Best brand for residential water heater (tank)

Discussion in 'Water Heaters and Softeners' started by cmjb13, Oct 24, 2018.

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  1. Oct 24, 2018 #1

    cmjb13

    cmjb13

    cmjb13

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    Hi,

    I have an 80 gallon AO Smith electric hot water heater that was installed around 2003 by a previous homeowner.

    15 years I think is a pretty good run for a hot water heater so I'm starting to explore replacement options.

    Looking to downgrade to a 50-55 gallon tank. I do not wish to go tankless at this time. From what I'm seeing there are really only 3 main brands. Rheem, AO Smith and Bradford White. And after looking at the reviews, they all are terrible ranging from defective models, to leaks, to poor customer service, to not honoring warranties.

    Just curious on anyone's experience with these or which one is the "least bad" out of the three.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Oct 24, 2018 #2

    Jamesplumbing06

    Jamesplumbing06

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    If you can afford lockinvar then get that. But as far as box store models go. They all build to the very minimal safety reguirements. Any way you go you get a 6 year parts and tank warranty. Lockinvar has a 12 year model. Whirlpool has a plastic lifetime warranty. All go bad. You want the best customer service to handle your issue if anything does go bad in the warranty time. Other than that you pay for a 6 year heater you get a 6 year heater. Beyond that your on borrowed time. Best option is the box store you normally shop at so the warranty can be handled there. 80 gallon will be hard to find. They are heat pump style now above 50 gallon electric
     
  3. Oct 25, 2018 #3

    voletl

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    Never had a problem with rheem from home depot. Ao smith and Bradford white are good. Not ao smith from lowes though... they are diffrent and horrible. Warranty will determin the life of the heater
     
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  4. Oct 25, 2018 #4

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    were always replacing thermocuples on rheem
     
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  5. Oct 25, 2018 #5

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    cream of the crop over here is Bradford white
     
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  6. Nov 22, 2018 #6

    natesgonnaregulate

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    Id agree, Rheem are fantastic hot water units!
     
  7. Nov 24, 2018 #7

    mike fiore

    mike fiore

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    whatever you get, if you can, buy from a plumbing supply house. warranties are not pro rated like from hd or lowes. also read maintenance section in hwt manual. ive seen some of my customers around here get 15 plus years out of hwt. by flushing and changing anode rods. now as a plumber not so good for business but id rather have a happy customer.
     
  8. Dec 24, 2018 #8

    TomFOhio

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    Rheem or Bradford White. Never had a problem with warranty on either.
     
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  9. Dec 24, 2018 #9

    RenewDave

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    What part of the country do you live in? In Oregon where I’m at, I have customers with 25 on 30 year electric water heaters that we just re build and they keep chugging along. With Electric, there’s just not that many moving parts, so as long as the tank is not compromised and it’s producing for you, let her run. Our water is also really good. I do stock Bradford White at the shop, made in America! The only one that is. I believe AO Smith owns Rheem now. I stopped doing warranty work for Rheem because of how bad they handle their warranty issues, and they slow pay like crazy.
     
  10. Dec 24, 2018 #10

    Plumbob4u

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    No Aluminum Anode Rods Magnesium Alloy ONLY
     
  11. Feb 14, 2019 #11

    Plumb Dumb

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    Why do you say this?

    What about when the water smells (more likely with magnesium)?

    What about zinc alloy aluminum anodes, such at the KA-90?
     
  12. Feb 14, 2019 #12

    Plumb Dumb

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    AO Smith manufactures AO Smith, State, Reliance , Lochinvar, American, ProLine, US Craftsmaster, Kenmore, Whirlpool, and Lowes brands of water heaters.

    I identified one particular model of water heater sold at Lowes that was also sold at independent plumbing supply houses under the AO Smith, State, Reliance, and American brand names, each with a slightly unique, but similarly coded model/part number. With all five model numbers written down, I contacted AO Smith and provided tech support with the model numbers, and was informed that they were all built exactly the same, which is consistent with the specs of these five particular models of water heater, which matched exactly, from product weight to .UEF factor to BTU to dimensions to first hour... everything matched.

    Except warranty. While AO Smith and State have aligned warranty provisions, the other three distribution channel / brands of this particular water heater (American, Reliance, and Lowes) can vary, with no change in how the unit is built. For example, all brand iterations of this particular model of water heater have brass drain valves, and all have the same combo anode rod part number, and none have two anode rods, despite three brands having a 6 year warranty, one brand having a 10 year warranty, and one brand having a 12 year warranty.

