Water heater d'oh!


came home after work today, went into garage to grab a shovel (was going to neaten up front yard some...) uh-oh, there's a puddle on the floor! Farther investigation shows that water is dripping from a light fixture... woops. hit the breakers, started to investigate. Water heater done blowed up. (of course, it was mounted upstairs, with no drain pan.)
Ripped out lots of sheetrock, insulation, etc. and have three fans set up at strategic locations to try to dry out the wood before it starts to rot...
I guess the only saving grace is that it appears I caught it very shortly after it started to leak, otherwise it could have been real ugly. Not that it isn't, but still...
I guess I get to fix yet another of the things I didn't like that a PO had done, earlier than I was planning on... Good thing the bathroom in the house is back together (was just doing some minor work in there yesterday...)
So... where do I go from here? My thoughts are that I would like to have a new water heater installed, BUT I...
1) want ball valves and flex hoses on inlet and outlet (braided stainless or corrugated copper?) 2) want drain pan underneath heater, with drain plumbed into real drain 3) want drain valve replaced with nipple and ball valve 4) do NOT want carpet underneath water heater (really!)
am I missing anything?
nate
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You seem to have a good idea. Like you, I got lucky, and found mine was leaking about two hours after it started. Replaced with nice pan and drain, and did it right, unlike the original installation. Did the upgraded flex pipes with threaded fittings. Just plan for disaster and hope for the best. I'm amazed how many people put in water heaters with no drain pan to catch catastrophic failures.
Steve
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Most pans I've seen are big 'ol things that look 2x the diameter of the standard 40gal heater and appear that they would be a nuisance for 10+ years until the leak. Looks to be a "one size fits all" for the short/fat space savers as well as the standard heater. Does anyone make a decent size pan?
Red
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wrote:

I needed one for a washing machine. Couldn't find one, and had some paint lock left over from doing some wrought iron fence. 22 ga, IIRC. I just cut it out with 6" sides, bent a square pan, and welded the corners using spot welds. Put a drain on the back of it. Probably would have cost $100 if I would have found it at a shop. Or that much to have a sheet metal shop make one.
Paint lock is a steel metal sheeting that has some sort of anticorrosive coating on it, and is used for metal fence backing. Not very expensive, easy to cut and bend, and available at most steel suppliers. If one does not have a welder, they could pop rivet it together, and use silicone caulk to seal it up, and come up with a pretty decent custom fitting pan.
Sure saves a lot of grief when a water heater cuts loose. (Usually while you're at Disneyland.)
Steve
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Steve B wrote:

Where do you buy this stuff, assuming that I can't find a pan (or maybe a shower stall bottom) that will fit into the space for the water heater? It is kind of shoved in a tight spot. I think I'm envisioning what you're suggesting and it makes sense. All I would need to do is drill a hole in the floor below it and then line up a bulkhead fitting for the drain from the pan, yes?
thanks,
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

Pans come in various sizes, plastic or metal. After you put the pan in place, get you three or four bricks and put them inside the pan to set the water heater on. This will raise the heater just enough to keep the bottom out of any water that may accumulate in the pan for what ever reason, so that it won't rust the bottom out. Second advantage is that it raises the drain valve above the lip of the pan so that you can get to it with a hose.
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Check with local steel suppliers, or places that sell wrought iron supplies.
It's called paint lock.
Steve
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If you own a pair of tin-snips, your pan can be any size you want it to be.
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wrote:

I bent up the edges on a sheet of galvanized iron to fit my heater and its space in an interior closet of a slab based house. Since a drain for the pan is not possible, I installed a moisture alarm with the probe in the pan to announce leakage. All my heater failures have started as slow drips so I feel comfortable with this. But I would install a drain if it were possible.
SJF
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I think they are two sizes fits all.

It's got to be somewhat bigger than the tank, right?
Last time I bought a tall 52 gallon tank and the large size pan, white plastic.
I plan to use the same pan again with this week's new WH. Is that ok?
I put more of the pan in the front because that's where the T&P valve and the drain valve were, and I wanted it to be sure to catch that stuff. Never used it until a couple weeks ago when the water started spraying out around the drain valve.
I heard the sump pump running at least 10 times, before I went to the basement, and it was dry out, so the pan must have worked pretty well for a while.
And some of the water never came close to the pan, but....
The pan still hasn't drained completely. The water in front is more than an inch deep. That seems very strange to me. I won't know what the problem is until I get in behind the wh.
I ordered a 66 gallon tank today, but it won't be in until Thurdsay.

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wrote:

I should add that in the front, the pan is about 3 inches bigger than the wh. I think in the back it was at least a half inch.
Because it is a basement, and I can still lean things against the heater on occasion, I'm not really losing 3 1/2 inches.
The new 66 gallon tank is 1 1/2 inches greater in diameter. So that may leave less than 2 inches. Although I have not had a T&P discharge any water ever, I will have to come up with a better method to get the T&P water to go into the pan. Right now I'm using the same pipe that screwed into my first WH, and it goes straight down and stops about a foot above the floor. I think the water would have shot or dripped into the pan. Maybe not this time.
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All your hvac (Air Conditioning) shops will have lots of pans and also a sheet metal solution if you want it.
Or if you want cheap then: http://cgi.ebay.com/Water-Heater-Drain-Pan_W0QQitemZ330105507893QQihZ014QQcategoryZ11704QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItem
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What good is a pan that won't hold at least as much water as the heater's got in it?
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wrote:

It would all depend on the space, wouldn't it? Where mine are located, when the water gets about one inch deep in the pan, it gets to the drain pipe, and goes outside. If it was in a low spot, like a basement, it would have to be rigged differently.
I don't think pans are designed to be a dam. I think they are just a channel from the hot water heater to a drain.
Steve
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The only thing I can think of is before you install the new one you might want to wrench out the anode and put some anti-seize on the threads before you install it so you can remove it for inspection later. These can be a real bugger to remove if they are tight.
You also might want to check your dip tube. Ones that swirl the incoming water supposedly make blowing out the sediment easier.
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Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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I suggest corrugated stainless, the braided stainless is really a plastic tube and has a fairly small inner diameter.

Just so long as it is set up so that you are aware if it starts leaking.
Cheers, Wayne
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Is is proper to put the drain pan drain into the regular drain pipe? Wouldn't you need a trap/valve to keep sewer gas from entering your house? I suspect it calls for a separate drain pipe.

I've seen it recommended that you screw on a second ball-type valve (from hardware store)and not use the drain valve on the tank,as they drip after using it.

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Jim Yanik
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Jim Yanik wrote:

Its possible, just depends on where the drain pipe is in relation to the drain pan.

Nah, to much restriction from the original valve. Its easier on a new install to just unscrew the drain valve (they are typically 3/4" pipe thread and plastic), then replace it with a 3/4" heat trap nipple, ball valve, 3/4 pipe to M(ale)H(ose) Thread adapter, then a hose cap with washer. Use lots of teflon tape. The water heater is then good to go.
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