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

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

  1. MsBehavin

    MsBehavin New Member


    Did that. American Water Heater sent it to me at no charge. Just paid a plumber $100.00 and the friggin' thermocouple won't thread into the gas valve. Now I am on my way to SOMEPLACE to get another gas valve at my expense. Looks like no hot water this Christmas....:mad:
  2. theplumber

    theplumber Member

    The thermocouple on the new assy is standard thermocouple. The new valve should use a standard thermocouple. The AWH reverse threaded TC was a crappy idea in the first place. People would go to remove it and end up breaking the valve from accidentally tightening it. They should have sent you the valve with this new assy. There was a class action lawsuit out against these heaters. That's why they send out a whole new assy and valve to people now. If you add on to the lawsuit, all you can get out of it is $25.

    Anyone with these flamelock heaters needs to read their manuals. There's a page there telling you to clean the microscreen filter underneath the heater. That new assy u have w/ the fuse replaces the need for those reverse threaded thermocouples that initially were used on these waterheaters. These heaters were the worst idea ever. Think about if you have this in a smitty pan and the homeowner is an 80 yo widow.

    PS - you don't really have a huge selection of waterheaters these days. There's only about 3 companies making them. They just slap on a different skin on their units to sell them through different outlets. If you look at a Rheem from a wholesale house and a GE from Home depot you'll notice they use the exact same shell with the same air intake design. Just as every heater with that rectangular microscreen on the bottom of their heaters is made by the same company. They licensed that fuse w/ the reset button from B&W after the lawsuit. So it really doesn't matter where you get a waterheater, it matters who's design you unwittingly buy into.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  3. hondo21

    hondo21 New Member

    Here's my story: I have a natural gas BFG model (BFG1F4040S3NOV to be exact), purchased at Lowe's and installed 11/21/07 ($308). I had no hot water and found that pilot went out on 12/17/08. I couldn't get it to stay lit. So I called Whirlpool support and the Indian gentleman diagnosed that I needed a new gas valve/thermostat unit. I got one at Lowe's (with intention to send receipt for warranty reimbursement) and asked a friend who does HVAC and plumbing on the side to help me install it. Before doing that he thought the problem may be the dirt/lint around the intake on the bottom. After cleaning it up he got the pilot lit. But that night it was out again. I relit it and it worked for 3 days, then out again. He recommended I try a more thorough cleaning of the flame-trap, so I disconnected everything and opened up the manifold and thoroughly brushed the plate top and bottom and vacuumed it out. To be honest, it didn't look too bad (I had the external filter assembly installed originally). After reassembly I lit the pilot and it worked for 5 days. Now for several days I keep having to relight the pilot to heat the tank, and then it immediately goes out after a burn cycle. It's not always easy to get it to light though. I'm getting real familiar with the floor next to the waterheater as I depress the red button.

    So now, after finding this thread I wish I had a Bradford White, knowing the aggravation this has caused already and is likely to continue to cause due to the faulty design. But I'm not prepared to just scrap this beast and incur that expense at this time.

    1. Based on what I've read here I think at the least I need a new thermocouple. Can I get it at Lowe's since it's now just a standard (right-handed) version? Am I right to conclude that all the comments about Lowe's no longer carrying the part refer to the old left-handed version that doesn't apply to my newer model? Are the new ones pre-bent to shape?

    2. I still have the gas valve/thermostat unit in the box from Lowe's. I don't want to return it until I know it's not needed (and maybe I'll keep it even so and have Whirlpool reimburse me, just to have for the future). If installing a new thermocouple doesn't solve the problem, I could install the new gas valve too (with my friend's help on that part of it).

    3. Even though I already have the BFG model, could I get the kit from http://flamelocksupport.com/kits.aspx for $5 (scratch that - the ground shipping price went up to $8 since yesterday), even to have as a future backup on hand? They ask for your serial number - if mine corresponds to a "B" model would they decline to send me the kit?

    4. I'm tempted to remove the view window to improve chances of avoiding future problems, but am chicken of the safety implications, even though I have no nearby hazards of any kind.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  4. You're wasting your time on repairs of this heater


    I had sympathy in the beginning of your rant about your water heater, but to turn around and have 'faith' in a water heater that has a thread riddled with complaints,

    you certainly haven't found the good logic embedded by the professionals who've responded kindly to help those who have became victims of this product.

    Here's where this started:

    You like many others are price conscientous, that's what brought you to Lowe's as they covet the most inexpensive water heater along with installation. You're savings that produced the cheshire grin on your face was wiped clean when your savings got ditched at the door when the heater walked out of that store.

