We purchased a GE Ultra Low NOx 12 year water heater / model SG50T12TXKOO in 2009 from Home Depot. Long story short the thermocoupler failed.
My previous water heater lasted 18 years with no problems. I called the gas company out because I smelled gas. He said there was no leak. He tried to re-light the water heater and he said the thermocoupler was not working.
He would have replaced it himself, but these GE/Rheem models have "special" thermocouplers and the whole assembly has to be replaced. He advised I go to Home Depot and see about purchasing the parts from them. So I went to Home Depot the next day and the guy in plumbing said he never heard about there being a need for a special thermocoupler for GE water heaters and he handed me the one off the shelf. I checked with the information desk and they told me to call GE as the Home Depot warranty expired after the first year.
I called GE and they were closed because they are on Mountain Standard Time. I called the next day and they diagnosed the problem as the thermocoupler, which apparently is a common problem with these water heaters. The GE rep said these thermocouplers are special because California Law makers several years ago passed a law requiring water heater manufacturers to build them with energy efficient burners. I am pissed off at the law makers because they pass laws without any idea of what it takes for a manufacturer to come up with the technology to comply with their stupidity.
I am sure they are out on the grounds of the capital building today hugging a tree and feeling good about themselves with nary a concern about replacing a thermocoupler themselves. They will call Joe the plumber out on an emergency call and have him fix it on the spot or put in a new water heater that day. No way they are going to take a cold shower for even one day. So next time you go to the ballot box, think about the tree huggers and how they have stuck it to you lately.
Well, apparently the law makers were not the only ones who did not do their homework as GE sold these piece of junk water heaters to us unwitting consumers. GE knows these water heater thermocouplers are a problem, but they do not have them sitting on the shelf at the stores where they are sold. If it was on the shelf I would have replaced it the same day it broke down. But, no GE has to control it for some *** reason and require the poor consumer who purchased their piece of junk to call them to get the parts.
Oh, they will send it to you by FedEx next business day for free. That will not help me as I ordered it on Friday morning and the next business day is Monday. So, my family will be taking cold showers for at least a total of five days. I will try to replace it myself as it would cost me around $200 for a plumber to come out and do it for me.
That hardly seems fair. GE puts out an inferior product with known deficiencies and we have to take cold showers for five days and pay for the labor cost. The only satisfaction I can get from all this is to never purchase a GE product ever again. I am not hurting American jobs as my water heater was made in Mexico and most of GE's other products are made outside the country.
GE no longer deserves my patronage or yours. Please join me in boycotting all GE products so they can start to learn the value of being more concerned for their customers than just their bottom line.