What is the Ideal Location for a Water Heater?
Many homes have bulky, tank hot water heaters. These typically take up a large amount of space and they’re not something you want out in the open. In many homes across the country, you can find the hot water heater in the basement. However, in North Carolina we are at a slight disadvantage due to our thick, red clay based soil. Very few homes in the Charlotte and surrounding areas have basements due to the labor involved in digging that deep through the clay. If homes have a basement floor, it’s usually a walkout because of the grading of the land.
That being said, many homes are built using a slab foundation. This makes it difficult to run plumbing through the first floor. In that case, hot water heaters are usually found in attics, sometimes near the HVAC system. This is a risky placement for many reasons. Attics are the most rarely visited spaces in a home. If an aging hot water heater is up there, chances are it can break, leak and cause thousands of dollars in damage before you even notice.
So what’s the solution to this outdated placement?
Change It Up
You have a few options, and doing nothing isn’t one of them.
Firstly, you could (and probably should) move the hot water heater downstairs to a first floor interior closet or the garage. This will be expensive and require professional work but will be worth the heater’s weight in gold if it should one day spring a leak and you are spared massive multi-floor interior water damage.
You can also opt to replace your tanked heater in the attic with a tankless heater. Though they can be a bit pricey, tankless heaters are exponentially smaller than their tanked counterparts and far less likely to cause water damage. They do not store heated water; they simply heat it as it’s called for around the home. In this way, a tankless water heater will save you money on your energy bill as well as give you peace of mind.
If neither of those options appeal and you are determined to leave your aging tanked heater in the attic, you should seriously consider investing in Water Cops. Water Cops are tiny sensors placed in potential problem sites around the home (like near your hot water heater!). They detect water if it should appear and alert the Water Cop system to shut off the water immediately to prevent damage.