El Dorado Hills - Homes & News - DeeDee Riley Realtor: Drip Pans Should Not Drip

Drip Pans Should Not Drip

When a water heater is located on an upper floor, it is important that it be protected from leaking.  A drip pan is installed underneath to, hopefully, catch any leaks, sending the collected water to a safer place.

 

 

It's good to see such a pan.

They sometimes need to be cleaned of debris, but a pan in place is a good thing.

You might also see them under washing machines.  Any way to capture water and send it elsewhere it important.

Usually the drainage from such pans works off of gravity.

Why gravity?  Because gravity works every time!

 

 

 

In my experience gravity works best when water is allowed to flow downward.

That little lip as the water flows toward that plumbing in the distance doesn't help.

But even worse, can you see what that tube does when it reaches that plumbing?!

It needs to flow upward a good 18" to get the water into that tube!

Well, at least they covered the tube so no gases get out and into the closet!

There's also a very nice trap!  And all connected into the plumbing vent!

But, all said, this will not work.  That drip pan will be the thing dripping as the water has no way to get out.  And it will be dripping right into the kitchen ceiling below!

Water does not need much incline to be encouraged to flow downward.  The Roman aqueducts flowed for hundreds of miles, and at an incline at times of less than one degree.  They understood the principle fine!

My recommendation:   sometimes things that look to be properly in place are NOT properly in place.  Have a look at the whole thing, not just one small aspect!

P.s.  Home inspectors - the lack of a sediment trap on that gas connection is the subject of the next post!  

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 29 commentsJay Markanich • January 03 2011 07:28AM

Comments

Jay,

Great piece. Water and gravity go hand in hand. Also really liked your note about things that look right are not always on closer inspection. Always enjoy posts from home inspectors.

Posted by John McCarthy, Realtor - Seacoast NH (Bean Group Portsmouth NH) almost 8 years ago

"In my experience gravity works best when water is allowed to flow downward."

Can't argue with the laws of physics and expect to win, can we?

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) almost 8 years ago

Thanks John.  Common sense is just that, but lacking in recent times!

Mike - those laws are very hard to repeal.  It needs more than a 2/3rds vote!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Good morning Jay. Around here, we have "smart" water. It has been trained to defy the laws of gravity and flow up hill... 

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Well, Michael, that should help your septic systems and public sewage dramatically!  I always heard that THAT stuff flows downhill!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

HA!  I cannot begin to count the number of washer and water heater pans I've seen that were just that. . . . PANS.

Meaning, of course, no drainage.  The worst one I ever saw was a super luxury town home with a 3rd level laundry with a pan under the washing maching but no plumbing for a drain pipe?? 

My question was "what's the use"?

It was an oversight of the builder and that wasn't the only one.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

I'd love to see you print a book "The things do-it-yourselfers do". I would purchase one everytime I hear somneone say they were looking at a FSBO. To me FSBO is the ultimate do-it-yourselfer.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Bob Timm, Project Coordinator for Tivoli Homes (Tivoli Custom Homes) almost 8 years ago

Some people are so picky -- I mean, at least they have a pan!  Can you ever cite them for being DIRTY, dirty, filthy . . . never mind.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) almost 8 years ago

THAT, Lenn, has no use!  You are right - so often on new construction I kick the drip pan where the washing machine will go, and it is connected to nothing!  I say to the buyers, "Where's the hole for the water to go?"  Then the supervisor gets something to do right away! 

When that happens it's hard for the supervisorto say his most famous phrase, "Oh, yeah, that's already on my list..."

They are Bob!  Those and foreclosures are my biggest problems right now, although new construction comes in a close second!

Tish - that is the water heater connected to the Bird Condo, a previous post.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Pans...hmmmm.....not something we have here...not that I can't say we haven't seen some places that would benefit,,,.interesting....

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 8 years ago

Valerie - the photos demonstrate that the drain tube flows up, twice!  Most profoundly at the end.

Water isn't very good at doing that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

S&D - even if a house is built on a slab, it should have a pan under the washing machine and water heater.  Should they leak, where would all the water go?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay, yeah!  You have to give it to good old gravity - and it is relentless!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Jay, that reminds me of the line from the wizard of oz: "If I only had a brain!"

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Pat - well, how can I argue with that?!

Charlie - it isn't like that water is being forced into the drain column!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Good catch, Inspector Jay!!!

Posted by DeeDee Riley, Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas (Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA) almost 8 years ago

I believe I theorized on the aspects of water defying gravity and have come to the conclusion that; no sir it can not.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Sometimes, all you need to do is take a step or two back and look at the entire project. You'd be amazed at what you don't see up close!

Posted by Sam Fischer almost 8 years ago

Yes, I guess water usually flows downward..except of course w/ capillary action (or transpirational pull in planrs which I suppose is a corollary).

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 8 years ago

Wasn't too hard to see DeeDee!  Now, if they had buried all that under insulation it would have been!

Jim - so true, and I remember commenting on that there very post!

Sam - in that case I didn't even have to take a step inside the closet to see it!

Debbie - that's good thinking!  Capillary action diffuses the water and it will "flow" upward through attraction.  It can also "weep" upward along an electric cable, which is why they put a big round loop in the cable TV connection near the house so water will drip away from and not get back inside the house.  But inside a tube, or an open flow, like a river or aqueduct, it cannot flow upward without pressure from the rear.

The water inside your apartment building flows upward from below the building to service each apartment with 50 or 60 psi, but that is because there is a huge water tower nearby providing pressure throughout the system!  So, is diffusing through the building like that similar to capillary action?        ;>)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

I see TONS of pans under washing machines with NO drainage.  The trap in the picture is a new one for me though, lol.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) almost 8 years ago

That is a creative twist Justin!  I see the drain-free pans all the time as well.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay

Great catch I love the pictures. I also really liked the creative twist.

Posted by Wilbur Lloyd (AR Home Inspection Service of New Jersey) almost 8 years ago

Water heaters on upper levels?  That's just crazy. They wouldn't have to worry about this if they had just put the water heater where it's supposed to go - in the basement, near the floor drain.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago

Btw, I honestly think sediment traps are over-rated.  

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago

Wilbur - there is no more creative twist to anything but to the end of that "drain" line!

Reubs - in that model house, a 50's cape cod, and in that neighborhood, that is the most common spot.  Just the layout of the house makes it difficult to put anywhere else (no basement) and the flue (previously seen in Bird Condo) goes right out the roof.  And this county requires drip legs on water heaters, even when they are in the attic.  You're right though.  My understanding is that they were developed when gas had more junk and moisture in it than it does now.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay - this is so important! I once lived in a townhouse with the drip pan up in the attic above my dining room table. It overflowed once and I had great drip - drip - drips on my table! NOT cool!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 8 years ago

Like others I have seen many of those drip pans under water heaters, but, there wasn't any drainage provided for any leaks.  Good info and thanks for sharing.

Sue of Robin and Sue

Posted by Robin Dampier REALTOR®, Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source (Coldwell Banker King) almost 8 years ago

If the pan is not installed properly, Barbara-Jo, it will drip.  Often builders don't even connect a drain tube!

Sue - and the drain here simply can never work.  And this is right over the kitchen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

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