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Thread: A.O. Smith water heater

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member
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    Default A.O. Smith water heater

    We have to replace our gas water heater and our plumber wants to install an A.O. Smith. All of the other brands that he carries are more. I knew that A.O. Smith also makes Whirlpool and Kenmore units which aren't very highly rated. Are the A.O. Smith branded units sold by plumbing contractors any better than the Whirlpool/Kenmore ones? I read something on here about A.O. Smith units having trouble if they aren't kept in the clean room. Since we are putting it in a utility room, keeping the unit clean would be a problem.

    The only other economical alternative we have is to purchase a GE model from Home Depot. We aren't planning on living in this home for much longer so we want to keep the price as low as possible. We don't want to purchase a unit that will give us any problems in the next few years though.
    Last edited by Terry; 01-11-2010 at 01:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Personaly...If I were you I would buy the GE before I would put in a Smith...thats just my opinion...

    The GEs are made by Rheem...

  3. #3
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaabbb View Post
    We have to replace our gas water heater
    We don't want to purchase a unit that will give us any problems in the next few years though.
    How old?

    I show 15.5 yrs expected lifetime for the "average gas water heater".

  4. #4
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking smiths are junk

    do the Ge like Cass has stated

    the smith has decided to destroy their own
    design and make their new
    design just like the whirlpool

    here is a pic of the bottom
    they will have big trouble soon



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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Tough to say whether the GE will be troublefree. The flame arrestor design is superior but unfortunately it uses the same Unitrol Robert Shaw valve as the Whirlpool. This part is not in the combustion chamber but has a high failure rate.

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Default it does not matter

    Quote Originally Posted by Runs with bison View Post
    Tough to say whether the GE will be troublefree. The flame arrestor design is superior but unfortunately it uses the same Unitrol Robert Shaw valve as the Whirlpool. This part is not in the combustion chamber but has a high failure rate.

    that valve is fine,, its the application that the valve is being used is is what makes the valve fail....

    their is no comparison between the two designs...

    the rheem was good from day one


    the smith is acutally makeing theirs worse....

    i dont understand them at all



  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark View Post
    that valve is fine,, its the application that the valve is being used is is what makes the valve fail....

    their is no comparison between the two designs...

    the rheem was good from day one


    the smith is acutally makeing theirs worse....

    i dont understand them at all

    We aren't talking about the Rheem, but the GE with the same Unitrol Robert Shaw valve as the Whirlpool. They share the same offending/failing part, the Rheem does not. The Rheem part has a different layout than the GE, but since I don't have one in front of me I can't tell how much real difference there is.

    Explain how your proposed failure mechanism would work. What would make the valve fail in the Whirlpool etc. design? The valve is not in the combustion chamber. In many cases the TC's in the combustion chamber are not the problem, the valve is. It makes no sense that the valve would gradually fail due to a combustion issue when it is not exposed to it (and as in my case when the flame arrestor screen is/was clean and the unit has adequate draft.) TC failure possible because of combustion problems? Yes. Gas valves/thermostat failure? No, not unless the gas valve that is in the GE/Whirlpool is killed by the TC. That would be a shared design flaw.

    I'm not disputing that the flame arrestor design is insufficient and can eventually starve the system for air. However, that does not explain the gas valve failures we are seeing where it eventually refuses to light the pilot even with a new TC. The pilot takes so little air that the air starved explanation won't fly...not when the gas valve is the part actually failing and preventing the pilot from staying lit. The thermostat itself was still functional as turning the dial revealed, so the problem with the Unitrol Robert Shaw valve appears to be localized to its sensing of the TC. It experiences early senility.

    By the way, I just did a google search on some model numbers and noted several gas valve failure posts for the GE that sound identical to the Whirlpool gas valve failures.

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