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

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

  1. Tim in Fort Worth

    Tim in Fort Worth New Member

    Nah...I hate to lose, and I'm just trying to have some fun along the way. Truth be told, Aside from replacing 3 or 4 thermocouples I have no real complaints with this water heater. Granted, I've abandoned Whirlpool products entirely but my gas bill isn't abnormally high, the unit doesn't leak, isn't loud and I always have plenty of hot water with a 40 gallon tank. Had Whirlpool handled this properly from the beginning I would be a happy customer. Along the way I've learned a lot about an appliance I never really thought about before. And I can now change out the burner assembly and/or thermocouple in short order and probably with my eyes closed. I think I'm down to about 30 minutes for the job. Plus, it's kind of fun causing some well deserved trouble for Whirlpool regarding this water heater. Rather than face up to a known problem they circled the wagons and pointed their guns at the customer. Too bad they only had to send out the conversion kit to the people who joined the class action suit. I didn't, and got several thermocouples and a control valve sent to me for free. They tried to get me to pay for shipping or send them my Lowes receipts to get my money refunded, but I held fast and got what I wanted without joining the class. I call that a victory. Kudos to HeyRube for the pilot jet opening. Does anyone know if Whirlpool has since been informed of the problem, and if they have a permanent fix for all new models being sold? If that's the case, some engineer and a few quality control people should be flipping burgers now...but not my burgers!
  2. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    S. Maine
    The last trade show I attended had the whirlpool guy there and he wouldn't even discuss the issue. Had crowds of irate plumers around him all day and never gave in.

    It's an engineering design flaw that whirlpool is all to aware of. In typical fashion they will do the minimum to exaserbate the issue, re-desigh the problem and hope it all goes away in a few years. The law of odds is in their favor.
  3. dcarr4321@hotmail.com

    dcarr4321@hotmail.com New Member


    I also started having trouble with my 9 month old water heater. Called Lowe’s to ask about the warranty before I removed the heater. It was a Saturday so they were no doubt very busy at the store where I purchased it. After going through the automated message menu, it rings for a long time then transfers the phone back to the automated message. I am trapped in an automated phone system Twilight-Zone. Two times some one picks up the phone then hangs it up to get rid of me. OK that means there is intelligent life on the other end of the phone, I think? Keep trying. At some point, some one actually talks to me then transfers me to the plumbing department and the automated answering machine picks up and the cycle starts over again. I finally talk to some one in plumbing about the water heater. He tells me about an enhancement kit I need to get from Whirlpool and gives me the Whirlpool number. It is Saturday and no one at Whirlpool is manning the Water Heater Crisis Hot Line. Dang-It! One more day of fighting the self extinguishing pilot light. That thing gets extinguished more often than the Chinese Olympic Torch being carried through a Tibetan Monk Village. I call back on Monday and get trapped in a Whirlpool automated phone system Twilight-Zone. Never talking to a Whirlpool human, I resorted to ordering a kit from Whirlpool’s web site and pay $5 for postage. My teenage daughter needs hot water for her 90 minute shower now not later. I try to find a thermocouple at the store but they do not stock them. The Store Sales Guy tells me I can only get the part directly from Whirlpool. Dink, dink, dink – dink ---- back into the Twilight-Zone. I also file a consumer complaint with the Better Business Bureau for Lowe’s selling products they knew were defective and lack of support in correcting the problem. I have a phone message from Lowe’s on my work phone. They want to talk to me. I call back the number they left. Got an automated phone that eventually lead me to the person who called phone message. We are now in the phone tag Twilight-Zone. Dink, dink, dink, dink .........
  4. dcarr4321@hotmail.com

    dcarr4321@hotmail.com New Member

    Happy Now

    Talked to the "Corporate Executive Complaint" office person. She said they will call my local Lowe's store and get a resolution on this. The store manager calls me and we agree to an exchange or refund. I return the old unit, get a refund and go down the street to Home Depot. I purchased a 50 gallon, 12 year warranty GE unit. Even the cold setting on the new unit is hotter than the hottest setting on the Whirlpool. The water flow is higher too. The Whirlpool has more problems than just the thermocouple.

