What do I need to know?
In many homes, especially newer homes, the hot water heater is in the attic. I have had several calls from friends and acquaintances that say there is water coming from the ceiling causing water damage in the home. Yes, there are a few things that can be the cause of this including a leak in the roof or a plugged A/C condensate drain line, but one of the most common causes is a problem with the water heater or heaters, that are installed in the attic.
The leaking can be caused by a hot water heater, water lines, or line connection deterioration. A hot water heater is usually installed with a drip pan under the hot water heater with a small drain line that any leaking water can safely drain out of the pan and outside the home. However, these pans are small and are positioned under the hot water heater only. They do not cover areas that have lines overhead of the water heaters that carry water into and out of the water heater. Many times, these areas are the culprit of the water leak.
As with many of us, we spend very little time in the attic or even looking in the attic, so by the time we are aware of any leak, it is too late, the water damage has already been done.
The damage from a hot water heater in the attic can be extensive. In the ceiling, at minimum it can create stains, but can also damage the sheetrock significantly. Other damage can be in your walls if the hot water heater is situated in a way that it is right over a wall area. Then of course damage to the flooring area underneath the leak. If you have a multi-story home, the damage can be multiplied over each floor.
What can I do to Alleviate Possible Water Damage?
If you have a home with the hot water heater in the attic there are a few things you can do to help alleviate any possible water damage to your home. The first one is probably the most obvious, but can be costly, that is to have your hot water heater moved out of your attic. A licensed qualified plumber can do this for you. The second alternative is to replace your tank water heaters with tankless water heaters. This too can be expensive, but not when compared to the kind of cost of multiple repairs due to a leak in the attic. One less expensive alternative, but is not a guarantee, is to have sensors put in places that leaks can possibly occur in your attic. These sensors sound an alarm when a minimum amount of water is detected (even to your mobile device with a mobile app).