AO Smith Effex Water Heater
More complicated water heater, with advanced features, reduces energy
Requires properly-wired electrical outlet within 10 feet of unit. No
Effex at AO Smith
Kenmore Elite reviews (Effex with 12 year
Effex can save $30-35 per year, but might cost $400 more than simpler
box-store water heater. Payback would be 12 years. However the Effex
includes powered anode rod which sells independently for more than
$225. Warranty is 6 years for original owner and residential
Effex plugs into outlet and possibly requires dedicated outlet to avoid
interference. Surge protector is recommended.
Offsetting the long-to-improbable payback is that Effex has other
benefits: Service manual is available, product manual has clear
maintenance steps, powered anode rod keeps tank from rusting and helps
solve possible odor problems, error code shows if power anode
malfunctions, digital LCD readout with error codes for simplified
troubleshoot, easy temperature control at eye level, and water heater
can be reset after FVIR incident instead of needing replacement.
Service manual is available. Maintenance is typical for all water
Warranty applies to: Single-family residential installation
6-year full replacement for failed Tank, and 6-year replacement parts
Example Effex warranty
Water heater must be installed and maintained as shown in manual for
warranty coverage. Read product manual
gallon Size 22" diameter x 62" high: requires 12" space above water
heater, 5" clearance front, 0'" clearance sides and back
3" or 4" vent/ Minimum 6" clearance between vent pipe and combustable
set in drip pan, maximum depth of pan 1-3/4". Drip pan is recommended
to prevent water damage. Set water heater on bricks if pan too deep.
If used to store solar-heated water, water cannot exceed 180°
pressure over 80 psi can damage any water heater: check household
prerssure using pressure gauge on water heater drain valve, install
pressure reducing valve and expansion tank to prolong life of any
Brass drain valve instead of plastic. Will not break off when replaced.
American, and Kenmore versions of water heater have plastic drain.
Dip tube keeps sediments stirred off bottom to resist lime and
sediment build-up. Flushing tank once per 6 months recommended.
has powered anode rod
All steel-tank water heaters have anode rod. Most water heaters have
sacrificial anode rod.
Anode depletes over time, and this chemical process protects tank from
Sacrificial anode rod is inspected and replaced each 2-4 years
Power anode rod is different than sacrificial anode rod. Both types of
tank from rusting.
Power anode rod uses small electrical current to prevent tank from
In theory, power anode will not deplete, and will protect tank
In real-world, if you buy power anode rod separately for $220+, the
anode warranty is
You can buy powered anode rod and install in most water heaters, but AO
has included this advancement with the Effex. LCD displays
error code if anode has problem.
Read page 24 Effex manual
Buy separate powered anode rod with LCD
readout for water heaters up to 75 gallons
Read about anode rods
you buy separate power anode rod, it can normally be used again on next
water heater. Effex power anode rod is not independent of Effex, and
cannot be moved to another water heater.
Numbers are for 40-50 gallon and are for comparison only,
and apply to
new water heater
operating at peak performance.
has .70 Energy factor
Factor indicates combined thermal efficiency and standby
efficiency of a water heater." Government EF information site
Compare Effex and typical water heater, both working at optimal
Effex EF .70 = $261 per year operation cost + 9 electric cost = $270
Typical box store gas water heater EF is .58 to .62 = $300 per year
Effex expected energy savings: $30-34 per year
costs are energy
If Effex costs $400 more than box-store 6-year heater, then payback
period at $32 per year is 12 years.
Effex includes powered anode rod which sells separately for more than
$200, but is not transferrable to another water heater.
Figures assume no repair cost for either water heater
Your comparison shopping may reveal different numbers.
Smith/ American maufactures water heaters for Sears Kenmore: Same water
AO Smith Effex Sell sheet
Kenmore Elite At Sears
State high efficiency Manual
EF energy factor .70
40 gallon first hour delivery 70 GPH
50 gallon first hour delivery 81 GPH
Rule of thumb for oversized garden tub or whirlpool tub is 80 gallon
Full wiring diagram image
water heater has 24volt electronic controls
Unlike typical box store water heater, the Effex is more complicated.
There are more parts. More things can go wrong.
However electronics are reliable and increasingly common for new water
and have been
used in heat-air controls for many years.
is Effex more complicated
1) To reach .70 energy factor, the Effex must control burn sequence
2) Internal blower is required to force combustion by-product through
baffles that recycle more combustion heat into the water. This reduces
wasted heat escaping out vent pipe.
3) The Digital control and display, with error codes, add
convenience but also additional wiring
Error codes are handy, but add layer of complexity. For example Effex
monitors the anode performance. This convenient service prevents water
heater from rusting.
