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  1. #1
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    Default Water heater location

    I'm working on my house plans. Sometimes I get an idea and don't know if it's stupid or not.

    We don't have a lot of two-story houses in South Florida, and virtually none have basements. Therefore, the water heater tank tends to be in the garage, or sometimes in a hall closet, on the main floor.

    My new house will have a loft second floor with lots of space in the eaves behind a low wall. There won't be much extra space on the first floor -- in fact, I've got it planned to the last inch, and it would mess everything up to add a couple of feet for a water heater.

    The question is -- would I be stupid to put a water heater tank on the loft level? It just so happens I have a section of the eaves that would actually be over a back porch, so I could position such that any leaks would be onto the porch instead of in the house. I can place the tank in an over-size pan with a drain that would handle practially any leak other than a catastrophic rupture.

    I've been reading all the posts on tankless heaters, and there is still a slim possibility that I'll use one, but I'm pushing the budget on this house, and I'm not sure the potential savings are worth the extra up-front cost. Here in Florida, I'd also love to use solar panels, but my roof is not oriented properly, and the up-front cost is even worse. We've been living all our lives witha 40 gallon water heater, so if I go with a 50 gal unit, I'll be way beyond what I've ever had.

    So, am I crazy to think about putting it overhead? What other shortcomings are there that I haven't thought of?

  2. #2
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water heater location


    The water heater should work just fine on the second floor.

    Of course if a basement location is necessary for the heater to function you just may have to excavate beside the house for a mini heat basement!!! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    Egon [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  3. #3
    Bronze Member
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    VA southeastern
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    Kubota L3430 HST, 52 Ford 8N, JD455 AWS, Bayou 300 ATV

    Default Re: Water heater location

    In SE VA we don't have basements either. I've been in my house for 33 years and the water tank is in the attic...

    I do have a pan installed under it with a drain to the outside. I can speak from experience, the setup works. No damage done inside, and I've gone through 3 tanks with it.

    Seems a shame to waste good space... just make sure you have an easy way to get the tank up there. I rigged a hand crank boat winch for mine. The cable attaches through some galvanized tee's on the water inlet/outlet for lifting. The tank drain also goes to the pan and during the semi-annual cleaning I check the system for any clogs.

    Pete.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Water heater location

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( I'm working on my house plans. Sometimes I get an idea and don't know if it's stupid or not.

    We don't have a lot of two-story houses in South Florida, and virtually none have basements. Therefore, the water heater tank tends to be in the garage, or sometimes in a hall closet, on the main floor.

    My new house will have a loft second floor with lots of space in the eaves behind a low wall. There won't be much extra space on the first floor -- in fact, I've got it planned to the last inch, and it would mess everything up to add a couple of feet for a water heater.

    The question is -- would I be stupid to put a water heater tank on the loft level? It just so happens I have a section of the eaves that would actually be over a back porch, so I could position such that any leaks would be onto the porch instead of in the house. I can place the tank in an over-size pan with a drain that would handle practially any leak other than a catastrophic rupture.

    I've been reading all the posts on tankless heaters, and there is still a slim possibility that I'll use one, but I'm pushing the budget on this house, and I'm not sure the potential savings are worth the extra up-front cost. Here in Florida, I'd also love to use solar panels, but my roof is not oriented properly, and the up-front cost is even worse. We've been living all our lives witha 40 gallon water heater, so if I go with a 50 gal unit, I'll be way beyond what I've ever had.

    So, am I crazy to think about putting it overhead? What other shortcomings are there that I haven't thought of?
    )</font>

    There are plastic pans made to set the water heater in that will catch any leaks. They have a drain plug in them that you can hook pvc pipe into and route the water to somewhere safe. I found this out myself after a water heater leak on my slab house and ruined my living room carpet.

    Dur

  5. #5
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Texas

    Default Re: Water heater location

    You can get either plastic OR aluminum pans made for that purpose. And they work if installed correctly. Unfortunately, I once had one that was not. The pan was barely large enough for the water heater to fit into, and then the water heater was wrapped with insulation that extended out over the edges of the pan and the idiot who installed it ran the plumbing in such a manner that there was no way to connect a hose to the drain. And I was guilty of not checking on it, so by the time I knew it was leaking, a substantial amount of flooring had to be replaced also. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

  6. #6
    Veteran Member
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    Feb 2004
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    Brazos County Texas 77808
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    Kubota L3130HST w/LA723 loader

    Default Re: Water heater location

    We have had water heaters in attic or second floor locations in 2 houses without any problems. Just use all the precautions.

    Put yourself a hatch in a gable end to make replacement easier. Hoisting one up through an attic access stairway is a pain.

    Vernon

  7. #7
    Super Star Member
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    Sep 2000
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    Triangle Of North Carolina
    Tractor
    JD 4700

    Default Re: Water heater location

    Don,

    I just saw a plumbing show yesterday about water heaters. The drain pan should work but there is also a valve sensor that can be installed into the water heater supply lines to shut off the water if the tank should go. The sensor valve sits in the overflow pan and if water gets into the pan the valve turns off. I wish I had known about these when I built the house. I would have put one in even though our water heater is sitting on a slab foundation. Its a good idea just to keep water damage under control and/or saving your water pump/water bill.

