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Thread: Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters, reviews, troubleshooting, repair and support.

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  1. #1
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Default Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters, reviews, troubleshooting, repair and support.

    Troubleshooting, repair and support for the Whirlpool Water Heater.
    recall, parts, reviews, warranty, manual

    A readers email,

    I read the thread regarding the Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters. I also own a Whirlpool Flame Lock water heater like those described (FG1H4040T3NOV), and have had the same problem several times. Last week the thermocouple burned out again, and Whirlpool insists that the problem is related to the air intake screen.

    I replaced the thermocouple (which I think I could now do blindfolded), but this time tried something else. I popped out the round viewing plug that allows you to see the pilot light when lighting and checking the water heater. I'm sure it isn't recommended, but my water heater is no where near combustible material or vapors, so I'm not worried about it. I originally popped out the plug the day the water heater was installed because the ignitor wasn't working and I resorted to using a match on a long stick. At that time I replaced the viewing plug. In removing it after this last thermocouple replacement the water heater now has a new source for air that is approximately 1" in diameter.

    Other than the safety aspects, which I believe are minimal, do you think this will supply enough fresh air to the burner compartment to keep the thermocouple from burning up?

    Thanks,
    Tim in Fort Worth

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeo...r_heaters.html

    Whirlpool Water Heater pictures

    http://whirlpoolwaterheaterrepair.com/

    Here is an update from Master Plumber Mark
    9/15/2013


    I am getting calls from all over the USA stating that Whirlpool will
    not send out free parts any longer to the older heaters...
    THE RECALL PERIOD IS OVER on that older flame lock heater and
    they are telling everyone to pound rocks up their butts ...
    They will send new parts but at the low low price of about $$179.00 plus shipping..
    so most folks I talk to see the writeing on the wall and just install a better brand

    Basically the free-bees are over now and their whole tone on the phone has gone to one of acting like they care to totally snotty and could care less....

    their newer heaters 2006--2010 are still giving them fits but they are not
    willing to help much more than sending one set of parts... and now they are trying to place the blame on bad gas, bad ventilation ect....
    Last edited by Terry; 09-15-2013 at 10:25 AM.

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    It would be very hard to say anything to you except you have violated federal law, local building codes, and have probalby voided your fire insurance.
    If the additional air provided by that hole is enough to "fix" some problem, then it is SOME PROBLEM!

    The Whirlpools have attracted a lot of negative attention. Is yours still under any warranty? I think I would be leaning on Whirlpool for some answers. If you got it at the big blue box, it seems they should take it back, even if WP won't fis it.

  3. #3
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking Flame Locks ARE PIECES OF JUNK

    I am presently repairing about 2 -5 of these dogs a month...
    for an average of $250 with me supplying parts


    go look at my web page to see what is wrong
    with this brand of water heater.......


    you got to clean the bottom of the heater screen
    or all your troubles are in vain.........

    These units need to be cleaned about 3 times a year
    becasue they suck up lint and hair like a vaccuum sweeper...

    its all there with actual pics of the problem.....

    just scroll down to the WHIRLPOOL SECTION
    with pictures
    and its all there for the world to see

    http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/

    IN MY HONEST OPINION
    the people -that desigend this water heater at
    AMERICAN WATER HEATERS are
    totally incompetent morons......

    someone, someday, is going to get seriously burned or killed
    tampering with this brand themsleves

    and then their will be a major RECALL, and LAWSUIT
    and I hope that-- LOWES , WHIRLPOOL< and AMERICAN WATER HEATERS
    who makes this piece of JUNK gets the pants
    sued off of all of them..
    for still selling them to an unsuspecting public...

    (for about $100 dollars less than I can put a good one in for)


    I am makeing pretty good money repairing them every week,
    but I would rather seem them re-called and taken off the market





    dust, lint, cat hair, dog hair, people hair.....ect
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 12-09-2009 at 05:12 PM.

  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Terry, have you heard back from the reader who sent in that email? Wonder if he has been able to get his problem fixed in proper manner.

  5. #5
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Jimbo,
    I just sent Tim an email asking how things went.
    Hopefully I get a response.
    If nothing else, I'm replacing an old water heater in a home I'm buying this week, so the information at least helps me.
    Thanks Mark.

    Terry
    Last edited by Terry; 06-13-2009 at 04:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Questions from readers Guest's Avatar
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    posts, emails and comments from readers reposted by Terry
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    Jimbo:
    > It would be very hard to say anything to you except
    you have
    > violated federal law, local building codes, and have

    > probalby voided your fire insurance.
    > If the additional air provided by that hole is
    enough to
    > "fix" some problem, then it is SOME PROBLEM!

