Same thermostat on GE and Whirlpool gas WH?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Runs with bison, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    Having unfortunately inherited a Whirlpool Flamelock gas water heater, I couldn't help but notice the very similar looking Unitrol gas valve/thermostat box on a GE today (knobs were a different color, didn't have time for close inspection.) This did not give me a warm fuzzy feeling since I was replacing that part on the Whirlpool--worked so far, but I recognize it is temporary. My understanding is that for water heaters GE = Rheem = Bradford White = Lochinvar. Are they all using the same burner/thermostat controls on the basic models?
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    You have too many = signs. GE brand is made by Rheem for HD. No connection to the others.


    There are only a few companies that make gas valves. Robertshaw ( unitrol) , White Rodgers, and Honeywell are the big ones. And each WH manufacturere probably uses all three at various times/models.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    heaters

    You have to understand that for some parts the manufacturer is merely an assmebler. They actually make few, and sometimes no, parts for their heaters. It makes better economic sense to buy the parts from another supplier.
  4. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    My concern is just that. The controls on the Whirlpool appear to be part of the problem (the parts that I've had to replace to get it running anyway--and I don't see why I should have needed to replace the thermostat if this was actually the result of the thermocouple being damaged due to poor draft, but it wouldn't work with just the thermocouple replacement.) So seeing what appears to be the same control set on brands that supposedly don't have this sort of problem does not instill confidence. Instead it screams, "RUNAWAY! RUNAWAY!"

    Now if instead of the controls, the primary problem with the Whirlpool is lack of draft due to a small flame arrestor with small openings, that can easily be remedied with a Dremel, making it like the water heaters that worked fine for me in past decades while deleting a "feature" I never needed, nor wanted. (My flame trap was clean on both sides and the unit ran without a hitch for well over a year.)

    In reading the very long thread about Whirlpool water heaters several times it was never clear where the fundamental design flaw is. And I've seen some prominent postings here condemning A.O. Smith/State controls as well. My preference at this time is not to purchase another gas fired water heater until the FVIR problems are completely sorted out.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    Location:
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    The whirlpool design was bad. The gas valve often has to be replaced because it was a special model with left hand threads for the thermocouple. That thermocouple was part of the problem and to replace it with a "normal" one they have to supply a new gas valve.
  6. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    I have no doubt that the consensus about the Whirlpool/American Water Heater design being bad is true. I just don't want to see the elements that failed showing up in other designs I might purchase.

    Mine didn't have the reversed threading problem as it is newer. I did have to replace both the TC and gas valve through. Replacing the gas valve did the trick for the interim. That was a common theme in the thread. There were a lot of theories thrown around about what exactly was happening. If someone can explain why draft problems related to the flame trap (the operative theory of some of the more prolific posters) would cause the gas valve to fail (not just the TC) then I would like to understand it. The odd thing was that the TC worked a few times to relight the pilot but it went out immediately on shut down, then that stopped working too. So whatever the failure was on mine, it was progressive.

    If I was really adventurous I would put the old TC back in just to see if it worked with the new valve, but I'm tired of playing with it and don't want to break what is working.
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