Question about Reliance Water Heaters

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We have two Reliance water heaters purchased in 2005. I am a relative of an out of town landlord so don't have model numbers without driving 40 miles. The utility company won't light them until we get inner combustion door or fly shield. Where do I get them? No appliance store or plumber knows what I'm talking about. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks

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  • lordnladyc Aug 24, 2010

    I've called several local plumbers. They said the appliance was bought at Home Depot and they can't do anything about it. Can we order the part from the company? Will Home Depot order it for us or what would you suggest? How dangerous is it to light it ourselves? I'm sure it has been done in the past. Seems this is a new reg from our local utility. Thanks, Ruth

  • lordnladyc Aug 24, 2010

    I did contact the manufacture. They referred me to a repairman 100 miles away who won't touch older reliant appliances. His advice was to not buy from Home Depot. Ruth

  • lordnladyc Aug 24, 2010

    Very informative and accurate information. I will definitely use site again. Glad I found it. Thanks. Prompt responses and very friendly and professional.



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There are two shields on modern water heaters. An outer shield called a Air Intake Screen or Lint, Dust, & Oil Vapors (LDO) screen that looks like similar to this. We have two Reliance water - 01e7c97.png
There is another shield that is in front of the combustion chamber that will look similar to this. e184835.png
or may look like this.
Ask for the inner or outer door depending on which one is missing. You may have to order one from the manufacture. You may be able to find on at anyplace that has some old water heaters laying around. A plumber would be a good source. To contact the manufacture call 1-800-365-4054 or go to

Posted on Aug 24, 2010

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  • NOT ME Aug 24, 2010

    The shield is there to prevent heat loss and to prevent anything from entering the chamber. It also controls the amount of air entering the chamber. Can you light the pilot without the shield in place? Yes you can. Should you? IMO, no, you should not. But what you can do until you find a shield is to make your own. Go to any hardware store and purchase a small piece of aluminum sheeting. Cut a piece large enough to make your own shield. The diagram above will help if your water heater is similar. Light the pilot and install the homemade shield. Call around to local plumbers and plumbing supply stores, and ask if they have any old water heaters laying around that you could rob a shield from. I see old water heaters all the time lying outside plumber shops and plumbing supply stores. They will know what you are talking about if you tell them it is the shield that you have to remove to light the pilot.

  • lordnladyc Aug 24, 2010

    The problem is that the utility company guy tagged one of the heaters and won't turn the other on. Said he will check for compliance in two days - then turn off gas. I'm going to find the serial number if possible and check with a large parts place. Otherwise I may have to buy new heaters. Great site - glad I found it. Thanks, Ruth

  • NOT ME Aug 25, 2010

    You are more than welcome Ruth. So very glad I could be of assistance.



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Reliance 501 Hot Water Heating element for 30 gal tank, where to purchase

You do not need special parts.
Wattage is printed on end of each element.
Buy generic elements at hardware store.


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My heater is not getting hot i can not tell if their is a pilot light or a reset button i don know what to do with the heater it is very different how can i heat my water heater

Reliance makes gas and electric water heaters.

Best way to start is to look at label on side of tank.
Label has serial number, model number, plus it will say if heater is gas or electric.
Reliance water heater age is shown in serial number: first digit is letter, second two digits are numbers: for example numbers 02 would be the year 2002.
If water heater is 8-12 years old, it might be time to consider new tank.

Gas water heater has 3 inch metal flue pipe coming out of top of tank.
Gas pilot is probably off.
Relight pilot light: Most gas water heaters today have instructions on side of tank just above gas valve that say how to relight pilot light. Instructions vary by model.
If you have gas water heater that is older, it might be easier to call a plumber.

Electric water heater has panels on front.
Open top panel and push in red reset button.
If you have electric water heater of any age, you can usually fix it yourself same day:


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I need to know if i have the right element for my water heater. i have the reliance 501 4500w/240v id # 5 40 2ort0 w i want to know if i need the long 1 or the bent 1. would love a pic if possible. i...

Either element will work ... straight or bent.
4500 Watt element will work, buy you can also substitute 3500, or 1500 Watt.
Stepping up wattage larger than water heater nameplate is not recommended, because wiring may not carry more watts.

Element wattage is printed on end of each element.

Reliance is AO Smith company

Reliance 501 manual is not available on Reliance site.
The 501 used to be standard model, but now it's the 600 series.

600 series manual is similar to your product.
page 22 shows element replacement, and says not to use greater wattage than rating plate on water heater.

Age of Reliance heater is on serial number. First character is letter. Next two characters are numbers corresponding to year. So C05222,,, serial number is made in 2005.

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I have a 40 gallon electric reliance water heater model no. 8 40 2ARS8 - serial no. M94566434 that I need dimensions for so that we can replace it with a new model. Thank you.
Reliance is an AO Smith company
Link above goes to Reliance electric water heaters
I cannot find your model number
The serial number seems to show it was made in 1994, so the spec sheet would be difficult to find
You must have bought a good heater and taken care of it for it to last that long.

Typical 40 gallon Reliance electric:
18" x 59-1/2"
20-1/2" x 44"
Self-cleaning type Reliance 40 gallon
19" x 60"
21-1/2" x 46"

The size of your heater can be determined by measuring the height, and then measure across the top to get the diameter. Your measurements will be close to the numbers shown above.


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What is the expected useful life of a Reliance 40 gallon electric water heater? Is there a maintenance step that can be taken to ensure that there is no build-up of contaminants on the elements?

The average life expectancy of any water heater relates directly to its warranty. 1 year- 1year, 6 years-6 years. If you use the water heater past its warranty, you are really making money on the purchase.

Installing a new anode rod is about the only maintenance step you can take. However, this does not guaranty that you will not accumulate build up.

Draining the water heater once a year helps a little bit with buildup in the bottom of the tank but not the elements.

The ultimate solution is to install a water treatment system, not just a water softener. They are somewhat expensive, but well worth the cost in the long run-10 to 15 years.


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Need Instruction Manual for 1992 Reliance LP 40-gal. water heater

Gas water heaters have not changed much over the last few decades. The manual that they sent you should suffice. What sort of a problem are you having?

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