    In looking at the information I found on the Internet
    I would agree that the thermocouple issue is "SOME
    PROBLEM". I'm not sure how the absence of the viewing
    plug is a safety issue, being that it still provides
    less of an opening to the burner than any older water
    heater I have seen. The difference is that the hole
    provides a direct source of fresh air to the pilot
    light in addition to the screen on the bottom of the
    unit. There is also a direct line of sight between
    the pilot light and the fresh air source.

    > The Whirlpools have attracted a lot of negative
    attention.
    > Is yours still under any warranty? I think I would
    be
    > leaning on Whirlpool for some answers. If you got it
    at the
    > big blue box, it seems they should take it back,
    even if
    > WP won't fis it.

    The water heater has a 9 year warranty. The first
    time it happened I wanted to exchange the water heater
    for another brand, but Lowes said they wouldn't do it.
    I called Whirlpool and dealt with them for a while on
    the phone, but they wouldn't take it back either.
    They sent out a replacement thermocouple, but for some
    reason, in the next few days I also received a box
    with another thermocouple plus regulator unit. That's
    strange, since I never reported a problem with the
    regulator.

    This last time, I was told some strange things by
    Whirlpool customer Service. The informed me that they
    no longer provide RA #s that allow the customer to
    pick up the part at Lowes, and that I would have to
    purchase the part myself and ask Whirlpool for
    reimbursement. If I wanted it sent by Whirlpool there
    would be a $5 charge for S&H. Evidently Whirlpool has
    paid some coin in maintaining the warranty. The
    customer rep I talked to agreed to send one to me and
    waive the charge, but this would be the last time they
    did so.

    I hung up the phone, but called back about 30 minutes
    later with some additional questions. Low and behold!
    In the next several days I received my thermocouple.
    The next day I also received another thermocouple.
    Customer Service apparently duplicated the order.
    What is also interesting is that one of these
    shipments also contained two plastic screen pieces
    that are designed to wrap around the bottom of the
    water heater and act as a primary filter to keep dust
    away from the main filter on the bottom of the water
    heater. The instructions indicate that only one strip
    is used, so I guess they sent me an extra one. Each
    strip will only wrap about half-way around the heater.

    What's funny is that I have heard several different
    stories from Lowes and Whirlpool about this over the
    several times I have had to deal with it. The last
    time I drove all over the city to various Lowes and
    none of them had the part. They said there was a "bad
    lot" of thermocouples. Whirlpool denied it. Most
    recently, the first rep I talked to said the part was
    "doing exactly what it was supposed to" by burning
    out.

    So in answer to your question, no the problem isn't
    fixed in the "proper manner". But because I don't see
    any immediate or critical safety issues I'm going to
    leave the plug out as an experiment to see if it
    corrects the problem. If it doesn't I would think
    that there is more to this issue than a throttled air
    supply from a dirty screen. It's strange that I
    haven't seen anything on the .gov sites about this.
    Maybe the feds aren't aware of the problem.

    Tim in Fort Worth

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member JorjaGirl's Avatar
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    Default Settlement from WHIRLPOOL!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark View Post
    I am presently repairing about 2 -5 of these dogs a month...
    for an average of $200 with me supplying parts


    go look at my web page to see what is wrong
    with this brand of water heater.......


    you got to clean the bottom of the heater screen
    or all your troubles are in vain.........

    These units need to be cleaned about 3 times a year
    becasue they suck up lint and hair like a vaccuum sweeper...

    its all there with actual pics of the problem.....

    just scroll down to the WHIRLPOOL SECTION
    with pictures
    and its all there for the world to see

    http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/products/

    IN MY HONEST OPINION
    the people -that desigend this water heater at
    AMERICAN WATER HEATERS are
    totally incompetent morons......

    someone, someday, is going to get seriously burned or killed
    tampering with this brand themsleves

    and then their will be a major RECALL, and LAWSUIT
    and I hope that-- LOWES , WHIRLPOOL< and AMERICAN WATER HEATERS
    who makes this piece of JUNK gets the pants
    sued off of all of them..
    for still selling them to an unsuspecting public...

    (for about $100 dollars less than I can put a good one in for)


    I am makeing pretty good money repairing them every week,
    but I would rather seem them re-called and taken off the market
    I have the same waterheater and called whirlpool warranty 877 # on the side of the tank. The recording stated something about the FG models....it informed me to go to website www.waterheatersettlement.com

  8. #8

    Default

    I'm glad I caught this forum. I had purchased one of these water heaters and it was to be installed today. I went back to Low*s and cancelled it for a full refund. It also looks like the class action suite only covers 2000-2006 purchases, but it doesn't appear they have ever fixed most of the problems so would be out of luck.

