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

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

  1. What I can't understand is why somebody will join, read this entire thread or the majority of it,


    and still have "hope" that their heater is "special" and that they'll pat it on side and hope it keeps working.



    At some point of reasonable thinking aside from the cost perspective and peace of mind, you pull that hammer back, aim and shoot at the half dead animal on the side of the road,

    and put the whole thing out of its misery.

    Nobody gets a cookie for limping your piece of junk whirlpool heater along till the voice of "CHUCK or BILL" from India brings any sense of hope or promise listening to him authorizing parts from halfway around the world.


    I gotta stop...lol.
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    It is because no one wants to believe the "Deal" they got wasn't....or that a big company like the big box stores would sell a piece of junk...it does not compute...
  3. gpb

    gpb New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Texas
    Anyone seen an increase in natural Gas bill?

    My husband installed the Whirlpool Flamelock "enhancement" kit some time in November 2008. I opened our gas bill for 11/31/08 to 12/31/08. It had tripled. We were gone 10 days of that period as well. We have gas heat, but in 15 years, we have never had a bill that high and we both like the house cool - around 69 in the winter.

    The only thing that has changed was the replacement of that part in that Whirlpool water heater.

    Has this happened to anyone else?

    Thanks.
  4. Wall to Wall Woods

    Wall to Wall Woods New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Wooster, Ohio
    The Dreadful Whirlpool Water Heater

    I installed the "T/C Enhancement Kit" myself and all went well. I also had great service with all whom I spoke with on the phone. However, I did make the mistake of ordering the kit "Next Day" for $20 at (http://www.flamelocksupport.com/kits.aspx) on Thursday evening expecting to receive it Friday. Wrong! I would not get it until Monday as they placed the shipment order on Friday. (order before 3:00 pm). The lady I spoke with said that I could place an additional order "Saturday Delivery" for $30 as long as I did it by 3:00pm (it is now Friday morning). I then called other Lowe's stores near my location and found the kit I needed (Type A). They said they would put my name on it and leave it at the service desk. It was a 40 mile one hour drive (very bad weather) but the kit was FREE! Great, now I can get started!


    I started on it Saturday morning and encountered only one problem. This kit is fairly easy to install as long as you follow the instructions provided. However, the one problem I ran into was installing the 1/4 inch pilot tube and compression fitting into the valve. The fitting did not hold the line in! Oh S**T!!! This fitting is a one time shot as you will not find it in any hardware store! Here is a very helpful tip: When installing this fitting, the instructions tell you to: (1)screw the fitting into the valve finger tight only at first(this is correct) (2)push the 1/4 inch pilot line up into the fitting all the way until it comes to a dead stop(wrong)...this is actually correct but, when you tighten the fitting while holding the line in, you should back the line away from the dead stop no more than 1/16 of an inch. This allows the line some space to move forward a little when you tighten the fitting. (I believe that when I held the line to a dead stop and tightened the fitting, the line had no space to move as the fitting clamped onto the line. Therefore, when drawing the fitting up tight, the line broke free from the fitting as it had no space to move once clamped into the fitting. (I tried to explain this the best I could!)


    1st pic: Gas valve with everything removed..........
    [​IMG]

    2nd pic: empty Combustion Chamber..........
    [​IMG]
    3rd pic: Burner assembly..........
    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2009
  5. Wall to Wall Woods

    Wall to Wall Woods New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Wooster, Ohio
    The dreaded Whirlpool Water Heater!

    I installed the "T/C Enhancement Kit" myself and all went well. I also had great service with all whom I spoke with on the phone. However, I did make the mistake of ordering the kit "Next Day" for $20 at ( http://www.flamelocksupport.com/kits.aspx ) on Thursday evening expecting to receive it Friday. Wrong! I would not get it until Monday as they placed the shipment order on Friday. ( order before 3:00 pm ). The lady I spoke with said that I could place an additional order "Saturday Delivery" for $30 as long as I did it by 3:00pm (it is now Friday morning). I then called other Lowe's stores near my location and found the kit I needed (Type A). They said they would put my name on it and leave it at the service desk. It was a 40 mile one hour drive (very bad weather) but the kit was FREE! Great, now I don't have to spend another $30 and can get started on it today!


