales transparency - - oddly, the choices are not many.

    I want 60-70 gallon size, and looked for 12-year warranty as an indicator of long-life, and I see only 1 model w/ 12-yr warranty @ 74 gallon from Lowe's, Sears & Home Despot - it is a Kenmore, for $850. A couple of 6-year warranty heaters were avaialble.

    The 60 gallon size also had limited availability with 12-yr warranty.

    Price difference between 6-yr and 12-year appears to be about 15%.

    It seems manufacturers don't like to provide the 12-year warranty.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    We've talked about this in the past...and very little has changed since.

    The natural gas water heater to get is Bradford White. You need to check at your local plumbing supply outlets, these BWs are only sold to plumbers. This is the one I'd pick.

    There are 3 other manufacturers which make water heater: AO Smith, Rheem-Ruud and American. These 3 giants make all known brands you see around the different stores. It was a Norwegian scientist by the name of Ruud who invented the tank water heater over 100 years ago.

    6 yr, 9 yr or 12 yr warranty? the majority of water heaters sold carry 6 yr warranty. Why? because they last almost the same as the others. Now, trying to get a replacement WH under warranty is mighty difficult. However parts are easily obtained at no cost under warranty. I suggest you google these mfg's consumer's complaints and read about common troubles. You'll be surprised what you'll find.

    The Sears you mentioned (most likely made by AO Smith) will be just as good as any heater, if you are lucky. I've installed many Sears Kenmore water heaters, most of them were good, few were bad. The one I dislike is Rheem (sometimes sold under GE's label), for its faulty pilot supply line construction.

    Your call.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2012
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    Thank dj1 . . . key word search of this topic had too many false positives.

    Bradford White ? OK.

    I left a 37-year old AO Smith radiant heat boiler at my former Eichler house in Silicon Valley, so also have a good opinion of their products even when many things have slipped in quality.

    I wasn't looking to get service or replacement during warranty, but products have a tendency to fail just after a warranty expires so 12 years is better than 6, for 15% more.

    When it comes to infrastructure, I like longevity and reliability even if I'm a cheapskate, so paying extra now to avoid labor cost & aggravation in later years is the better bargain.

    Thanks for the input.

  4. #4
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    As I mentioned before, your first choice is not a bad choice. I hope that you end up with a quality unit.

    Don't forget to do these things as well:

    - replace the two flex water supply lines (if you have them - I know they are not used in parts of the east coast).
    - Replace the shut off valve on the cold water line IN.
    - check your gas supply valve and replace if needed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    Bradford white hands down, Because of the EPA's regulation forcing all manufactures to provide a sealed combustion chamber the only difference between the 6 and 12 year tanks is the 12 year has two anode rod's in it. So if you change the anode rod in the 6 year tank every 4 years it will outlast the 12 year warranty.

    Ben Franklin Plumbing
    372 D St
    Salt Lake City, UT 84104
    (801) 416-3522
    http://www.benfranklinplumbingut.com/salt-lake-city-ut/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    You may want to actually AVOID the 12 year models. Why? They often come with "electronic controls". These electronic controls usually add complexity for no good reason at all and are more prone to failure. Its not just water heaters but all appliances are getting this way.

    I remember when an electric or gas stove would last for 25 or 30 years. Often the only reason they were replaced was because someone wanted a new color. If something broke on them, like a switch or thermostat or an element, it was cheap to fix. The last stove I bought came with electronic controls and so far I have had to replace the control panel twice and the power board once, and the stove is only about 10 years old. My neighbor had to replace his stove that is even newer than mine because the power board went out and there is no replacement available for that model.

    I have a Whirlpool lifetime guarantee water heater that I bought about 6 years ago and the electronic control has gone out in it. I got a free replacement, but was told that they would only replace it once despite the lifetime warrantee. The next one will cost $110 (if the price doesn't go up).

