View Full Version : Hot water heater problem

Eric Franklin
03-06-2012, 8:58 PM
I have a 6 1/2 year old Bradford White power vent hot water heater. The bearing is failing in the blower assembly. I found the direct replacement part for around $600+SH or I can get a universal replacement for around $390+SH. How hard is it to replace the blower assembly and is it much harder installing a universal replacement blower assembly versus the direct replacement or is it better to just replace the whole hot water heater? The 6 warranty just ended last June. I figured if I call a plumber, it would be close to a grand for them to repair it. Thoughts?

Kevin W Johnson
03-07-2012, 3:50 AM
Any way to replace the bearing(s) in the blower? Thats the route I'd look in to.

Dan Hintz
03-07-2012, 6:31 AM
Any way to replace the bearing(s) in the blower? Thats the route I'd look in to.

Same here....

Mike Cutler
03-07-2012, 8:52 PM
The blower unit itself is not difficult to replace.
I personally would just go after the bearing, because unless you have high capacity TTW II,
Or a Combi Core unit, $600 bucks is 1/3-1/2 the cost of a new unit.
Try to replace the bearing if at all possible.

Eric Franklin
03-07-2012, 9:10 PM
I should have clarified I'm guessing it's the bearing. When it's running, the sound it makes reminds me of an air compressor. I do know it's something with the fan. Does anybody know if it is difficult getting to the bearing and would it require any special tools to get it out? Also, where would I purchase a replacement bearing. I'm a computer geek by day so this mechanical stuff is not my strong suit.

I did talk to a local plumbing company that installed my hot water heater and they said that BW is using the universal blower assembly which is not the easiest to install. They estimated around $500 to fix, $360 for part plus labor. They said a replacement is roughly $1100-$1200 installed.

Kevin W Johnson
03-07-2012, 9:19 PM
Can you post the model number of the water heater (and the # for the blower assmbly if you have that) you have? Also, a couple good close up pictures of the blower as well would be good. I tried looking up that brand, but all the pics aren't much help, they aren't close up enough.

Unless it's assembled in such a way that disassembly will destroy the unit, the bearings should be replaceable.

Matt Meiser
03-07-2012, 9:21 PM
That crazy--the whole unit is about $700. At least that's what I paid for the two 50gal units I've bought in the last 8 years (one to replace a dead one, one when we converted to natural gas.).

The blower went bad on the first but they replaced it under warranty. Install was about 15 minutes. It just bolted to the top. I don't think you could have serviced the bearing.

Peter J Lee
03-07-2012, 10:57 PM
Have you put the model number in a search engine to see whether a service manual is floating around somewhere? Even if it isn't officially available, they often float around. Also putting the model number with "noise" or some other search terms could turn up some info. If you do find a manual, putting the part number in a search engine will probably lead you to it.

Randy Rose
03-08-2012, 6:04 AM
FWIW, I just paid $360 for a new 50 gallon Bradford White WITHOUT the power vent

Myk Rian
03-08-2012, 8:42 AM
If those things are so damned expensive, where's the savings in buying one in the first place?

Matt Meiser
03-08-2012, 8:46 AM
They use considerably less energy, and don't require a chimney. Our house has a forced vent water heater and furnace so we don't have any chimney--just 2 3" PVC exhausts.

Myk Rian
03-08-2012, 9:49 AM
But if repairs are needed say 6 years down the road, at $400, how many years does it take to catch up to the point of saving anything, before you have to replace the whole thing for over $1,000.
Doesn't make any sense to me.

Dan Hintz
03-08-2012, 9:53 AM
A few failed units do not equate to all of them going bad in such short time...

Matt Meiser
03-08-2012, 10:04 AM
Our second replacement was due to propane to natural gas conversion (most water heaters are non-convertible from what I was told by multiple contractors) not a failure. Habitat took that one for resale. The first one in the house lasted 15 years before the gas valve started acting up which I'm told is good for a water heater these days. It was starting to get pretty rusty on the outside so I decided not to spend any money on repairs.

Peter J Lee
03-08-2012, 10:51 AM
I don't think the power vent makes them more efficient - maybe I'm wrong, corrections welcome. But traditional vented WHs are not particularly efficient at eliminating waste gases. Depending on weather and installation conditions they can be bad. I live in a co-owned duplex that has a chimney that used to carry 2 coal furnaces, 2 WHs, 2 coal or woodburning stoves as well as the garbage that was traditionally burned rather than thrown out. Now it has 2 water heaters.

When the house got new shingles, my suggestion of taking the chimney down below the roofline was tossed out. Ultimately, the cost of buying 2 power vent heaters and the cost of moving them to more intelligent placement including changing piping nixed the idea. There would have definitely been energy savings from having the WHs underneath the bathrooms and not having a giant masonry structure drawing in cold.

Brian Elfert
03-08-2012, 12:52 PM
Power vent water heaters are required for houses built in Minnesota starting in 2000. I didn't have a choice if I wanted one when my house was built in 2001. I believe my water heater is a Bradford-White and it is still working fine after 10 years.