    I am happy now.:)
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2008
  5. fm00

    fm00 New Member

    My issues with the American 50 gal. water heater

    Read ever post on this forum, enough to give me nightmares all night last night. This is what I did to get my heater going. I, like so many others thought it was the TC, ended up NOT the problem. After installing a new one with the right hand threads and it NOT screwing into the bottom of the stat., I had to give up till today with no HOT water, that was OK, cause me and my lady took a shower yesterday. I called India first thing this morning and decided to STAY CALM and talk slow. I think the guy appreciated that cause it went fairy good. The guy asked me a few questions and I said yes to all, he said he's send a new STAT, burner kit, you know the whole shooting match, only it was going to cost me $10 for 5-7 days, I said OK. I then proceeded to clean up the old TC and put it back in. I went ahead and made the pilot jet a wee bit, WEE BIT larger with a needle. The bottom of the burner separated from the moisture, so I fixed that with JB weld, that worked. Anyway, put it all back together and the b i t c * pilot lit, but would STAY LIT, I was like what the H-E double hockey sticks. Held the button down for 5 min. with a clamp, cause my thumb had about enough of the holding of the red button, STILL DIDN'T work. Took burner ass. out, un hooked the 3 things from the stat. Turned it around OUTSIDE of the heater, hooked back the 3 things, and the freaking pilot stayed lit, PUT IT ALL BACK, didn't work. Finally figured out there was a problem with where the TC touched up inside the stat where you tighten up the left handed nut (piece of wonder). Finally took it off and on and it finally made contact like it wanted to and stayed lit, FINALLY!!! Mean while I decided to remove the site glass so it could get air, along with the pieces that hold the striker wire and the TC wire, so it could get more air, took the gasket off behind the burner ass. cleaned the screen inside bottom, the thing lit and ran like a charm. I put that little cover over the front bottom and that was that. Told my girl who was very concerned that I didn't get it fixed and we would have to wait 5-7 days to take a shower, should of seen the look on her face. Then I said no, I got it going, running OK. I'm sure I'll be fine to all the new parts come in. It's in my attic with nothing around it, don't have to worry about anything catching fire. I'm going to leave it alone till it fails, then put all the new parts on, I had enough of that jerky for 2 days. So this is my story, not as bad as most, but hopefully my post can't help someone else out, I know reading all of them gave me a plan to fix my heater, which really helped. Thanks guys for all your posts, and I hope mine can help you! :D:cool:
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Oh boy!
    The ripped off customers of American Water Heater/Whirlpood are now resorting to JB Weld to modify these burners...:eek:

    Call a plumber you could have a Bradford White installed right away and have hot water all the time.
  7. whirlpoolhater

    whirlpoolhater New Member

    Whirlpool has a learning disability

    Still kicking myself for getting online after purchase instead of beforehand. Its not like it is hard to find the warnings. But, when you heater craps out, you figure why shop? a water heater is as sophisticated as a pot of water with a thermostat...one's got to be good as another...installation is not rocket science, gas in, water in/out, put the flue back....How hard can it be?...DOH. That was March '08 this is August'08

    here's the good news. Thanks to the google and another forumn like this one I found out Whirlpoo has a new secret url "flamelocksupport . c o m" ( I inserted the spaces in case this forumn frowns on hotlinks). Funny though...You won't find any references to that page on the whirlpoo customer service pages. I registered my heater which is a model UGij5040t3nv on that page (even though it indicates it is there for FG model heaters) The next day my wife got a call from whirlpool and was given a local plumber to call.

    The next day the plumber shows up (at the end of the 4 hour window, I am lucky enough to have a wife that works out of the house). He quickly swaps out the gas valve and thermocouple (no charge btw). Heater works fine...for 2 hours...or one 50 gallon pot o'water. Called again, he came again the next day swapped out gas valve again. This time it made it almost 24 hours before flaming out. Called again. He came again. This time he checked a few more things like gas pressure its all good. He tore apart the entire burner assembly The one thing he found was related to the gas line to the pilot light. It has a compression fitting at each end of the (1/4 inch?) pilot feed line. Apparently, the compression fitting comes with an attached comppression ring (called an "olive", thank you wikipedia) and the olive breaks loose on tightening. At the burner end, the olive was still attached to the compresion nut (and thusly not really acting like a compression fitting. There had been no leaks evident to me or him so I don't have any idea if that was relevant to failure #3 or not. Regardless, he had commited to swapping out the entire burner assembly and ANOTHER gas valve. That was about an hour ago.