    You now have the luxury of being a water heater detective with free parts from whirlpool that they know has nothing but problems, and now they are not resisting on sending the parts out.

    You'll invest a lot of think time on this, your sanctity of wondering if your heater will fire, daily, will be something stuck in your mind because it simply isn't a reliable product. You know this from this thread and if you can't understand this logic,

    then by all means enjoy your fun replacing parts and troubleshooting a heater that should of never been built and sold.

    The smartest thing a consumer can do is ditch the saving of this sinking ship and buy a product that doesn't have such a high return of failure points.

    Nothing I'm going to say as a professional can get through people's skulls that your water heater is not special, and will take kindly to the new parts they send.

    So, playing the dumb card, I go ahead and tell people that I'll take your parts and put them on your POS heater, but I guarantee NOTHING.

    Last one I did was right before christmas, made $170 for 2 visits because the burner assembly didn't work, it was the gas valve.

    Good money earned and even though the heater is working currently, he's had to relight it twice since I installed.

    Guess which customer thinks about his water heater operating daily?

    You and him will own that same misery if you don't change your logical thinking pattern.

    This post is also designed to target anyone who comes across this post thinking they can "save" their coveted Whirlpool Water Heater thinking you have a chance of resurrecting the bad product line it follows.

  5. hondo21

    hondo21 New Member

    Thanks for your reply. I appreciate where you're coming from and the postings of all the professionals here. To respond to some of your points:

    1. After reading all the horror stories, believe me, I have no faith in or illusions of "saving" this water heater, and I don't think it's special. I fully realize that its design is flawed and it isn't reliable.

    2. While I do appreciate savings, that isn't why I purchased this water heater. On 11/21/07 my wife called to inform me that the water heater had broken (it was 10 years old and had never had a problem, but I was expecting it wouldn't last much longer). My friend, who does plumbing but not as a full-time profession, told me he could come over and install a new one late that afternoon if I went and picked it up. I also needed some new inlet piping and valves - the old ones leaked when shut off. So I left work and got the Whirlpool at Lowe's. I had no knowledge of these issues with the Whirlpools. While I'm generally a consumer who researches purchases first, in this case it was more a matter of getting it fixed quickly with a supposedly name-brand unit right before a holiday weekend. I sure don't remember walking out of Lowe's with any grin on my face.

    3. So now I've become educated, and would love to have a better unit installed and cut ties with the Whirlpool. BUT, that is a significant expense that I would rather avoid at this particular time. I fully realize that I may be in the same position again before long, but if I can replace a thermocouple for little or no cost under warranty and get another year of operation (I know, it may not last that long), that would be worth it to me. If it keeps crapping out too quickly then I can always replace it. Believe me, knowing what I do now I would not spend big bucks getting this repaired by a professional only to have it fail again. But if I can replace a part myself (or get a friend to help) without a big outlay, that is a different proposition.
  6. whosyer12

    whosyer12 New Member

    Get the kit (if they'll send it to you.) and install yourself. I'm 2+ months since install and (wood knocked) ok. A few posters have seemingly (without outright stating it) recommended knocking out the window. I didn't do that--but if it fails again--I'm sure gonna.

    Most, if not all, Lowe's stock the maniflod kit as well. I got one shipped to me from the Whirlpool toll free phone # AND went to Lo's and got one at the plumbing help desk---no receipt no questions asked. So I've already got my spare if needed.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Be Careful Lowes is Playing Tricks! Anything to Sell More Junk!

    I have noticed of late, fewer of the "Whirlpool" brand name water heaters on the shelves at Lowes and more of the other brand names of the American Water Heaters Company like American Proline, Envirotemp, Mor-Flo, Powerflex, Premier Plus and US Craftmaster. This is clearly an effort to further deceive the customers of Lowes as the word of the "Cesspool" debacle is finally having an impact on their sales...

    Same Junk just a different name!:mad:

    Rather than offer a quality product Lowes is pulling out all the stops and tricks to keep on selling defective products to their customers!

    "Lets Build Something Together"
    Yea Right!
    How about trying to rebuild the consumer trust they have lost!:mad:
  8. Lowes...bait and switch....


    I will have to mosey down to Lowes today and see what kind of dog doo they are selling now....

    no good.... no matter what name it is under....

    I cant understand what Lowes is thinking,,, and why they have not kicked that company out their door...

    If Lowes ever went to the GE line,
    their troubles would be over..

