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elisamcs

Gas water heater recommendations

elisamcs
17 years ago

Our gas hot water heater is leaking, leaking, leaking. Can anyone recommend a good brand of heater? Many thanks.

Comments (24)

  • coolvt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well, if you're going to do the work yourself, it will be much easier if you can get an exact replacement for what you have. Everything with tie right up with the existing piping.
    Personally, I've never worried about the brand of heater. I've never found much difference. The only thing now might be that some are more energy efficient than others (more insulation). I would imagine that the Feds have some kind of minimum standards.
    I mean the main part of the heater is the burner and the gas valve. I would bet that there isn't more than 3 companies that manufacture these parts and all the different tank manufactures buy from one of the 3.

  • jamesk
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Most storage type gas water heaters are essentially similar, regardless of what name badge is on them. The underlying technology hasn't changed in years.

    That being said, Consumers Reports has indicated that water heaters that come with a 10 or 12 year warranty usually include better burners, heavier duty annode rods, and sturdier drain sigots than those with 4 to 8 year warranty periods. Those heavier duty components will improve the performance and longevity of the water heater. They recommend buying a water heater with a longer warranty, preferrably 12 years.

    Some water heaters also come with heavier insulation (2" vs. 1"), which to some extent, improves their efficiency because the tank will retain heat longer. If you do choose a water heater with heavier insulation, be sure it will fit in the same space as your previous water heater, because they usually have a diameter that is larger than older more thinly insulated models.

    Beyond that, I tend to prefer the "American" brand of water heaters. I've had good luck with them over the years, and besides, I like that they're grey, instead of white. Other than that, the brand doesn't seem to make much difference.

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  • secsteve
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    elsiamcs, you're looking at the same thing we are although our heater has started leaking yet.

    Our local reputable plumbing company is recommending Rheem, which I know used to be a good brand. I'm just wondering if it still is as good as I remember.

    Comments appreciated.

  • friedajune
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I believe the top brand is Bradford White. But they're pricey, so it's up to you whether you'd want to spend for that brand. In addition, if you are going to do this replacement as a DIY, you won't be able to install Bradford White as they are only sold to contractors. Whatever brand you get, I agree with Jamesk that it's important to get one with a long warranty. The manufacturers are only going to incur the risk of a long warranty if they believe it's not much of a risk, so those tanks will have better burners, anode rods, etc. that Jamesk mentioned.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Bradford White Website

  • coolvt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    When I was doing a lot of replacing HW tanks it was possible to buy the same brand with 2 different warranties. I asked in the office of the supply house if they could give me the spec. sheets on the 2 different tanks so I could make a decision. I got one sheet. When I asked for the 2nd I was told there was only ONE because they were the exact same tank. Pay more and you got the longer warranty. That was the only difference. In other words, buy an insurance policy for about $40.00.
    As I said in an earlier posting, I think the working parts are probably the same in most tanks (burners, valves, thermostats) and, unless it's made of stainless steel, there's probably not much difference in the metal of the tank.
    I was asked the exact same question in buying a NAPA battery recently. Do you want the $105 model with a 5 yr. full replacement or the $80 model with a 2 yr. full replacement. I asked the difference and they were the exact same battery...just buying a warranty.
    This is merchandizing folks.

  • friedajune
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I had thought Consumer Reports actually opened up the heaters and compared them, and found that those with longer warranties are indeed made with better burners, anode rods etc. Furthermore, I cannot imagine that the extra $40 that Coolvt mentioned would cover the company's liability on 10 year warranties when the machines only last, say 5 years, and the company has to make good on the 10-year warranties.

    I do not think that most heaters with different length warranties are the same machine, although perhaps it occurs at times. The fact that Coolvt has one anecdote of spec sheets from a supply house, or "thinks the working parts are probably the same" does not support the rationale of the business decision a company like, say, Rheem, would make to provide a 10-year warranty for the same machine it would provide a 5-year warranty.

  • coolvt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In the two cases that I mentioned...the hot water tank and the car battery...the information is from the office of the supplier. You go to the counter and order a tank or battery. Someone goes out back and grabs the same one regardless of which you order (the short or longer warranty) and the paperwork is just done up differently.
    I'm not sure what better materials can be put into a tank. For example, I would bet that if someone opened up 10 tanks, 8 would have Honeywell controls regardless of price.
    Actually the manufacturer doesn't have a lot of risk in a longer warranty. Almost any tank will last 10 years unless the water quality is very cruel. If someone is in that situation, then buy the longer warranty (the more expensive tank). When General Motors went from a 50,000 mile warranty to a 100,000 warranty a few years back, do you think all of a sudden they started making the cars twice as good? Nope, the extra warranty is just figured into the price.
    I will look through Consumer Reports. I'm curious to knos if they did open up tanks if they found any great differences between tanks other than insulation.

