Hot water heater question

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by martin1b, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. martin1b

    martin1b New Member

    Messages:
    19
    I'm wanting to install a hot water heater. Which is the best to go with? Dual or single element? Also, I have a choice to pay and extra $100 and go with a Bradford white vs a GE (made by Rheem) at lowes.

    Any thoughts?
  2. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    Installing anything from Blows or Homecheapo is a no no. You be better off spending the extra money. There are good reasons the box store water heaters are cheap.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    GE is sold at HD, not at Lowes, the last I looked. Lowes sells Whirlpool, which I would stay away from.

    Rheem is a good brand, and Bradford White is preferred by many plumbers as a top quality choice.
  4. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    A dual element heater is generally taller and the second (upper) element kicks in only when the water temperature at the exit(top) gets low.

    The Dual vs single element decision is generally based on space and cost.

    A larger Dual element heater will give you more even water temperature and can provide more hot water.

    A smaller single element hot water heater will generally use less standby electric, but can leave you taking a cold shower.

    As for brand, look at the type of tank and the warranty.
    Stainless steel tanks are the best. Lined tanks are good. "Anode Rod" tanks are the cheapest.
  5. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I like AO Smith, or Rheem.
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I got 2 words for you...
    Bradford White!
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yup... Brad White like Redwood said...or a Rheem if you can get one...The GEs although made by Rheem may not be the same as a Rheem.

    Forget a 1 element heater go with 2.

    GE at Home Cheapo

    Whirlpool junk at Low*s
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Bw

    Bradford White advertises that they are only sold to plumbers. But a single element heater is usually a cheaper one, and often has a shorter warranty.
  9. wraujr

    wraujr Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    MD
    Is Brad White Having Problems??

    Had plumber in house to connect gas line to new furnace 2 days ago. While there I asked if he wanted to quote a pro-active replacement of a 15 year old A.O. Smith (which some pros here seem to 'dis'). His response, "if it ain't broke don't touch it". Actually surprised me.... Asked what he suggested and he said A.O. Smith or Brad White and definitely avoid Big Box store models.

    But here's the kicker, he say that after years of preferring BW they are avoiding them as BW has been having problems lately. When pressed for details he simply stated "leaks"... He did say that all mfgrs heaters have become more problematic with the new vapor detection technology....

    Any comments from the Brad White crowd???

    ADDED INFO: WH is in basement with drain and if leaks there will be no damage other than cleanup effort.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2008
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    If the heater is in an area that a leak will cause water damage and there is no pan under it, at 15 years old I would consider replacement and a drip pan.

    As for the leaking BWs I have not heard about it...yet.
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    No problems here either!
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heaters

    Go to any store that sells water heaters and you will find a lot of returned/leaking tanks of various ages. ANY of them can have a short life, it depends on many factors, most of them beyond the company's control.
  13. barrybud

    barrybud New Member

    Messages:
    10
    I just had a BW start leaking after 4 years of service. I was able to get a swap out under warranty, but is still cost a several hundred $ .
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    A brand new one can leak...
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    cost

    I was able to get a swap out under warranty, but is still cost a several hundred $ .

    Depending on the type and model, it is not inexpensive to replace under warranty, but in most cases, after 4 years the new heater only has the remaining two years of warranty on it.
  16. gkdiamond

