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Kenmore / Power Miser / Sears's faulty product

United States Review updated:
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I purchased a townhome in 1995. The thing is that an A. O. Smith 40 gallon gas water heater was installed by the builder. It lasted a good 11 years. In January of 2006 it died. I purchased a Kenmore Power Miser 9 gas water heater. The fact is that the installation guy told me that they are all the same water heater. They just slap a 6, 9, or 12 indicating the amount of warranty years you are willing to pay for. I have a 9 year warranty, hence Power Miser 9. I basically installed it myself with the help of my uncle who is a union plumber for about 50 years. Anyway, we installed it on January something of 2006. In October 2006 I had no hot water. I called the 800 number on the side of the tank and they connected me to someone else who handles the warranties. They in turn connected me to Sears. Sears told me that they don't handle any of the warranties or the service. I was told that they hire plumbing contractors to install and do the service. They gave me the number for the nearest plumber that they use in my area. This person said I would have to purchase a permit to have the work done. In six days they sent a guy out to look at the water heater and he told me it was the thermostat. He replaced it. He also left five minutes after he installed it. Five minutes after he was gone the pilot went out. I went thru the phone numbers once again to find out that it would be another couple of days for him to get here. He shows up two days later and says I guess it was the tank. Apparently it is cracked inside and water leaks out and falls onto the pilot and puts it out. Another six days for the permit that I had to purchase for 70 dollars. He shows up and says well we didn't install it so you have to pay 140 plus tax and charges to hall the bad one away. I don't care at this point because I just want hot water. My wife and I have an 11 year-old daughter. We had been without hot water for a week and a half. I have had the new water heater installed and working. It is now May of 2007 and I don't have hot water with the Kenmore Power Miser 9. I call and go through all the same rude people working for Sears or Kenmore. Who ever it is answering the 800 number for customer service. I go through the same thing, being told they will send someone the earliest 6 days from now. My wife calls three days later and says she cannot go another day without hot water. She is told that they will call us back in a few hours. They will send someone out as soon as possible. Five hours later she calls and is told that on the order in their computer it says that someone will contact us within 24 hours. My wife explains that she was told someone would call us back shortly. They are rude and say that it is impossible for them to help us that quickly. My point is that Sears sells Kenmore products. Over my life time so far I have always trusted Sears products. The thing is that they were always good with customer service until a couple of years ago. Why am I paying for repairs on a water heater that is supposed to be covered for 9 years? It was replaced in less than a year and now it is 7 months later with the second one from Sears. The first Kenmore Power Miser 9 lasted 10 months. The second one lasted 7 months. Another shocking surprise is that I was told by the Sears or warranty people that my water heater is covered under warranty till 2008. I am pretty sure I am looking at a power miser 9 indicating a 9 year warranty. I haven't asked about that yet but am furious. How is it that American companies are automatically able to take advantage of law abiding citizens? How is it that Sears customer service is basically just a joke? I have refused to pay for another permit or service of any kind. Hopefully I will get the help I deserve. It is Sear's faulty product. They should be responsible for it. This is the second one I have been through in 17 months. When will we get justice in this country? Be careful what you are told by companies selling you products in this country. It will not only cost you your hard earned money but every ounce of patients and will eventually make you crazy with enough anger to make your head explode. It's bad enough that it happened after ten months of use but to happen again after only seven months it's unforgivable.