    I started on it Saturday morning and encountered only one problem. This kit is fairly easy to install as long as you follow the instructions provided. However, the one problem I ran into was installing the 1/4 inch pilot tube and compression fitting into the valve. The fitting did not hold the line in! Oh S**T!!! This fitting is a one time shot as you will not find it in any hardware store! Here is a very helpful tip: When installing this fitting, the instructions tell you to: (1)screw the fitting into the valve finger tight only at first(this is correct) (2)push the 1/4 inch pilot line up into the fitting all the way until it comes to a dead stop(wrong)...this is actually correct but, when you tighten the fitting while holding the line in, you should back the line away from the dead stop no more than 1/16 of an inch. This allows the line some space to move forward a little when you tighten the fitting. (I believe that when I held the line to a dead stop and tightened the fitting, the line had no space to move as the fitting clamped onto the line. Therefore, when drawing the fitting up tight, the line broke free from the fitting as it had no space to move once clamped into the fitting. I hope you understand what I,m talking about(I tried to explain this the best I could!).....I did get lucky and managed to find a way to reuse the fitting which failed. Wheeewwwww!!! It is now Sunday morning at this time and I have hot water!!! Oh.....and I still have the other kit still on the way Monday morning also! I would be glad to help anyone with any questions concerning this particular model (fg1f4040s3nov)! ( guitarzan_brad@yahoo.com )...............





    Here are a few more pictures to check out.

    1st pic: Gas valve with everything removed..........
    [​IMG]

    2nd pic: empty Combustion Chamber..........
    [​IMG]

    3rd pic: Burner assembly..........
    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2009
  6. edgrimly

    edgrimly New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Pain in the butt bolts

    The original housing at least let you take the bolts out and then you could see the mating holes through the housing. The new one came with clips to keep the bolts in the holes so you cannot see what your doing. Guess if your a trained Whirlpoo tech you don't need to see what your doing, just aim and screw it up.
  7. edgrimly

    edgrimly New Member

    Messages:
    6

    So are you two gonna foot the next "Water Heater Bailout bill"?

    I think most everyone on here (customers not businesses) bought the Whirlpoo because it was a name they knew and a name grown to trust. Unfortunately there are companies that buy up these names and then sell JUNK under the trusted name. So then the poor suckers (me included) come here and try to find out information (17 pages of it) only to be jumped on for thinking that maybe just maybe they can salvage the 300+ bucks they just lost. In today's economy it is hard to get that 300 back again. OF COURSE the next time we buy we will be getting something more substantial but who in their right mind would have thought at first glance Whirlpool was not substantial? First indicator should have been that it was at LOWES but hey, who wants the high pressure sales in a heating and cooling/plumbing shop? I just want a water heater and go home. That and Lowes is open when I can get there and do not need to take time off of work cause I really need the extra money to pay for the water heater... Personally I have been taken to the cleaners by more heating/cooling guys then I have by Lowes.

    Tell you what, next time you get the urge to state your "solution" again, maybe you can tell us all exactly how you would do this without just throwing this FG (or BFG) thing into a truck and dumping it into the bay (or pulling a trigger so to speak). How could we maybe get something out of Lowes or American that we can actually use towards buying a Bradford White (whose name will be forever in my mind from reading your solution after every post). Think about it as if it were YOUR money you were throwing away, think as if YOU were a customer.

    p.s. It is NOT in my nature to give up on a problem. I like to figure it out for myself and take pride in my work. If I had listened every time someone told me to just give up and throw something away I would be a much poorer man now. I believe you must be the same way otherwise you would not even be on here. And yes I do take it personal that you think we are all idiots.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Ed,

    Believe me I understand your situation! I wouldn't like being in your position either! Sometimes you just have to be a realist though and in the case of these water heaters the design is flawed and American Water Heaters is not offering a solution. They have adopted the position of offereing 1/2 hearted "solutions" that fail to address the real issue of airflow into the burner, while they continue to offer and sell the flawed merchandise through Lowes resorting even to the trickery of substituting differend brand names of the same defective design. Until they either redesign the water heater to truly fix it or, pull it from the market there is no solution.

