Home Warranty Water Heater Issue

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by jdon88, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. jdon88

    jdon88 New Member

    Messages:
    35
    Location:
    Pottstown PA
    OK. I have to vent and this seems like a good place to do it. I recently bought a house that came with a warranty from First American. Seems like a good idea from a buyers point of view. Went thru the house with a home inspector and saw that the water heater was 16 years old but was still functional and no obvious leaks. Inspector advised that it would probably last another 1 to 2 years but expect to replace it in the future. No problem. 3 weeks later the heater starts leaking. I call the warranty company to see if its covered, if not I'll replace it myself. I replaced one about a year ago with no issues. Warranty company says no problem, they will pay labor and heater cost but any extras are on me. They pick the contractor, first one doesn't return my calls. 2nd contractor shows up on time, takes one look and says warranty company won't cover due to age of the heater. I send home inspector report to warranty company showing it was in good working order at that time. They say OK but 2nd contractor can't do the work so 3rd contractor needs to 'diagnose' the problem. At this point (3 weeks after leak started) I ask about replacing it myself and they reimburse me. They said that is a possibility but 3rd contractor needs to diagnose first. So 3rd contractor shows up says its missing the T&P valve tube which is a coding violation and will cost $45. I think OK, its only a $10. piece of copper but no big deal. Then he tells me that he needs to install a flexible gas line in place of the hard pipe due to new heater (brad-white) is 'computer controlled'. When I question him further he admits that it is just a digital readout instead of a knob to control temp setting where the gas pipe connects. Then he says the connection is at a different height and type so I really need the flex pipe at a cost of $95. (home depot has them for $15.). Old heater (O.A. Smith) had gas inlet height of 13", new Bradford White models have gas inlet height of 13"....and he wants $145 to remove old heater....last heater I replaced the scrap yard paid me $5. for it. After several more calls to the warranty company they now agreed to pay me $445. instead of having their contractor do the job. That should cover the cost for me to do it but it took 5 weeks and a dozen phone calls to get it done. I'm going to replace it next week with Brad white 40 gal model, any truth to contractor's statement about gas tube? Looks to me like standard 1/2" dia threaded connection 13" from floor.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    You now know the value of most home warranties....Bubkis! You are persistent enought that you MIGHT get some money out of them. ( Don't spend it until you see the check!),

    As to the gas line, you will need to know if local codes allow flex line on the gas. Some do NOT, whereas here in Calif., it is REQUIRED. You will also be required to pipe the T/P discharge line. Here it must go outside the building. Your codes may be different. Finally, you must find out if your local code allows a homeowner to do gas work at all. And FINALLY, a permit is required almost always, to replace a water heater. Check with the local authorities on that.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,834
    Location:
    New England
    There should be no performance difference between hard piped verses a flexible gas line as long as they are the proper size.
  4. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,780
    Location:
    USA
    I dropped my home warranty when they refused to change the gas valve on my furnace, instead attributing the fault to "low gas pressure".

    In the end I just bought a new furnace out of pocket and hired a trusted local contractor to do the work.

    Never hire a warranty engineer to do other work. My experience with them is they will cut corners and not do work to code. But they are often quite cheap!

    Better to just DIY if you know how, as with most projects, if you want the job done right.

    Who'd want to be a warranty engineer anyways?
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,315
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Their installers are probably the same ones that do Home Depot and Lowes installations. They get paid a minimum to replace the heater, but try to find all the reasons why it is NOT a standard installation so they can start adding the extras so they do not lose money on the job. They are seldom the upper echelon contractors.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,819
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    When we install heaters, they always get new flex lines for both water and gas.
    We also earthquake strap. Those aren't extras, but they are for some companies.

    I don't see anyone wanting to pay you five dollars to haul away the heater, but then my price includes that anyway.
    If the neighbor wants me to haul away a tank, it's not going to be five bucks.

    Wait a minute, my son already offered to do it for free for the neighbor. But it is for my neighbor, the guy on the next block doesn't get that deal.
    He's gotten a few free toilets from us too.

    A sixteen year old tank was on it's last legs. How do you get a warranty on something that old?
    Which reminds me that my mother needs a new tank at her place. Maybe I can go that this week for her.
    She still has the tank we installed when I added her new wing addition to her home back in 1990.
  7. jdon88

    jdon88 New Member

    Messages:
    35
    Location:
    Pottstown PA
    I don't know why they warranted the old heater, their cost for the heater replacement was about the same that was paid for the 1 yr warranty. They told me the flat rate amount they pay the contractor, it seems kind of low so I see why he was adding some extras. I completed the install using the same hard pipe from the old one with no problems. The scrap yard gave me $12 for the old heater this time. Seems like the new heater uncovered some issues with the system in general, T&P valve discharges, so I still have some work ahead of me. I'll post that in a different thread. Wonder what the contractor would have tried to sell me to fix this problem?
  8. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,819
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Here we have to use flex connections.
    And yes, scrap metal dealers will pay for tanks, but the time to drive it over and wait for a check to be cut, when you're paying a plumber adds up.
    I tend to quckly drop them off and skip the check. I'm always in a hurry.
    A plumber is charging for time, and time keeps adding up.

    If the T&P is popping off, that may have something to do with your old heater leaking.
    If the city replaced your water meter with a check valved meter, you will need an expansion tank.
    Or you may have a PRV gone bad, and you're over 80 PSI
  9. Albert11

    Albert11 New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    syd
    It is better if you contact any home improvement guys. They will help to fix your problem.Make sure that the home improvement people are experienced and have a thorough knowledge in fixing home heater problems.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2011
  10. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Nice post for a change; thanks Ian:)
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,315
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The First American plan does NOT have an age limit on water heaters as far as I can discover, and all of those items are usually included in a water heater replacement, because NO new heater would have the same gas, or safety, valve location as the old one so they would have had to do the modification in any case. And they were using the "Blue Book" flat rate pricing for the parts, as if replacing EACH part was the only reason they were at your house. It is like my pastor when he needed three different repairs on his Volkswagen. The service writer gave him the "Blue Book" prices and when my pastor asked, "Why am I paying for you to remove the engine three times when you can do all three items when it is removed once?" The writer said, "Because that is what the Blue Books says it should cost". My pastor then told him, "In that case give me appointments on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, because if I am paying for you to remove the engine three times you ARE GOING to remove it three times." The service writer told him to take his business elsewhere, and that is what YOU should do when you run into companies like that.
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