Your A. O. Smith's "9-year-warranty" water heater may in reality have nothing more than a 1-year warranty.
The first paragraph of the warranty document for my recently purchased A. O. Smith 9-year-warranty water heater says--
"This warranty is reduced to one year ... if the water heater is used to supply more than one dwelling unit."
I have owned a two-flat with two dwelling units, occupied by a total of five people. My 50-gallon water heater is advertised as serving up to five people. Though five people are within the specs of the water heater, the above loophole nevertheless voids almost 90% of the advertised length of the warranty.
This loophole probably applies as well to 12-year, 6-year, and 3-year water heaters.
A. O. Smith is free to define its warranties in any way it wants. But they should be ethical and should warn prospective purchasers about surprising loopholes like this one.
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