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N  27th of Mar, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Kind a harsh judgement but i could understand the client feeling. I bought exact same model for more than 5 months, installed it myself with the help of my dad and it runs without a problem at all. My suggestion is to replace her unit with the new one and have Sears install it so if anything happen then Sears will have chance to defend her product and satisfy her client at the same time
N  20th of Nov, 2017 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
@David Frank It's not a harsh judgment regarding Sears. They have been getting diminishing public approval for many years. Back in 1970 virtually all of our appliances came from Sears but none since 2002 when my Power Miser 9 was installed. Fifteen years of satisfactory service for a water heater may be called good by some people but I'm not overly impressed. With the technological capabilities we have today a 20 year water heater should be the minimum expected. My forced air natural gas furnace has been running since 1970. All I do is clean & oil it myself and have the gas company check it for CO2 leaks.
N  6th of Apr, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I had a Power Miser 10 that I bought in February 1999 and I installed it in March 1999.
Here it is 2008 and I noticed a leak at the base this week. I called Sears as I had the installation date, but not the actual purchase date which they had and yes it was still in warranty.
That same day a service man came out a verified that the tank was leaking, turned in his report and within 2 hours I had a replacement waiting for me at the Elkhart, IN Sears store.
I picked it up the next day and installed it and my only issues was these lousy imported from China galvanized fittings that will leak if you do not crank them down till the almost break, this took be 2 different sets of fittings and untold tightening sequences to stop the dripping. So much for the junk plumbing Menards now carries...whatever happened to domestic stuff which I would gladly buy, but those stores aren't open of Saturdays.
However, this replacement water heater even though it is a Power Miser 12; 12 year warranty, will only be warranted till the end of my original purchase warranty of 10 years.
So, if I get another 8-9 years from this unit, I will have gotten 18 years of water heater use for the price of a single purchase with a 10 year warranty.
In closing, I had very good contact with their warranty department until I got to a young Gal trying to schedule the serviceman's stop, she spoke very bad English, but other than that, Sears took care of my issue very promptly.
I can say this much, if this replacement Power Miser 12 doesn't make 10 years, there will be no more Power Miser water heaters in this domicile!
Next one will be a GE, or Whirlpool.
N  11th of Jun, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I bought a kenmore power miser 9 on 5-05-2005, 3 years later the pilot light started going out every other day, did not have an extended warranty so I called sears and after an hour of talking to 8 different people and getting transfered from dept. to dept.and getting disconnected after being put on hold numerous times I finally talked to someone who told me I was s.o.l since I did not get the extended warranty.I have been shopping at sears for the last 40 yrs. and after this I will never step into another sears store again and purchase any of their products.thanks you sears for all your help.(not)
A  17th of Jul, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I also have a SEARS POWER MISER 9 GAS WATERHEATER that is JUNK!!! SEARS has been out numerous times since I bought the damn thing and has replaced the burner and the thermocouple because the pilot light kept going out. Well guess what??? I'm now having the SAME problem AGAIN and SEARS will be out again on saturday. I've NEVER in my life had so much trouble with an appliance like I've had with this waterheater. It's a piece of ### and SEARS should replace it FREE and APOLOGIZE for all the inconveniences of going in to do dishes or take a shower only to discover the hot water is gone AGAIN. We have to relight our waterheater each and every day...sometimes MORE. This has been going on THIS TIME for about 3 weeks. I'm planning to save up for a new waterheater only the next one is comming from LOWE'S NOT SEARS!!!
A  3rd of Aug, 2008 by 
Best Best Advice Agree Disagree +4 Votes
I had all the same problems with the pilot light going out all the time.The parts are not the problem, the design of the unit is.After the burners run for a period of time, it depletes the oxygen supply in the enclosed combustion compartment, causing the pilot light to starve for oxygen and go out.I eliminated the problem by removing (knocking out) the pilot light sight glass, and drilling two more small 3/8 holes directly to the right of the sight glass opening, one right above the other.The holes were drilled first but alone, did not fix problem.I then knocked out the sight glass and it works as it should.So, try removing glass first and you may not have to drill anything.Sight glass mounting bezel (hard to get out) was also removed on mine, which makes the hole slightly larger.This fix takes about 15 minutes and can be easily done.
A  11th of Aug, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree +1 Votes
I bought my Power Miser 12 last year (9/2007) and after a month the pilot light keeps on dying. Called tech support, sent a service technician and "fixed" the problem. Last month the same problem started reoccurring, called service again and they sent a technician on 8/1/2008. He said the thermostat is broken, and needed to order the part. Now it is the 11th of Aug, the pilot light completely died and needed an emergency service. the 800 number line does not have any record of the technician ordering the part, nor even the technician being here. But they have records of them calling me to schedule an appointment to have the part installed. (huh???)I am still waiting for the technician to get here and I'll follow up this post. It looks like tis is not an isolated thing... maybe we should do something about this...
N  1st of Sep, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I bought my Sears Water Heater on Sep 21, 2006, Sears installed it. It stopped working on on 21 Jul 2008.
A  25th of Oct, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Ordered two Kenmore Power Miser 9 water heaters for different apartments in the building, both bought a few months apart. Both water heaters' pilot keep going out now. The first started having problems less than 4 months after it was bought. The second a little more than half a year... This product is bad. I was going to give a bad review on Sears website, but i notice that it isn't even offered right now. Searched the internet and found overwhelmingly bad reviews. I'm going to give Sears a mouthful! I can't believe they sold this trash. They used to sell quality products long, long ago.
A  10th of Nov, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Problem identical to numerous others. Purchased a Power Miser 12. After 2 years the pilot light refuses to stay lit. I sometines light it 10 times per day. I get so sick of it that I may not even go on the side of town that has the sears store.
It is a piece of ### and I use that word because I am a Christian. I would like to hang the salesman up by the balls. I am still a christian as I did not say anything about skining the manager and burning his torseau with napalm.