    gkdiamond New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    A lot of people are going to tell you that Bradford White heaters are the best but after my research I've come to the conclusion, just as Consumer Research and Consumer Digest did, that water heaters are all VERY similar and pretty much the same, including Bradford White water heaters. I believe there are only two major companies that make the thermostats and most residential heaters are all glass lined and use an Anode rod(s). The licensed plumbers aren't going to like this but many are pretty biased since, in general, they are the only ones that Brandford Whites are sold to which means that if you want one you have to buy it and have it installed from them. Part of the reasoning Bradford White does that is for name recognitions, brand differentiation and perceived quality and realibility. It has a lot to do with marketing. There are three major manufacturers of water heaters, AO Smith, Rheem and Bradford White. American Water Heater, State, Reliance, Apollo, Maytag and GSW are all divisions of A.O. Smith and there are over 100 brands that sell these heaters and put their own name on them. Whirlpool, GE and Kenmore are some of the brands that do it. Any and all brands of water heaters have problems (the same problems) and they can occur at any time. Some heaters last a very long time others do not and it's not because of the name on it. My "cheap box store" American Water Heater lasted 15.5 years without a single heater problem. I never cleaned it or flushed it out and I never replaced the Anode rod.
  17. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Hmmm I guess since they are experts and all that we should all just...

    [​IMG]

    The fact remains there are differences. Cheap units come with plastic drains good units come with brass drains that have 1/4 turn valves that work forever. Units out of the big box warehouse are stacked to the ceiling and often show signs of being slightly crushed. How does the glass lineing fare when that happens. In the case of gas water heaters they have FVIR technology and only Rheem/Ruud & Bradford White have their stuff together in that department. Did they report that Whirlpool has a class action lawsuit against them or, did they miss that point?

    I install Bradford white because it has the best quality and best features at the best price. I don't need an English Major who will be reviewing coffee makers next month to tell me what to install.:cool:
  18. gkdiamond

    gkdiamond New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Yes I read a review in Consumer Research and Consumer Digest but I also did a lot of other reading all over the net. Although I prefer to read my car magazines for something as complicated as an automobile I believe that they are well qualified to review something relatively simple like a water heater. I do not know what you consider a water heater expert but they do employ engineers, physicist and chemist so it's not like the English Major is doing the research and field testing. They did do a through review which included cutting up and taking cross-sections of the heaters. Yes they did report the class action lawsuit (since resolved) against Whirlpool [AO Smith/American Water Heater]. I also called Whirlpool and American Water Heater and asked them about the class action lawsuit and what actions they took to resolve the problem. According to both Whirlpool and AWH the problem was with the thermocouple. They now use a standard right-hand thread thermocouple and a resettable thermal safety switch instead of a fuse integrated into the thermocouple. The Sears/Kenmore FVIR system does seem to have a problem in that it uses a very fine ceramic filter that can plug-up and prevent the pilot from staying lit and should be cleaned fairly often.

    I'd be very interested in knowing just what makes a Bradford White heater such high quality and what are the "best" features they have that are so much better than everyone else, other than the brass drain valve of course. BTW, I'm pretty sure that most of the plastic drain valves last the lifetime of the heater. After all, they all have a metal casing with the same insulation material, they all use a glass/porcelain lined steel tank, they use the same type of thermostat, they use a Piezo Electric Igniter and they use a steel multiport low NOx burner assembly (gas heaters). And yes I've read Bradford White's online Adobe pdf manuals.

    I haven't heard anything about water heaters being slightly crushed but if that were the case I seriously doubt that it would damage the glass lined steel tank inside and since the damage would show on the metal casing wouldn't you just return it for a new one? Also, since Rheem/Rudd water heaters are sold by Home Depot wouldn't they be subject to the same big box warehouse treatment? At Lowes the heaters are stacked to the ceiling but each level has its' own shelving that the heaters sit on. Maybe they learned there lesson which would be the logical conclusion if the heaters were being damaged.
  19. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Gentlemen... I think it's time for a poll.

    The reasons we use smith and rheem are 2 fold. One is indeed that the supply houses carry them. They carry them because they know that we and our customers demand a better product than what the box stores sell. The other reason is because we all have lots of real life experiances with the "other " brands (liable avoided) Does it not stand to reason that if the vast majority of professional plumbers all endorse a produce there must be a reason. Like Zoeller sump pumps, it's quality, it's what we install.
  20. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Sorry but in my NSHO Smith heaters are 3rd or 4th in line of quality. In fact in this area they are not very far ahead of Whirlpool.
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