Another Hot Water Heater Question

I need to replace my old 40 gallon gas hot water heater and there are 3 likely choices for me, and I have a few questions.
GE Smartwater (from Home Depot) Whirlpool (From Lowes) Kenmore (Sears)
Since they are all basically the same price, does one brand have a better reputation for quality, as far as gas water heaters go?
Is it worth $100 more for a 12 year warranty vs. a 6 year warranty? My water heaters seem to last about 8 years. My first one (AO Smith) lasted 8 years before it burst and flooded my basement, and my 2nd one, which is also an AO Smith needs to be replaced now, after 8 years.
Maybe that's all I can get out of a water heater, based on my quality of water, so should I just be getting 6 year water heaters and just try and replace them when they seem ready to fail? Otherwise, to collect on a warranty, it seems I'd have to let it fail, or maybe burst and flood my basement again.
Steve
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I used to wrok for Sears. I avoid them when possible. They like to use off spec parts (so you have to go back to them) and in 1996 when I worked for them, they run their guys hard. Speed, but not quality.
--
Christopher A. Young
Jesus: The Reason for the Season
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Gas tankless are supposed to last 3 to 4 times longer, cost less to operate. Aquastar, and Takagi are top brands. You will pay now but save down the road
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I'd get the 6-year model and install a water alarm and drain pan that's piped to the outside.
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Jeez, that's a really quick death for an AO Smith. We got about 18 years out of our last one.
I just replaced it this autumn with a GE from HD; their GE's aren't really GE; they're made by Rheem, if that helps any.
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Water heaters are relatively inexpensive and generally fairly easy to replace. I wouldn't bother with the extended warranty.
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The difference between the 6 year and the 12 year is not only the warranty. The sacrificial anode on the 12 year is more long lasting than on the six. To me, I think it's worth the difference.
--
Peace,
BobJ

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How hot do you set the temp on the water heater?
If its set that its necessary to add cold water to take a bath or shower its set to hot and costing you $$.
IF its to hot is that a reason for the short life?
Tom.

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Definitely not set too high.
I'm in a development of houses where all our water heaters failed around the same time. We could see each other's water heaters on the street waiting for trash pickup. I think it's just the quality of water here, and we all had AO Smith 6 year warranty gas water heaters.
My main fear isn't that the water heater dies and I have no hot water. After all, I can get a water heater installed the same day from most places locally, within hours, but my concern is another flooded basement and damaged items, but as long as I'm going to get a new one, I might as well get one with a solid reputation.
I've gotten some interesting helpful responses, but it seems that nobody prefers a GE over a Whirlpool or AO Smith. I'd have to think that one of these would be better than the other, right?
Steve

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I am concerned about my 10 yr old gas water heater, listen to this a guy I work with has a 30 yr old water heater, I can't believe it. We live in the Midwest.
Tom

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WHEN (not if) my current gas water heater (tank type) goes out, I will replace it with one of the new tankless models. They are very energy efficient because they only heat water when someone turns on the hot water tap. There are a variety of sizes for different household requirements, and they are capable of producing plenty of hot water.
Something for you to think about.
Steve Johnson

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They add some features with the 12 year. Check the box.

A.O. Smith, I think. That's what my last one was that I purchased at Sears.
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