moving water heater
Posted by cold shower on May 07, 2004 at 19:35:12:
I live in a hot, humid climate. I bought a 50-year-old slab home last fall that is livable, but needs some improvements. Due to some tax details, we really need to stretch out the way we pay for any improvements to the house. For safety reasons I have to concentrate on some electrical issues first. This is a plumbing forum so on to the plumbing question. I want to move the gas water heater up to the attic from a laundry room for a couple of reasons.

You will need some more explanation. First, a view of the system. The water service enters the front corner of the house, passes by, and branches to two bathrooms, and continues to the opposite corner of the house to the laundry room with the water heater. Somewhere just short of the water heater (probably just above the ceiling) the pipe turns to copper. I am guessing that this is an 80-foot run. (The attic space is very confined in the last 20 feet to the laundry room. I can crawl in there, but I need to back out and I am not THAT big.) I think that they took out the ceiling to change the water heater pipes to copper. The water heater outlet is also hooked to copper and this changes to galvanized right above the ceiling.

The galvanized hot water pipe feeds the kitchen, laundry, and a lavatory between. The next stop on the line is a bathroom in a camel-back addition. Right after this there is about 35 feet of polybutylene that was spliced in when a rare hard freeze broke the original pipe. After this there is a 3/4 inch copper line that splits to feed two bathrooms. One of these has copper all the way and the other still has galvanized pipe to the tub/shower. The galvanized pipes are pretty stopped-up.

I understand that the polybutylene is very prone to breaking and I want to get it out. The 40 gal water heater was manufactured in 1981 so I suspect that it is on its last legs. It does not have a pan under it so I am losing sleep over that as well. One reason I want to move to the attic is that we should be able to improve flow to the two far bathrooms since the new location will be much closer. I am sure we will sacrifice some flow to things that were originally closer to the water heater but I think that we will have a net gain since we will be eliminating about 50 feet of galvanized cold water supply to the water heater.

I can not afford to do all the pipes at once because the supply pipes all run through the attic and walls. Due to the shape of the roof, we can not replace the plumbing in the exterior walls unless we tear the roof off so unless we plan to re-roof we will have to go another route which is possible in some areas without seriously defacing the prime living area. Other repiping changes will require cutting into plaster board interior walls.

The other reason that I want to relocate is that I want to remove the heat source from living space and remove the need for sucking hot, humid air into the house for combustion. Note that attics are common locations for water heaters in this neighborhood.

To put a different view on it, I want to remove the polybutylene hot water line that separates galvanized from a run of new copper that supplies two bathrooms. In the middle of this will be added the water heater flanked by new copper lines. The supply to the water heater will be from the existing galvanized supply lines that run right by here anyway. Note that I have been told that local code requires copper supply pipes. I have over 6' of overhead clearance in the attic.

Is there anything that I am overlooking that makes the relocation inadvisable?

Thanks


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