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Old 10-03-2012, 07:16 PM   #1
rjm102478
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Default Hot Water Heater in Crawl Space Help

I have a small ranch home in NE PA. I had my elect hot water heater in a bedroom closet. I have an unheated crawl space in which all the plumbing runs through. Every pipe is insulated and some have pipe warmers. No pipes have frozen before.

I wanted more room in my closet so i had the tank moved to the crawl space. I have a vapor barrier and dehumidifier down there so moisture is not a problem. All new pipes to the hot water heater have been insulated. Do i need to insulate the hot water heater itself? Should i get a hot water heater jacket? Should i add a heater to the crawl space itself?

This is a weekend home so we previously shut the cold water (well pump) and hot water heater off when we weren't there during the winter and drained the pipes. I realize this left water in the hot water heater, but the heat was on 45 in the house so there were no issues.

Now, with the hot water heater in the crawl space, am I able to still turn it off when i am not there? Or should i leave it on? If i have to leave it on, can I still turn the cold water off and drain the pipes?

Please help.



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Old 10-03-2012, 10:25 PM   #2
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The water heater should have foam insulation under the jacket you see and the steel tank inside. Drain the water lines as you were before and drain the water heater as well. ( there is a valve towards the base ) Make sure the heater is off and that should resolve your problem. I doubt if the heater would even freeze if you left it full of water, but I live in Tucson Arizona and can't tell you for sure wether or not it will freeze...



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Old 10-04-2012, 06:54 PM   #3
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Not sure how cold it is where you are but where im at it gets to the -20 mark or so and I know I have replaced a water heater because it froze and cracked. That was on his main floor however he had all the gas turned off. I think I would just set the water heater to a low setting and keep the heat around 65. Is the crawl space heated at all? If so even better.

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Old 10-04-2012, 07:30 PM   #4
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Well it definitely doesnt get as cold as Canada. The months to worry about are dec-feb when the average lows can go down to like 14 but I've seen -4 once. The crawl space is not heated. Because it is a weekend home, i would be nervous leaving all the water on when i am not there so i have to shut everything off. It would be fairly inconvenient to have to drain the tank every time before i leave.

Would you recommend a blanket? And if i have to add heat in the crawl space, what do you recommend? I have no gas. My house is all electric and i have baseboard heat on the main level.

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Old 10-04-2012, 11:23 PM   #5
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it is a good idea to turn water off to house when not there even if you live in a warm state. but i recommend you continue to leave water off to house during the cold months. you can leave the heater full and set temp at about 65 degrees. but keep in mind it is recommended to drain a heater about once every 8 months to remove scale from bottom of tank. on an electric heater turn breakers off before draining. do not turn them back on until tank is full again and air is removed from system. turning elcetric back on to a half empty tank will fry the elements in heater hope this helps you out.

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Old 10-05-2012, 01:44 AM   #6
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I think even just a little heater that's electric. Get one with tip over protection so it'll shut off if its tipped over. I don't think blanketing it would do much to be honest. Unless you heat the crawl space then blanket it. If you keep your water heater set too low you'll get legionnaires disease if you use that water (well risk it at least) as much as it sucks draining it all is gonna be the cheapest method but if you hate doing that, if it was my home I'd probably turn the heater off and have a half decent size heater close to the water heater and water lines. Is the crawl space like in a house or is it more like a trailer where it's totally exposed to the outside? Cause if its like a trailer with siding the heater won't do a whole lot but if its a crawl space with concrete walls and stuff I think a heater would make enough of a difference. But that's just my two cents.

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Old 10-05-2012, 01:45 AM   #7
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But I do agree with turning the water off and draining the water lines, especially I they are copper.

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Old 10-05-2012, 03:57 AM   #8
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Stevemachine I have to disagree with you about putting a portable Electric Heater in a unsupervised space, my son is a Paramedic/Fireman and portable Electric Heater can be bad business when left (or not left) unattended. RJM102478, I would totally winterize my home if not occupied for months ,it may be a pain in the rear but all the thing that could go wrong with freezing i would not take a chance. If your heating system fails, the toilets can crack, traps can freeze & crack, dishwasher drain & pump can freeze break,crack or burst.

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Old 10-05-2012, 03:30 PM   #9
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Thanks guys. It is a small 560 sq ft regular home. Crawl space has cinderblock walls so it is not as exposed to the outside as a trailer. I am there almost every weekend all year long. I'd consider shutting the cold water off and leaving the hwh on. If I left it at a regular temp, would legionnaires still be a concern? I'm a little apprehensive about a space heater down there. If I had to put heat down there I'd probably add a new breaker and an electric baseboard heater that I'd mount on the wall.

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Old 10-05-2012, 03:51 PM   #10
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I personally would drain it and blow as much out as you can with air to keep the water in the tank from being putrid. Freezing should not be an issue inside the tank.



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