Whirlpool Water Heaters

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Costly Repairs after 1.9 years of service
Posted by on
Dear Sir or Madam,

On June 15th, 2002, I purchased your Whirlpool Gas Water Heater with Flame Lock Safety System (model number FG1H4040T, product number 0730138, serial number 0215119499) at Lowe's. The exact store location is 5125 West Main Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49002. Their phone number is (269)345-2110. Cost of the unit was $268.00, and there was a rebate at that time, although I do not recall the exact amount of the rebate. I installed the water heater per instruction and it has worked perfectly until last Thursday, March 4th, 2003. My wife noticed during that day that the hot water coming out of the faucets was luke warm. I checked the water heater and found that the pilot light was out and the burner was not operating. I attempted to reset the pilot and restart the water heater. I followed the instruction per the operation manual for re-lighting the water heater. I held the reset button down and depressed the igniter button until the pilot relit. After holding the reset button down for 1 minute, I released the button, which caused the pilot to go out. I attempted this several times.

After several unsuccessful attempts to restart the water heater, I contacted the gas company to check the lines. They did, and everything was in working order. I then called a local heating and cooling company to come out and service the unit. The company was not an authorized Whirlpool repair facility, but because they were local and might be able to locate the problem easily in addition to not knowing it needed parts for the repair, we requested that they take a look. After they inspected the gas lines and found one small leak in a shutoff valve (Which they replaced), they were also unsuccessful in being able to relight the water heater. They believed that the Flame lock Thermocouple was bad and suggested that it be replaced. Since Whirlpool uses reversed thread thermocouples, they did not have a suitable replacement part. My wife contacted your customer service department and they provided her with an authorization number (1575765) for a replacement thermocouple at no charge to us. I was able to pick one up at Lowe's. The thermocouple was replaced, but the pilot light would continue to go out when the reset button was released after being relit. This repair occurred Friday evening.

On Saturday, March 6th, we made several calls to Lowe's and your customer service department in an attempt to locate a Whirlpool authorized service provider. Because of the weekend, it was difficult to find a service company open; however we were able to locate Northside Heating and Cooling in Muskegon, Michigan. They were an hour and a half away. Knowing that the service call would be more expensive for that reason, as well as being a weekend, we still were happy to have them come repair the unit. Ryan Cosens from Northside came out to repair the water heater. Per his description of the work, the water heater was not sensing flame. He replaced the gas valve and installed a second thermocouple. He checked the gas lines, draft, plus the unit and found them to be good working order. He was able to restart the water heater. Although the parts were covered under warranty, labor for the repair was $393.75. I find that amount outrageous and far more than what I paid for the water heater itself. To add insult to injury, 30 minutes after he left, the unit failed again, and I could not get it relit. With the same symptoms as before, I contacted Ryan again, and was told that he did everything he could do to repair the unit. He suggested I contact Whirlpool. I did, and I spoke to a customer service rep that stated to me that he obviously did not fix the unit and to have him come back and do so. When I mentioned that this unit had a 9 year warranty, I was told that the warranty covered the tank only. Obviously, the tank is not the issue. I contacted Ryan again, and after some trepidation on his part, he agreed to come back Monday to look at the unit again. This means that either my wife or I will miss a second day of work waiting to have the water heater repaired..hopefully repaired.

We also contacted the Lowe's store where we purchased the water heater to inquire what recourse we have with this faulty unit. They took our information, and were going to inquire to Whirlpool for resolution.

So here's where I'm at. I will wait until Monday and see if Northside can get the water heater functioning again. If they can not, then I am forced to replace this unit. After 4 days of cold water, and a water heater that is only 1.9 years old, I am extremely displeased with the level of reliability and service I have received from Whirlpool. I appreciate not having to pay for parts, but the lack of assistance and outright poor attitude from Whirlpool has given me a bad taste. If I have to replace the water heater, I promise you it won't be a Whirlpool. The name Whirlpool will never again grace this household. In addition, I will find every internet based consumer advocacy group I can find and post this letter. I would not wish this level of frustration upon my worst enemy. I hope no one has to go through such a finger pointing exercise. I do not expect much of a response from Whirlpool, if their customer service is a reflection of the company's attitude. But I'm writing this letter in as much for the therapeutic effect as for any kind of resolution it might bring.


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wallyhammer on 08/26/2004:
Whirlpool water heaters are really NOT made by whirpool, it is SUBBED OUT ---they are made by a nearly bankrupt company called AMERICAN WATER HEATERS. They have been teetering on the brink of bankruptsy for quite a while and I believe the company has just been bought out by someone looking for a bargain..I think out of Canada.

but anyway, this "Whirlpool brand" water heater is really just a generic junk heater with the label "Whirlpool" stamped on it and boxed in a factory assembly line to fool people .. you can see the exact same model in numerous discount hardware stores with other names on them.

what tricks people is thinking they are getting a 12 year warranty (pro rated) water heater from a reputiable name like WHIRLPOOL...

they aint.

Actually they should not have charged him anything for service unless he had only a 1 year labor warranty..

Don't that make you feel good???

if you could do it all over again, I will bet you would have gotten a local plumber to install a better brand.

Actually , if you want to raise a little cain,
LOWES will actually take back your water heater and give you at least a in store credit. I have had customers take back those Whirlpool units to Lowes before, and they did get their money back.

I left the DOG sitting outside their homes for them to take back, and installed them a Rheem gas hot water heater cause they could not get service on that Whirlpool DOG in a timely manner and even though I am a plumber , I cannot get parts quickly either!!


Then you can go find a reputible plumber to get a REAL Name Brand water heater like RHEEM or
BRADFORD WHITE to repalce that off brand dog.

Believe me,
It aint over yet, you still got 10 years of possible trouble ahead of you, take it back while its still early in the game.

