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

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

  1. jrigal

    jrigal New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    louisiana
    Reread my post. I DON'T want to keep it. I refuse to bypass the thermofuse with a jumper as my plumber suggested. Every time I call him and express my frustration, he insists I'd be wasting a water heater by replacing it. I've known him forever and he's been plumbing for 30+ years. He's always been very reasonable and does great work. I think he thinks he's helping me save money by suggesting the jumper. He says with the other two safeties, the thermofuse isn't necessary. I posted just to get clarification on the purpose of the third safety (thermofuse).

    I'll end up doing it myself. I've just never done a lot with gas lines, so I've been kinda leary.
  2. ZZZ

    ZZZ New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Missouri
    FVIR was designed after a lady allowed her 4 year old son to play in the garage and he found a gas can and poured it on the floor. The ensuing fire resulted in his death, and she tirelessly campaigned Congress until a solution? was found in the form of FVIR.

    The way it is supposed to work is by the fact that a flame will not travel through a fine screen. You will see this screen on the expensive "safety gas cans" that have been made for decades. It is a well known principal.

    When the flammable vapors are drawn up through the screen and ignite in the combustion chamber of the water heater, there is no way for the flame to travel back out to the source of the vapors. The heat of the burning vapors will trip the thermal switch or fuse and shut down the water heater. It does this by interupting the 30 millivolt signal from the thermocouple (simulating a pilot failure) and shutting down the gas valve. There is nothing special about the valve or thermocouple, except for the left hand thread used for a short time by Whirlpool.

    A clogged screen will cause insufficient oxygen, and an oxygen starved flame will produce carbon monoxide which will mostly go up the flue. The starved flame will also produce a lot of soot which will stick to the metal surfaces in the heat exchanger tube, causing poor heat transfer and wasted utilities. This is in addition to the gas which is wasted because it can't be completely burned without excess oxygen in the combustion chamber. Even after correcting the cause, the soot will remain until physically removed.

    A clogged screen will cause poor drafting and the combustion chamber will get excessively hot, this will cause the thermal limit will trip before the heat exchanger tube is fouled with soot, if you're lucky.

    Whirlpool doesn't care. When they purchased Maytag in 2007 for 1.8 Billion dollars, they immediately fired all 7,000 USA employees and moved the factories overseas. They also raided the pension funds for those workers.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Water heaters are listed by GAMA ( the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association), AGA ( American Gas Association) and possibly UL.....as to design, safety features, etc. ANY modification of the water heater MUST be designed and provided by the manufacturer, and installed by a factory approved technician. I cannot disagree more with the plumbers frankly glib assertion that you have two safety devices and the third is not needed.

    A search on the internet will turn up MANY photos and videos of houses BLOWN TO BITS by gas and water heater issues. Even myth busters launched one! A ten year old water heater ( especially Whirlpool) is not worth spending what it would cost, or even what you have already spent, to repair properly. At this point, call Whirlpool and see if they will provide a new burner assembly and gas valve free of charge. You will still probably have to pay the factory approved repair tech to install it..

    As you can tell, we do get our dander up about gas and water heaters, because we have seen the results of improper maintenance and installation.

    [video=youtube;9bU-I2ZiML0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bU-I2ZiML0[/video]

    http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/videos/exploding-water-heater.htm
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2013
  4. jrigal

    jrigal New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    louisiana
    I did see that mythbusters episode (which has more to do with the pop off failing). Thanks for the FVIR info, I looked it up and got a better understanding. Admittedly, I don't know much about water heaters, but I guess my question is more about the little white thermofuse. If all water heaters are required to have the screen to prevent a flame coming through, I assume the thermofuse is to detect a problem there. So how are other water heaters better? Different style thermofuse?

