Old Hot Water Heater = Legs----New Hot Water Heater = No Legs!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Marty 1, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi: Our old hot water heater had legs, but the new Rheem heater we bought is legless. Wouldn't it be a good idea to put some sort of blocking or spacers in the pan before the heater is installed? This would raise the heater up a little, in case there was a small leak that might sit in the pan and rust-out the heater bottom. You wouldn't need much, just enough to lift the heater up a 1/4" or so. Does this seem like a good idea?

    I know what your thinking: If the hot water heater is installed correctly, there should be no leaks, and besides, isn't that what the drain in the pan is for? Yes, that's true, but wouldn't raising the heater off the pan just be added protection? Has anyone had experience with rusted-out heater bottoms? Thanks--Marty
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    If you want to put something under, just use something with a broad footprint. Don't know how much point load the bottom can take.

    Most maunufacturers went legless with the FVIR, because for the replacement market, maintaining approximately the same overall height is important to a lot of buyers, for ease of installation.

    Rheem, possbily others, had to take a couple of gallons out of their ultra low nox models, for the same reason. A 50 is now 48 gallon, 40 is 38, etc.
  3. Wrex

    Wrex New Member

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    New Jersey
    You don't mention whether you have a gas or electric heater but if it is hard plumbed then you definitely want to handle this before the installation.

    Since handling it later will be much more difficult especially if the piping is installed very tightly which won't give any wiggle room to raise the heater.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    heater

    IF the heater is leaking, you should fix the leak or replace the heater LONG before rust becomes a problem.
  5. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

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    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    You don't think that if it's already piped he could get a lever under it and jack it up a few inches. So what if the pipes bend a little :rolleyes:
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    27,237
    Location:
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    heater

    Another reason for no legs is that the air inlet is now on the side of the heater not from beneath it so the legs are not necessary, and they cost money.
  7. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi: Thanks to everyone for their information. Here's a few things I didn't mention:

    1. The water heater is gas.
    2. The new heater is still sitting in the box waiting to be installed in a new part of the house.
    3. The old heater is still going (in the old location).

    So, at this point, raising the heater up a 1/4" is not a problem, but if no one thinks I should worry about the heater's bottom rusting-out, I'll just install it flat in the pan. I was planning to use a metal pan, but I think I'll use plastic to avoid metal to metal contact.

    Thanks again--Marty
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Gas water heaters must be in a metal pan...
  9. Peanut9199

    Peanut9199 Customer Service Manager Plumbing Wholesale

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    875
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Why is that?
    Not questioning you, just curious.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    pan

    In the old days because of heat and possible flame damage. The new ones have contained the flame so it should not be a problem. A lot of rules changed when they developed the new burner system.
  11. fornarog

    fornarog New Member

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    17
    I have lived in an area with highly acidic water and have helped numerous friends replace HWHs over the years (including 2 of my own before installing a nuetralizer).

    I always put the ones I install up on brick sized pieces of treated lumber (3 arranged like wheel spokes) to separate the bottom of the unit from the ground or spill pan and allow air to pass under the units. I think it helps reduce condensation related rusting, but I may be just over thinking. I have never seen it be a problem, although sometimes it requires a little plumbing modifications to the pipes to shorten them.
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I have seen many plastic pans with cut plastic and leaking on the floor...the plastic was cut when the heater was installed and no one knew it till the heater leaked and the pan failed...I use metal pans on all heaters for that reason.
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    You might want to look at www.wagsvalve.com. I think, though, that you only get a warranty if it is installed by a certified installer. It's not too hard, and any handy person that can read and follow instructions should be able to do it. It will disable the gas and shut off the water if it detects water in the pan (I think it takes about 1/2").
  14. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

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    34
    Hi: Thanks Cass for the important information about using a metal pan! Anyway, I measured the space, and a square metal pan is the only size ready-made pan I can get that is big enough to hold the 23" 50 gal Rheem water heater, fit in the confined area it has to go in, and leave enough space in the pan for any leaks that might occur.

    Just to let you all know, I did call a plumber today to bid out the job. I guess I could do it myself, but why not hire a pro?

    Marty
  15. maintenanceguy

    maintenanceguy In the Trades

    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    In this area, there are lots of old farm houses with unfinished basements, most with brick floors and leaky sandstone walls.

    It's standard practice to place two large paving bricks on the floor and set the water heater on that. This keeps the water heater up out of any water that seeps in during rain.
  16. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    One thing I should have stated was that a pan is used only if the heater is in a finished area or an area where a leak may cause damage.
  17. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    It is a good idea to have a plumber install a gas appliance.
    There are probably a few code updates to add on even if the existing inatallation was done properly. A home owners gas knowledge is usually limited to copying the existing installation.

    It's just a safety thing that relates to leakage of gas and CO.
  18. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
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    heater

    I hope that confined area is not so small so that the air inlet ports are obstructed, and can be accessed to clean them if necessary.
  19. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi: Yes, the heater will be in a finished, interior mud room, so a pan is important--I don't want a water leak to ruin the flooring, sub-floor, etc. I might add, that we turn off the heat at night even in the winter, so the mud room is cold during the night and early morning hours.

    Reading some of the posts about blocking the heater up off the pan (or floor) still seems like a good idea to me. Maybe, a few pieces of thin plastic placed in the pan, before installation, would keep the heater up enough to permit air to dry out any condensation that might occur during the colder months of the year.

    Thanks to everyone for their post. Marty
  20. Marty 1

    Marty 1 New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi hj: Yes, I worry about cleaning the intake screens too. The heater will be next to the furnace in a 3'x4' closet, so everything is tight. There's not too much clearance on the sides, but maybe we can pull the heater forward to provide access to the screens. The clearance from side to side is small; from back to front there's about 12". We'll have to put the heater in there and see how it works.

    Marty
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