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  9. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Chicago, IL
    The only water heaters i will ever install is State, A O Smith, Bradford White and Lochinvar. I get home owners calling me to install one they bought at a hardware store, I refuse to install it for them. In the past I have installed these home owner bought heaters informing them there is no guarantee from me on the water heater what so ever. Do never listen, it fails they call screaming at me about its my duty to repair this under warranty for them. I also stand behind the policy of not installing home owner supplied parts, pumps, faucets and any other thing plumbing related.
  10. F9PRO

    F9PRO New Member

    I guess I should consider myself lucky that my Whirlpool FG water heater lasted 2 years 7 months before it died like many others have. Called Whirlpool customer support and talked so someone in India who was barely able to reply to my questions and the answers were from a scripted answer sheet. He could not answer a simple question...

    Was told I had to order and pay shipping on a "repair kit" that was a free upgrade. This seems to be a short term fix from reading other complaints. So no hot water, several day wait for a temp fix at best and really crappy customer service. So I purchased a Bradford White heater because I don't want to wait 3 more days for a part from Whirlpool. If they had half a brain they would stock the kit in the Lowes stores that sold the heaters...Maybe too simple of a solution... Seems that Whirlpool products have taken a severe turn downhill on quality. My less than 2 year old refrigerator has a broker ice maker too.


    Buying another heater paid off as I got the kit and same problem. The control valve is bad and it isn't worth it to try to fix it...
  11. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Brookfield, CT
    My turn - with a helpful tip - ALWAYS PRESS 1 when dialing the number on the tank

    I'm another Whirlpool/Lowes victim. Here are my grim facts:

    My model: BFG1F4040S3PV (40 gallon, propane)

    Dec 26, 2007 - purchased from Lowes in a hurry, after old tank of 20 years dies.

    Dec 30, 2008 - almost exactly 1 year - no hot water. Pilot light won't stay lit. Later that evening, astonished to discover all the thousands of complaints. Kicking myself. Call the 800 number on the heater - they're closed.

    Dec 31 - I call again, and EVEN THOUGH my model begins in BFG instead of FG - I PRESS ONE ANYWAY - it takes me directly to the line for American Water Heaters - no one from India. He sends me a NEW VALVE and WAIVES THE SHIPPING CHARGE - he says - because it's so new. I was expecting to pay for shipping, so this is a pleasant surprise.

    Dec 31 - more - I call the number to schedule a tech - it's Sears. They won't make an appointment until the part is in hand. Screw it, I'm not waiting to get the part just to make an appointment - I'll do it myself.

    Jan 2 - New Valve arrives. They didn't send a thermocouple, interestingly. But it fires up, so I guess I didn't need one. It's all right-handed thread, so everything goes according to plan.

    Today, I still have nice hot water. I'm continuously checking the pilot - yup, still lit. I'll be doing this daily for awhile.

    My game plan: I have low expectations, so I expect this to fail again, and I'll do this over. I will tolerate one more cycle of this. On the third, I will pursue a refund of my money from Lowe's and get a new one.

    Like another one of the posters, I kind of get a satisfaction from tinkering with these things, so that offsets some of the aggravation.

    Thanks everyone for posting this incredible epic thread.
  12. PROPANE WHIRLPOOL PARTS...that takes guts...

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  13. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Brookfield, CT
    Point taken, Mark, not offended.

    Certainly I soaked all my propane connections in leak bubble test fluid - all looked good to start, but I had bubbles after 10 minutes on the connections to the valve (manifold tube and pilot tube). My own connections from the source were fine.

    Interestingly the instructions say NOT to use thread sealant on the connections to the valve. So, I got the best leverage I could and cranked out another quarter turn out of each - re-tested twice - no bubbles.

    I was a bit scared of over-tightening - it was way more torque than I'd normally be comfortable with, but I got the result. Wish they could have designed it with quasi-normal LP fittings, that you can just put TFE paste on and not have to worry about these delicate fittings.

    Now that I think of it -- you're right, I wouldn't put this job in the hands of your average DIY-guy. It took a pretty diligent leak-hunt to fix everything correctly.

    As for Whirlpool worried about being sued - I think their business decision making process is crystal clear to everyone by now -- the sheer volume and profit margins on these pieces of crap outweighs a lot of outcomes, including the class action settlement. Scary to think about.
  14. hondo21

    hondo21 New Member

    Just to follow up on my situation noted above ...

    I had been able to manually relight the pilot on my BFG unit and get hot water each time, but then the pilot always went out after the burn was over.

    I went to Lowe's and bought two thermocouples (about $7 each), figuring to keep one as a spare. I replaced the old thermocouple and put it all back together. Same behavior. So now I'm thinking there must be something wrong with the gas valve/thermostat after all. I drained the tank and my plumbing-experienced friend came over and helped me install the stat unit I had previously picked up at Lowe's. He had the nice big box wrench that enabled us to turn the whole unit.