Get your money back on the service
call too, report that guy to the BBB, or raise so much cain at the Lowes store that they give you some sort of inn store credit for some or all of that outlandish service call that you got stuck with.

they will do it just to get you out of their hair
and they don't want you to call the BBB either.

you aint got nothing to lose for trying

good luck
wallyhammer on 08/27/2004:
anoter note, The manager at Lowes does not want trouble from you, the store manager has his own agenda and his own goals in "going up the corporate ladder dream"

(he hasn't figured out yet he aint going no-where)

So to keep you quiet and make himself look good, he will literally "throw money at you" to get you to simply shut up and "go Away"
before your complaint makes a smudge on his "perfect record"

that is the way things work with these guys.

it don't hurt them, and you get happy.

EthanPreston on 06/05/2006:
I am a class action attorney looking for witnesses who have personal experience with Whirlpool's Flame Lock-brand water heater.

This may be an advertisement in your jurisdiction. http://eplaw.us/terms.html
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Whirlpool Hot Water Heater... Lousy E-Smart II system... nothing smart about it, or their RUDE Customer Service!!
Posted by on
Purchased on 09-19-2011, had it installed 09-23-11, woke up next morning 09-24-11. Had no hot water, check heater had a code of E02, read manual, followed directions. Everything was working till next morning 09-25-11, yep... you got it "no hot water". Checked hot water heater, same code. Called Whirlpool Customer Service... TO SAY I RECEIVED HORRIBLE SERVICE IT PUTTING IT LIGHTLY!!!
They had my husband take the unit apart, go get a volt meter and test the elements and plugs... Might I add this is a BRAND NEW HEATER, he checked what the c/s advised, then he was asked if he had a thermostat tester. OK at this point he said NO, you need to send a technician out here or give me an RA# to return it, Keep this in mind LOWES will not take it back without an RA# from Whirlpool. So we are stuck!! waiting on Technician to come out some time next week, to work on our brand new E-Smart Hot Water Heater purchased from Lowes. PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM WHIRLPOOL BRAND!!!

09/25/11 contacted Whirlpool c/s, was given an authorization # to provide to their recommended repair Tech., set-up an appointment for him to come out between 8am-noon today 09/26/11. My husband took a half a day off work to get this resolved. Tech called around 11:30 stating he is stuck on a job and will be there around 1pm, he also stated he has not worked on this model. It is now 1:24 and he is not here.
Also, I posted the exact post from here on Lowe's website. Got an e-mail stating they - Lowe's rejected my post. So I gather negative reviews are not allowed to be posted on their site. I guess that is why Lowe's has great reviews on their product.
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At Your Service on 09/25/2011:
Hopefully, when you called, their overall ATTITUDE wasn't bad. I wouldn't call it bad customer service just because they ran through a few troubleshooting steps. In fact, I appreciate when a customer service call is educated enough about trying to solve the problem over the phone -- provided I feel comfortable enough about the procedure(s).

Having a tech come out to check the problem isn't a bad idea. If it's something easy to fix, they can do it there; if not, I'm sure they can work with you if you'd like to get it exchanged.

Frustrating, I know. Keep us informed.
Venice09 on 09/25/2011:
Some customers appreciate troubleshooting over the telephone because it's the quickest way to find a fix, but a company shouldn't assume or expect that the customer is comfortable troubleshooting or has the tools to do so.

Of course it's not a bad idea to send out a tech. How else are you supposed to get hot water? Unfortunately, now you are stuck waiting for service on a brand new unit.

By any chance, did Lowe's offer to intervene to help you get an RA#? I don't know what Code EO2 is, but have you contacted the installer? Maybe they can help you.
At Your Service on 09/25/2011:
Good idea Venice09. Many people install items themselves, finding they made the slightest mistake to cause the problem.
trmn8r on 09/25/2011:
"then he was asked if he had a thermostat tester" Good one. I do a lot of my own electrical and mechanical work, but I don't know what that is. Probably an appliance tech would.

I personally would appreciate the technical assistance in checking it myself, but I can easily understand how the average person would just want a tech out to fix the problem or replace the brand new water heater.

This is a really bad situation, but you know that already. I hope you get service quickly.

On the Energy Smart, error 2 is the high temperature limit. Seems like that could be either be the temperature sensor or the thermostat malfunctioning.
Venice09 on 09/26/2011:
This OP did not install it themselves, so they can't take the blame. The review says they had it installed.

Good troubleshooting, trmn.
hotwaterhelp on 09/26/2011:
Sorry to see you're having problems! Can you contact me directly so I can help?
Thanks! ~ Chris
American Water Heater, authorized licensee for Whirlpool Water Heaters
heaterman93 on 04/12/2012:
I do service all makes of water heaters the one thing that all need is the proper amount of make up air.Thermocouples burn out from extreme heat,with lp you already burn hotter than ng,make sure the tc is ratted for your heater.Also test your draft at the hood to make sure you are at lees 3"wc to discharge.
Smartin on 03/28/2013:
Your review is very helpful I am suffering with the same problem and yes it is brand new. May I ask what the problem was in the end so I can fix it so I have some hot water this is extremely frustrating . You spend the money to buy new and this is what you get. Thanks for your help
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Don't Buy Whirlpool Water Heater
Posted by on
I am writing in regard to a Whirlpool water heater (Model #FG1F4034T3NOV) that we purchased from Lowe’s in May 2004. The water heater stopped working on a Saturday morning (11/1/08). We tried lighting the pilot light several times, but it would not stay on. When we called Lowe’s, they gave us a 1-800 number to call, but, we were not able to reach anyone at that number until Monday morning (already two days without hot water). I was told that there was a defect in these models and that we would need to obtain a part and either install it ourselves or have someone install it, so that our water heater would work properly again. I was told that I could pay $15 to have the part mailed to me and probably would receive it the next day.