    And don't get me wrong, I absolutely hate this water heater and will never buy another Whirlpool water heater. I will be replacing it soon. I was just curious.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    In the basic design to compy with the then-new ( 2003) FVIR rules, Rheem and Bradford White got it right, and A.O. Smith ( American, Craftmaster, State, Reliant, Whirpool, Sears, etc) got it WRONG. Their design had filter screens which clog with lint and cause overheating if not cleaned twice a year. I think the thermal fuse integral with the original left hand thermocouple had to do with this. The other brands have a design which does not clog, is maintenance-free for the life of the heater, and in general did not suffer any of the myriad problems which have plaqued the AO Smith models. I am not familiar with what they are actually producing today. Somewhat improved, I assume.

    Did I ever have an "accident" with a water heater??? YES. It involved a can of spray paint, and yes those fumes can ignite!!!! Fortunately, no injury and no serious damage, but it could have been worse! You do develop a healthy respect!
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,929
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    A local story about a painter in a garage laquering woodwork with the garage doors closed.
    When he went to plug in the compressor, it sparked at the plug, exploding the vapors in the garage, and throwing the painter through the garage door with burns all over his body.


    My story in California. 1991
    I picked up a motor home from the dealer, just filled the LP tank. I open the window from the drivers seat, and tell them there is a gas leak inside the vehicle.
    They very firmly told me the gas had just been worked on, and that I was wrong.

    Drove it to the in-laws, they wanted me to sleep in it that night. I explained to them, there was no way I would risk my life sleeping in a motor home with a gas leak.
    My father in-law and brother in-law proceeded to start lighting burners on the stove, the entire time me telling them to stop. Finally they lowered the oven door, and that's when it exploded.
    I went and hooked up a garden hose and started puitting out the fire, but not before there was $6,000 in damage to the motorhome.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  7. JB74

    JB74 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Kansas
    Add me to the list of Whirlpoo haters...

    Son says last night that the water is all freezing cold. Realize the pilot light is out and start dinking with it all evening. After some research (but not enough at the time)... I come to the conclusion that it's either the thermocouple or the valve. No biggee me thinks... something I can easily fix... will just pick up a new thermocouple while I'm out the next day. "What?... left threaded thermocouple's don't exist anymore?... I have to call Whirlpoo exclusively to rectify this?... WHAT THE FLIP????" Lowe's (where this FG model was bought in 2005) tells me that there "used to be a kit, but they don't have them anymore!" and can't seem to tell me if the BFG valve can be used in it's place.

    Sooooo, I call the Whirlpoo customer service line... and ask how to make the new BFG valve work with a new right-threaded thermocouple?... figuring that there's gotta be a way to get it fixed within 24 hours so the missus is happy that we're not going to be going another night without hot water. "Oh, that cannot be done," says the lady at Whirlpoo... "we have to send you a special kit"... "the BFG valve won't work because your existing manifold does not have the sensor the new valve has to hook to!" Okay, whatever... at this point, if they'd have just over-nighted whatever it all needed and made this right, I would've been happy, but when the lady told me it would be $34.95 because I was no longer under warranty, I had enough and came absolutely unglued! THE H*LL I'M PAYING THEM ANOTHER SINGLE CENT FOR SOMETHING WITH KNOWN PROBLEMS AND CLASS ACTION SUITS THAT OTHERS GOT FIXED FOR NOTHING!!!!! At that point I just said I'll get a new hot water heater that WON'T be a Whirlpoo product and hung up on her! Funny, she had my contact info... and have I heard anything whatsoever from Whirlpoo to make this right?... NOPE, ZIP, NADA... @$$holes!

    Sooooo, irritated enough that I'm not about to screw with the darn thing any further myself... and bound & determined to have hot water before 24 hours had went by (I'm not a patient person with such things)... I'll just pay for somebody to put in a whole new stinking water heater. This had become a principal thing now! Repair tech shows up within 45 minutes and proceeds to tell me he can fix it for "half the price of a new one" and produces a whole spanking new manifold that supposedly "wasn't" locally available according to the Whirlpoo morons. Gee, if it was something only THEY could provide... why did my local repair tech have one?... hmmm? Grrrrrrr!

