The Feb. 2005 Consumer Reports had an article about water heaters.
They gave no specific ratings but said that heaters with longer
warranties were generally better built (more insulation, longer or more
anodes), but the Whirlpool 9- and 12-year 40-gallon gas heaters were
www.waterheaterrescue.com lots of information about water heaters and
also a Q&A forum. Apparently they prefer buying a cheap heater and
replacing the anode rod(s) every five years or so, and I've heard of
people getting heaters to last thirty years by doing this.
I bought an electric with a 9-year warranty a few months ago from
Sears, and it was made by State, complete with the pressure relief
valve on the exact wrong side for my particular installation. :( It
has two anodes, one on the hot water outlet and another that goes into
its own hole
Remember to use the discount coupon from the Sears calendar. They
range from $5 to $50, but I think that the only one that can be used
for a heater-only purchase currently is for just $5.
I was out of town when my water heater died (i.e. began leaking.
When they leak they have to be replaced. Until then they can be
serviced. She spent the extra and got a mid line Sears heater. Hate to
admit it but she made a good choice. I've had it twenty years now and
it works just fine. Initially some how the dip tube was broken but when
we called Sears the came and replaced it no charge.
A good idea is to get new flex tube every once in a while because they
do leak. There is a new nylon(?) kind I just installed. About 5 years
ago I changed out a water heater that my father in law installed in
1949. Unfortuante that company went out of business.
If the flex tube is the same thing as the dip tube, then it's most
likely now made of PEX (PolyEthylene Xross-linked), but some are
polypropylene or a clear hard plastic (what is that plastic?
polycarbonate? vinyl?). Polypropylene has been known to crumble
because of chlorine in the water (not just dip tubes that were part of
a recall some years ago), but PEX can be affected as well, but I have
no idea if this is significant in real life.
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