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  1. #1
    sam sanders's Avatar
    sam sanders Guest

    Default old sears water heater

    I came across an old Forty Series, Sears 60 water heater (AO Smith). model 18336510 and Serial J77618698. According to my cheat sheet, for this type of water heater, the First letter is the month and the next two numbers are the year. That would make it a 32 year old water heater. The thermostat did not respond on the day I tested it. So I made the usual recommendations. Few days later, the seller brought a plumber out, the stat kicked on and he said the water heater was only 11 years old (he must have read the last two numbers in the serial as the manufacture date). He charged the sellers a service fee ($60) and was on his way. When I was confronted with this information, I realized, I don't have any official reference to defend my determination of the manufacture date. I could explain that when thermostat is starting to go bad it may work intermittently, but I didn't have anything other than my cheat sheet to defend the mfr. date. I checked online Sears parts and viewed the exploded diagram of the water heater and the date on the drawing was 1972. Based on the drawing year an the fact that most of the parts were were no longer available (with no substitutions), I'm pretty sure I am reading the serial number correctly. Sears parts and service departments couldn't be definitive (some kid said all the old guys were gone and everybody there were just order takers). I contacted AO Smith on their website, but I doubt anyone will respond. Does anyone know of any publication or web site, that is official enough to reference, that would contain information confirming or condemning my reading of the serial number and consequently my interpretation of the date of manufacture for this water heater? If not, am I overlooking some obvious solution?
    Thanks,
    Sam

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    I seldom give the age of any appliance or system to my client. I use it for my own information. If I'm asked the age of the system or appliance I will tell them if I can read the date code.

    If the unit is over 10 years of age I tell them that it has lasted it's expected life and that it could fail as soon as we walk out the door or it could last another few years.

    Did the unit look like it was 32 years old? Most water heaters from the 70's were brown, green or blue in color if memory serves me. The 60's and 70's get kind of foggy from time to time!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
    imported_John Smith Guest

    Default Re: old sears water heater

    "The 60's and 70's get kind of foggy from time to time! "

    Man, I know what you mean. A lot of people were kind of foggy in the 60's and 70's.


  4. #4
    Lawrence Transue's Avatar
    Lawrence Transue Guest

    Default Re: old sears water heater

    11 Years or 32 Years. Its either old, or very old.

    I'm not sure what the plumber accomplished. For his $60.00 does he offer a guaranty of the water heater? Can the buyer call him if it acts up again?

    "If not, am I overlooking some obvious solution?"


    There is no solution. You made an observation and put it on the report. Quibbling over the exact age of an old water heater seems pointless.

    For the record, I believe it is a 1977 model. I have a book that gives the ages of almost every component in a house. Its about $20.00. Our ASHI Chapter sells it. send me an email if you would like a copy.


  5. #5
    Michael Greenwalt's Avatar
    Michael Greenwalt Guest

    Default Re: old sears water heater

    I always look at the ANSI date on the data plate. You can get a newer than date from that (IE< meets ANSI 1993,,,,then no older than that and usually withing 3 years of that (1993-1996).


  6. #6
    sam sanders's Avatar
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Thanks for all your input.
    To respond to some of your questions: The plumber worked for the home warranty company that the house is currently under. He doesn't give a ****. The reason I'm having to pursue this is because the seller wants me to pay for the service call. She claims she would not have had to call if I hadn't claimed the water heater was so old. Part of my problem is maintaining good customer relations (sellers' realtors can be future clients). I want to be able to respond with some credible information as opposed to telling her the plumber is wrong and she is wrong because I say so.

    Yes, the water heater looks old and has colors and lettering that are classic clues to its age. It's called a "Forty Series, SEARS 60 with glass liner." The sellers say the heater was installed in 1998. I'm having to argue that it may have been, but they didn't install a new heater.

    I did check for the ANSI. There wasn't on on the data label (that says something right there, but I can't use it as an argument with someone who doesn't know what any of that means). I sent an e-mail to lawrence. Maybe the ASHI publication will have something in there I can use to back up my argument. The whole thing is ridiculous.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Understanding Water Heater Date Codes - The Inspector's Journal Forums
    Has the same information. I follow Scott's methodology. If it is older, I caution to budget for replacement, blah, blah, blah.
    I see no need to give an exact date but if asked, I will do my best to tell them.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Greenville, N.C.
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    I never met an A.O. Smith yet that did not have the age in the first two numbers.
    But as far as you paying, You make judgements all the time. I got suckered into that one time and never again. You politely say: "I made a judgement call on the age for the buyer. I did not tell you to hire anyone to check it."

    JLMathis


  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Quote Originally Posted by sam sanders View Post
    the seller wants me to pay for the service call.

    my problem is maintaining good customer relations (sellers' realtors can be future clients).
    You don't want that person for a client, and you may not want to deal with the realtor that feels you owe a penny to anyone. So why persue it? The tank was old in 1998, new old stock .
    The whole thing is ridiculous.



  10. #10
    Terry Neyedli's Avatar
    Terry Neyedli Guest

    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Appears to be an original installation.
    Budget for replacement at any time as it is at/near the
    end of its service life. Document it as such and move on
    to the next component.
    T.Neyedli CHI
    www.alphahomeinspections.ca


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Chicago IL
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Every now and then I run into one of those old Sears/Kenmore heaters and am stunned the thing is still working and not leaking. If the unit is more than a few years old, I tell people to budget for a new one. The unit could last another day or years. It's a water tank you never know. I don't even try to give a precise age beyond older or ancient. Just don't see any point to it, just another pitfall for arguments.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  12. #12
    Ryan Stouffer's Avatar
    Ryan Stouffer Guest

    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Regardless it has a high failure probability even if it was installed in 1998. That makes it 11 years old almost 12. Typical life expectancy is 8-12. I would have put high failure probability in the report and the age I thought it was as well. Bottom line: It needs to be replaced. Tell the realtor to take the $60 out of his/her 3% commission.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Ask to see the written evaluation by the plumber, on company letterhead, that the water heater is within its service life. If the client produces it pay the $60 and get a release signed by the client acknowledging release of liability.

    I always defer to the "qualified contractor", but only if they are willing to put it in writing as I have done on my report. If they are not willing to put it in writing then stand behind your report.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Age is only one issue here. The "heater thermostat did not respond" is vague and I'm not sure what you mean but that seems to be the main issue. I doubt they called a plumber to dispute the age of the unit and got nothing in writing.
    If the OP is confident in the age and the improper function of the thermostat, stick to your guns. If you think it is possible that you screwed up, then pay up.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  15. #15
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: old sears water heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Greenwalt View Post
    I always look at the ANSI date on the data plate. You can get a newer than date from that (IE< meets ANSI 1993,,,,then no older than that and usually withing 3 years of that (1993-1996).

    I could not even guess the amount of times the man tag was messed up or tried to decipher and was guessing. The ANSI thing is the only way to go if in doubt. It is always within a few years. If you think it says 77 and the ANSI date is 96 then you may want to re guess the manufacturers date.


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