Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters, reviews, troubleshooting, repair and support.

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Terry, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    Troubleshooting, repair and support for the Whirlpool Water Heater.
    recall, parts, reviews, warranty, manual

    A readers email,

    I read the thread regarding the Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters. I also own a Whirlpool Flame Lock water heater like those described (FG1H4040T3NOV), and have had the same problem several times. Last week the thermocouple burned out again, and Whirlpool insists that the problem is related to the air intake screen.

    I replaced the thermocouple (which I think I could now do blindfolded), but this time tried something else. I popped out the round viewing plug that allows you to see the pilot light when lighting and checking the water heater. I'm sure it isn't recommended, but my water heater is no where near combustible material or vapors, so I'm not worried about it. I originally popped out the plug the day the water heater was installed because the ignitor wasn't working and I resorted to using a match on a long stick. At that time I replaced the viewing plug. In removing it after this last thermocouple replacement the water heater now has a new source for air that is approximately 1" in diameter.

    Other than the safety aspects, which I believe are minimal, do you think this will supply enough fresh air to the burner compartment to keep the thermocouple from burning up?

    Tim in Fort Worth


    Whirlpool Water Heater pictures


    Here is an update from Master Plumber Mark

    I am getting calls from all over the USA stating that Whirlpool will
    not send out free parts any longer to the older heaters...
    THE RECALL PERIOD IS OVER on that older flame lock heater and
    they are telling everyone to pound rocks up their butts ...
    They will send new parts but at the low low price of about $$179.00 plus shipping..
    so most folks I talk to see the writeing on the wall and just install a better brand

    Basically the free-bees are over now and their whole tone on the phone has gone to one of acting like they care to totally snotty and could care less....

    their newer heaters 2006--2010 are still giving them fits but they are not
    willing to help much more than sending one set of parts... and now they are trying to place the blame on bad gas, bad ventilation ect....
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    It would be very hard to say anything to you except you have violated federal law, local building codes, and have probalby voided your fire insurance.
    If the additional air provided by that hole is enough to "fix" some problem, then it is SOME PROBLEM!

    The Whirlpools have attracted a lot of negative attention. Is yours still under any warranty? I think I would be leaning on Whirlpool for some answers. If you got it at the big blue box, it seems they should take it back, even if WP won't fis it.
  3. Flame Locks ARE PIECES OF JUNK

    I am presently repairing about 2 -5 of these dogs a month...
    for an average of $250 with me supplying parts

    go look at my web page to see what is wrong
    with this brand of water heater.......

    you got to clean the bottom of the heater screen
    or all your troubles are in vain.........

    These units need to be cleaned about 3 times a year
    becasue they suck up lint and hair like a vaccuum sweeper...

    its all there with actual pics of the problem.....

    just scroll down to the WHIRLPOOL SECTION
    with pictures
    and its all there for the world to see


    the people -that desigend this water heater at
    totally incompetent morons......

    someone, someday, is going to get seriously burned or killed
    tampering with this brand themsleves

    and then their will be a major RECALL, and LAWSUIT
    who makes this piece of JUNK gets the pants
    sued off of all of them..
    for still selling them to an unsuspecting public...

    (for about $100 dollars less than I can put a good one in for)

    I am makeing pretty good money repairing them every week,
    but I would rather seem them re-called and taken off the market



    dust, lint, cat hair, dog hair, people hair.....ect
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
    Terry likes this.
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Terry, have you heard back from the reader who sent in that email? Wonder if he has been able to get his problem fixed in proper manner.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    I just sent Tim an email asking how things went.
    Hopefully I get a response.
    If nothing else, I'm replacing an old water heater in a home I'm buying this week, so the information at least helps me.
    Thanks Mark.

    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  6. Mad Plumber

    Mad Plumber Mad Skills

    > It would be very hard to say anything to you except
    you have
    > violated federal law, local building codes, and have

    > probalby voided your fire insurance.
    > If the additional air provided by that hole is
    enough to
    > "fix" some problem, then it is SOME PROBLEM!

    In looking at the information I found on the Internet
    I would agree that the thermocouple issue is "SOME
    PROBLEM". I'm not sure how the absence of the viewing
    plug is a safety issue, being that it still provides
    less of an opening to the burner than any older water
    heater I have seen. The difference is that the hole
    provides a direct source of fresh air to the pilot
    light in addition to the screen on the bottom of the
    unit. There is also a direct line of sight between
    the pilot light and the fresh air source.

    > The Whirlpools have attracted a lot of negative
    > Is yours still under any warranty? I think I would
    > leaning on Whirlpool for some answers. If you got it
    at the
    > big blue box, it seems they should take it back,
    even if
    > WP won't fis it.

    The water heater has a 9 year warranty. The first
    time it happened I wanted to exchange the water heater
    for another brand, but Lowes said they wouldn't do it.
    I called Whirlpool and dealt with them for a while on
    the phone, but they wouldn't take it back either.
    They sent out a replacement thermocouple, but for some
    reason, in the next few days I also received a box
    with another thermocouple plus regulator unit. That's
    strange, since I never reported a problem with the

    This last time, I was told some strange things by
    Whirlpool customer Service. The informed me that they
    no longer provide RA #s that allow the customer to
    pick up the part at Lowes, and that I would have to
    purchase the part myself and ask Whirlpool for
    reimbursement. If I wanted it sent by Whirlpool there
    would be a $5 charge for S&H. Evidently Whirlpool has
    paid some coin in maintaining the warranty. The
    customer rep I talked to agreed to send one to me and
    waive the charge, but this would be the last time they
    did so.

