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  1. #1
    Veteran Member s219's Avatar
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    Default Hot water heater in attic = insane

    The house we bought new 10 years ago has the hot water heater in the attic. This has always bothered me, since you could get catastrophic damage if it ever developed a serious leak. Well, our neighbor's heater ruptured a couple weeks ago, and that got me thinking it was time to replace ours. Turns out it did have a minor leak, and was probably on borrowed time, so I gladly set out to replace it. A new 40 gal gas hot water heater cost me $347 at Lowes, plus another $50-60 for associated parts.

    That's when I found out the other disadvantage of having a hot water heater in the attic -- replacing it is a major production. The morons who did the HVAC in this house clearly gave no thought to ease of replacement of the hot water heater. They put the furnace, which breaks down into multiple suitcase-sized components that would be easy to replace, right near the access hatch. The hot water heater, which is one big component, was behind the furnace, with no room to slip past the furnace. Even if I cutup the old tank, there would be no way to get a new one in. If we weren't planning on moving in the next year or so, I'd consider a tankless heater just because it would have been easier to get in.

    Anyway, I had to cut a new hole in the ceiling, which also involved relocating a light fixture. I spent Friday rigging up a block and tackle to lower the old heater out of the attic, and here it is on the way down:



    The new heater went up with more careful rigging -- I built a platform underneath it, with some struts on top to keep the ropes from squeezing the tank, and had my wife help guide it up through the hole:



    I got the new heater up there around 8PM Friday, put a new drip pan in place on a new plywood pad (old one had sagged due to poor alignment with framing), and started plumbing installation when I noticed an issue, so I called it a night, took a *COLD* shower, and got ready for the next day of work.

    The next morning, I studied the plumbing issue again. This particular hot water heater (Whirlpool model) has the water connections recessed into the top of the tank by about 1". That meant that when threading in my carefully constructed copper to PEX assembly, the hex portion of the fitting slowly got cranked below the top of the tank, and I could no longer get my wrench on it. Talk about odd. It was tight, but not gorilla tight, and a leak test confirmed it wasn't down far enough. After some prodding, I determined I could pull some trim off the top of the tank, and then slip a 1-1/16" deep socket over the fitting to crank down with a ratchet. It's just dumb luck I had that size deep socket as part of a set for my impact driver. Anyway, that gave me 2-3 more turns, and I cranked the fittings down and put the rest of the copper in place.

    From there, I connected the PEX plumbing (with a ball valve on the cold feed) and crimped all the connectors. I did more leak checks, and everything looked good so I installed pipe insulation.

    Next was the chimney. I was able to reuse most of the old pipe, but had to trade out one swivel section for a straight section since the new hot water heater was about 4" taller and slightly offset from the old one (to better line up with floor framing). That took another trip to the store for a section of pipe.

    Finally, I connected the gas line, gave everything thorough leak checks, lit the pilot, and fired up the new hot water heater. Everything worked great. Right about then, a massive snow squall moved in, and I could barely hear myself in the attic, so I was glad to be done!

    Tomorrow, I need to clean up, dispose of the old heater, and trim out the new hole in the ceiling -- it will become a second access hatch that can be used by the poor bastard who has to replace the hot water heater next time. In our next house, I definitley plan to put the hot water heater on the ground floor!

  2. #2
    Veteran Member
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    NHtd75

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    And in my opinion a HVAC unit in the attic is insane too.

  3. #3
    Elite Member whistlepig's Avatar
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    Preble County, Ohio
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    Kubota B7800 with FEL

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    My nephew has HVAC in his attic that went bad. It destroyed his house. The water damage was as bad as a catastrophic flood. I have seen such a bad idea.
    ........Shoot this thang! Have mercy this thang is killin' me. Just shoot up here amongst us. One of us has got to have some relief..............
    jerry clowers-a coon huntin story.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member moored4's Avatar
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    Kubota l245dt, l3540, 8N

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    Bats and Christmas decorations are the only thing that should be in the attic!!
    "keep them pots black, shiny, and full of good Food and Fellowship!"
    Moore Cookie

  5. #5
    Veteran Member zzvyb6's Avatar
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    michigan
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    jd 1070

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    I like my hot water right below my shower. Immediate hot water. And right near the laundry, too.

    But, what would be the reason to put it in an attic? Save space down below? I can't think of any thermal reasons, so it must be a space saving deal.
    There is no "I" in team, but there is a "Me" if you want to jumble it up a bit...

  6. #6
    Elite Member CurlyDave's Avatar
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    Grants Pass, OR
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    JD TLB 110

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    It is a space saving thing.
    40 Acres on a hill - fantastic view. JD 110 TLB, 4-n-1, 12" bucket, 18" bucket, Addington thumb, rock bucket (doubles as root grapple)

    Not only do we not understand the universe, if someone explained it to us, we would not know what he was talking about.

    Isaac Asimov

  7. #7
    Veteran Member yelbike's Avatar
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    Near Winnipeg, Mb, Canada
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    John Deere 2305, 2320,Z465

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    Only time I've seen this was in a mall at a salon. What a pain is the .... to change.
    Carefull what you aim for, Aim for nothing and you will achieve it with amazing accuracy.

  8. #8
    Super Star Member
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    Yanceyville, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    Quote Originally Posted by SandburRanch View Post
    And in my opinion a HVAC unit in the attic is insane too.
    I agree.
    The PUPIL who does not surpass his Master, fails his Master.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member NY_Yankees_Fan's Avatar
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    Warren County, NJ (60 miles from NYC)
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    Kubota BX 2200

    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    As an insurance person in the loss prevention field I would install a water alarm in the pan so you know you have a problem BEFORE it gets bad. Below are a few examples based on a Google search.

    Zoeller 10-0763 High Water Alarm, Battery Powered

    Zoeller 10-0763 High Water Alarm, Battery Powered

    Basement Watchdog BWD-HWA - Sump Pump Water Alarm

    Basement Watchdog BWD-HWA - Sump Pump Water Alarm

    HomeDepot has this, good reviews too.

    http://www.homedepot.com/buy/plumbin...arm-41623.html
    AKA Tom
    #28 for the Yankees in 2014
    Kubota BX 2200, FEL, 60" MMM with Gator Blades, 48" Kioti Aerator, M96 Herd Seeder, W.R. Long Tooth Bar, 48" First Choice Tiller, Kubota BX 2750 Front Snowblower, Sims Cab, MacKissic Chipper TPH 122, Carry All, Canopy, and Weight Box

  10. #10
    Veteran Member s219's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot water heater in attic = insane

    An alarm would be a good idea. The drip pan has a drain outlet that could be plumbed to the outside, in fact I was surprised to see that the old pan wasn't connected to anything. But from what I have read, you wouldn't notice a slow leak, and a massive leak would overwhelm the pan. At least the alarm would catch a slow leak.

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