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Thread: If Bradford White water heaters are better, why are the warranties the same?

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member austai's Avatar
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    Jun 2010

    Default If Bradford White water heaters are better, why are the warranties the same?


    I hope the title did not come across the wrong way. I do believe the wisdom here about what brands are preferable. Tomorrow, someone is coming to install a Bradford White heater at my house. However, I'm still having trouble swallowing the cost. I've put in water heaters before, including the Whirlpool 30-gal unit that just died. A 40-gal GE unit at Home Depot with a 12-year warranty would still be hundreds less than what I'll pay tomorrow, even if I have to put in the grunt work.

    Are Bradford Whites that much better? They certainly have more features. So why are their warranties about the same as the "cheap" brands?


  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    New England


    There's a realistic limit on how long a glass-lined tank will last. Some of this is how concentiously it is manufacturered, some is luck of the draw, some is the local water quality, and some is just a gamble. The warranty can be extended for a price, but it is just an insurance policy - it doesn't buy you a better tank. With some, after you pay the 'upgrade', all they do is install a different sticker on the thing.

    A larger or more anodes, a quality drain valve are part of the difference (not all that much at a manufacturing level cost, but at retail), and possibly a more reliable gas valve. Some of it is also the design - read some of the horror stories on the Whirlpool WH here (and elsewhere). BW generally has not had those difficulties. BW typically doesn't sell direct to consumers, so the markup is whatever the plumber thinks is fair verses what you might pick up at a big box store where they have huge volumes of the things going out. Because BW caters to the pros, and pros generally won't tolerate profit losing callbacks for defective or problematic products, these tend to be built better.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Bothell, Washington
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    Warranties are a funny thing. Some brands offer very long warranties, and they may be the most trouble for me. There are brands with what I think are very short warranties, and those sometimes are basically trouble free. I think reputation is more important then a promise.

    Jamie and I replaced a six year old GE the other day.
    Last edited by Terry; 01-09-2013 at 11:18 AM.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona


    Basically, every heater you install is a 'crap shoot'. There are just as many BW heaters replaced under warranty as the other brands, although YOURS might last longer. You can also pay $150-$200 dollars on your new BW heater and turn it into a "ten year" warranty heater. But it will be the same tank as when it was a 6 year heater, just a different name plate OUR problem with HD and similar heaters is that they may last even less time than a BW, and since YOU have to pay for the installation, regardless of the brand, you want to go with the one that gives you the best chances for a longer life.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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