    I should have known something when the warranty on parts was 12 years, but the warranty on labor was only 1 year. Extending the labor warranty cost $79 more. At least HD includes the full labor warranty, but I'm not sure their models are much better.
    Last edited by Cass; 12-20-2007 at 07:06 PM.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member Texian's Avatar
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    MP Mark,
    Thanks for your info about the screen. I replaced the thermocouple (for about the 8th time), pilot would not stay on. Cleaned the screen (after calling Whirlpool, again, and giving them another piece of my mind...not a whole lot left to give) after reading your very good advice and the pilot stayed on. Wife happy and I'm proud to know that you guys are out there.
    PS We bought this water heater in 09/2002 after having hardly any trouble with our original 30 gallon water heater manufactured in circa 1960. I agree with you about the morons and the hazards of this unit.

  10. #10
    DIY Member RRW's Avatar
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    After reading the horror stories I put a strip of Honeywell air filter pre-filter mesh around the bottom of my Whirlpool. So far so good. After looking at the pictures I am thinking it might be worth a try to clean the bottom filter with a propane torch, at least that would singe all the lint to ashes. (This is not a reccomendation as I have never tried it) RW

  11. #11
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking dont try that

    I would not try burning off the lint or

    dirt with a torch........you might melt or afix the dirt

    to the screen.....

    or singe off your eyebrows.....

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    here are some pics of a praticulary nasty dirty one I
    just tangled with last week....


    I AM SAD TO REPORT THAT I LOST---------AND IT WON..

    http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryii/


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    on another note I got a call from some lawyers in Chicago that
    are getting together a class action lawsuit against Whirlpool
    and the FLAME LOCK MESS


    they are sniffing around right now looking to file
    a class actioin lawsuit over this water heater and it will probably
    be happenning up in Michigan real soon.



    I got the impression that their is actually more then one group of lawyers

    "smelling blood in the water" because I got the impression that

    their was a race on to be first one to file.

    sort of like sharks and a feeding frenzy LOL
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 06-12-2006 at 05:57 PM.

  12. #12
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I also tangeled with one 3 weeks ago. What I did was attatch a 1"
    90 to the end of a vacume with duck tape and slowly went over the air intake area which was clogged with lint/dust. This worked great and cleaned the screen completly. Replaced the thermocouple and we were off to the races.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member jtjgvle's Avatar
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    OH NO! I just installed one of these Flame Lock water heaters last night in my house! I see this thread had been dead for a while but I wonder if any one has any new ideas about hwo to avoid this. What happened with the sight glass being removed?

  14. #14
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtjgvle
    OH NO! I just installed one of these Flame Lock water heaters last night in my house! I see this thread had been dead for a while but I wonder if any one has any new ideas about hwo to avoid this. What happened with the sight glass being removed?

    If there is a "B" in the serial tag number supposedly this corrects the thermocouple issue but does not address the flamelock setup problems.


    Don't attempt to remove that sight glass in your unit; wipes out your warranty instantly and your home insurance will not cover any damages caused by flash fire in the event that a fire occurred.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member Ode2Pops's Avatar
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    My first post here. What a fantastic forum!

    I purchased one of these Whirlpool “Flame Lock” water heaters from Lowe’s in January, 2004. After reading the details of the “Flame Lock” design, I realized the importance of keeping that flame arrestor screen underneath the burner chamber clean. I called and confirmed this with American Water Heater (the actual manufacturer of Lowe’s Whirlpool line of water heaters) and began to follow their recommendations. Every three months or so, I would take a damp sponge, get under the water heater and wipe off the arrestor screen.

    The water heater worked flawlessly. Unfortunately about a year ago, I got lazy and stopped cleaning the arrestor screen (my bad!). Last week, the heater failed. Being still under warrantee, we received a free upgraded burner/thermocouple assembly from American Water Heater (shipping was 8 bucks – took 3 days to arrive).

    I made sure the new thermocouple was pushed in completely in its mounting (it wasn’t) and installed the new assembly; however, before I did this, I made sure to clean and vacuum the burner chamber, including a good brushing and cleaning of the flame arrestor screen inside the burner chamber. It took me about 45 minutes to prepare the new burner assembly and install it in the water heater. It fired up the first time and has been working fine since.

    I now have a printed maintenance schedule taped to the water heater closet door. Every three months, that flame arrestor screen is going to get cleaned and checked off.

    Just my experience in the hope that it may help someone else.

    I sure miss the old days when you didn’t have to bother with things like this!

    O2P

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