George Carlin used to joke, “Why do they call it a ‘hot water heater’? Hot water doesn’t need to be heated.”
These days, every house has at least one water heater. Some are in the attic, some in the garage, and some in the laundry area. I’ve even seen a few installed outside.
The water damage to the kitchen wall, which I discussed last time, was caused by a faulty drain line that dated to a time when the water heater at Roadrunner was installed in the attic. It was moved to the laundry room when additions were made to the house, and the leaky drain line was ancient history by the time we bought the house. We just had to fix the hidden damage.
The other thing we had to fix was the way the water heater was installed in the laundry room. To conform to current building codes, water heaters must:
- Be installed a minimum distance above the floor to encourage drainage—water runs downhill, after all
- Sit in an aluminium pan to help prevent interior flooding
- Drain to the exterior of the house—again to prevent interior flooding
But if the water is inside the heater, where does the flooding come from?
All water heaters have a pressure relief valve to help prevent them from exploding. The valve dumps water out of the tank if the pressure gets too high. Without proper installation, it dumps that hot water onto the floor. And as Paul Simon sang, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.”