This, to me, was unacceptable. We have a family of four who had already been without hot water for 3 days and now I was going to have to pay for a part to be shipped and wait another 2 days for hot water! The man on the phone said I could go to Lowe’s and the part would be available free of charge. It was then up to me to install it or “if I didn’t feel comfortable doing so” I could hire someone to install it. I went Lowe’s. They didn’t know what I was talking about, but vaguely remembered this happening to another customer.

They called another Lowe’s store and that store said that they weren’t sure, but they might have the part I was talking about. At this point, I was very frustrated. If this was a problem with these models, why wouldn’t Whirlpool make the parts more available and make their retail distributors more aware that customers may be looking for this part??? I then drove 35 miles round trip to get the part. When I opened it up, I realized there was no way I could install this part myself….. why would they even suggest that the customer install this on their own? I called a plumber that would be able to come before closing time that day (trying to avoid after-hours charges and trying to get hot water before yet another day went by!).

The plumber was quite familiar with this model and this problem with the thermocouple (which tells me this is probably a widespread problem with this model). The plumber charged me $221 to install the part and make sure the water heater was operating properly. I was relieved to have hot water, but angry that we had to pay money for this problem that was not our responsibility!

I don’t understand how you as a reputable company (not reputable in my eyes anymore) can not take responsibility for a defect in one of your products. Why should the consumer have to pay the price of fixing a defect in a product that we bought just 4 years ago and is still under warranty? We felt confident that we were buying a quality product and that Whirlpool would stand behind their products, but now I feel very differently. I will not buy Whirlpool products anymore.
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madconsumer on 11/18/2008:
what is the warranty on the water heater? some parts are not covered, neither install.
Slimjim on 11/18/2008:
These Whirlpool Flame Lock heaters must be absolute junk. This place is teaming with complaints about them. I don't think I've seen more than one or two complaints about any other water heater online in my entire cyber-life.
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Do Not Buy Whirlpool Gas Water Heater, They Are Junk!!!!!!
Posted by on
CALIFORNIA -- I have purchased a Whirlpool 50 gallons Gas Water Heater model # BFG1H5040T3Nov on Jan. 12, 2008 at Lowe's. The water heater only lasted for 2 and half months, then I have problem with the pilot light won't stay lit. I called the Whirlpool 1-877-817-6750 number on March 25, 2008 (Tuesday), they gave me another phone number to call, which turned out to be Sears. The Sears technician came out on the next day Wednesday around noon time; he changed some kind of wire around the switch area. After he left, in the same day afternoon, I found out that the problem still occurred and hasn't been fixed. So I call Sears back at around 4p.m to have the technician come back, they told me that the technician might give me a call back, if not then I will have to call back tomorrow to make an appointment. I asked why can't I make an appointment now, they told me that the technician hasn't close the report and the day hasn't end yet, the computer system won't allow them to make an appointment. I called Sears again at 8p.m hoping to make an appointment for the next day Thursday, but they told me they can't make an appointment because the day hasn't end. So I called them back at 2a.m at night, I was surprised that someone actually answer the phone. I told him I want to make an appointment, he said that not until Friday, I was so mad, because I already don't have hot water for 3 days, now I have to wait another 2 days. I told him that I can't wait another day because I have been taking cold shower, and also it's their technician's fault for not fixing my water heater correctly in the first place. He said he can't do anything about it, the earliest time is Friday, or else I have to call the plumber on my own.

So on Thursday I called Lowe’s and sees if I can return the water heater since the return policy on the back of the receipt said 90 days. I called Lowe's and asked for to speak with the return department, the store associate answer the phone named Frank. I told him about what happen with the water heater, he said, “Well, if you already called Whirlpool and they turned you down, then you can bring back the water heater." So I brought back the water heater to return, but the manager named Lora Bell told me I can't return it, because I need to have the RA number from Whirlpool. I told her that I called before; the guy named Frank told me that I can. Then Lora Bell the manager told me that when I called, I should have asked to speak with the manager, Frank is just a cashier, and he doesn't know the policy.

So now the Lowe's Manager Lora Bell putting the BLAME on me that I should have ask for a manager, which I think that Lowe's should train their employees right, because if the store associates at the Return Department don't even know the return policy, then they should not even be there. I would NEVER shop at LOWE'S or Sears and NEVER buy any Whirlpool JUNKs!!!!!!!!
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madconsumer on 04/01/2008:
I know on the side of my Whirlpool water heater, it says "do not return to place of purchase if problems, call ...."

from what I have seen on the net, it sounds Whirlpool makes a poor quality water heater.
Slimjim on 04/02/2008:
Really Mad. You never see complaints about water heaters until recently, and they are all the Whirlpools. Ms. Bell's statement is pretty ridiculous. Why would you question Frank's directives on the phone and ask for someone else? Maybe Lorna needs to have a chit chat with Frank about fielding questions out of his jurisdiction.
fiero on 06/19/2008:
I have been dealing with the same thermocouple issue and I have found a way around the fact that no one will sell you a left-hand threaded thermocouple. You by 2 of the 24" universal thermocouples at about $8.oo each, they are right-hand threaded. One is to be destroyed by cutting because all you want is that steel nut from the end that screws into the control. You will need to follow the instructions for replacing the control valve. Once you have the control valve off you set the control valve in your lap and with a 3/8" box end wrench and that steel nut from the part you cut. The body of the control valve is a softer metal then that steel nut you have. Going very slowly using the 3/8 wrench and some pressure you begin to screw the steel nut in to the control valve. You will be cutting in new right-hand threads. It will take a little while, go slow and go in strait,In half a turn than back up a guarter turn. Eventuly you will be able to use any standerd right-hand thermocouple. This doesn't fix the problem, but it does make it easer to relace when your unit fails again.
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Whirlpool Water Heater Terrible Support and Customer Service
Posted by on
CINCINNATI, OHIO -- As a plumber, I have purchased and installed several of the Whirlpool Energy Smart Water Heaters. I can tell you for certain that I have purchase my last one! After having a Whirpool Energy Smart water heater installed for two weeks, one of my customer's electric bill went from $65 to $183. I went back to the house expecting to find a bad element. The element checked out. The water heater was also drawing the proper amount of current. I called customer service and they walked me through everything that I had already checked again. They assured me then that the problem was not the water heater. Wanting to make absolutely sure and having background in electric work, I stuck around to figure out exactly what the problem was. After a while, we could hear the water heater clicking off and on every minute or so.