Do you want to know if I will ever buy somethinng from sears...well I am a christian
N  13th of Nov, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I fixed my Kenmore Power Miser 12. I broke out the little window so the thing could breathe and have not had to relight it again...yipppie. Hot water every morning after 2 weeks.
A  21st of Nov, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I was able to fix the pilot light problem with the Power Miser 9 by removing the view window. Wish I knew this before I spent 40 bucks on a new pilot light assembly...
A  24th of Nov, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I took the advice of Mr. Karr, a few entries above. I see that others tried it. My Power Miser 9 has worked perfectly ever since, now I can cancel my service call and not have to pay the $65 diagnostic fee. Thanks for figuring it out!
A  28th of Nov, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I'm glad I read this. I've just recently been experiencing the issue with the pilot light going out and was looking for some insight before throwing the POS on the junk heap and replacing it. I've known better for years that Sears/Kenmore/Crapman is substandard quality following a lifetime warranted Crapman screwdriver blade fracturing while servicing a 480 volt buss duct, damn near killing me and certainly destroying a fine pair of undershorts. I'll remove the sight glass as recommended and hope this resolves the problem. This is likely to be the last appliance or tool purchase via Sears for me though. Fool me once, shame on you. I'll report back on my results.
N  2nd of Dec, 2008 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Day 3 with the sight glass removed. The pilot light has remained lit ever since. Mr. Karr, good observation and good advice. I think that A.O. Smith and Kenmore owe you some R&D fees as well as consulting fees. I suppose the only response that will officially come is some blah blah about exposed flame fire risk. Thank goodness for lawyers.

Thanks for the help.
N  4th of Jan, 2009 by 
Agree Disagree +3 Votes
I can see right now someone is going to get hurt and or burn down their house trying to fix their Power Miser series water heater. I have the Power Miser 9 water heater and it lasted 1 (one) year and 4months before the pilot light failed. I also had to fire up the water heater manually every time we needed hot water. I called Sears for a new thermal coupling to find out they only sell the complete burner assembly, which after shipping would be about $100.00, from that point on I was pissed. They wanted me to wait two weeks for service as well, which is not acceptable. If you are looking for the world's worst service, call Sears, there I said it.
We all have to agree that being pissed off will not make our water any hotter or solve any problems, so everyone needs to cool off and get level headed.
It was clear that I was on my own and Sears wasn't going to help. I had to find the real problem.
I removed the burner assembly from the water heater to find a device that I have not seen in other gas water heaters. There was a thermal limiter sensor/switch inline with the thermal coupling circuit. The sensor is positioned under the main burner flame and mounted on a bracket with one screw. The factory thermal coupling was the same in all other aspects as the universal thermal coupling I purchased from Lowes, for eight dollars. I replaced the factory thermal coupling and inline sensor with the universal thermal coupling without an inline sensor. The entire job took 15 minutes and was easy. The water heater has functioned normally since the repair. So what was the real problem?
The strange little sensor took center stage in the diagnostics lab. The sensor is a high temp. switch which is either open or closed depending on temperature. When the sensor is (normally) closed or in the on position a small electrical current from the thermal coupling is sent to the main gas control valve. The gas control valve allows gas flow to the pilot light as long as there is a current present from the thermal coupling. If the electrical current is interrupted or switched off, ALL gas flow will be terminated. The result is no pilot light or main flame until reset by the owner/customer. This is a safety system and is effective. The introduction of the high temperature on/off limiter switch, which is designed to interupt current from the thermal coupling to the gas valve, is an added safety feature. It prevents overheating of the combustion chamber and the bottom of the tank. Since the combustion chamber is closed, excessive temperature or heat is a manufacturer concern. The over-heat concern was addressed by placeing a high limit thermal switch inline with the thermal coupling. If an eccessive heat situation occurs the thermal limiter switch opens interupting the current flow to the gas valve from the thermal coupling shutting down the entire unit. The result mimics a defective thermal coupling. The true problem is a defective high limit switch. This part becomes weak very quickly due to its high temperature environment. When the limiter switch becomes weak it mistakes normal operating temperatures as excessive and shuts down the water heater. Removing the pilot light window allows a cool air flow over the high limiter switch and greatly reduces combustion chamber temperatures, thus the switch does not open and the water heating process remains uninterrupted. If the air inlet screen, located on the bottom of the water heater, is clean there should be more than enough air for complete and proper combustion. One might think by removing the window the burner has more air to sustain a proper flame. In reality air flow was never an issue if the screen is clean. Why would the water heater ever work if it was not getting enough air, it wouldn't. By removing the pilot light window the closed or sealed combustion chamber design has effectively been changed back to the open combustion chamber design eliminating the excessive heat threat. The only reason the water heater works now with the window removed is because the defective limiter switch can't get hot enough to open and the current to the gas valve is uninterrupted.
Removal of the pilot light window and removal of the high limit switch are both safety hazards and should be avoided. The consumer should not have to be burdened with such safety design flaws. Purchasing a complete burner assembly to replace the defective limiter switch will only last a short time because the new limiter switch will be cooked like the old one. If the factory fails to replace the faulty limiter switch with one that can handle such extreme conditions or does not reconfigure the design these water heaters will NEVER operate as safely and dependably as they were designed. This is a true design blunder and places the consumer in danger. I found it very interesting to read that Sears can't repair their own product. This is because they are replacing a defective part with a defective part and making big money while they are doing it. Make no mistake, as a consumer you are a victim.
Until Sears or Kenmore knocks on your front door with a redesigned burner assembly and they want to install it for free, we as consumers are being ripped off.
Yes, I fixed my water heater for eight dollars but I am not satisfied because I had to eliminate a safety device to do it. My next correspondence will be to my states Attourney General's office, consumers division. I hope this information will be beneficial to all. Good luck and be safe.
A  26th of Jan, 2009 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Just recently (this past weekend) my Kenmore Power Miser 12 apparently ruptured (seam cracked at top of tank under insulation?). Sears has dutifully sent a repair tech out to confirm the tank problem. The heater is nine years old and has operated flawlessly the entire time until failing in a big way. I was unhappy to find out that the tech only confirms problems and in no way was prepared to replace the heater if deemed that need be done. I am now waiting patiently by the phone for a plumber's call (hired by Sears). After reading all of the above comments I am concerned that I will be without a water heater for some time (it has already been three days). But I will give Sears the benefit of the doubt for two reasons: 1. They treat thier Guard and Reservists fairly. 2. It remains to be seen how quickly I actually get service. By the way, this heater was installed by a Sears contractor right after our original heater (24 years old) failed during an earthquake. The heater is still under warranty, the labor is not. I'll check back later and let you all know what happens. Frankly I am surprised that the tank failed. The mfg. (A.O. Smith, I understand) should be alarmed at thier quality control.
N  1st of Feb, 2009 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I just bought a PM12. One of the top flaps on the box was pulled open but salesman said that happened when they were pulling it around. Had 3 helpers to help get it through a access hole in my crawl space. It was a few inches taller than the original. Had to dig a few inches and build a new platform to allow safe clearance above for gas vent.