    Four year old dishwasher, Kenmore top rated by Consumers Reports, already replaced the control panel at over $100. Went through 2 microwave ovens in 3 years due to keypads not working, bought a dial type and that one has worked flawlessly for almost 20 years now.

    Sorry for the rant, but you just can't find reliable appliances anymore because of the electronic controls. If you do find an appliance that does still has the old fashioned simple dials and switches, then they don't often have even the most basic features, i.e. I would have bought a dial type dishwasher except that the only one model on the marker only had one spray arm on the bottom for the whole dishwasher.

    I am holding on to my old commercial Maytag washer and Kitchen Aid dryer because they both work efficiently and they don't have electronic controls.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by keith3267 View Post
    You may want to actually AVOID the 12 year models. Why? They often come with "electronic controls". These electronic controls usually add complexity for no good reason at all and are more prone to failure. Its not just water heaters but all appliances are getting this way.

    I remember when an electric or gas stove would last for 25 or 30 years. Often the only reason they were replaced was because someone wanted a new color. If something broke on them, like a switch or thermostat or an element, it was cheap to fix. The last stove I bought came with electronic controls and so far I have had to replace the control panel twice and the power board once, and the stove is only about 10 years old. My neighbor had to replace his stove that is even newer than mine because the power board went out and there is no replacement available for that model.

    I have a Whirlpool lifetime guarantee water heater that I bought about 6 years ago and the electronic control has gone out in it. I got a free replacement, but was told that they would only replace it once despite the lifetime warrantee. The next one will cost $110 (if the price doesn't go up).

    Four year old dishwasher, Kenmore top rated by Consumers Reports, already replaced the control panel at over $100. Went through 2 microwave ovens in 3 years due to keypads not working, bought a dial type and that one has worked flawlessly for almost 20 years now.

    Sorry for the rant, but you just can't find reliable appliances anymore because of the electronic controls. If you do find an appliance that does still has the old fashioned simple dials and switches, then they don't often have even the most basic features, i.e. I would have bought a dial type dishwasher except that the only one model on the marker only had one spray arm on the bottom for the whole dishwasher.

    I am holding on to my old commercial Maytag washer and Kitchen Aid dryer because they both work efficiently and they don't have electronic controls.
    Keith, you have valid arguments.

    I'm dealing with appliance circuit boards all the time, and their prices are ridiculous. Many times, the high cost of the circuit board making salvaging the unit the right thing to do.

    Right now I'm dealing with a whirlpool range that needs a c.b ($325 !!!). A new compatible range is around $450. Guess what I will do.

    Manufacturers make their money on parts, that's for sure.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    I also heard you Keith, having a couple of expensive appliances that died before their time due to c.b.'s.
    I think manufacturers don't consider enough the "rough service" of c.b.'s - particularly vibration & heat. So, it's not the electronics, it's the design.

    Car parts are "rough service", and I expect the airbags, ABS and Antiskid systems to last the 10 years (20 years in Calif) that cars are capable of.

    Finally, the electronics & digital world opens up functionality - - a programmable thermostat is made possible by electronics, but I don't need to use an Adroid app to call in to a home controller to change my thermostat settings -- maybe in 10 years when I get my "TV everywhere" and network & cloud media system working.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Water Heater Choice

    The primary flaw in the electronic control panels used in appliances is the "film button". It is cheap to make, but just not very durable. You don't see this in cars. Since the film button is part of the circuit board, when one button goes, the whole board must be replaced. They are not repairable.

    Now that many cars are getting small touch screens, the cost of those might come down enough to see them in appliances, who knows, but at least they should use real buttons if they don't do touch screens.

    And cloud storage, don't get me started. I have a satellite ISP with a 10GB/month data allowance. Normally I only use about 2GB/month, but one day my son decided to try the "Google Drive". Unfortunately he picked the first day after the reset of my allowance. He was testing a 4.7GB HD with a few files on it. Within an hour or so, it sucked up the whole 10GB allowance because of the overhead requirements of a cloud drive.

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