Effex blower requires 120volt outlet within 10 feet of unit
How to wire whole house surge protector
plugs into 120Volt outlet
water heaters usually do not have blower or require electrical outlet
Electricity is needed to power Effex blower and 24volt electronics
Effex comes with 10 foot power cord. Do not
use extension cord.
Best if outlet is dedicated. Dedicated outlet means no other appliance
shares same circuit, and no fluorescent lights or other possible
Outlet must be properly grounded with correct polarity. Check outlet
with circuit analyzer.
Test ground prong on plug for continuity with manifold tube.
Power surge can knock out gas control, and electronics. Simple power
outage can create surge when power is restored. Example surge at Amazon
Homes today should be protected by whole-house surge protection
How to wire whole house surege protector
Example flame rod and flame sensor
does not have pilot light
Hot surface igniter saves fuel cost over standing pilot light. This is
one reason Effex has .7 EF
Hot surface igniter, or flame rod, is common in water heaters and other
household gas appliances.
Simple maintenance can include using sandpaper and sanding carbon off
flame rod, replacing
flame rod assembly, and checking X and Y distances between burner and
End of flame sensor has to sit directly in front of burner port.
Do not touch flame rod.
Effex require more maintenance?
NO. All gas water heaters today require yearly maintenance outlined in
AO Smith manual is complete. AO Smith burner can be removed without
needing replacement gasket. Typical Effex manual shows
Adequate, unobstructed air supply and proper venting is required by all
gas water heaters.
Maintenance protocol for Effex is same-similar as box-store gas water
READ manual, and follow advisories and maintenance schedule to avoid
Effex more reliable than typical box store water heater?
Probably the same. All brands of water heater are good. All brands have
lemon now and then.
key for longer product life is reading installation manual, observing
product advisories and following recommended maintenance.
Electrical outlet must have correct polarity and be grounded. Use surge
AO Smith offers good warranty service, and major brand name.
Effex more expensive to repair than typical box store
Probably not, when considering everything.
Effex has power anode rod to prevent rusting.
Effex can be reset following FVIR lockout. Water heater does not
Effex is more complicated and has more parts, and has detailed burn
sequence, but Effex service manual is available, parts are available
quickly, and Effex can be reset after FVIR event.
Typical Effex parts list
Typical Effex service manual
you repair the Effex yourself?
Probably yes. The manual has very good instructions for replacing parts
Typical Effex manual page 27
Error codes are handy start-point for repairs. Effex offers LCD error
Plus AO Smith posts service manuals. Typical Effex Service Manual
(large 11 Mb file)
Some companies do not post service manuals.
Advantage of service manual is in-depth troubleshoot and parts list.
Service manuals are big advantage for both homeowner and professional
the Effex recover from FVIR event without replacing water heater?
Usually YES. The digital LCD display has a button sequence for
heater after FVIR lockout, after cause for problem has been resolved.
Some box store gas water heaters require water heater replacement.
Read page 19 service manual
Read more about FVIR
intake located on side of water heater is easy to clean
All water heater air intakes must be kept clean. Avoid dusty
exposure to chemicals. Read manual page 11
Regular maintenance calls for yearly air intake cleaning. Read manual page 24
Why clean the air intake
All gas water heaters have air intakes, and all brands of gas water
require clean, unobstructed air intake to avoid overheated combustion
chamber that can shut down burner. Hybrid electric water heaters
also have air intake that must be cleaned.
Some gas water heaters have air intake located on bottom of water
and can be more difficult to clean.
Today's water heaters: Clogged air intake is most common cause for
overheated combustion chamber, leading to FVIR lockout.
Effex air intake is easy to clean. Plus air intake
is higher off the ground and less likely to clog with floor dust.
has Brass drain valve
American and Kenmore versions of this water heater have plastic drain
Professional plumbers and homeowners who maintain water heater prefer
brass drain valve.
More durable, and will not crack or break off during removal like
plastic drain valve
If drain valve is dripping, stop the leak using garden hose cap.
How to replace drain valve
Smith water heaters have 'Dynaclean' inlet tube or dip tube
AO Smith inlet tube 'features water jets that create turbulence which
reduces lime build up'
Note, the quote does not say the dip tube prevents sediment build-up.
Most water heaters today have similar dip tube feature.
feature probably does not work long-term since sediments are heavier
than water and will
eventually settle at bottom. Flush all water heaters once each 6
You can also buy special order curved dip tube custom-sized to fit any
water heater. Curved dip tube
water heaters should be flushed each 6 months to prevent sediment that
will (a) cause premature failure of power anode rod, (b) reduce tank EF
factor, (c) increase operating cost, and (d) cause early demise of
How to flush water heater
Read about dip tubes
How to maintain water heaters
Smith water heaters have pex-lined di-electric heat-trap nipples
Avoid heat loss at top of heater and save $2 per year
Avoid degraded heater and plumbing connections caused by current
flowing between dissimilar metals.