I called Whirlpool back to inform them that apparently the electronic "Energy Smart" control box was bad (funny they didn't have me check that to begin with, as I later found that they have had other problems with the electronics). They acknowledged from what I told them that the control box was bad. I asked who in the greater Cincinnati area would stock one and was told "no one, it will have to be shipped from the factory". Being a holiday weekend I could not believe what I was hearing. I asked, "You mean that I have to leave my customer without hot water for three days?" She (Michelle, a customer service SUPERVISOR) rudely repeated what she said without even the slightest sign of sympathy for the elderly couple who would be without hot water for three days. When I asked what the procedure was to make a formal complaint about this was, she snapped back, "Have the homeowner call me" and abruptly hung up the phone! Is that anyway to treat someone who has purchases approximately 25 of your water heaters per year?

I had to go buy another complete water heater just to get the part until the new one arrived. I have just submitted a claim to get paid the $80 that Whirpool pays for their service work (no wonder no one is willing to do it). Considering the way they do business, I will be amazed if I ever get paid. Lowes is just as much to blame, I mean what would it take for at least one store in the greater Cinci area (or every major city) to stock a full selection of parts for such an important appliance as a water heater THAT THEY SELL.

Another example of the absence of customer service in the plight of huge corporations to get a few cents richer. I would not buy another Whirlpool appliance if they were half the price of any other brand!! That is the honest truth!
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Anonymous on 01/10/2008:
Great post and info Plumberman. We seldom get first hand info like this around here it seems the person that bought the water heater has to post the complaint. I have a Whirlpool Water Heater that had a thermocoupler recall problem. Bought it at Lowes, they were of zero help, had to call ten different numbers to get the problem fixed. (VH)
Anonymous on 01/11/2008:
I probably don't understand.

Why would you have had to leave the customer without hot water for three days? If the energy saver control unit was bad and turning on and off (using a greater amount of electricity) but still supplying hot water, it doesn't make sense that they should be without hot water for three days (a higher electric bill, yes). Turn the controller off and replace it when a new box comes in. I don't see the need to turn off the entire hot water heater.
Principissa on 01/11/2008:
We have a lot of Whirlpool appliances in the new house. Now I understand why the water heater is not Whirlpool. I will certainly steer clear of them when it's time to by a new one!
smartin on 01/29/2008:
I read plumberman's review of the Whirlpool Energy Smart water heater. Though I have never purchased an Energy Smart water heater I have purchased many high effiency water heaters (.93 energy factor or higher) and have attempted to make my own version of an Energy Smart water heater by purchasing a 240 Volt 24 hour analogue timer with three separate settings to control my heater according to our family's specific needs. I work for an electric utility and have been an Energy Specialist for 20 plus years. I have found this to be a very good reliable way to reduce hotwater standby heating losses. I also would add that in addition to the timer I recommend to purchase as high an energy factor water heater as possible, and if the tank is not insulated on the bottom to include a 2 inch extruded polystyrene pad and appropriately sized drain pan for the tank to sit in when doing the instalation. That being said, I now have a family of two and find that setting my morning setting for 1.5 hours (5-6:30), an afternoon setting of .5 hours (12-12:30) and an evening setting of one hour 4:30-5:30) has been working quite well. That gives me a total of 3 hours of water heating, that is all, prior to doing this I ran a logger on my not so efficient tank and found that it was running an average of 8 hours a day. At 5 hours a day savings and a 3.5 kW heating element that amounts to 525 kWh a month. Depending on your power rates that timer could pay for itself in the first month.

For those occasions when we have extra usage like company there is a bypass on the timer that allows the unit to run normally till it hits the next setting.

Plummerman might consider this alternative next time instead of trusting high tech to do the job.

Oh, by the way, This timmer is now going on its second water heater and still going strong.
mrbob on 02/02/2008:
I have to say that I am also having poor reliability problems with my 1 year old energy smart water heater and the customer service sucks. Basically we are not getting hot water past two showers (household of three). The sensor unit was flashing 4 times which the manual states is an upper element failure so I called customer service number listed in the manual and it just rang forever no pick up no message. Then I called a completely separate Whirlpool service number from a different appliance, they picked up immediately and and a pleasant lady told me she didn't handled water heaters but would try to help - she eventually asked me to hold and transferred me to the right department. A very non perky, non interested person answered the phone, half listened to my issue and stated he would send out a new sensor - I paused him and asked didn't 4 flashes indicate an element problem? He fairly rudely asked if I got hot water and I responded "some" and then repeated his previous statement about sending out a new sensor.

