Where is your water heater located?
Did you know that where your water heater is located affects its efficiency, its performance, and its potential to cause water damage when it leaks? As a Texas homeowner, it is important to know where your water heater is located and understand what this means for your house and proper preventative maintenance.
Tank style water heaters (both gas and electric) are not built to be directly exposed to the elements, and require shelter if outdoors. In the DFW Metro, they are often installed in the garage. This is especially common in cities like McKinney and Frisco with new construction homes or those recently built over the last 30 years.
Because the garage typically isn’t climate controlled, any exposed plumbing to the water heater should be insulated to protect it from freezing. As long as the unit is running and supplied with gas/electricity, the water heater produces enough heat to protect itself from freezing.
Tankless water heaters are sometimes built so that they can be installed outdoors. In newer subdivisions like those in the Prosper/Frisco/McKinney area, you will often find tankless water heaters located in exterior metal cabinets that are recessed into the brick or stucco siding. As with tank style water heaters, the plumbing pipes for the tankless need to be insulated, and the tankless unit itself has built-in freeze protection as long as electricity is supplied to the house.
Whether you have a tank style water heater or a tankless, the garage is often the most ideal location for homes in the north Dallas metroplex area. Whenever failure occurs and the unit starts to leak, damage to the home is often minimal.
In older homes built before the 1970’s, it was a lot more common to install water heaters inside the house. Older homes tend to rely on gas water heaters, next to a gas furnace located in the laundry room or in a separate mechanical/utility closet. This is common in Plano/Richardson/Carrollton where a lot of homes are older construction.
Although this became less common over the last 50 years, it didn’t disappear entirely. You will still find many newer homes designed with the gas or electric water heater tank in an interior closet for one reason or another.
An advantage of this approach is that the water heater is often centrally located, and it doesn’t take long to get hot water at the fixtures. Another advantage is that these water heaters are easier for a homeowner to inspect on a more frequent basis.
Unfortunately, when these water heaters start to leak, they pose a much higher risk of damage to the home. They are almost always required to be installed with an emergency drain pan underneath, but a catastrophically leaking water heater can easily outpace the drain piping and overflow the small pan. We see this all too often.
Many people who have water heaters like this are interested in potentially relocating them to a different spot for this reason and so that the closet space can be used for other purposes. Most of the time, though, moving the water heater can be an expensive job which involves rerouting gas piping, water lines, vent ducting, etc… It is often better to simply plan on replacing the water heater proactively when it gets to be around 9 or 10 years old. This eliminates the vast majority of the risk of damage.
One of the most popular locations for water heaters in homes built over the last 50 years is in the attic space. It is often the cheapest option from a builder’s perspective, because the venting and gas piping usually only needs to run a short distance. It also keeps the water heater out of sight and doesn’t claim any usable square footage.
Sadly, though, the attic is probably the most risky location to install a gas or electric water heater. Because they are out-of-sight/out-of-mind, they are rarely checked or inspected by the average homeowner. If they overflow the pan when they start to leak, it can bring down the drywall ceilings and ruin the flooring and furnishings below.
Many turn to tankless water heaters as a potential way to mitigate this risk. But while tankless water heaters don’t have the same predictable failure timeline as tank style water heaters, they are just as prone to leaking and causing damage when they do fail. The size of water heater tanks may be intimidating, but it really is just the pressure supplied by the water piping system that is responsible for the damage, not the water inside a tank.
Bottom line – whether you have a tankless in your attic or a tank style water heater, it is important to check it regularly and perform proper maintenance. All visual connections at the water heater, recirculation pump, and expansion tank should be checked for signs of moisture or corrosion a few times a year.
Plan on replacing the water heater proactively when it reaches the end of average life expectancy. You may also consider installing a flood protection device or water alarm system as well.
If you want to know more about water heaters, check out our extensive FAQ blog article on water heaters. It covers many commonly asked questions about how water heaters work and how to care for them.
If you are interested in replacing your water heater, you can read more about our water heaters and work we do to install them on our service pages. We have one on gas water heaters, electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.
Also, feel free to call us if you have any more questions or would like pricing for water heater replacement and repair. Our highly-trained customer service advocates can talk with you about your particular situation: (972) 801-9798
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