    Put yourself in my shoes... I get called to go to a house and fix something that can't be fixed. I install the factory kit and it seems to work I write out the bill, get paid and leave. The problem is now that I own this water heater. I guarantee my work 6 months on repairs. Now several days later you call me back and the water heater is not working yet again. I'm fixing it for free! How many times in the next 6 months? Sorry! I know about the problem and all I can do is say what I say here! I have to work and make a profit in order to make a living. I cannot substidize the deceiteful business practices of American Water Heaters and Lowes. All I can do is call a spade a spade and hope that enough people see it that the future victims will be limited.

    If I were you I'd pull that junker out and deliver it to Lowes and loudly state your case and demand your money back! They are the ones who continue to smile and bank the profits as they "build something together with you" then point to the sticker on the water heater that says not to return it to Lowes but call American Water Heaters India help line!
  9. Evo_guy

    Evo_guy New Member

    Messages:
    1
    If you were to take your hotwater heater back to Lowe's (and I mean physically have it there with you), Lowe's will call me at Whirlpool and I will authorize an RA#.....but you have to have the tank with you.

    Also, if your plumber/technician says you need a new one, they can fax over to Whirlpool their recommendation to replace, and we will follow through.
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Does that mean thay they will be getting a "nice new" Whirlpool water heater or, they will get cash back so they can get a good water heater installed?:cool:
  11. hussy250f

    hussy250f New Member

    Messages:
    1
    I bought a Whirlpool Flamelock, LPG , 1 year ago from Lowes. The old B.W. blew a leak late on a Saturday, Lowes is nearby, blah blah blah. This new one went out about 3 weeks ago.
    To shorten this post up I'll say that the thermocouple is fine, checked with a multimeter during lightup, and I have a clean flash arrestor in the bottom of the unit. I also checked for voltage before and after the "circuit breaker" located below and to the right of the gas valve, 22mv in (black wire), 19mv out (white wire).
    Lowes did not have a LPG valve in stock, and most of the local plumbing supply places only carried the normal "I could care less" looks.
    I called the # on the water heater, got them to send me a new gas valve, under warranty, so no cost to me. The new valve would not be in for a few days because this took place on a Friday. So I pulled the gas valve out of my old B.W. water heater, all the connections lined up and she fired right up even with the old thermocouple in place.
    All I had to do was adjust the burner pressure down a bit to eliminate the slight yellow flickers off the ends of the burner flames, the yellow was not present when the Flamelock was in operation before this.
    This past weekend I pulled apart the original Flamelock gas valve to see how the pilot circuit is setup. I found out that the white wire from the "circuit breaker" runs up into the temperature sensing element that protrudes into the tank and thru what I figure is a thermistor that must cut off the pilot circuit at some really high water temperature.
    I'm figuring the thermistor breaks down internally over time and the pilot won't stay lit. When I get the time I'm going to try and rig up a test stand to put a controlled
    heat source on the temperature sensing probe of the gas valve and see if the mv signal to the pilot circuit drops after a bunch of on / off cycles.
    I would have to say the the problem I am diagnosing is centered in the RobertShaw gas valve and not the flash arrestor like some people here are saying. When I first started to lose the pilot, upon restart the burner would light right up and burn all blue flames, no yellow at all, stay "burner on" all thru a heat up cycle, shut off and then I could see the pilot slowly lose gas till it also died. I'm pretty sure if the main burner can work at all the pilot will not be starved for air between heat cycles, so pulling out the glass or drilling some holes in the unit won't help.
    I don't know if the new gas valve has any changes from my original, but they do look identical. That would explain why the "upgrade" kits seem to have the same problem down the road. The thermistor in the temperature sensing tube would be the quick fix AWH and RobertShaw came up with to replace the left hand threaded thermocouple on the early models.I think I saw in a picture somewhere that left hand thermocouple had a bulge in the tubing back a bit from the coupling head.
    Maybe if an AWH or RobertShaw employee is going thru this pile of post they can look into this.
    And no, I still have not changed to the new gas valve.
    I might just remove the sensing tube first to see if they changed that thermistor to a different spec part. Shes' still working fine with old B.W. gas valve.

  12. No wonder you haven't been back after two posts, calling your own product "hotwater heater". :confused:


    Talk about a sad state of affairs for all parties involved. :(


  13. But apparently you take me for an idiot. Want me to prove it?


    I've been in the biz too long to know why so many of these heaters are being installed,

    PRICE.