    Thankfully my online research time has prepared me to be comfortable with disappoinment and so far I am not out of pocket.

    Here's the next steps and the bad news. The plumber tells me that if the 3rd time is not the charm he will condemn the heater at which time I am free to buy another WHIRLPOOL (& I must front the money!), place it in my garage next to the condemned one whereupon he will install the new Whirlpool (he must install it btw) he will then give me a voucher to get reimbursed by Whirlpoo.

    So...Whirlpoo has a policy that says once you have expended much time and effort and proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they have manufactured a defective product, they will ALLOW you to buy another one and begin the cycle again!

    If the heater fails again I plan to raise holy heck with the Lowe's manager and see how that goes. I am not planning on taking another lap around the Whirlpoo. (insert your best George Bush/Roger Daltry confused quote here)
  8. Drbe

    Drbe New Member

    Flamelocksupport . com

    My hot water heater went out on March 3. Ran down to Lowes and had a new one installed in less than 1 hour. Worked fine until today, so got 6 solid months out of mine ... outstanding! Now the pilot won't light..... Honestly Jay Leno could of asked me on the street and I could not have remembered the brand name. I mean, hot water heaters have always been a no brainer .... until now!

    From previous experiance with a defective wax switch on a Matag Neptune washer, I went straight to Google to check for known problems.

    Wow 5 years, a class action suit, and Whirlpool still has not fixed the problem with their water heaters. Who the hell runs these appliance corperation these days. (Accountants, who else.)

    Thanks WPH for the flamelocksupport website, I just left an email for them to call me and I ordered the BFG Enhancement Kit. I went for the next day air shipping, cost was $15. I will report back on my experiance.
  9. it wont help

    Its not going to help....

    like me and many others have mentioned before the whole design is flawed....

    then they claimed to have fixed that problem but

    they never realy fixed the original problem when they upgraded the unit to the thermal fuse style...

    I changed out a 50 gallon one only two years old on Tuesday.

    I have finally come to the point that I simply look at all this as easy work for me to change out a few every month...

    because they dont seem to have the brains to
    actually fix the problems..

    the company must be run by the three stooges... http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  10. Drbe

    Drbe New Member

    The Next Morning

    Ok its the next morning and I recieved a call at 8:30 AM from a gentleman in India. Progress. First thing first was to register my hot water heater. Model number, UG2F4040T3NV. You said Gee, 2, F, no no no, I said the letter U and the letter G. You get the process, and don't say O, Ohh, it is zero ... and the letter O like Oscar.

    I slowed everything down and 5 minutes later I had my hot water heater registered. I mentioned wanting the "Enhancement Kit installed". He said I would have to talk to Tech Support (I.E. and American), I will transfer you and give them this reference number. Cool!

    After about a short 5 minute hold I was actually speaking to a real live American. I gave her the reference number and we repeated the whole process over again. This obviously is not Tech Support but another layer of the Matrix. (No doubt another 3rd party company that gets paid for taking down information). Finally she asks me what the problem is ... THE PILOT LIGHT WILL NOT STAY LIT. "OK I will get your over to Tech Support to help you". No I simply want you to install the Enhancement Kit! "The enhancement kit is only for the FG model ... not the UG." I explain its the same problem, the only thing Whirlpool (American Water Heaters) did was change the model number from FG to UG to get out of the Class Action Suit. I WANT THE @#%* ENHANCEMENT KIT INSTALLED!!! "Ok SIR, I will transfer you over our 3rd party 1-800 repair hotline and you can explain it to them." "Here is your repair order number" Time to calm down, were in the cleavage now.

    After a very short hold time I am finally speaking with someone who can fix my problem. I once again explain the problem and she says she will get someone out to take a look at it. Once again I explain I don't want someone to take a look at it, I want a qualified technician to install the Enhancement Kit. She also says its only for the FG models. I explain the only thing "they" changed was the letter. She says she will talk to the technican in my area ... please hold. A long hold time ensues (she does chime in very 2 minutes to make sure I am still holding ... very professional). After about 10 minutes she says the Technician in my area knows about the problem, has the Enhancement Kit on hand and will install the Kit sometime today. What is your contact phone number and address. To be continued:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Ok its 2 pm and my hot water is working. My ordeal started yesterday and it was resolved today in less than 24 hours. Total cost............. FREE!!

