Rheem Marathon water heaters - limited lifetime warranty?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by wassermeister, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. wassermeister

    wassermeister New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    portland, OR
    I am sick and tired of dealing with replacement of steel tank electric water heaters in rental apartments. It seems like they do not build them like they used to. The steel is either really bad or they use less of it in modern tanks compared to stuff that was build 25+ years ago. Water heaters just leak at a some point - no matter what. My local utility, Portland General Electric, is offering a $75 utility rebate on Rheem Marathon water heaters through Energy Trust of Oregon.

    Rheem is apparently offering a limited lifetime warranty on the tank against leaks, rust, and corrosion. The Marathon tank costs roughly double of what a standard electric water heater costs, but I expect to last forever. If a standard electric tank lasts 6-10years I should be in the money once a replacement tank for a steel tank is due.

    The Rheem folks working at the subsidiary Water Heater Innovations in Eagan, MN are telling me that these tanks have been on the market for more than 30 years. If this is the case - does anybody know what the track record of Rheem Marathon water heaters looks like? Do they really last forever?

    I would hate to start replacing my standard electric steel tank water heaters with the polybutane lined Marathon water heaters if they do not stand up to the test of time. Irrespective of the product warranty - spending the money on another plumber installation would not be the greatest.

    The manufacturer also states that they know use titanium plated lower elements in all 30, 40, and 50 gallon tanks. Is this overkill? I thought normal water heater elements are made of copper or steel?

    What do you think? Will this fix a water heater leak forever?
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,488
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    "Lifetime" heaters do NOT last forever, they just replace the tank and you pay any fees and installation costs. I had a customer who bought his house based on the water heater being a lifetime tank. It failed after about 6 months, but when he tried to collect on the lifetime warranty, he was told that it only applied to the original purchaser and when the house was sold the warranty was voided. I have had similar results with other brands also. There is often a "paperwork" reason to avoid replacing the tank.
  3. wassermeister

    wassermeister New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    portland, OR
    Wow - I assume that your customer was not a happy camper at all. I have heard that 6-year and 12-year warranty water heaters are often the same just with a different label. The water heater manufacturers are counting on customers never submitting a claim (with paperwork lost, etc.).

    I am looking for a tank that will last significantly longer than the expected 6-10yrs. The old tanks used to last 20+ years in our area. The new ones seem to less or thinner metal.
  4. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    B.w. For me ! We're all nat. Gas here

    Mon. I install a Bradford White. I's all I use .
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,488
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    And my Bradford White distributor is dealing with multiple failures under warranty every day, just like EVERY OTHER manufacturer. Several things about the extended warranty:
    1.They are usually the same heater. Some manufacturers just charge you a premium and send you a new sticker to put over the 6 year one.
    2. When a heater fails, the new one is only guaranteed for the remaining life on the original one. You do NOT get a "new" 6, 9, 10, or 12 year warrantee.
    3. In many cases there is a paperwork fee involved in replacing the heater
    4. Replacing it under warranty will often take more time because of the logistics to do the replacement.
  6. wassermeister

    wassermeister New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    portland, OR
    I read up on the Rheem Marathon water heater warranty. Looks like a lifetime warranty for the original owner of the home in which it is installed. Once the home sells the warranty is reduced to 12 years total from the time it was installed/purchased. If you make a warranty claim they will ship you another tank free of charge. The home owner will need to pay for the installation if it is not covered by a standard labor warranty by the plumber/installer.

    Rheem Marathon does provide a 6 year warranty on any of the parts such as elements, thermostats, valves, etc.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
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