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Thread: GE (Rheem) 40 Gal Gas - Water cools when not used

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member doc_u's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    SF California

    Question GE (Rheem) 40 Gal Gas - Water cools when not used

    I have a 40 Gal GE Gas WH which is now about 10.5 yrs old, came with the house 3 yrs ago.
    Naturally this WH had a 9 year warranty which is now expired.

    The symptom I am experiencing is that the temperature of the water can vary quite widely.

    In the morning, the water is barely hot enough to take a shower.
    30 mins after the shower, it's much hotter.

    Seems to me that the Thermostat/Gas Valve is not functioning properly, and needs to cool excessively before it turns the burner back on. Thermocouple was replaced about 1 yr ago due to pilot not staying lit. No issues with the pilot now.

    The valve/tstat is a Robertshaw R110RTSP and the online pricing runs about 180 at the low end.

    When I can get a BigBox WH for 500-600, or a BW online for 900-1000, does it make any sense to put that much money into a new valve?

    Tried flushing it out over the past weekend, didn't get a huge amount of sediment, just some particles of sand and crap, and got pretty hot water right after it refilled and reheated, but the next morning it was lukewarm again.

    Any suggestions gratefully accepted.


  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    You are probably on track with the old thermostat getting lazy.
    A 10 1/2 + year old GE is probably not worth investing $180 + into although I may be wrong and the thing may decide to go on for 20 more years. I wouldn't bet on it!

    Big Box? I'd avoid the blue one that is a horror story in it's own right...
    At Orange you can take a chance on another GE maybe the luck will be similar and maybe not.

    I'm a fan of Bradford White myself...
    Since your last water heater they have come out with FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) water heaters.
    Bradford White & Lochinvar share the same system design and win the race hands down!
    Rheem, Ruud, Richmond, & GE share the same design and come in second place
    With the AO Smith family (AO Smith, American, State, Reliance, Apollo, GSW, Polaris, and John Wood, also includes Whirlpool label ) not finishing the race...

  3. #3
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Land of Cheese


    If you did fix it there is still a good chance that the tank may start leaking anytime now and then you will have to buy a new one anyway.
    I see 40 gallon gas heaters on sale for 250-300 on a regular basis here in the Midwest.

  4. #4
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    NW Ontario, Canada


    What is the temp it shuts off at now? Have you tried adjusting the temp up a notch (without risking scalding) to see if it minimizes the spread?

    My old State tank held the temp much more consistently than the GSW that replaced it. While not as bad as you describe, the White Rodgers temperature control has a noticable spread between the on and off limits. It seems like after it sits a while, it only takes a couple gallons of draw for it to come on and bring it back up to temp. I often wondered if it was some new conservation feature but your 10 1/2 year old tank probably would pre-date such. I think my State tank lasted about 11 years.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona


    quote; When I can get a BigBox WH for 500-600, or a BW online for 900-1000,

    I would like to sell you, or anyone else, water heaters all day long at those prices.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    You might try just turning the thermostat from one end to the other a couple of times, then return to your preferred position. Won't hurt, and it might help.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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