Couldn't shut of water completely with valves in house. Have leakage somewhere in house between hot and cold. Gave that up and shut down at street meter.

Got it all installed and apparently am not getting gas to the pilot. I do get a spark from the piezo-electric starter but no flame. Went through all the steps repeatedly but no pilot.

Went to the Sears store to take another look at a new one. Thats where I figured out where the piezo electric spark can be seen. Mine is tough to access. Noticed the hot and cold fittings have little rubber fittings inside. Mine didn't have those rubber flaps. Maybe the real reason the my rupper flaps were missing is that someone popped the box open to remove them?

Will call Sears for service because The Kenmore 1-year exclusive warranty states they will supply and replace and install if defective. More later.
N  5th of Feb, 2009 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Regarding above from Tim: When I put in the call to Sears, the rep asked if I wanted to speak to a technician or have one dispatched. I stated that "if a rep knows can explain a trick to igniting the pilot, I would prefer tech assistance. Instead, Sears did have a service man dispatched the day after they were called. He complimented me on pro looking installation .

Thanks for all the information provided by others on this forum.

The problem I had getting the pilot to light turned out to be a very finiky thermostat adustment. The lighting instructions specify the thermostat control be turned to the pilot position and, to be clear, "all the way to the stop". This may work on some heaters but not mine. Most of my attempts were all-the-way-to-the-stop as specified. I also made a number of attempts with the pointer aligned with the pilot arrow which did not work either. The repairman demonistrated that you must find the sweet spot which may be a little before or after the pointer or all the way to the stop. He said I should have been able to hear the gas flow but, on my attemps, I never heard gas flow. Anyway, it lit and I now have hot water. I hope this posting helps someone else.

A  5th of Mar, 2009 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I just called a plumber and was told that all gas hot water heaters have this same problem..it is due to a new safety feature that companies started using in 2005..when asked what type of heater to use he told me to go Tankless, which is about 2 grand to have put in your house, or go electric.. For anyone who is thinking about getting a GE or Whirpool to replace your Kenmore, know this.. All of those companies are using the same Hot water heaters, just slapping their names to it..opps, time to relight the pilot lite, makes time 6 in the last 24 hrs.. good luck with your heaters Kids...

N  20th of Mar, 2009 by 
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I'm glad I found this page. Our circa-2004 PM9 hasn't been staying lit lately. I am going to check the underside with a mirror for airflow before alterations begin. I see a tankless unit in our future anyway...

Honestly, due to prior experiences with Sears I don't buy anything from them anymore. This heater came with the house...Lord knows I wouldn't have bought it, given any choice in the matter. S.R. & Co. was an American icon some time ago. It's sad, really, to see how far the name has fallen.

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