    They are the cheapest on the market, that's why you go there. Now, it doesn't stop at Lowe's,


    this tracks to Home Quarters, aka the Craftmaster.


    Before then, Furrows, and Central Hardware.


    Customers going after the rock bottom price on a heater and they found it. Whoopee, want a gold star for that?


    So you have people that don't have a effing clue to how a water heater operates, they just know the damn thing makes them feel good in the shower or on their hands, that's about it. Everything else is "Oh look honey, you can save $50 by going to Lowe's."

    I'll say it again; the MAJORITY were driven to LOWES FOR PRICING, not quality, not brand name, not warranty. PRICE.

    It's always about the price because every time I have to work on these damn things, I have to hear "Well I don't have a lot of money to fix this, how much is this going to cost" attitudes like it's my damn fault you made a stupid buying decision. Not so compadre. I didn't buy my logic in the sunday's sales flyer with your morning coffee and donut after church.


    I can't even get customers of mine to join together and file a lawsuit...they got hot water! At least for the current moment, why waste all that time?


    I CYA myself real well; I used to dump these service calls on these heaters and now I got smart:

    Get those free parts, I'll put them in...but I'm not guaranteeing **** because I've done my job as a licensed plumber in trying to enforce logic and understanding over the phone that "you'll eventually rip this piece of crap out of your home, sooner than later" mentality and once again, the consumer fails at thinking knowledgeably and instructs me to part the unit together.

    It almost always goes bad again, given the customer calling me back days/weeks/months later that somehow it's my fault it broke again? Screw you! I did my job, so did chuck or bill, larry from india...

    you just didn't listen to reason when the product failed and it went into the twilight zone of repair after repair after repair.

    It's plausible when a product has one, maybe two problems that relates to product dissatisfaction, but this heater takes the crown for having multiple problems and the answers aren't found in free parts whether at the store OR from the India hotline of hot water love. :D


    So to end this ongoing rant of mine once again, I feel sympathy for anyone who makes the call to listen to my words when I'm asking them to believe me that the poor buying decision started this mess.

    We all know big box stores don't offer the "best" product reliability when it comes to these products...otherwise there wouldn't be such a gap between the businesses that sell them exclusively.

    When I see a Lowe's water heater, I see somebody trying to save a buck. I've been at this too long to see anything else. Most would call their plumber, let the plumber get their own heater from a supply house...


    but apparently some like to get their product from the big business model of

    "We care about you until our product breaks, and you'll still buy from us no matter how little we care."
  14. PeteV

    PeteV New Member

    Messages:
    4
    flamelock

    I came up with my own solution. If my photo comes up OK, it will show that I wrapped aluminum foil around the thermocouple. This was to reduce the effect of rapid fluctuations of flame and temperature on it. I did this over a year ago and have not had a problem since. This is the second replacement of the original t.c. I will assume that if there is a real big flame or fire that the flamelock will work. If there are those that say I shouldn't have tampered with it, I dont give a c>>p, I am entitled to hot water and not having to run all over finding thermocouples. It seems that Lowes doesnt even carry it anymore. The purpose of my writing this is the hope that it may alleviate this problem for those who try it. Best of Luck. Pete

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2009
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Terry Love Plumbing & Remodel DIY ask, advice & help forum
    Ask your everyday plumbing questions. Get help, answers and advice, DIY welcome.

    Just changed it.

    Most of the time, it's pretty even keeled.
    There are a few times when people but heads, that's true.
    It's supposed to be a "treat each other with kindness" type of thing.
    But sometimes the claws come out too.

    I suppose some of it, is the way we were trained in the business.
    Most of us were hammered a bit, to see if we would quit before they were done training us. It's a hard habit to quit sometimes.
    They mean well, and sometimes, someone just walks into a long lasting argument, that the newcomer hasn't been aware of.
    There is a lot of good information though, and they do have a sense of humor. Sometimes you just need hit them up alongside the head and get their attention. But it's never boring.
  16. max432

    max432 New Member

    Messages:
    11

    Just curious. What do you think of people that would go to Sears for a water heater? I doubt that I would go to a DIY center for a water heater but in the past I have used Sears because I have always been happy with their appliances and the plumber they sent to install my water softner did an excellent job. I am the type that likes to see and touch the product before I buy. Price is important but not number 1 on my list. I want the "best value" which is seldom the lowest price.
  17. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I think most plumbers are installing Rheem and Bradford White.

