kenmore (A O SMITH) water heaters

The Tank kenmore (A O SMITH) water heaters

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    Searching on the internet, several sites listed A.O. Smith as the manufacturer of Kenmore water heaters, with increased reliability specifications.

    With that in mind I also noticed that locally the Kenmore 9 year tank warranty 40 gallon water heater was priced at $387.00 at the store.

    Home Depot had the comparable 40 gallon 9 year GE water heater for $497.00.

    Other vendors were considerably more expensive, what I conceived to be comparable.

    QUESTION! Is the Kenmore a good choice?


    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: I’m not partial to any brand as they each fit some applications better. Two things that would make Kenmore a good choice for you would be good local service and a strong warranty. I don’t know about Kenmore, but understand some heaters come with a pro-rated warranty now. That makes a longer warranty pretty useless. Good service also is essential. If your heater leaks under warranty, you don’t want to hear that the crews are backed up and it’ll take days for someone to come out just to look at your heater. You want a local warranty provider who stocks heaters and parts. Hope that’s of some use 😉

    Yours, Larry


    Kenmore is a good water heater. They generally sell the lighter-weight version of AO Smith/American product line. For example the Kenmore is more likely to have plastic drain valve, while AO Smith will have brass drain valve. Other differences can be location of air intake. AO Smith has air intake on side at bottom, while some Kenmore have 3 legs and air intake on bottom. Air intake needs to be cleaned each year, so stand the 3-legged water heater on bricks.

    Kenmore 9 year water heaters shown on Sears website cost $100 more than $387, so maybe the in-store tank is on sale or a close-out. Sounds like a pretty good price for 9-year water heater.|9+year+limited&viewItems=25&keywordSearch=false&keyword=water+heaters+gas

    Most Kenmore warranties are for original owner, single-family, residential installation when installed and maintained according to printed instructions in product manual. The warranty is usually printed clearly in the product manual, and includes details unique to Sears that might include full installation of water heater that leaks in first year, and then replacement tank during remaining warranty. Part warranty is for any part that failed due to workmanship.
    Sears has service department, and you might have to pay for service call to get the warranty coverage.

    Rheem/GE water heater warranty is through Home Depot or place of purchase. Product manual does not have specific warranty information. Home Depot will try to sell extended warranty. Warranty might be pro-rated. The coverage is for original owner, single-family, residential and is non transferable. Does not cover labor. Covers workmanship defects under normal use, and can include new tank or repair depending on circumstance. Product must be installed and maintained according to product manual. You might have to pay for service call to get warranty coverage.

    Todays water heaters need plenty of fresh air and maintenance. Each manual has good information for installing water heater and maintaining water heater and what to avoid. Advantage of AO Smith is they post some service manuals for do-it-yourself repairs, while Rheem says call for service.


    Geno, your comment is so detailed. I really have to read it more than once to gather all that you’re communicating. Thanks.

    I checked out the owner’s manual of the Kenmore heater and apparently Sears stands behind the tank guarantee. Since I will do the installation, no labor is expected of Sears. I will be changiing out the drain valve, since I have a brass ball valve left over from my lawn sprinkler installation.

    Now, to persuade my neighbor fireman to help me lift the new heater upon the raised platform. He offered his new pick-up to transport the water heater wherever I bought it. Guess I better buy a drip pan also.

    thanks, waterheaterbob


    Thanks for your input. I can sure make use of all the advise that is offered.



    Most Sears Kenmore water heaters have FV flammable sensor on front of tank located below the viewport.
    When setting water heater in drip pan, make sure FV sensor sits higher than top edge of drip pan so leak will not short out FV causing part replacement etc. If needed, set water heater on bricks, or old tiles to elevate slightly.

    Here are 2 images from AO Smith / Kenmore product manuals that give rough guideline.


    Geno, I was also courious about air flow to the burner. The drip pan sides appear to be about 2″. The water heater sets about 2″ also. The delima is I am in earth quake country. Regular bricks may not work, even though the tank is earth quake strapped top and bottom. A 5 point something earthquake might shake the water heater off the bricks. Think so?



    Not my area of expertise. But, Yes. Probably would shake a water heater off bricks, since earthquake moves stuff back and forth.

    Seems you would need something the water heater leg would sit down into. Maybe drill a square hole into 4×4 so the leg sits down into the wood. The water heater shouldn’t bounce upward out of hole.

    One of the older water heater manuals has illustration showing how to use flashlight and hinged-mirror to check air intake on bottom of heater, but never says how you fit a cleaning device into the space. So you might work backwards and see which cleaning tool will do the job, and then determine how high the space should be.