The new sensor is now carefully installed and originally the sensor stayed green but it now flashes three times and we still do not have hot water past a few showers.
Chief6A on 03/13/2008:
Yeah I seem to be having the same problem with mine I bought it at Lowes and Installed it and Now for the last 3 months or so Perodically it is just shuting off, but its not kicking the breaker in the fusebox?? I reset the water heater and it goes through the functions and then like 20 mins later just losses power. IF ANYONE CAN HELP ME WITH THIS PROBLEM I WOULD APPRECIATE IT! Never Again Will I Buy A WhrilPool Product because I called there so called coustmer service and they were a joke they couldn't help me one bit and I don't know what to do next!. Paemt203994@yahoo.com
JAbraham on 05/20/2008:
If you've been messed over by a corporation, how do you get its attention? By taking legal action! Such as small claims court!
Melina41 on 08/25/2008:
When my usual plumber couldn't fix my Flame Guard water heater (the plastic drain cock was cross-threaded so he was afraid he'd flood the place if he attempted to drain it) I called Whirlpool to recommend a plumber. The only Whirlpool-recommended person who would pick up the phone wanted $175 just to walk in the door. My usual plumber (licensed and insured) charges $40 minimum. I have a feeling no plumber wants to represent Whirlpool in any fashion, and I don't blame them.
HandyDan on 01/25/2011:
I purchased a home in 2006 that had a 1 year old Whirlpool Energy Star 50 gal waterheater in it. Since that time the electronic control board has gone bad 2 times. At over $80 for the part alone, I am wishing the previous owner had installed a different unit.
Fed Up With Whirpool on 01/29/2014:
Purchased a new Energysmart Whirlpool water heater to replace an old one that had gone bad. Terrible experience. Purchased it at Lowe's and had it professionally installed. It provided sporadic hot water regardless of what mode it was set on. Unless you had a hot water tap set on high you got not hot water...turn it to a slower water flow and it turned cold. Couldn't get a hot shower even with faucet turned to high. Called Whirlpool customer service 4 times and emailed 3 times. First two calls were worthless, sounded like a got a person sitting there reading off a checklist, then she said she'd send me a PDF file to address my problem. The PDF file did not address my problem! At each contact their customer service kept trying to blame my lack of hot water on a plumbing problem in my house ???? I repeatedly asked them how it could be a plumbing problem when all we did was take out an existing water heater and put a new one in its place. They kept insisting I had a problem with cold water feeding back into the hot water line ???? Made no sense. Finally in frustration contacted Lowe's and they sent their original installer back out and he got on the phone with Whirlpool (this is because Whirlpool refused to send out one of their "technicians" because the distance was 38 miles). I stood there while they instructed my installer to go through a series of check items which in my mind had nothing to do with the problem and they also told him it had to be a plumbing problem. After he got off the phone he said "they refuse to acknowledge there is anything wrong with their product". He took it upon himself to contact Lowe's and told them what he had gone through with Whirlpool and that I still didn't have hot water enough to take showers or even do dishes. The manager at my local Lowe's told him they would swap out that unit for a new one with no charge to me. That obviously made me very happy but I got on the phone and told them I didn't want another one of the Energysmart ones because I had no faith in them at this point, nor in Whirlpools ability to trouble shoot them. They agreed to swap out the Energysmart for a "regular" type and give me credit for the difference. This all happened within one day. After installation of the replacement "regular" type water heater we had hot water as normal. I give 5 stars to my local Lowe's store and zero stars to Whirlpool. And if Lowe's had handled any other brand of water heater I would not have had a Whirlpool for the swap out. I wonder what Whirlpool can say about my "plumbing problem" now that another regular water heater appears to be working just fine. I hope I don't have to deal with Whirlpool customer service ever again.
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Poor Customer Service
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MACON, ILLINOIS -- I purchased a flame lock water heater on March 13, 2004 from Lowes in Forsyth, IL. We installed the water heater Nov. 19, 2004. On Dec.31, 2004 the thermocouple burnt out. I called my son-in-law, as luck would have it, he was at Lowes and stated he knew what the problem was and he would pick up a thermocouple and he installed it for us. The reason he knew what was wrong, he owns the same water heater and has now replaced 4 thermocouples in less than 7 months. The last one lasted 10 days. I went to Lowes a few days later to speak with the manager about the problem with the water heaters, and was told he was in a meeting. I talked with a zone manager and preceded to tell him about the defective water heater, and asked for Lowes help to resolve my issue. I explained I was told by Lowe employees that this is an ongoing issue and they have passed out hundreds of cases of thermocouples. I also advised him that I did not want to have to drive 40 miles round trip to replace the thermocouple every 6 weeks. He was quite nice and took my name and number and stated he would call Whirlpool and let me know what they said. I told him I was calling Whirlpool also. He refunded the money I paid for the thermocouple, and gave me a spare, and apologized for the inconvenience.

I sent Whirlpool an e-mail because they were closed for the Holiday. I did receive a call from American Water Heater Co. which I found out makes Whirlpool water heaters. He asked me a series of questions to determine why the thermocouple burned out. He had me to do a draft test to determine if there was enough air flow. He stated the flame should be going directly into the vent. Since I only had a lighter and not a match to test, it was difficult to determine because I had to turn the lighter sideways, and the flame only wanted to go straight up. He determined that it was an installation problem. I explained to him about all the thermocouples they were replacing at Lowes and there was no way, that all of these water heaters were improperly installed. I stated to him I believe it is a design defect or a manufacturing defect. He stated that was my opinion and we hung up. I contacted Whirlpool customer service again by phone and was transferred to Am. Wtr. Htr Co. again. The CSR told me the same thing. It is an installation problem, advised me to send copies of the water heater, the area it was in, my furnace and the vents. I sent these over 3 weeks ago, and still have not heard from anyone. Eight days ago I contacted Whirlpool again by e-mail and have not heard from anyone. This is the poorest customer service I have ever encountered. I am going to return the water heater back to Lowes and get my money back.

I would not recommend Whirlpool products to anyone, and I will never buy another one of there products.