    After installation, we still couldn't get the pilot to stay lit. In fact, it was even harder to light it. We took the manifold out again and inspected it. Everything looked good. Hooked up the pilot tube and lit the pilot external to the water heater to inspect the flame. The flame clearly was hitting the thermocouple, which was also properly seated and connected. Not knowing what else it could be we replaced the new thermocouple with the second new one. We also took pliers and gently squeezed the pilot assembly to move the spark unit and pilot slightly closer to the thermocouple.

    Success! This one works fine and stays lit. I guess the first thermocouple was bad right out of the bag. Either that or the slight adjustment with the pliers helped somehow, but I really doubt that since it didn't move much at all. So the gas control/thermostat unit probably didn't need be replaced. Too late, we weren't about to drain the tank and put the old one back. I'll just keep it as a spare and I'll send the receipt in to Whirlpool for a warranty claim for both it and one thermocouple, and return the faulty new thermocouple to Lowes for refund.

    Problem solved? Hopefully for the time being, but I intend to keep a thermocouple on hand for the expected future replacement need. If it happens too soon or too frequently I'll replace the water heater.

    After doing it three times, I can say that removing and replacing that manifold unit is kind of a pain by the way. Trying to line up the both screws with the holes is difficult when you can't see them. They should have a better connecting method with fixed bolt posts or something that remains in place to ensure a quick and easy connection.

    If nothing else, this has been an education and I'll be prepared to get a better water heater next time around.
  15. hondo21,

    I wasn't expecting you to have problem with your whirlpool flamelock water heater, so soon. ;)

    I have to ask, as you've confirmed you've read my red print,

    how many hours do you have invested in this water heater to keep it operable at this point?

    Cuz I was gonna say,

    when you get up to around 8, you qualify for an authorized Whirlpool Heater Associate. :D Plenty of job security with that title! No chance of a happy customer, either! :eek:
  16. hondo21

    hondo21 New Member

    Ha. I don't think I'm up to 8 hours quite yet. Probably only about 3 to 4 hours of actual "repair" time. But if I count all the times laying on the floor to manually relight the pilot and travel time to Lowe's, it's probably getting close.

    Maybe they'll issue me a uniform like the Maytag Repair Man. :)

  17. Wearing the Whirlpool name on your shirt will most likely get you shot in a Lowe's parking lot, wrapped with a red vest like they wear and sent off in a shopping cart for proper burial.

    I'm tellin' ya; there's a whole lot of angry people over this product.
  18. tyler99

    tyler99 New Member

    I'll Join for 4

    I put an UG2F404T3NV in a rental to replace the 8yr old one that was still working so I wouldn't have any problems with new tenants. It's been 7 months and the pilot stopped working making the new tenants really upset. Talking to India there going to have a new gas valve delivered today. I'm wondering if I should install it or try to call Whirlpool and get service. Anyone have the Whirlpool number handy?
    Where do I sign up for the class action suit? I'll probably lose renters over this.
    Great help on this site, thanks
  19. drayjr

    drayjr New Member

    Whirlpool Flame Lock gas valve/thermostat

    I have been having issues with this water heater for quite some time (model # FG1F3030S3NOV). The problem seems to be with the gas valve/thermostat. The BFG conversion kit has had to be installed (according to Lowe's and Whirlpool this would fix everything). Needless to say, it did not work. Then I was told that the flame trap must be dirty or clogged. This was not the case due to fact that the heater was place on blocks when installed just for the purpose of cleaning the flame trap which would have been almost impossible to access otherwise. After the kit did not take care of the problem, I changed the gas valve and immediately had a pilot light after just a few seconds of holding down that blasted red button. I just recently had to change the gas valve again (item #6910555) for the second time, after having to repeatedly light the pilot light over a period of 3 months to the point that it finally would not light at all. And yes it is exactly the same as the first replacement so I can figure on about 6 months to one year of hot water before I have to replace it again. In my case, it had nothing to do with the thermocouple, or the flame trap, or the conversion kit, as I was initially told by Whirlpool. The good news is...Whirlpool ground shipped me the gas valve this time at no cost, however I was told this would only be a one time shipment (this just tells me that they have not rectified the problem and fully expect it to happen again). They were extremely accomodating this time (kind of scary since this has not been their norm). So if anyone is still having problems you might want to call Whirlpool and see if they will ship you a gas valve as well. Even if you don't need it now.....you will eventually.
  20. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    I'm going to say the solution once again!

    As you read through these threads time and time again you hear the tale of how the "repair" kit was installed and it either did not work or, failed again after a short period of time.

    The only known cure is to remove the Cesspool Water Heater from service and replace it with a Bradford-White or, Rheem Water Heater.

    It's that simple!
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