    The burner draws cubic feet of air from surrounding room. Anything in the air will stick to the fine intake screen. Over time, the air flow is reduced. This causes combustion chamber to get hotter since the hot vent gas is not moving rapidly up the vent pipe, yet gas control and burner are still releasing same amount of NG into the fire. When the combustion chamber gets hotter than set limit, the FV system trips, and water heater shuts down. In some cases, if gas control valve is connected by wires to the FV system, the gas control trips and stops flow of gas at same time a spring trap closes off air supply > resulting in flame shutoff and failed gas control. In other cases, if gas control is not connected by wires, then the spring trap closes off air so combustion is starved for oxygen and flame goes out.

    In the first case, when you try to relight the pilot, no gas is available because the gas control valve needs to be replaced. In the second case, when you try to relight, the pilot might light ok, but when burner comes on it will flutter and go out for lack of oxygen. People report they remove combustion chamber cover and then water heater will work .. until combustion cover is re-installed and then flame goes out.

    Depending on gas control and specific water heater design, the water heater may need to be replaced. Or it could be repairable. At minimum, the FV system will need parts. And of course the air intake needs to be cleaned and spring trap reset. Since FV systems are changing so fast, it is difficult to say what your heater would require. Many heaters are single-use and have to be replaced, and no warranty covers FV event because the event resulted from poorly maintained water heater, or bad choice of water heater location etc.

    Also best to avoid dusty environment, and exposure to flammables and stored fuels, and household chemicals such as bleach and aerosol paint and other corrosive chemicals. Shellac and contact cement and and WD40 and oil paints and gasoline have fumes that can enter combustion chamber, and if this fuel ignites, it will overheat the combustion chamber and trip the FV system. Ordinary household chemicals in trace amounts will burn and form acids that destroy burner parts and vent pipes.


    Thanks, Geno. All your comments are read with interest. I caught your drilling a “square” hole. While I don’t have a square drill bit I do have chiesels. Thanks for that idea.

    Switching gears so to speak. I have another question someone may help with. The question is.

    The leaks on my water heater are at the top on both the inlet and outlet areas. After cleaniing the areas from the build up of “stuff” I can monitor the leak rather easily, being the water heater is in the garage. I probably get about a thimble full of water leakage in 24 hour period. I’m sure some evaporates.

    IS THERE A FIX FOR THE INLET AND OUTLET FASTENINGS? CAN THEY BE REPLACED WITHOUT TEARING UP THE TANK? The tank is about 12 years old and was installed by Sears. I bought the house 11 years ago.


    Randy Schuyler

    You can always try removing them, wrapping them with six wraps of Teflon and putting them back, but my experience is that fittings that previously were sealed start to leak, it means the heater is on its last legs.

    Randy Schuyler


    Found a debris filter for 3-legged water heaters.
    Don’t know if this means the arrestor screen on bottom of heater still needs to be cleaned or not.


    Geno your last set up is old style since most burners have gone to infrared and this filter applies to front doors that have the resetable FVIR on the door and the round burner head. For anyone trying to clean the flame arrestor in a heater that is set in a pan then I suggest a feather duster with a wire so you can bend it around the pan. The debris filter can be taken off and wash then put back on.


    Thanks for tip about feather duster.

    I found the debris at American site. The newest American/Whirlpool gas water heater manual Oct 2010 also shows debris filter page 24. And this line water heater has single-use FVIR.

    Water heaters are changing fast and its hard to keep up.
    When you say the burners have gone to infrared, what do you mean? What brand water heater is affected? How does it work? Or is this stupid question?
    How does infrared burner affect the FV system?
    Are you saying that the thermal switch re-sets the FVIR on newer models?
    I know water heater companies are going toward re-settable FV systems, but don’t understand the details by brand.

    I’ve been trying to get Lowes and local AO Smith dealer to give me most recent water heater for dis-assembly, but they want to get paid. Oddly.


    I’m paying attention to what’s going on Guys. Please keep the conversation going.

    On my Kenmore heater that’s leaking at the top. The leaks are NOT at the threaded fastenings. The leaks are from the female receptors that is part of the tank. My question is are these “receptors” removable? Do I clean and apply some kind of compound around them? I don’t know. I do know that I will have to replace the water heater, I am hoping it will be later.

    Now to the pan and the burner receiving enough air to properly operate. I would love to set the new tank in a pan, however, this gets pretty close to me not knowing all the necessary essintials for proper combustion.




    Others here can answer your leaking water heater better than I can.
    Take a photo and post it so the details can be seen by experts.

    I am no doubt dissecting the air-intake–drip pan too much. As Ej said, you can put a feather duster under the tank. And the product manual says you can remove the burner and use air pressure to blow out the arrestor screen.

    So technically it is not necessary to elevate the tank to get a vacuum cleaner under the heater.

    However recently I saw a 3 year old tank installed in laundry room where the intake screen was clogged with dryer dust. Typically people vent the clothes dryer better than to let lint clog the water heater air intake. On the other hand, that particular clogged screen could not have been cleaned with feather duster.
    Fortunately for the guy, the heater was still working, but the tank rusted out around the cold inlet, and Whirlpool allowed a full replacement. And naturally the customer installed it back in the laundry room again.

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