Are gas water heaters less reliable these days?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by pman6, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. pman6

    pman6 Member

    Feb 8, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I had a 22 year old Rheem 40 gal fail today at my rental property. Water was coming out at the top near the vent ring. American Home Shield insurance paid for it back then, and knowing how stingy AHS is, it was probably the cheapest model.

    Called a bunch of plumbers and they all install Bradfords only. They shit on rheem as 'home depot junk'.

    So I got a 40gal eco defender installed. Spent $1200 total.

    Until today, never heard of bradford, so I go online and read a little, and I see a bunch of problems.
    I hate money pits, and this stuff sounds like one.
    Is there any truth to this?

    My old cheapo rheem was never maintained, but never had anything break. Pilot always lit. Final failure was with the tank itself after 2 decades.

    Can I expect the same lifespan with today's heaters if I at least drain it yearly?
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    EVERY brand of heater has its fans and detractors. IF you were to go to any of their wholesalers, you would find a whole yard of heaters which have gone bed during the six year warranty period, but there are many more that do NOT come back because they have lasted 7, 10, 15 or even 25 years. It is all the "luck of the draw" which one you have and there is no way to tell UNTIL it fails and starts leaking. My wholesaler started with State, then went to Bradford White, and now sells Rheem/Ruud and American.
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  4. pman6

    pman6 Member

    Feb 8, 2012
    Los Angeles
    ok cool, so they're pretty much all the same.

    It's just that some plumbers happen to see more failures with one particular brand, and that's due to chance, rather than a trend.

    It seems the Honeywell thermostat valves cause more problems than the old fashioned ones. Have you guys seen more failures with the Honeywells?
  5. Glennhvac

    Glennhvac New Member

    Jun 1, 2014
    You may get the same years from the tank. The controls? No way! Right about the time a certain company figured out a 2x16 lint screen with 1/8" holes was not cutting it in utility rooms they also started to go with that thermopile valve with the pretty blinking light. Had many fail already within usually a year after warranty.
  6. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

    Aug 13, 2013
    Draining you WH yearly will probably help, but will not change your water quality running in your pipes, or the quality of your pipes themselves.
    You have to start draining it after the first year. You can also add a whole house water filter, then replace the filter as needed.

    That being said, these water heaters are going to fail at some point. For the mfgs, the sooner the better. After all, they don't make their billions from selling products which last 22 years anymore.

    AO Smith bought American WH recently, and since then price of any basic WH shot up 20% or more across the board. New CA state regulations added to the cost as well.

    However, I don't think that the price of a new WH is outpacing inflation. In the 70s, a basic WH was less than $100 (before labor), but a dollar then was like 10 dollars today. My numbers may be off a bit, but you get the idea.
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