    With the research I've done since the tech left and after watching what he did... I'm pretty certain I could've somehow done it all myself and saved some more money... if the Whirlpoo chick had just been a tiny bit more helpful instead of demonstrating her and her company's stupidity!!!! If there was a way to legally take it outta Whirlpoo's hide in blood, I'd be doing it. The greedy bastards owe it to me and everyone else I'm seeing posting out here on the internet! :mad:

    We all work hard for our money and shouldn't get shafted on something that should have parts commonly available to easily fix! Like... DUH! :confused:
  8. you have just screwed yourself......

    [. Gee, if it was something only THEY could provide... why did my local repair tech have one?... hmmm? Grrrrrrr!

    With the research I've done since the tech left and after watching what he did... I'm pretty certain I could've somehow done it all myself and saved some more money... if the Whirlpoo chick had just been a tiny bit more helpful instead of demonstrating her and her company's stupidity!!!! If there was a way to legally take it outta Whirlpoo's hide in blood, I'd be doing it. The greedy bastards owe it to me and everyone else I'm seeing posting out here on the internet! :mad:

    We all work hard for our money and shouldn't get shafted on something that should have parts commonly available to easily fix! Like... DUH! :confused:[/QUOTE]


    I dont mean to throw salt in the wound but if you have read the 1500 complaints at complaints.com
    or on consumer reports.... what exactly makes you think you are going to fare any better than the thousands of folks that have sunk hundreds of dollars and repairs over and over , into their whirlpool heaters????


    the tech that changd out your parts for half the price of a water heater did you a great dis-service... . I have attempted to help out little old ladies before only to see my efforts go all in vain..... I cleaned the bottom of the unit and installed all new parts and it only lasted about 2 weeks.....:mad:

    the repairs he made to your unit might last a while and they might not......
    either way I doubt that he is not going to refund your money like I did .in a few weeks

    Did he give you any kind of 90 day or year warranty with his repairs???....

    that is the reason no one works on them any more.... no one wants to waste time
    and effort only to feel bad in a month from now and refund monies to old ladies....

    you should get yourself a Rheem or Bradford white...
    Its just a matter of time before it goes out again......
  9. that sounds exciteing

    Terry,,,,

    It Sounds like you got over your cancer only to
    almost get killed in a mobile home....


    did anyone get singed by the fire????
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,929
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I think that was in 1991
    And yes. My brother in law was totally singed. Even his eye brows. He looked like he had an Afro.
    The flames when the oven exploded in flames went right past his wide body. When he turned around he looked like a different guy.
    I was hiding in his shadow and right near the door. Propane is pretty scary stuff.
  11. Hackneyplumbing

    Hackneyplumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    66
    Location:
    Alabama
    I HAD about 30 of those funky pre-bent thermocouples. I have two left. :) Thanks for the business whirlpool!
  12. JB74

    JB74 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Kansas
    Maybe he did... but other than possibly needing the anode rod replaced and having buildup in the bottom of the tank, everything else seems in good condition. I thoroughly cleaned the thing out top-bottom as far as the burner chamber, flu, underneath, etc. And with an all new valve and burner assembly now, it's been running like a champ again.
  13. Check out the new web site

    Terry,,,,

    Check out the new web site I just launched with information
    about troubleshooting whirlpool water heaters.....

    http://whirlpoolwaterheaterrepair.com/

    it is in flash or you can click over to html at the bottom of the page....
  14. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,929
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Mark,
    Thanks for posting that. By the way, my son Jamie just mentioned that yes, we are getting more water heater work lately.
    Thanks for selling me that domain name.
  15. I have not looked , but did you ever get around to optomizeing that domain name yet.
    with its own web page??...

    we do probably around 15 heaters a week and
    Jamie will be useing muscles he never knew he had..:cool::cool:.
    and maybe he never wanted to know about
    ;);)
    it certainly keeps you in shape...
    and the coin is not too bad at usually a grand each...

    http://whirlpoolwaterheaterrepair.com/

    so does my new web site look fairley civilized???





    http://plumberindianapolis.com/
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
  16. Hubbard

    Hubbard New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Oh, boy... Just this morning I ordered a Whirlpool hot water heater from Lowe's. The estimated arrival date is April 23 so now I'm wondering if I should cancel the order and start all over. I notice this thread started several years ago... has the problem really not been fixed since then? I'll take any advice I can get on this. Here's what I ordered...

