One of the calls we get nearly every day is a water heater that is leaking in the attic, and has flooded the house. The flooding varies from wet sheetrock to 5 figure repairs. If you are not from the Austin area, this will not make any since to you (nor should it). Some simpletons in the past decided that it would be a great idea to put the water heaters in the attics of our homes. We do not have basements in Austin, almost every house here is a slab-on-grade foundation. So whether it was the builders, or the architects that decided that a 30″ square closet was just too much space to give up, I do not know, but the result was 99% of all water heaters in Austin are in the attic. Genius right? I was a construction plumber from 1988-2012 or so, and I have installed a LOT of water heaters in the attic. On every job, I would try to talk the builder into finding a closet for the water heater. It really all stems from the architect. We simply were not given a location to place the water heater. Then the builders back that up by not wanting to approach the homeowners with a plan change, so the easy thing to do is to just follow the plan. The bad parts of this are pretty obvious, but I’ll run you through them just for the fun of it.
- Water heaters have a 100% failure rate. They will die, and leak. You do not want this going on in your attic.
- Water heaters are heavy. Getting a water heater up small attic pull down staircases is very difficult for plumbers. Getting them down once they are full of calcium is ridiculous.
- Water heaters can be noisy. As Water heaters get older, they can start knocking, rumbling, and otherwise making noise. Not cool if it is over your master bedroom.
- Pipes in your attic can freeze. I know it doesn’t happen often, but it can and has been cold enough in the Austin area to have cold enough weather to freeze water pipes in you attic. Not good!
The word on the street is that the City of Austin is not permitting any new construction with the water heater in the attic. Great idea Captain Obvious, but what if you already have a water heater in your attic? Lets find a place to move it! The garage is normally a possibility. There will be a little pipe work, but why risk having a leak that does serious damage to your home? Tankless water heaters are also a great option. We can put them in the attic, but just because there is not a tank, you still have the possibility of having water damage if something leaks. Mounting the Tankless outside is a great option. There is a freeze potential, but we know how to beat that. There are a couple of great benefits to having it outside. Noise is outside, service is outside, leaks are outside. Pretty cool right?