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Old 08-19-2013, 02:44 PM  
Lucysdad694
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Default Hot Water Heater burst after 2 years

Hi there,

New to the forum and new to home improvement. Our 2-year old under warranty AO Smith 50 gal. electric hot water heater seized suddenly overnight last week and half the tank leaked into the hallway carpeting (condo unit where hot water heaters are installed on ground floor closet - dumbest thing I've ever seen). When the plumber who installed the heater (prior to our purchase) came, he was very surprised to see that the electrical element in the top panel had caught fire and all the wires were melted to the plate and it was full of water. The outside of the heater looked like it was 20 years old and this happened in a matter of hours overnight. Long story short -- heater was under warranty, BUT... I was charged "Warranty Handling" of $150, Permit Fee of $65 and $337 in labor ($75 for the first visit to diagnose and empty the tank and $262 for the installation with new pipes). The condo is 10 years old and built on a concrete slab, the tank was 2 years old with new pipes. Total cost was $675 and we got a "free" replacement of a new AO Smith 50 gallon heater. What's the point of having a warranty if the unit you are replacing is $375 and they charge you $150 for "handling"? Did we get a fair deal, or should we go to the plumber or manufacturer for further investigation? We could have had a much more serious situation, but thankfully, nothing more than water came out of the tank. Oh, going rate for plumbers in our area is $175/hour. I don't even want to tell you what the emergency carpet cleanup company charged to dry out the hallway carpeting -- too low to put through insurance but too high to ever consider these robbers again. I could have recarpeted the hallway and living room. Lesson learned.



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Old 08-19-2013, 02:50 PM  
CallMeVilla
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Go directly to the manufacturer with your complaint. This is an extraordinarily fast failure. "Who" got the money for the "warranty handling"? That is a bogus charge and the manufacturer should hear about it so they can go after the plumber (if he got the money).

Honestly, I would not have paid the "warranty handling" fee before talking to the manufacturer. But, for that matter, I would never have paid a plumber $175 an hour for this job. It is a straight pull and replace job any competent handyman could have done for a whole lot less!



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Old 08-19-2013, 06:40 PM  
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Welcome to the site. This company does not have good reviews and it looks like the standard charge for warrantee work is $97
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/ao_smith.html

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Old 08-20-2013, 02:39 PM  
Lucysdad694
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Thank you much for your responses. I was thinking that was the route to go. Interesting that our plumber's supplier didn't have any AO Smith tanks on hand, so we had to go to another supplier 50 miles out of the way. But that was the only way they would honor the waranty. Good question on who got the $$, I think it was the plumber, but will definitely find out that one. Maybe should even consider in a year or so yanking out this one and replacing with another reputable brand with another plumber!

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Old 08-20-2013, 05:58 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucysdad694 View Post
Thank you much for your responses. I was thinking that was the route to go. Interesting that our plumber's supplier didn't have any AO Smith tanks on hand, so we had to go to another supplier 50 miles out of the way. But that was the only way they would honor the waranty. Good question on who got the $$, I think it was the plumber, but will definitely find out that one. Maybe should even consider in a year or so yanking out this one and replacing with another reputable brand with another plumber!
With all the other dammage caused here, you might want to look at or hint at a something stronger when talking to the manufacturer, this could have been a whole lot worse.
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:23 AM  
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I would say you were ripped off. Contact the company and let them know you are sharing your experience with the world. Thanks for sharing BTW - I will never buy an AO Smith tank nor will I let any friend of mine buy an AO Smith tank.

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Old 08-28-2013, 03:10 PM  
Caduceus
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I think what is being missed in this whole situation is whether or not the original tank installation two years ago was properly done and if the failure was caused by installer error.
It probably wouldn't hurt to have a registered electrician take a look at the wiring and breaker panel. Yeah, I know, it costs money, but that's just my suggestion. Did the plumber ever explain exactly where the leak came from? If the upper element cover was filled with water, there may already have been a small leak at the water connections by the installer. A water softener may cause premature loss of your tank anode and corrosion of the tank, but without actually seeing all of the installation and surrounding connections it would be hard to pinpoint exactly what happened to the tank.
Posting several photos of the install may help us see if there are any contributing factors. It would really stink if the new tank fails in two years and you're back to the same situation.
In my experience with warranty replacements, we only charge labor for the installation. No additional costs and labor includes picking up the new tank if the customer requests it.



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