Containing water on the basement floor


I'm in the process of finishing my basement. WRT the floor, we still haven't decided if we're going to be using vinyl, cork, carpet, or whatever else is available - but that's not important right now.
My concern is water. I've done the plastic/duct tape trick and have determined that moisture coming through the floor should not be a problem. The walls don't leak, and the sump pump and battery backup work just fine. My concern is the water heaters. The traditional way to tell when they need to be replaced is to observe the water on the floor. The life expectancy of a mainstream consumer type heater is, perhaps ten years. I have two, which means that I can expect such a puddle an average of once every five years. This will be incompatible with virtually any floor I put down, with the exception of vinyl, which is pretty near the bottom of my desirability list. Is there product that will allow me to build a dam around the water heaters that will keep the water contained in that area, protecting the floor? Perhaps I could build such a dam using commonly available materials? There is a floor drain immediately adjacent to the tanks, so the water would have a place to go.
Suggestions/comments?
Thanks, Mike
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This is not likely. 1. You will get longer life out of your water heaters if you flush them out (removing precipitate) every summer. 2. Leaks are only one form of failure. Others include deterioration of replaceable parts (e.g. heating elements) and irreplaceable parts. 3. If you really believed every heater will leak in its 10th year you could simply replace them at nine-year intervals, thus avoiding all leaks.
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Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Don Phillipson wrote:

theres no telling when one will leak but I replace mine early. saves inconvenience and a mess:) my current tank is nov 2000. time does fly:( I write the install date on the tank with a marker for easy reference:)
heres MY theory, new tank is under 500 bucks. assume it lasts 10 years, thats 50 bucks per year. Less than the cost of a candy bar a week. why not replace it al 8 years? saves a mess and a hassle done on my schedule not the tanks
There are water heater drain pans the heaters sit in with a outlet to drain them, add a water sensor so you KNOW its in trouble.
or you could move your heaters to a better less damaging location where a leak wouldnt matter direct vent models are available so noi chimney needed
or buy 2 new long warranty heaters NOW, and when the first fails replace the carpet. and the remaining tank after all it will probably be 10 years or longer:) due for new carpet anyway by that time:) 12 year warranty tanks are out there...... so long life is available.
we replace most things before they are completely dead at very large expense like a car. a hot water tank is a mere nuisance in comparison to a 25K vehicle that liokely doesnt survive 10 years:(
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com says...

You must be eating the King Size Snickers ;-) A replacement schedule like that might reduce the odds of seeing such a problem, but consider that one of the five year heaters that the builder provided with my current home failed after three years. It's the unpredictability that keeps me awake at night (ok, I'm exaggerating just to make a point).

Sounds perfect! Unfortunately, I used solid copper pipe when I installed these, so I wouldn't be able to simply slide them under the tanks without doing some plumbing work. While not a BIG problem, I was hoping for something simpler. This may, nevertheless, be the route that I eventually take.

They are under the stairs, alongside the furnace. This is the perfect spot for them, IMO, so I'd really rather not move them.

Coordinating it with the carpet replacement is definitely thinking outside the box. That's an interesting approach.

Agreed. However, despite experience and gobs of evidence to the contrary, a water heater is one of those things that we truly, with our heart of hearts, believe will last forever. I don't know why we believe that, we just do. Far be it from me to break with tradition.
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Mike Hartigan wrote:

Will need to plumb in a drain line anyway if you are intending to make this nearly foolproof (and, of course, that still doesn't account for the possible relief valve letting go some time), so unless there's a local drain that you could essentially turn into a shower floor type basin by pouring a lip around, there's still plumbing to be done since there's no way the drip pan will hold more than a few gallons at most.
While doing it, modify the plumbing connections to either use a union if keep the hard copper or make a transition w/ the flexible lines designed specifically for water heaters so when you do need to replace one it is a doable chore w/o soldering required at that time...
On the original note, if there's a requirement for a sump pump in a basement, I'd certainly not be satisfied that there's no moisture problem for flooring w/o significant preparation solely by the plastic sheet test for a few days...that's indicative you may be able to solve the moisture problem but isn't anyways close to a conclusive test. In other words, it's kinda' like the old math theorem phrase--"necessary, but not sufficient."
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snipped-for-privacy@swko.net says...

There's a drain about 1 foot away, so that's not a problem. Indeed, with my current setup, the last time a tank died, the water only spread out to about a 2' radius. I'm not talking copious amounts of water here - just enough to cause a headache.

Soldering is not a problem and I think the flexible lines have a DIY look to them - tacky, IMO. I already have dielectric unions, so as long as a new tank is exactly the same height as the tank it's replacing, there's no need to solder.

A sump pump is required in all new construction in my village. I'm told that it was a broad brush, knee-jerk solution to an isolated, though severe, flooding event some twenty years ago. It's not an indication of drainage problems.
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snipped-for-privacy@ncf.ca says...

While I understand, agree with, and, indeed, practice that, it is only postponing the inevitable. My question is not how to extend the life of my tank, rather it is how to minimize the damage if and when it ultimately fails.

Granted. Leaks, however, are a real possibility. To suggest otherwise is to invite the very problem I'm trying to prevent. With one exception, every tank I've owned over the past 35 years has notified me of its death by peeing on the floor.

That would work if the ten year thing was consistent/predictable. Alas, the nature of these beasts is such that they are neither. That's why we mortals need a symptom to tell us that something's wrong.
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Why summer?
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replace tank early every 5 years or so
ceramic tile or other floor not damaged by water
reloate tanks to area that cant damage anything
use tank drip pans drains and water alarms in case of leak
make sure your homeowners will cover any damage when and if it occurs
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Who are you responding to?
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

the OP who is concerned with water damaging his floor...........
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As a comment for everyone, remember that life expectancy for water heaters depends greatly on the water. Where I live, I can expect ten to fifteen years from a cheap contractor grade water heater. Most places would be doing good to get half that. I don't think anyone in my 100 home development has had to replace one yet.
Also consider your water conditions as well as the volume of water you use and the temperature you keep the heater at when trying to determine useful life.
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Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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The first time I had to replace my water heater, I installed 1/2" sweat unions on the cold and hot lines which made it easy when I had to replace that one.
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Have a Great Week !

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