  • coolvt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If someone knows the month and year that Consumer Reports tested hot water tanks can you give us that information. I've gone back 5 yrs. and can't find the test.

  • alwaysfixin
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would like to know which Consumer Reports issue also. But I have to say, I cannot imagine a manufacturer like Rheem or A.O. Smith or a company like that, sitting around at a strategy meeting with their upper management and saying, "hey, let's just charge more for the same machine with the 10-year warranty as the 5-year, but we'll keep the innards the exact same! " Their corporate attorneys would be all over that one, and it just wouldn't happen.

    I've had the experience of going to a supply house and asking for spec sheets. Sometimes they have them, and sometimes they don't. And sometimes they don't want to be bothered looking through their drawers for the exact one you want. So it's feasible that they said to Coolvt, "yeah, that spec sheet's the same for both machines". Either they didn't know the difference between the two or couldn't be bothered. I don't know for a fact that's what happened; it's just that's what I have experienced myself with certain supply houses especially when they're busy, and there's a line at the counter.

  • friedajune
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Consumer Reports article - you don't need to find a back issue. They've put it on their website. Check out the photo too.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Consumer Reports Article about Water Heaters

  • coolvt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    As far as my story on the same tank with different warranties....the supplier only carried "one" type of tank. If you ordered the cheap one or the more expensive one, you got the exact same tank.
    As far as some company sitting around a strategy meeting and deciding to charge more for one tank than another.....I ask again, do you think that when General Motors doubled their warranty that they changed the car and made it twice as good? I'm not sure that the company lawyers care as long as the company follows through on the warranty promise. Rental car companies can buy cars from the manufacturers without warranties or with shorter warranties and they are cheaper. When I was involved in ordering some municipal cars, we had the same option.
    Another example..years back I had a store and sold major appliances. I carried Admiral and Philco. They were made by the same company. Side by side, model for model they were exactly the same and all the parts were interchangable except the name tags. The Philco came with a 10 yr. warranty on the sealed system (compressor and such) and the Admiral with a 5 yr. warranty. The Philco sold for $50.00 more.
    Now I will admit that in some cases, you might find a hotwater tank with special parts inside that justifies their extra cost. I know that tanks with stainless steel inners are available and I'm sure, like barbecue grills, there are some special lifetime burners. I think when you find these special parts the price doesn't just jump the $50 or $100 that I think we are talking about. I think a stainless tank will be 100-200% more than a standard tank.

  • friedajune
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I noticed in the Consumers Report article that they mention that Whirlpool was the one exception because its 40-gallon 9-year warranty heater and 12-year warranty heater are the same. Which brings us to the OP's original question about brands. Whirlpool is a decent brand sold in the big box stores in mass quantities at low prices. Better quality manufacturers like Rheeem, A.O. Smith and Bradford White are sold to contractors, and will take more care in differentiating their machines, as well as more care in overall quality. Just MHO.

  • coolvt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I found the Consumer Report article mentioned above. Apparently it is in the "On LIne" report and not the printed version.
    I do stand corrected on one of the things that they found. I have never heard of some tanks having larger anodes than others. I have replaced anodes and have never had any supplier offer that there were different diameters available. I think the insulation factor is a given. There is a rating attached to each new heater and it doesn't have to be cut open to discover that. I think that the companies tend to group the better insulated tanks in with the longer warranties. You can figure that a better insulated tank might contain about 25 cents worth of extra fiberglass. And a tank with larger heating elements costs nothing extra (I pay the same for replacement elements regardless of wattage).
    So, I still think if you get the insulation factor you desire and the wattage or BTW's (on gas heaters) that you deisire, then it comes down to a personal decision on whether the extra warranty or insurance is worth it to you.

  • hendricus
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bought and installed a Sears 30 gal. fast recovery water heater 30 years ago. It served a family of 6 for quite a while and now is serving a family of 8 and still going. My son bought the family homestead so I know its still the same water heater. We never ran out of hot water that I can remember.

  • mike13
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Marathon makes one of the best water heaters, if not the best. But they are pricey.

    Are you installing this yourself or hiring it out?