    Later,
    Dan

  8. #8
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Tyler, Texas
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    Several, all used and abused.

    Default Re: Water heater location

    If there's no code against it, I guess putting a water heater in your eavs would work, but I wouldn't do it.

    My reasoning comes from replacing quite a few water heaters in my Home Repair business. I'm not a plumber, so my perspective is probably different.

    Water heaters in hard to get locations will cost more to replace when you call somebody to do it. It will fail in time, and in ten or 15 years from now, will you be able or willing to replace it yourself?

    Most water heaters will have a small leak long before they stop working. The pan is real good for catching this if installed properly and monitored, but they will fill up in time and then start to leak over the edge. I've seen quite a bit of wood rot from this happening. Nobody checks on their water heater when they are in a closet or hidden from sight. A small leak can go unnoticed for years. I replaced an entire exterior wall from a small leak rotting out the sill plate and studs. The brick facade was all that was holding that side of the house up and I was called in to patch the cracked sheetrock on the inside. Nobody knew the water heater had been leaking, cause nobody checked on it in the closet.

    My favorite place for a water heater is in the garage. You didn't say if you have an attached garage in your plan, so this might not apply. If space is an issue in a garage, it's the cheapest room to stretch and real easy to get another 4, 8 or even 12 feet out of. Service is easy along with the ocasional quick check to make sure everything is dry.

    One other option that I like to do is to have somebody else look at your plans. A fresh perspective will see things that you don't. I showed my girlfriend my plans over the weekend for the first time, and she has some really good ideas that I hadn't considered. One of the things I'm looking forward to at the Note Tejas get together is to bring my plans with me and get some input from the guys there. They will have there own perspective and experiences to what's important that I haven't considered.

    No plan is finished until the paint dries.








  9. #9
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    Default Re: Water heater location

    As usual, plenty of absolutely great replies, and a heap of useful advice. Access or wrestling with the heater won't be a problem, other than getting it up or down normal set of straight, open stairs. We're planning a loft that sourrounds the great room, with bedrooms and a bath that open off the loft and are above the downstairs bedrooms/baths.

    The roof will be a "normal" gable roof, which means that the closer to the eaves one gets, the less useful the loft space is. Therefore, I'm planning on a partition approximately 6' high to divide the space. I'll use the space behind the partition for storage. There will be an access door; I'll be sure to make it high enough and wide enough to handle the water heater, that will also make it more useful for storing bulky objects.

    Attached is a rough cad drawing that shows the proposed location, over the porch and behind the loft that is marked by the railing posts (I haven't sketched in the railing handles yet, nor the railings on the stairs). I also haven't sketched in the access door, yet. I use the cad program (TurboCad) as a sketch pad so I can explain to the person who will ultimately be drawing the working drawings what I want. There is no attempt on my part to make the drawings architecturely accurate. I removed the roof for this view.

    Of course, the other thing I could do would be to make a trapdoor hatch in the porch ceiling so items could be lifted and lowered into the eave storage area, but that seems a little like overkill, although kind of nifty.

    I have the plastic pans under my water heaters now, as they are required by code in this area. They are adequate for small leaks, but would be absolutely useless in the case of a catastrophic failure, such as the whole bottom rusting out. Of course, anyone who would let a heater get so bad that the whole bottom is rusting probably deserves some water in their house, but what I figured I could do would be to find or make a larger container, and install a larger drain that might keep up with the flow -- something like a large rain gutter.

    The tip about the automatic sensor valve to shut off the flow from the cold water input is a good one -- I did a Google search, and came up with FloodStop , which is also made for washing machines. At ~$80, this is an affordable precaution that just got bookmarked for inclusion in my house. Of such little things are a great house made!

    Eddie, no attached garage -- just a nearby open-sided carport for our daily drivers and the barn about 200' away. We just need to keep the sun off the cars and keep the rain off our heads as we get in and out of them. There will be a covered walkway between the carport and the porch.

    I'm getting close to the "fresh perspective" stage on my plans. In fact, Betsy and I have set time aside this evening to go over them and figure where we want to put some things, and see how the plans will work. We are doing several things that go against all "normal" conventional wisdom, and it's tough to visualize some of it. People who think "normally" about house design are no help to us. My problem is that I'm right on the sharp edge of the fence between knowing enough and falling into the deep end. I surely wish I had some creative types like you have there in Norte Tejas to look at them...almost makes me wish I lived in Texas instead of Florida (but not quite [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img])
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    May 2003
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    Princeton Tx.
    Tractor
    MF 1455v

    Default Re: Water heater location

    We have 2 water heaters in out atic. One 20 gallon for second bath and a 50 gallon for Kitchen, Landry, &amp; master bath. Both have over sized drain pains that have close to 5 inchs between the tank and lip of the pan. I had the drain pans plumbed to drain out on the next to the garage door outside. When coming in and out of the house during the day I should be able to see water on the concrete skerting. This is the same as most over flow drains on AC units.

    One side benefit I have noticed is that in the summer it take less power to keep the water hot.

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