Pam Randol
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Michael D on 06/14/2005:
I want to thank you for taking the time to publish your problems with the Whirlpool hot water heaters. After 14 years my current Ruud hot water heater has "died". I initially purchased a new Whirlpool hot water heater from Lowes. After reviewing all the apparent problems with the whilpool heaters I cancelled the install and had my purchase refunded. I have made arrangements to replace my Ruud heater with another current Ruud model. I feel confident, thanks to you and so many others that have voiced their opinion on the lack of performance of whilpool hot water heaters, that I have avoided much hardached and headaches. Thank you again for taking the time to voice your opinions. I sincerely hope you have been able to resolve / fix your problems with your whilpool heater. Happy showers!!!
EthanPreston on 06/05/2006:
I am a class action attorney looking for witnesses who have personal experience with Whirlpool's Flame Lock-brand water heater.


This may be an advertisement in your jurisdiction.

90713PC on 07/02/2006:
I have the same problem...did Lowe's give you a new water heater?
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Whirlpool Gas Water Heater With Flame Lock Safety System
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We purchased a Whirlpool gas water heater with flame lock safety system from Lowes. It was installed 9-1-09. Model No. BFGIF4040S3NOV. The pilot light won't stay lit. Our first call to Whirlpool was April 13,2010. Whirlpool sent someone out to check the water heater. The gas valve needed replaced. Since then I have called Whirlpool MANY times. Some of the representatives were nice, but now when I call they are NOT so nice. They are tired of hearing my complaints. Last call I made I talked to a very nice and concerned representative. She felt it is the manifold door. She sent the part out to us. We are still having problems with the hot water heater not keeping the hot water hot and the pilot light won't stay lit. I feel these hot water tanks are a piece of junk. There are so many complaints about these hot water heaters. I feel Whirlpool should reimburse every consumer who bought one. These hot water heaters are faulty as seen in THE MANY complaints. Whirlpool has told me so many different things could be wrong with it. From not being installed properly to being to close to the furnance to dust making the pilot light go out.

All I know is we are Very Dissatisfied and Very unhappy with this hot water heater.

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azRider on 03/15/2011:
so why do you have to heat your hot water? I mean if its hot, does it need to be heated?

OK now really, if there really is a number of things wrong with the water heater, and if you can document it all, I'd call the corporate headquarters and complain and ask for a new unit to be installed. if that fails, I'd get a new heater and install it, then sue them in small claims court for the replacement costs. they may settle with you and then the headache is over. remember documentation is key. be sure you can document it all. then stop heating your hot water.
Countrypeach on 03/16/2011:
I had the same problems with my gas hot water heater from Lowes/Whirlpool.. They sent me the new parts and it still didn't work.. I finally got fed up with it and went out and bought an electric one.. I don't have the problems of the pilot light going out all the time like with the gas one, but I have this sneeky feeling I may have blown a heating element on this one.. Everything we buy is JUNK anymore..
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Water Heater...2 in 2 years
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I purchased a water heater in late December 2008 (day after Christmas), from Lowe's. Being winter and cold in NE OH, needed replaced as soon as possible. Well, purchased the water heater, paid Lowe's $250 installation charges. Now, I find water all around heaterl

According to Whirpool, sounds like liner may have developed a hole (after two years?) OK, so now what. The kind gentlemen I spoke with said he would give me a Return Authorization code which he did. All I have to do is disconnect it, drain it, get it back to Lowe's and they would replace. That's all well and good, but I'm a 5" tall, single, 50 year old female. How do you expect me to do that? OK, will figure it out, but that is not the issue. The issue is that I now must spend ANOTHER $250 to have the new one installed! Are you serious? They do not reimburse installation even if it's under warranty or ....or any reason. Let's see, Dec 2008 installed properly by plumber, product failure in 3/2011 (9 year warranty), will send new one, but you have to have it installed, pick it up at store, take aback old, pay, pay, pay...Whirpool should cover all costs. More cost efficient would be to work in tandem with Lowe's give them Return Authorization Code, have them (installation team) deliver it to the house, remove the old, replace the new. Whirpool picking up all charges. Instead, I have to have tank removed, drive it to Lowe's, show them authorization code, get replacement, have it driven back to house so it can be installed. UGH!!! Don't feel I should have to pay the installation charge. The installation was done proper in the first place. Just want my installation charges reimbursed also. That would make it all right.
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unhappy999 on 03/02/2011:
I hear what you're saying but unfortunately, I don't think any company would pay for the installation. Companies warrant their own products but don't cover any other costs incurred by the customer.
trmn8r on 03/02/2011:
When you say it would be "more cost efficient," clearly you mean from your point of view. I believe what you mean is it would be "less costly".

A water heater should last a lot longer than 2 years. Unfortunately, warranties that I am aware of don't cover labor, especially after a year or two.
yankeefan! on 03/03/2011:
Most manufactures don't cover labor. Welcome to home ownership!!! Talk with lowes to see if they can help but again the warranty protects for the product. Labor is an entirely different issue. Also its Lowes fault.
ok4now on 03/03/2011:
I can understand your frustration and why you're upset. Unfortunately the manufacturer covers only the product not the labor. Here's an idea worth a try. Lowe's has agreed to replace the water heater and they want the old one returned. Why should you have to bring it back if they're bringing out a new one? I would pay a local plumber the $250 (or less) to disconnect the old one and install the new one. All Lowe's has to do then is deliver the replacement and take the old one with them.
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Whirlpool Gas Water Heater, Will Not Stay Lit
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SPANAWAY, WASHINGTON -- We replaced a 40 gal gas Rheem water heater that was about 10 years old. The hot water was not entirely clear so I decided it was time for a new one. Note that this Rheem had not once ever lost its flame to include during a 3 day power outage during a bad windstorm in Nov 06.

