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Water heater warranty by brand

Kenmore gas control valve
Electronic gas control valves

Warranties

There are 3 main manufacturers that make all other brands: Rheem, AO-Smith, Bradford White. Most warranties are the same and protect against defects in workmanship.
Water heater manufacturers

Kenmore water heater warranty is printed in each product manual Example Kenmore water heater warranty
Rheem:  Example 6 year Rheem water heater manual from 2003
Rheem warranty claim form
Rheem parts warranty claim form
American Residential: Example American residential warranty 2006
Reliance power vent: Reliance power vent warranty
Rheem Marathon: Example Marathon warranty
GE Heat pump GE Hybrid water heater manual
Bradford White :Bradford White warranty policy and coverage
GE: GE water heater warranties
Eternal Eternal warranty
Longer warranties generally mean thicker anode rod or two anode rods.
Anode rods prevent tank from rusting.
2 anode rods are better than 1... (unless your home is on rural water well and has odor problems caused by anode in which case 1 anode  or 0 anodes is better) .... two anode rods generally means longer warranty.

If 12 year tank only costs $80 more than 9 year tank, then conside the following: Since most water heater failures happen later in the life of the tank, then then $80 difference, or $26.66 per each of the last 3 years, seems very reasonable.
Especially since ordinary gas control valve thermostat costs $200+ today, and probably $400+ in the future.
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Gas-Water-heater-diagram-50.jpg

First year warranty covers parts+tank+labor.. full coverage.

After year 1, the warranty covers tank and parts (excluding anode rod). Anode is not covered because the product manual recommends inspection and replacement of anode each 3 years.
When replacing anode, then both anodes must be replaced to ensure each anode is made of same material (magnesium or aluminum etc).
One of the anodes will be ordinary hex anode that is screwed into top of tank, and second anode will be a combo anode rod attached to hot water nipple. Both types widely available.
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Combo-hex-anodes-300.jpg
How to replace anode rods

After first year, the parts warranty includes the gas control valve, thermocouple, igniter, burner assembly, dip tube etc etc, but does not cover labor to diagnose and conduct repairs.

Nor does the warranty cover failure caused by need for regular maintenance... as outlined in manual.

The steel tank is warranted not to rupture or leak for the full 12 years... but this might be pro-rated... so year 12 the tank leaks, then you get a small amount of money toward purchase of next water heater. UNLESS you can show that you followed all the required maintenance... including inspecting and replacing anode rod each 3 years to prevent tank rusting. And installed expansion tank if your water pressure is high, evidenced by frequent water heater failure and plumbing failures at your home.
BUT they still might have pro-rated policy, and in addition, they are known to hassle customers over coverage as is typical with companies today ... requiring customer to make multiple phone calls and demands at the exact moment when you need a new water heater with no time to negotiate over coverage.
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Mattress-warranty-claim.jpg

I suggest you clarify the warranty with seller, and by reading product manual beforehand... and email me with questions as needed. Twelve years from now however, I will not be available.

Your warranty coverage is held by 3rd party, and saving receipt is best plan ... if the receipt is missing, then the year of manufacture is used for warranty coverage.
Year of manufacture is coded into the serial number located on label on side of tank. So loss of sales receipt means serial number is used to support warranty. http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Find-Age-of-water-heater.pdf
Here's the tricky part.... the actual manufacture of your tank can be 1-2-3+ years earlier than sales receipt. Water heaters are not like cars where year of manufacture is known by both seller and buyer.

In other words, loss of receipt has led people into serious warranty complications during the later years of warranty. And in the first year when you have full coverage.

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