    If your Whirlpool water heater won't light ... follow my example and get your's fixed for free!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Techncian who showed up says he was factory trained on the problem with the Whirlpool water heaters. He said the problem with the FG models was the left hand thread thermocouple was not properly impedance matched to the Gas Control Valve. And yes the previous fix of adding the enhancement kit to the FG models was a failure, they need to be changed as a matched pair. (He said the newest BFG models are finally working properly). However my UG heater is an interim model and while it has the new style thermocouple the Gas Control Valve was still the older style that is still not properly calibrated to the new style thermocouple. The only thing he changed was the Gas Control Valve and the pilot worked normally. He went on to say that mine is also a ULN or ultra low nox version that is required in Southern California. This is the reason the burner chamber gets so hot, to burn off the nitrous oxide to meet emmision standards. He says these standards will eventually spread to the entire USA and the manufactors have to tighten there tolerances for these systems to perform within the specifications day in day out. (Its a brave new world)!

    For me only time will tell ... I will keep you all updated.

    While I appreciate the advice to buy a Brandford White, it really is not much help for those of us stuck with the FG and UG Whirlpool models. Perhaps some of the Technicians on this website could check into the above claims and see if this is finally the legitimate fix for the Whirlpool heaters. Anyone know of failures with the BMG models???

    And a shout out to Tim in Fort Worth ... thanks for starting this long winded thread ....... milk it to the end my man!
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  11. raymel1

    raymel1 New Member

    N. Central Indiana
    Thanks for all the info.

    A little background, I bought a Whirlpool Flamelock 40 gallon Natural Gas water heater 2 years ago, last year, I replaced that one after it simply wouldnt light. Lowes installed it, and didnt like it that I was going to replace it and kept giving me the run around. Finally they replaced it, of course I had to AGAIN pay for labor, but it got done.

    a month ago, my newest Flamelock decided to go out, and I would have to go back and get it to relight again, usually taking me at least 15 minutes to get it to light. This happened 3 or 4 times.(model #BFG1F4040S3NOV)

    Last week the damn thing went out again, and will simply not relight. I went to www.flamelocksupport.com (whoever put that info on here thank you!) and sent an email to them.

    It wasnt 10 minutes :eek:(this is wednesday about 12:45pm btw) and they called me on the phone, wanting my serial # on my FlameLock Waterheater.

    I tell him what the waterheater is doing and like I expected, he said the "thermal" has gone out.

    He offered to send me a replacement part, and I told him that I am not qualified to replace anything like that, and that I doubt whirlpool would like the lawsuit I put on them when I burned my house down, because of it.;)

    he then went on to tell me he could recommend someone to do the labor (at a cost to me of course). He tell's me it's "sears". Give's me a reference number and the phone number 1-800-676-5589.

    Now, as this is September 17th,2008; and knowing that winter is closer than I want to admit that it is I am wondering to myself, if I am not just wasting my time with any kinds of repairs on this FlameLock POS Waterheater.

    I really don't want to have to mess with a possible waterheater change
    in the winter time
    but at the same time I really don't have the $ to buy another waterheater at this point in time.

    I have no idea how much $ "sears" will charge me to change this "defective thermal" even though the part itself is costing me nothing. (the part will be here tomorrow and I did not pay anything for shipping)

    this experience with Whirlpool as well as Lowes selling these junk waterheaters has made me avoid any and all Whirlpool products as well as avoiding Lowes all together.:mad:

    I think im going to look around online and see where else has water heaters and do some pricing on them.

    any suggestions or insights from all you great people would be appreciated.

    Thanks in Advance.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    I've got 2 words for you...
    Bradford White

    This thread now has 32,210 views on the counter and I hope we have saved a few people from making this terrible mistake!
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  13. raymel1

    raymel1 New Member

    N. Central Indiana
    and the pricetag on this would be ???
  14. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    I don't know. Check with a local plumber who installs them.
    INHO only Bradford White, and Rheem/Ruud have the FVIR technology figured out!
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    I've been installing Rheem and Bradford White too.
    I thought you just put them in and forgot about them.
    I wouldn't bother with water heaters if they gave me the grief that this thread talks about.

    I've never installed a Whirlpool.
  16. got another whirlpool to change out

    Got another customer with a Cesspool water heater
    that I looked at on tuesday......

    a 2004 American Premere from Lowes ..... basically
    the exact same heater

    Another plumbing company in town went to lowes and
    bought one but now wont touch it and warranty it....

    and the store wont give them another one....