Lowes had a good selection and I chose the Whirlpool because of the 12 year warranty. Lowes said it would take 5 days for the tank to arrive but it took about a month... but that's another story.

The Whirpool water heater (SG1J5040T3NOV) was installed Mar 07 by a contractor sent by Lowes. Installation went by fine. Not 10 minutes after he left, the flame went out. OK no problem, its not rocket science to relight it so I did so. It went out 8 times that day. So many times that I left the metal shield off because I was having to relight it so often. It went out sometime during that night. In the morning, I relit it again so we could take showers. I had to literally babysit it and relight it constantly. There was so much condensation dripping on the burner that the flame was orange instead of blue. That morning, I also noticed the collar at the base that screens out bugs, had popped off.

I am no mechanical engineer but I have a fair amount of common sense and do many things around the house and repair my own vehicles. My thoughts were that the condensation dripping down from the flue was excessive and snuffed out the flame to include the pilot flame. I see it as a design flaw fixable by having a measure in place that protects the pilot and burner. The condensation dripping is an unavoidable action that occurs as the cold water in the tank raises in temp to a point where condensation will not occur. This dripping reoccurs whenever the tank is emptied of its hot water and filled with cold.

The 2nd possibility I thought of was that the burner was not getting enough air flow. The vent pipe is supposed to have a 1/4" per foot rise as a minimum. This 50 gal tank was about 3 inches taller than the 40 gal tank it replaced. My vent pipe is now perfectly level.

I called the installer and was told to contact Whirlpool for a "Work Authorization" number. The installer said since my vent pipe was only 4 ft long, the lack of the 1/4" rise per foot was not an issue. I called Whirlpool and the service rep was trying every explanation to me other than giving the authorization number. They reluctantly gave me the authorization number saying it was worth a $90 service call. The rep also asked me to try a "smoking match test" at the top of the tank by the vent pipe. This was to ensure there was adequate flow through the vent pipe and truly rule out any problem with the vent pipe being level without a rise. I did the test and the match smoke went right into the vent pipe. Not sure if that really proves anything though.

I decided to give the tank a few days and maybe it would stabilize its performance and stay lit. Sorta like getting broke in. As Murphy's law would have it, the water heater stayed lit for the next month. Crazy. Yesterday, after one of my kids finished a leisurely shower, it started up again with the dripping condensation snuffing out the flame. No hot water for me and the wife from a 50 gal tank. The Rheem 40 gal tank never did this.

The saga will continue as I am waiting for the installer to come make an assessment.

In my humble opinion, buying a Whirlpool water heater is not worth the trouble. I read the problems others have had with thermocouples burning out and I can only hope that does not start with mine.
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cinweek2 on 04/04/2008:
I have the same water heater, and have been having the same problem for the past 6 months. FED UP!!!!! We did a DIY installation after purchasing it from Lowes a little over a year ago, and started having problems shortly after. Same thing, condensation drips on the burner, and it cuts off several times a day. If you found anything out, I'd love to know! Thanks!
rico10314 on 01/25/2009:
OMG this is the exact same problem I was having with my unit. Sorry this information is just getting out there but my unit just started having these symptoms now. I guess I lucky. I called the number on the unit and they were very helpful. They told me that my unit was having a condensation problem. Switch the thermostate control to 150 degrees and don't use the water for 4 hours. So far so good. I was so worried. I read all these reviews and that just destroyed my wknd. I've been beating myself up because I'm the type that does so much research before making a purchase and I was sold by the Whirlpool and energy effiecent lable. Hope you guys get lucky too. Oh one more thing before I called the number on the unit I also vaccummed the vent underneath the flame. Don't know if that helped but I figured I might as well mention it.
tommy lim on 03/26/2013:
I agree Whirlpool is horrible they send me the wrong conversion kit two separate times, I just finally replace it, and it still doesn't work. they don't follow up with you on the phone they tell you to do something and they say its fix then 2 hours later the pilot light then you have to repeat your story to someone else
Robyn on 07/01/2013:
The exact same thing is going on with our Whirlpool hot water heater. this happened last year for a period of two weeks. we also are keeping the cover off so that we can see the pilot light. then it mysteriously started to work again. now this year, it started to act up again whenever the temps started to hit the 90's. we also thought condensation... now the humidity is low the temps are in the 70's and this thing still will not stay lit. we are going to replace it with something besides Whirlpool...
never again will we buy a hot water tank by them.
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Stay Away from the FLAME LOCK Water Heater-same problem as others mentioned
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LAKEWOOD, CA, CALIFORNIA -- I agree with PJ46350 (see below). No hot water for 2 days. Water heater is 2 years old. Holiday weekend-of course. Gas Company unable to ignite flame, because of the sealed firebox..the plumber could not find left threaded part anywhere...I told him check Lowes, as that is where the "Flame Lock" water tank was originally purchased. Plumber quickly found it on asile #13. Here is the part number you'll need Part #6910495, SKU #198750, 1 year warranty (you're going to need it). I don't like a company that monopolizes like that. What if Lowes goes out of business..what do we do then?

Anyway..as instructed by the Whirlpool manual I called them...beware they are not open on weekends or holidays. If they are..their number is not posted anywhere that I can find it. The plumber is installing the part, at this writing. It's taking him an hour to dis-assemble the area just to replace the $15.00 part. I'll be writing him a big check for the repair, and sending the $202.00 receipt to Whirlpool, in hope for a refund (the price paid for the water heater was $565.77(price includes installation)...as I hope the water heater is still under warranty...the language on the warranty has so many loop holes...I really don't know if it is covered. If they do not refund the repair..I will never buy Whirlpool again. I'm concerned because Whirlpool has a 1.5 star out of a possible 5. That's nothing to be proud of. Had I had read all the other reviews, I would have had NEVER purchased this tank. I can't believe there hasn't been a class action lawsuit, or a recall on this item.