    The facts for this particular model of water heater may not apply to all models of water heaters that AO Smith makes under all these different brands. But what the research did reveal was that in this instance, there was no difference in equipment, features, manufacturing location, or build quality between the big box brand vs the supply house brand vs the boutique retailer brand of this particular model of water heater. And that of course disrupts the notion that the supply house is always "best".

    What is really best has less to do with the equipment, and more to do with

    1. The competency of the installer
    2. The completeness of the installation
    3. The quality of the workmanship
    4. The relationship that the installer has with the supplier, when or if it comes time to actually have to invoke the warranty for a defect in parts.
    5. The willingness of the installer to stand behind and guarantee the work

    The perception that the professional supply house brands are better than retailer or big box brands is often promogulated by plumbers to promote business, when in fact the real and far more authentic value that a plumber can bring to the table is actually summarized in points 1 through 5 above, and has absolutely nothing to do with the water heater itself.

    In at least some instances, the exact same heater can be found under different brand names, sold through different channels. This may not always be the case, but in the cases where it isn't, that could just as likely be due to a deficiency in the research undertaken to make an accurate model by model comparison. Not everyone has the time or interest to delve that deep, and are more satisfied simply accepting a general notion, rather than finding specific facts.

    Some Bradford White burner assemblies are indeed different, patented, and unique to Bradford White. I'm referring to the actual ultra low nox burners themselves. On the other hand, Bradford White is "full of it" when they suggest that they "innovated" their so called "MilliVolt" line, using thermopile "technology" instead of thermocouples. I have a house that has a 75 year old floor furnace from American Standard, built in 1942, that uses a 700 milliamp thermocouple to actuate the gas valve. It is laughable for Bradford White to imply that they innovated this as "new" "technology".

    That's said simply as another example that demonstrates that the quality of installation can be more meaningful than the marketing claims of a brand.
     
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  13. Jun 8, 2019 #13

    SGkent

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    Feb 2019 is when this thread was posted. It is now June 2019 and I am beginning a search to replace an AO Smith from about 2002. Have a water hammer issue that started about 2 years ago and won't go away. That said if I replace the heater, trying for find ratings on water heaters is like pulling hen's teeth. There are 90 angry people in each brand who post vs each happy person. No manufacturer can live at that extreme so I haven't a clue where to get real answers. The only real plumbing supply house left in this Central Valley Norcal area suggests using State but only because they got tired of competing with the Big Box on Rheem. Fergusons, also in business here told me 3 years ago they see all the brands they sell having issues with controllers failing. Are there folks here who install water heaters who have an opinion on what brand(s) have the best reliability? 40, maybe 50 gallon gas fired tank, probably low or ultra low nox whatever the current codes are here. I installed the last one, change the anode rod when due. Never have problems getting past signed off permits. Just want to know what brand(s) I can trust for another 15 - 20 years which is what the last 3 water heaters in my life have lasted.
     
  14. Jun 8, 2019 #14

    RenewDave

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    Bradford White.......made in America. Nuff said. AO Smith maybe buying up everything but, they jumped ship. When I can, I support the “home” team.
     
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  15. Jun 8, 2019 #15

    SGkent

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    Ok thank you. Only one question on them - there are a couple threads about the controllers going bad, and most of the negative comments people make are about the controllers failing. That is the same thing the staff at Ferguson Supply said too three years ago. What's up with that? Any thoughts?
     
  16. Jun 8, 2019 #16

    RenewDave

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    I run a service shop. I have not seen that. Our Ferguson just started selling BW water heaters a couple years ago, not much track record. And, I think their margins on AO Smith is probably better so why not push you that way. When you buy a big ticket item you always roll the dice a little bit, but BW has been really good at standing behind their products for us.
     
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  17. Jun 8, 2019 #17

    SGkent

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    thank you.
     
  18. Jun 9, 2019 #18

    MoNs00n

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  19. Jun 9, 2019 #19

    MoNs00n

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    I agree 100%.
    The one extremely important mark you failed to make is that yearly maintenance can and will decide the life of the water heater.
    Flushing and anode rod checking/ replacement (how bad the water is) can and will dictate overall life of the heater.
    You can easily get 20 plus years out of a properly maintained water heater.
     
  20. Jun 9, 2019 #20

    RenewDave

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    Yeah, we have great water and I tell my clients with older 75’s I never want to replace it, it’ll last 30 years. They think I’m crazy because the new line with younger plumbers is....if it’s 10 years old we just replace any water heater that needs service.
     

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