    So I get ot go out and install a Rheem and throw
    that dog in the trash tomorrow for about $650.00

    thank you American Water heaters.....

    you are the sunshine of my life.....

    keep up the good work http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  17. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    It goes both ways mark....
    A few days ago I had a call to repair a water heater...
    It turned out that it was one of those pieces of junk....
    I informed the customer that I don't repair Whirlpool water heaters...
    I replace them!

    I informed the customer of the reliability problems even with the fix and the customer was still hell bent on fixing it,:eek:

    The problem is that I have to guarantee my work...
    Its cheaper to replace it, then to build in enough to cover all the callbacks this POS would generate.
    I've got a reputation to consider too!

    Anyway the POS generated a wasted trip for me.:eek:

    Thats okay though... Who needs callbacks...
    Let the competition have them!:cool:

    I can't remember when the last callback I had on a Bradford White was...
  18. hotwater

    hotwater New Member

    will not admit defeat

    Long thread here for obvious reasons…:(
    Ok so not everyone who mistakenly was duped into joining this ever growing group can afford to replace the water heater they bought although some may be better off in the long run after paying the repair bills so I will stay with helpful fact rather than trying to tout a alternate brand.
    Although my next will most surly be a well researched reliable model…
    I myself bought one of the whirlpool crap lock heater 3/29/08 without first researching reliability ect. :mad:
    This is one of the new 50 gal BFG models they are actually no different than the original fg model with the exception of the thermal switch , a standard threaded thermocouple and the square view window .
    On 9/23/08 pilot would not stay lit.. Oh joy the fun begins.
    Tested the thermo couple and it checks out, it is well over the 17 milliamps required.
    So I remove the manifold assembly clean everything (not that any thing was in need including the suspect air intake screen).
    Replaced and lit. Seemed to work until the unit reached temp and shut the burner off … the pilot went out with it.
    So I assume the gas control valve is bad (no possible way a lack of air flow will cause that is there). :confused:
    I first try the 877 number on the tank and after getting suspiciously disconnected 3 times.
    I do a little research on the true manufacturer. As we all know by now it is American water heater inc.
    I found the direct line to them 800-999-9515 or 423-283-8000.
    I spent no time at all on hold explained my findings gave serial ect. And was shipped a new gas control overnight at no charge at all (they threw a extra thermo couple in the box just cause I guess). It arrived early today 9/24/08 almost too early for me at 7am.
    After a 15min install heater is up and running seemingly well. :)
    Like others have stated I don’t admit defeat easily and will take keeping it running as a challenge until it has lived to its warranty and then buy a new one.(not a whirlPOO thats for sure)
    I have made minor “enhancements “ to ensure the air flow I did this by “porting” the airflow to the “flame trap” up the side by 3’ using standard ducting parts and putting a filter there in easy reach to clean. cost = $23 and 45 min of my time (i can be verry creative)
    This was only possible while the tank was empty and I had a large friend to help me tip it to attach the lower pieces.
    Not something for everyone I’m sure but beat popping out view windows or loosening the manifold.
    Ill update if it goes out again
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2008
  19. bombjay

    bombjay New Member

    Good job. I think! Our shop was delivered 1 of these. No Wirlpool but an American WH brand.The owners are cheap. I warned them that they will sit untill they rust to the floor.Bradley White's or Rheems for us usually.We ended up with this cos' it was $75cheaper. Not even slighty worth it.
    Hotwater,good luck to you. I run a 30 year old WARDS w.h. thatI flush 2X a year and it hangs in just fine.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2008
  20. I really need to see a picture of this one

    The thermal switch will eventually fail you

    So you made minor enhancements ...huh?????

    it sounds very creative......

    I would just love to see these "enhancements"
    to make your brand new 08 Whirlpool heater work correctly....

    I have not had a good laugh yet today.....

    and also I would like to post your "enhancements"
    to make your brand new 08 heater work corrrectly to my web site..

    Please .....with all due respect..... post me a pic.

    and I will make your valiant efforts famous.......

    Your story will be like an epic fable ....like the knights of old

    a quest for the holy grail........

    ....handy man versus whirlpool water heater.
    ...will he slay this dragon ??????


    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
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