In addition, I just sent an email to Lowes, American Water Heater and Whirlpool. I'll be sure to follow up with this post and let you know what kind of response I receive.

Thank you for your time.

Whirlpool Complaint
Stay Away from the Flame Lock
Posted By: pj46350 on 8/16/2005

I have replaced 20 to 30 thermocouples on various furnaces and water heaters. This is the strangest system I have seen. I put a 40 gallon Whirlpool flame lock water heater in a rental unit and had no problems for about a year.

Then the pilot would not stay lit. At this point I discovered the flamelock thermocouple (with left hand threads) had to be purchased special at Lowes. LOwes said that all I had to do was call Whirlpool and get a RGA number and it would be free. I tried for 40 minutes but the number was busy so being a rental unit, just purchased it. It was over $15.00. Well the thermo couple has gone bad two more times since then. The last one lasting only a day. YES... it was installed precisely to their specs. The unit is just plain junk.

I'm thinking of changing the unitrol RobertShaw control gas valve to one that accepts right hand threaded thermocouples and tearing a hole in their silly vented bottom so that it is sure to get enough air. I have had trouble with other Whirlpool products so I should have known. I think I read somewhere on the Whirlpool site, you need to disassemble it and clean it every few months.....what nonsense.

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90713PC on 07/02/2006:
thank you...I hope all goes well.
I hope NO MORE people buy this unit. It's a costly headache.
rah332 on 07/02/2006:
the water heaters have changed due to new regulations. All new wtr htrs have the new sealed burner compartement. It is not just your brand. Yes it is a pain in the butt to replace due to the sealed compartement which takes longer to replace the thermocouple. And if you tear the seal, your in big trouble. the older wtr htrs would take me 5 mins to replace. not so with the newer models. The safety codes and standards( AGA: American Gas Association) have changed due to fires and liquid fuel vapors(gasoline, kerosine, etc) that can ignite with the older models. If the seal is torn or comprimized, it will void the warranty. Sad to say, the consumers have their hands tied behind their back.We as service people for the utility company are constantly shaking our heads as well. good luck...
90713PC on 07/02/2006:
Thank you rah332 for your comment..I understand what you're saying...but if they're going to make new regulations, that make the product safer, but malfuntions on a regular basis, then they should be required to be prepared to help the consumer in their time of need.
I don't blame the Gas company for not breaking the seal...
I blame the mfg. for not supplying the consumer with the knowledge that we're buying a water heater that is supposed to last for at least 12 years, but beware of the left threaded thermocouple. At least when you buy a sweater or a blouse, they'll throw in an extra button in case one falls off the shirt. Plus, why left threaded?? a part that can only be purchased at Lowe's??? That's not right.
rah332 on 07/02/2006:
due to the new regulation and changes in the wtr htrs, the thermocouple incoporates a special sensor at the tip. that is why a regualar right threaded thermocouple will not work. not everyone carries that right now. Thermocouples are like batteries. they wear out. I would keep one just in case it goes out again. the fine print on the wtr htr-- the warranty for 5-12yrs (depending on the model) is for the tank not the control and thermocouple- which is usually for one yr. The correct thermocouple can be purchased at appliance parts stores, not just lowes. I know, info is a little too late. As far as throwing an extra part, that would be great. the only problem is the weekend warrior that tried to make the repairs. I have seen many homeowners/jack of all trades/landlords try to replace the parts and only to leave a major GAS LEAK!!! That type of repairs needs to be done by a professional or knowledgeable person.
Doc J on 07/03/2006:
Very interesting post and a very educational commentary. Like with autos, there seems to be a corporate goal to prevent consumers from completing routine maintenance/service. My favorite was a pocket device a colleague showed me a few months ago. The instructions told him to "Insert batteries prior to use." Great idea! But, there was a sticker on the device over the seam on the battery compartment that said, "Warranty void if this seal is broken."
90713PC on 07/03/2006:
Thank you Rah and Doc.
I'll pick up the extra part, only when I receive the refund for the work. If I do not receive a refund for this ordeal. I'll wait until it goes out again...then I'll buy another water heater. My last water heater was 20 years old...I never had one problem with it, until it sadly pass away one day.
rah332 on 07/03/2006:
The older type you had is long gone. It would be very hard to find one. I had to search quite awhile for one 2 yrs ago. I noticed you live in ca. I work for pge doing service work. I just shake my head every time I see one of those units. We just throw our hands up and refer the cust to the dealer.
Doc J on 07/03/2006:
rah-I hope you become a regular contributor to this site. Your understanding of such matters would be helpful to people who visit here. All best.
90713PC on 07/05/2006:
UPDATE: I spoke with Michelle from American Water Heaters, regarding the 2 year old water heater.
She said the warranty does not transfer to the new home owner (me), and being that I didn't clean the lint screen every three months, the warranty would not have been honored, even if I was the original purchaser. Being that said..I told her to make a note that this consumer will never purchase a Whirlpool item again. She said.."We're not Whirlpool...We're American Water Heater." I said..."I won't buy anything made by your company again..Even if I have to go out of the country to purchase it."
I was under the impression that she didn't care (big shocker).
We hung up.
Squeezebox on 04/27/2008:
I inherited this mess when I bought the house! One of the reasons I bought this house is that the hot water heater was less than a year old! Three years later, imagine my outrage when I find out that my 2004 heater has already crapped out!!!! Those things are supposed to last at least ten years and often twenty! My sister bought another WP and it failed at less than two years! The manufacturer made her pay shipping for the part and refused to pay for the plumber. If the Whirlpool Corporation licenses their good name to crapmakers like this, you can imagine how bad their other products are. I was looking for this info and found class actions on the Calypso and other Whirlpool products.
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