Attic Water Heater

December 6, 2018 - spacelift

Attic Water Heater Perfect for SpaceLift™ Attic Lift

We learned about how a SpaceLift™ attic lift can help with your attic water heater from a satisfied customer, Tom Runge of Louisana. He wrote, “I am particularly excited about the fact that due to the size and allowed weight of the lift, I will be able to easily replace my 50 gallon water heaters when the time comes.  They are both up in the attic, and it is not an easy task to swap them out with the use of a nine foot fold down attic stair, which I have already done once.”

Locating hot water heaters, air conditioners, heaters and other HVAC utilities in the attic is a popular building method. It is especially popular where slab construction means a home with no basement. Locating home utilities in the attic saves valuable living space. In southern states it is also popular because there is little chance of waterlines freezing. Plus, solar heating of the attic space means the water heater works less. In this case a hot attic results in substantial savings on gas or electric bills. However the attic water heater can create some challenges, especially when it’s time to replace a unit.

Attic water heater a bonus application for our attic lifts

Not that Tom installed his SpaceLift™ attic lift just to replace his water heaters when they wear out.

As he says on our testimonials page: “Wanted to tell you again how proud I am of my attic lift. I use it about 4 or 5 times a month. The lift travels up and down in a total of 25 seconds. Due to age and arthritis it had become dangerous for me go up and down the attic stairs. SpaceLift provides the means for us to safely and quickly transfer items to and from the attic. My wife and I work as a team, with one in the attic and one down below. It is fast and efficient. I highly recommend the SpaceLift to anyone who desires a safe, fast and efficient means of utilizing their attic storage space. Hope your sales are reflecting the quality of the product. Wish I could do more to promote it for you”

SpaceLift attic lift in garage, stacked with containers, attic ladder in background

SpaceLift design perfect for attic water heater replacement

Because a SpaceLift attic lift uses computer controls to pull from all four corners, there is no vertical height restriction. The lifts are rated for 200 pounds. This makes them ideal for carrying a hot water heater, or heater, or air conditioning unit.

Tom added, “FYI – a 50 gallon water heater (empty) weighs about 150 lbs, and are almost always tall and narrow, allowing them to fit on the lift.  This might be worth mentioning on your website, as a LOT of new homes have the heaters in the attic. “

On the web forum for the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, InterNACHI, James H. Bushart, Certified Professional Inspector (CPI), answered an attic water heater inquiry,  “There are some legitimate reasons for locating a water heater in the attic since it is usually warmer than a basement, crawlspace or garage (depending upon your location). The pull-down-stairs to the attic allows access . . . but is unlikely to hold the weight of anyone trying to remove a bad water heater. There should always be a catwalk built to the water heater for replacement and service with plenty of room for access to all sides of it for inspection and maintenance. Being in the attic makes it easy for venting through the roof and, in most cases, it gives you much faster hot water distribution to your plumbing fixtures.”

Bushart also describes cautions for proper installation of a catch pan and drain to handle any water overflow. And he suggests that if the water heater is already located in the attic, it is best to ensure proper precautions but leave it there.

His concern about removing a spent water heater and carrying its replacement into the attic on the attic stairs is well founded. If you have the pull-down type attic stairs or ladder, they are generally rated at about 200 pounds’ capacity. That’s not enough strength to support the water heater and the man or men lugging it into and out of the attic.

Attic water heater tips from pros

An article by Family Handyman describes how to install a hot water heater. It states that water heaters weigh about 150 pounds and last seven to 15 years.

Building trades website Houzz describes the importance of having access to change out an attic water heater and summarizes some of the code requirements.

(Of course every attic is different. You can consult our installation manual on our website. Many SpaceLift attic lifts are installed as DIY, do it yourself, projects.)

The Houzz article says, in part, “Down in the sunbelt where there is little to no chance of a waterline freezing in the attic space it has become a common practice to put the water heater in the attic to conserve livable space, especially in contractor turnkey construction, but due to the physical problems and additional code requirements it is generally not considered economical for a retrofit.

In addition to all the regular code requirements for a water heater, when the water heater is installed in an attic you must first have an attic access hatch that is a minimum of 24″x36″, and even more for larger water heaters. Remember, the water heater must fit through the hatch to permit future change outs. The final location for the water heater may not be more than 20′ from the access hatch.”

Real estate site Trulia offers some maintenance tips to help your attic water heater, or any hot water heater, last longer:

  1. Clean/flush your tank annually or bi-annually. This will remove and reduce sediment. While increasing both the life of the unit and it’s efficiency (saving you money both ways). This can double the life of your unit.
  2. I would make sure you have a drain pan and a properly functioning Min. 3/4″ drain line to outside.
  3. If it’s a gas unit, have the gas company check out the burner/vent stack function annually.
  4. Replace the anode rod as needed and the unit will continue to “self-clean.”

For homeowners in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georia and Florida, and any other places with an attic water heater or other home utilities your attic, a SpaceLift attic lift can offer you a very nice benefit when it comes time to service or change the units.

Of course, the SpaceLift attic lift was invented for some of the same motivations that cause builders to place water heaters in the attic. Using your attic for storage helps you claim more living space, reduce clutter and better organize your home or garage. As you can read in our other blog postings, attic storage is perfect for seasonal items, holiday decorations, storage of items you want to keep but use infrequently and much, much more. Replacing an attic water heater that will someday need replacing is a bonus benefit.

Sources:

Testimonial, Tom Runge, Louisana

https://www.spaceliftproducts.com/products/testimonials/

Forum on International Association of Certified Home Inspectors InterNACHI:

https://www.nachi.org/forum/f22/water-heater-attic-58761/

Family Handyman How to Install a Hot Water Heater

https://www.familyhandyman.com/plumbing/water-heater/replacing-a-water-heater/view-all/

On Houzz:

https://www.houzz.com/discussions/2533019/pros-cons-waterheater-in-attic

On Trulia:

https://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Is_the_water_heater_container_in_the_attic_a_conce-261204