    I hung up the phone, but called back about 30 minutes
    later with some additional questions. Low and behold!
    In the next several days I received my thermocouple.
    The next day I also received another thermocouple.
    Customer Service apparently duplicated the order.
    What is also interesting is that one of these
    shipments also contained two plastic screen pieces
    that are designed to wrap around the bottom of the
    water heater and act as a primary filter to keep dust
    away from the main filter on the bottom of the water
    heater. The instructions indicate that only one strip
    is used, so I guess they sent me an extra one. Each
    strip will only wrap about half-way around the heater.

    What's funny is that I have heard several different
    stories from Lowes and Whirlpool about this over the
    several times I have had to deal with it. The last
    time I drove all over the city to various Lowes and
    none of them had the part. They said there was a "bad
    lot" of thermocouples. Whirlpool denied it. Most
    recently, the first rep I talked to said the part was
    "doing exactly what it was supposed to" by burning

    So in answer to your question, no the problem isn't
    fixed in the "proper manner". But because I don't see
    any immediate or critical safety issues I'm going to
    leave the plug out as an experiment to see if it
    corrects the problem. If it doesn't I would think
    that there is more to this issue than a throttled air
    supply from a dirty screen. It's strange that I
    haven't seen anything on the .gov sites about this.
    Maybe the feds aren't aware of the problem.

    Tim in Fort Worth
  7. everyone knows about this

    everyone knows about this problem but the consumer...


    Lowes knows, whirlpool knows, american water heaters know

    they sell them because peopel think that they are
    saveing a substantial amount of money over having a
    plumber install one for them....

    people dont factor in LABOR ISSUES into that cheap price
    when they buy it.... so they pay through the nose


    some people have paid for repairs more than once in less than a year..

    I feel that someone is bribeing someone in high places
    to keep this situatioin from becomming a major recall for
    AMERICAN WATER HEATERS which is presently
    owned by some canadians. lol

    good luck and be careful whatever you do...
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Came across my first Whirlpool gas heater with the problem. We'll see what they say on monday when I call.
  9. free advice for you

    you got to clean the air intake from
    underneath with a steel brush and clean
    the inside screen too.....

    or your repiars can literally all be in vain within
    an hour of the repairs....

    I dont know if I would even warranty the repairs for more than
    30 days.....

    I had one go bad that was 9 months out
    from my original service call... what do you do for them??

    you can get the parts at lowes...for around 85 bucks....

    the only sure cure to their crummey unit
    is to get more air into the unit somehow....

    thats really pretty simple to do,

    but that is up to you to figure out....



    dust, lint, cat hair, dog hair, people hair.....ect
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2009
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    I have it figured, but I am going to try to get a new heater out of them.
  11. Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Well I got the new tank and set it on solid blocks in such a way as to be able to clean the air intake. It came with a screen to wrap around the base but I decided not to use it. If it didn't work I would not be able to get to the air intake as you can't set it on blocks and have the screen work. I am going try making a different type of screen setup my self.
  13. flame locks

    cass, you mentioined that the new Whirplool Dogs

    now come with a screen that wraps around the bottom

    of the bottom of the heater??

    have they increased the size of the air intake>???
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    No. All they have done is made some kind of filter that wraps all the way around the bottom of the heater filtering the air B4 it gets to the air intake.
    It goes from the floor to the bottom of the heater. I don't know what they would tell you to do for an uneven floor. It might work but....Im sure it was designed by the same engineers as the heater so I don't trust it :)
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2005
  15. total fools----

    aint that something.... the stupid idiots..

    its so simple to fix, but those arrogant enjeneers

    cant admit they have made a lemon...

    and wont do what it takes to make it right,,,

    well it keeps me busy.....http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  16. RRW

    RRW New Member

    After reading the horror stories I put a strip of Honeywell air filter pre-filter mesh around the bottom of my Whirlpool. So far so good. After looking at the pictures I am thinking it might be worth a try to clean the bottom filter with a propane torch, at least that would singe all the lint to ashes. (This is not a reccomendation as I have never tried it) RW
  17. dont try that

    I would not try burning off the lint or

    dirt with a torch........you might melt or afix the dirt

    to the screen.....

    or singe off your eyebrows.....

    here are some pics of a praticulary nasty dirty one I
    just tangled with last week....



    on another note I got a call from some lawyers in Chicago that
    are getting together a class action lawsuit against Whirlpool
    and the FLAME LOCK MESS

    they are sniffing around right now looking to file
    a class actioin lawsuit over this water heater and it will probably
    be happenning up in Michigan real soon.

    I got the impression that their is actually more then one group of lawyers

    "smelling blood in the water" because I got the impression that

    their was a race on to be first one to file.

    sort of like sharks and a feeding frenzy LOL
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2006
  18. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    I also tangeled with one 3 weeks ago. What I did was attatch a 1"
    90 to the end of a vacume with duck tape and slowly went over the air intake area which was clogged with lint/dust. This worked great and cleaned the screen completly. Replaced the thermocouple and we were off to the races.
  19. jtjgvle

    jtjgvle New Member

    Greenville, NC
    OH NO! I just installed one of these Flame Lock water heaters last night in my house! I see this thread had been dead for a while but I wonder if any one has any new ideas about hwo to avoid this. What happened with the sight glass being removed?

  20. If there is a "B" in the serial tag number supposedly this corrects the thermocouple issue but does not address the flamelock setup problems.

    Don't attempt to remove that sight glass in your unit; wipes out your warranty instantly and your home insurance will not cover any damages caused by flash fire in the event that a fire occurred.
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