Tankless in an unconditioned NJ attic

Discussion in 'Tankless Water Heater Forum' started by North Jersey, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Folks,

    Has anyone performed a tankless attic install in the Tri-state area? I currently have a commercial Rheem indoor tankless unit. One of the call center folks, after consulting with a tech for like five minutes, told me the freeze protection mechanism should make the attic install a viable option. Despite what the call center says, I'm under the impression that the freeze protection mechanism is a measure of last resort. I'm not sure it's made to operate on a continuous basis from late December through early March. My goal is to have no water heater in my basement. I'm not interested in saving the planet by consuming less energy or something. My CFLs are supposed to do that. :D What is a good solution to protect the Rheem unit from freezing temperatures?

    Thanks,

    Ben
  2. Ladiesman271

    Ladiesman271 Homeowner

    Messages:
    221
    The solution is not to expose the unit to freezing temperatures.

    Read the manual. Everything is explained in it.
  3. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Right, but do you have any experience expanding a home's envelope to encompass the portion of the attic with the water heater without compromising architectural appeal of a home, e.g., building an enclosure in the attic with a louvered vent to the living space?
  4. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    I really wish I had another "r" in my handle
  5. gregsauls

    gregsauls Homeowner

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm not familiar with the Rheem units, but other brands do have models that are "externally" mountable and as such their freeze protection is 1st line defense. I would follow Rheem's suggestions.
  6. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    I'm not sure the call center folks really know. "We haven't ever heard of any problems with an attic installation." and "I'm not really sure what would happen if the heater were exposed to freezing temperatures." Anyway, I'm not sure that my house is large enough at this point to internally supply the needed volume of air for combustion specified in the manual:

    My main floor is 22x29 with eight-foot ceilings and the walkout basement on the same footprint has 7 foot ceilings. That puts me very close to the 10,000 cubic feet required to feed this baby. That's assuming that all my rooms are communicated with sufficiently large vents. So my house is on the threshold of being a "confined space."
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2009
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I think the units that are outdoor rated, but you still have to protect the pipes.

    It would be a simple matter to open a vent through the ceiling, and create a small "room" above, for the WH. But I think the heating cost to do so would be large.
  8. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    It's an indoor model, but I think that has to do more with the absence of a vent than its resistance to freezing. The manual says both the outdoor and indoor units need to be protected from freezing. I planned on foam insulation for the pipes. If I go the enclosure route, the box would be very well insulated. What's your thought on the combustion issue? Do I need to worry about having 10,000 continuous cubic feet of space? If you have eight-foot ceilings, that's 1250 square feet that must be open. I mean, I don't have to remove all the doors in my house, do I? Beads are pretty cool, but my wife likes a solid door on the bathroom for some reason.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2009
  9. CT

    CT New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Get a direct vent tankless water heater and you don't have to worry about having enough combustion air from the room. With direct vent, all combustion air is taken from outside. If you don't want to use direct vent, and you are in a confined space, then you will have to provide 2 openings to the space that the water heater is located. I'm in California, so I'm not sure what your code says in New Jersey.
  10. gardner

    gardner DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    217
    Location:
    Ontario
    A leak in your basement is one thing. A leak in your attic is something totally different. Why tempt fate? The internal freeze protection is electric -- a 4 hour power outage could destroy your home. And the freeze protection does not protect the plumbing, so you have to figure out how to protect that separately.
  11. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Yeah, the enclosure thing sounds like the way to go. I'll have vent issues if I try to locate the water heater next to the well pump in the basement utility room (windows, porches, sidewalks, and doors). The existing water heater is right in the middle of the space where my dedicated home theater is being built.
  12. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    I really wish I had purchased a direct vent model.
  13. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,349
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Before it's over, you're going to wish you had not gone tankless.
  14. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Yeah, it seemed like a practical solution to fill a 200 gallon garden tub and to get the tank out of my home theater.
  15. gregsauls

    gregsauls Homeowner

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    Texas
    Don't let the anti-tankless gang talk you down. You have the right idea, just the wrong implementation. Put that indoor unit in an area that shouldn't freeze and all will be well. I bet there is somewhere in that basement this unit can go????
  16. Ladiesman271

    Ladiesman271 Homeowner

    Messages:
    221

    Yup, I went tankless to help out with my HT layout. My HT layout is more of a multi purpose room, so I added the washer and dryer hidden at the rear of the HT room. I also added a direct vent gas fireplace for heat for that basement room. I did not have enough room for a clean HT layout, the gas fireplace and a tank type water heater, so I went with a tankless water heater B vented via existing chimney.

    No problems with the tankless even with 40 degree incoming water temperature.
  17. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    You know, I could locate the tank elsewhere, but I'd be putting the unit about 20 feet further from the kitchen and the location of the new master suite. The run from the well pump would also be lengthened about 20 feet. I would have to run the 1" Wirsbo PEX along the rim joist to avoid punching 30 holes round trip in my floor joists. I guess I'd have to run the whole bundle of 1/2" along the rim joist as well. I'm just want to be sure I can supply enough volume for my Kohler River Bath and everything else.
  18. you are in for some trouble

    If your attic is not heated,, it will eventually freeze solid....

    so why not just put
    that tankless heater outside on the back porch so when it
    finally freezes and explodes it wont flood the whole house????

    it might as well be outside ......


    those peopel that give the advice on these things
    will tell you ahything to get you to buy one



    you are on a well, so you got to have a water conditioner

    where are you going to put the water conditioner??
  19. installed into an existing chimmney???


    I dont want to tell you what to do, but what I have read
    about all the tankless is that they must have a dedicated chimmney usually run out of the proper SS materials...

    I also was going to install one into my brick and tile chimmney and save me tons of trouble,,,,
    but was told by Takagi that was a very bad no-no...

    I might burn down the house due extremely to high temps...

    did you b-vent completely through an existing old chimmney, or did
    you jsut dump the fumes into an old chimmney



    but you ought to check this out with whoever you bought that from
  20. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    I really wanted to colocate the heater with the water softener and the blasted flow restricting sediment filter, but they sit in the corner of the house with the main entry door, porch, windows on both walls, and sidewalks below (this is a largely above-grade walk-out basement). If I ran the vent along the rim joist, I'm not sure I could maintain clearance from combustible materials. The twenty-foot run would also require a five-inch drop for condensate drainage.

    So the whole freeze protection to -30 is inaccurate? The advice I got was post-purchase from the Rheem folks. They seemed pretty convinced that it would operate OK in the attic. Macplumb 777 told me about a freeze kit from Paloma, which apparently owns Rheem. I don't like the sound of having the coil freeze solid.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2009
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