    And from reading this thread, some are repairing Whirlpool installations done by others.

  18. I encourage it. For one reason, customers have a credit card with sears. Also, sears usually tags a longer warranty on their product than the original mfg.


    Not all plumbers like dealing with Sear's products, I'm a rareity. I have enough of them under my belt to say that if they were chronically defective, I'd be bashing them right here because they was costing me money.

    You yourself might be one of the "best value" hunters out there, but I'm experiencing the exact opposite whenever I come across these Whirlpool heaters. It is the cheapest one out there, just like it was at HQ, Builders Square, Central Hardware, Furrows.

    Seeing and touching the product is exactly why my customers usually always have faucets and disposals, toilets already there at the home for me to install because they got their hands on it firsthand. It's all good by me; if it malfunctions I'm sitting right there charging for the downtime.


    We are both on the same wavelength on this topic.
  19. whosyer12,




    Let's take away that I'm smart, and let us say I'm just well informed. I'm like the constantly drunk uncle that you have to invite to the family gatherings even though he's like a ticking time bomb sitting on the couch, everybody stays away from him because if you talk to him, anything is capable of happening and the statements are as disturbing as Rosie ODonnell's underwear. :eek:

    Informed is meaning I'm becoming a catch all for this product. I've went from avoiding working on them to taking the money because I can't convince people to dump the product. It's horrible.

    Whose side do you think I'm on...Whirlpool? I've been around this thread for a long time, I've watched it grow, and as of late, I'm heavily throwing my opinion out there for all to see because NOTHING is changing with the victims of this product.

    They want to keep throwing parts at this, keep laying down every night wondering if they'll have hot water in the morning. Now I'm taking a different approach, ridiculing the notion that this is logical thinking on behalf of the property owner. I'll hear the "I'm broke" excuse, or "I'll just see what happens" mentality.

    With what I know, the angry customers that call me furious at Lowes and Whirlpool, why would you think that I care what a solo voice has to say about my rhetoric. Track my posts and you'll see that I offer my advice to those I feel deserve it. Being criticized means as much to me as getting thanked.

    Just remember that my poor attitude you've characterized me by has everything to do with the DIY/homeowner not coming to the plate to get away from this product when it clearly is riddled with more problems than fixes. If you're one of those diehards that wants to stick by your $350 investment, have at it.....because this product isn't a very expensive product in the big picture.

    I can't see how the average person would take as much effort, deal without hot water, inconvenience their family out of stubbornness.

    One example; dishwasher. Costs the same and after one repair people will chuck it, get rid of it. It just makes plain sense. This water heater though because it's big and clean, looks important, seems like people are looking for the hardship, and that points back to my statement about people driven by price.

    The buying choice has robbed the person of a once "good deal". You shouldn't be ragging me, you should be praising me for trying to bring this out in the open.

    How many Whirlpool heaters have you repaired whosyer12?

    What did you tell them, how did you respond to the first, third, 42nd phone call when the person on the other end of the phone is upset that their less than 30 month old heater is not working anymore.
  20. biking_brian

    biking_brian New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Southern California
    I have a Whirlpool UG model that I bought in 5/08. The pilot light problems started 1/09, just 8 months later.

    I called the toll free number and someone from Johnson City suggested that I check the current on the thermocouple. The thermocouple was OK.

    Then I found this thread - and although I've only read pages 13 through 18, I've decided I'm not going to waste my time ordering replacement gas valves, etc., when I know that in the end I'm going to get a new water heater anyway. I just need to buy some time while I try to get a refund. Any advice for keeping the water heater limping along in the meantime?

    BTW, the one point I take issue with in this thread is the notion that most of us bought these water heaters just to save a buck. In my area the choices are Home Depot, Lowes, or call a plumber. Although I was in a hurry to get a new water heater put in to keep the family happy, I figured it was a simple enough DIY project to not have to pay a plumber. So that left Home Depot or Lowes, and from past experience with other products, they both carry trusted brand names of comparable quality. So it boiled down to me just happening be closer to Lowes that day.
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