    If installing yourself, I'd just go to Home Depot (GE brand) or Lowes (forgot which brand) & pick out a similar size unit to what you had (if it was meeting your needs) & buy the 12-year warranty version.

  • jakethewonderdog
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    So... Here is a question:

    What does it matter what brand you buy?

    My attitude on a standard gas water heater is that you get one that is not the least expensive, but a level or two up-- Say between $300-400 for a 40 gal at Lowes. It lasts about 12 years and you are done. It's not a big deal. If you want extra insulation buy a water heater insulation kit for $15.

    If this is something other than a standard heater-- say a powervent or a tankless, I would have a different opinion. But the standard 40 gal gas heater is pretty much a commodity item once you get above the very bottom rung and until you get into something that is very expensive -- and really, what's the point?

  • mike13
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jakethewonderdog makes a very valid point which I was trying to make but did not do as well. To be clear the only point about the question of " Are you installing this yourself or hiring it out?" was that if you are hiring the installation out pick a plumber you are comfortable with & one that will not charge you a real high mark-up on the water heater. And as Jake said don't pick the lowest price unit.

    If you are installing it yourself I don't think you'll find a less expensive water heater than what you can pick up at Lowe's or Home Depot since a lot of the plumbing supply houses only sell to licensed plumber or they will charge you list price if they do sell to you.

  • tex4j
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Food for thought...I work for a manufacturing company the makes driveway sealers and roof products.

    We put the exact same product into different containers with different price points and different warranties. We distribute these products in acroos the country (including the big orange box store). We are the nations largest manufacturer of these products.

    The marketing stategy is that some folks will buy the cheapest product...no matter what. Some the higher price point...no matter what. We want to sell the product to both and will assume a greater risk with the longer warranty on the more expensive product.

    I don't know about the water heater trade but is common place in many markets.

  • jayh
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lowes sell Whirlpools and Home Depot sells GE, as far as gas water heaters go.

    ...and as far as Whirlpool goes, I've read this in this forum or elsewhere in Gardenweb so YMMV:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/05/whirlpool_water_heater.html

    Jay

  • jakethewonderdog
    17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sounds like Whirlpool has a problem with their Thermocouples.

    I stand corrected.

    Nevertheless, I would still buy a moderately cheap one, (not Whirlpool) and move on.

  • californian
    16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I did some research on water heaters before I bought one and the only difference between the one with the shorter warranty and longer one was the longer warranty one had thicker insulation. The tank and burners and controls were exactly the same. Maybe they put a bigger anode in the more expensive one too, but I couldn't determine that from the specs. But the warranty was really useless as it said to make good on the warranty I would have to ship the failed water heater to the factory in Tennesee for them to inspect it at my own expense (I live in California) and then pay return shipping on the new or repaired water heater too, which would probably cost as much or more than just buying a new water heater. In my case the thicker insulation on the longer warranty water heater made it qualify for a gas company energy star rebate which made it end up costing the same as the cheaper model.

  • marknmt
    16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I bought and installed a 40 gallon Rheem/Ruud a year and a half ago- a moderately priced unit to replace my aging Sears tank. It came from a local supply company that carries everything for plumbing, wells, agri tanks and pumps and so on and serves the public.

    It seems to me it was possible to buy the unit with or without an extended warranty- as it is with many items almost everywhere. Same unit, different costs, different warranty coverage. Not much different from changing the label from a say, six year warranty to a 12 year warranty and upping the cost by the amount of the extended warranty. And perfectly legal.

    Keep in mind that many homeowners change their location before warranty periods expire, and the warranties may apply to the original owner only. The warranty does not cover the entire cost of replacing the unit- only the value of the anticipated remaining life of it. And the warranty does not cover consequential damages or labor, as a rule.

    Our Rheem/Ruud was made in Mexico, by the way. But when we had a question we called the company in the US and got good help.

    Good luck,

    M

  • info_grandeurhk_com
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

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  • RMGTBTS_aol_com
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    IMHO if the company when honoring the warranty, say a 10 year for easy math, takes off 10% for every year of usage, then chargeing a higher price for the same item to cover it for more years is absolutely legal. A 5 year for $105 over a 2 year for $80 is $22.50/yr vs $40.00/yr. If yo plan on living in the house for more than 2 years you wont lose money on the deal. Unless of course the $80 unit lasts 4years or more and then you lose a little money. Bad water, get a long warranty. Very neutral Ph and low Gh, maybe not :) as the man said "aint no free lunch"