    Model #: N40T121-403
    Whirlpool 6th Sense 40-Gallon 12-Year Tall Gas Water Heater (Natural Gas)
  17. BeastSlayer

    BeastSlayer New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Cali
    I wish I had seen this before I bought my replacement water heater.

    I installed mine two months ago but had to detach and replace the flexible water outlet and inlet pipes to the Whirlpool Water Heater because of some major leaks.

    The re-ignition was without a hitch and the lights indicating smooth operations is blinking normally (after every 3 seconds).

    The problem is that water pressure at the shower seems a lot weaker than before, it takes longer for heated water to come out and children complain of alternating blasts of cold water or inadequate heated water when two people are in the showers (when it was not a problem before).

    I adjusted the knob to a tad near the hottest as suggested in the manual but this did not seem have solved the problem.

    Thank you in advance for any helpful advice you can provide.
  18. mika00

    mika00 New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    georgia
    whirlpool water heater recall?

    I was just wanting to know if any one else has heard of any recall on the Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters??? the reason I ask is that I am continually replacing the thermocouple on one and I am still trying to figure out why. I caught wind of a recall and thought that I might have my answer but wanted to see if any one else has heard of such a recall?
    www.flushawayplumbing.com
  19. there is no recall

    There was a recall on the original FLAME-LOCK heaters
    that were modified about 2007....

    The new whirlpool fvir heaters now come with the honeywell
    thermostat on them... I am getting about a call a week from
    folks that cant keep them lit....

    perhaps its a better design, but its too early to tell

    If you want to start another class action lawsuit,
    go for it......knock your self out






    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  20. klingon

    klingon New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    metro detroit
    Ditto for all the problems. Mine was originally purchased in 2010 and by early 2011, Lowes was fed up with the numerous complaints for the same problems, and replaced it (including installing it) at their own expense. It turns out they originally sold me one recalled due to the original class action suit. The new replacement one was manufactured in 2010 and was installed in my home in March 2011. The same problem has occurred with the thing not staying lit. Lowes has bent over backwards by sending their own installers out to fix this one on 5 occasions since March 2011. The latest "fix" of replacing the entire gas control valve (the third one for this 2 year old unit), only lasted a week before dying again.

    Whirlpool's 800 number was ARROGANT and claimed my 6 year warranty was voided when the first lemon was replaced. And even if they chose to replace it, I would have to pay for new installation. I went back and forth with them. Here in Michigan we have the Consumer protection Act in addition to the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (aka the federal lemon law). I have a huge amount of papers and research regarding these lemons.

    The Whirlpool corp headquarters did not know of the problem (yea right!) and tried passing the buck to the subcontractor who actually manufactures these lemons. Lowes is very angry as well and I have amassed a large pile of documentation on these products and they have sent it up the chain of command to the division who is reviewing their contract with Whirlpool in order to possibly cancel it. It will be the best avenue they could make to cover themselves.

    I have prepared my own small claims paperwork which will be filed tomorrow. In addition to the costs I incurred replacing it with a GE which I had to purchase from Home Depot, the Consumer protection act has provisions of a $250.00 judgement for damages for each and every time Whirlpool violated this act. I counted 6 instances .

    So for all other Michigan residents, you have an outlet to get back at Whirlpool. The only way to ensure you will have reliable hot water, it to junk your hot water heater and buy anything that is NOT made by Whirlpool.
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