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Which A.O. Smith heater to buy?

Wonky Member Posts: 10
I'm getting a little nervous about the Reliance Sta-Kleen 805 from 1991

that I know was not maintained by the previous owner (nothing in the

house really was).  I looked at the stats, and it says 73 gallon 1st

hour, 0.57 energy factor, 50 gallon capacity, 40,000 BTU output.

I'm moving towards getting an A.O. Smith Vertex, but I'm not sure which

one (Power Vent vs. 100 Power Direct-Vent).  I'm having trouble telling

all the differences between the two.

Here's my situation.  Very big house, two kids who will eventually be

teenagers, fairly regular visits by overnight guests, very stingy

(i.e., low flow) showerheads, no oversized bathtubs, no other odd hot

water uses.  So I'm thinking that the capacity I have now (we may have

run out of hot water once with us and houseguests all showering in a

row), almost anything I get is going to be fine.  Is that a reasonable


Also, the Reliance is currently vented into the chimney, but I have

reasonably easy access to vent to the outside, right next to where I

vent my Rheem gas-fired hot air unit.  If I have a choice in how either

of these units is installed, do you recommend one over the other?


  • patrickr
    patrickr Member Posts: 6
    Don't buy A.O. Smith

    Don't buy A.O. Smith

    Friend,  I've been putting in water heaters for 30 years.  the last 5 years I've got more problems than i can describe with heaters failing in very short times.  Smith makes state, American, some Kenmore etc.  all of them are having problems (search the web). When they do the warranty claim all of the issues make the first installation look like a walk in the park.

    I've got three heaters (all state) that i am waiting for a.o. smith to make good on.  each of them were leakers.  i will lose over a hundred dollars on each of them plus my labor because state is depreciated like a tire and warranty doesn't cover labor. 

    i wish is could recommend a brand i trust.  but i don't trust any of them.

    American craftsmanship is missing in action.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,323
    comparing heaters

    It seems the simpler power vent heater has far more recovery capability than your present Reliance heater.  Direct vent makes sense in a tight house. 

    As to warranty issues: perhaps it comes down to the supply house you use.  Here in Central California, I've used Slakey Brothers for decades and they have never questioned my account of the facts.  They also do pay a little labor for leakers, which I believe comes from State.  By the bye, State has their Premier heater which is a different colored Vertex.  Use the one that gives you better warranty backup.

    Yours,  Larry
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,544
    I listen to Larry

    because he knows water heaters better than anyone, and this is because he has spent decades coaxing more years out of so many heaters. He knows what works and what goes wrong and what we should do in terms of maintenance. His experience is real-world and I listen. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    Why A Tank Type

    Water heater when an instantaneous that is properly sized and installed will provide you will all the hot water you want when you want and need it. No more paying to maintain a tank temp.  No more energy that you paid for up the chimmney. Certain models also qualify for the federal tax credit and maybe even your local utility offers rebates.

    Something you may want to look at. Endless Hot Water and much more efficient thank a tank type heater

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • patrickr
    patrickr Member Posts: 6
    tankless costs

    tank-less heaters do have their place.  however we all know they cost more to purchase and install.  increasing gas line size and vent can break the budget.  so when you run the numbers it is better use of the money to use a tank heater.  I'm not just following the masses.  I've run the numbers.  I've read consumer reports.  they are not at the point where they make sense every time.

    that said I've got one in my cabin.  it's a joy!  but i won't put one in a rental and new home buyers don't want to pay for it.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    Totally Disagree

    While yes they cost more than a tank type heater but a properly installed tankless with the tax credit will pay the installed tank type installation difference back in 5 years if not less depending on model/size. I can understand that not every one can afford one due to their budget but to say they have their place I feel is a little misleading from an operation standpoint. How many times has a homeowner had to pay labor on a leaking water heater that failed in the warranty period. Does that not figure into the equation?

    I also feel that a good contractor will give the customer all the proper information that allows them to make the decision that fits their need and budget best. It is not up to us to determine what's best for them it's up to them with our best guidance and professional opinion.

    I've sold alot of tankless heaters to customers you would never think could afford one. Consumers are becoming tired of sending their hard earned money to utility companies among others and want to take advantage of rebates and tax credits. We would not be doing our jobs if we did not educate.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,885
    If you use a tank-type heater

    I'd go with Bradford-White. We've never had a problem with any B-W heater we've installed, and as far as I know they still use standard thermocouples (though that may have changed with the new electronic gas controls). And their M4-series units are EnergyStar rated now, so we can get better efficiency without repiping the gas and reworking the venting. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    I agree with Patrick on staying with a tank

    water quality is to much of and issue in my area to use tank-less heaters much. also I think it is good for people to have a finite amount of hot water. When you run out you know you showered too long. I agree with Larry in the idea the wholesaler can make or break a product by how they handle warranty issues. All things made have flaws from time to time, how they are handled makes the difference in the perception of the quality.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
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