Water Heater Auto Shut Off Valve
I currently have a water heater in a finished basement that is from 1996. It still works fine, but I think its coming to the end of its life cycle as I am seeing some corrosion in certain places and slight dampness along the floor around it.
I want to go ahead and get it changed out in order to avoid any kind of water damage down there. Since I am gonna have it changed out, I'd like to maybe put some sort of water heater auto shut off valve device in the supply line since its gonna have to be cut anyway. I figure this is the best time to have it installed.
Some I have looked at include the following:
- Water Cop
- WAGS valve
Some are more expensive than others and I'm hearing/reading about some other matter related to these devices.
Can anybody recommend another device that will do the same thing. Or any other advice when having one put in?
I'm a huge fan of the automatic water shutoffs...:)
However, I wouldn't recommend the WAGS valve...strictly a one time use device. Here, when the water heater fails, the WAGS valve will shut off the water, for sure, but you CANNOT reuse the WAGS valve again.
I'm also not a super fan of the floodstop/floodsafe...the sensors are connected by a wire(s) and this system doesn't allow for expansion like the watercop or, my favorite, the LEAK-GUARDIAN
Here, both the watercop and the leak-guardian are systems that rely on radio frequency (wires are limited or non-existent), are multi. time use, and can be used to not only protect your water heater, but also your entire home! To protect the entire home, you would install the watercop or the leak-guardian on the water main coming into your home and then you would install remote sensors at locations where water leaks could happen such as the water heater, the laundry room, the upstairs bathroom, etc...anywhere you wanted to cover yourself/the home from being damaged 24/7/365.
Anyway, you may only want to protect the water heater and that's not a bad idea, for sure. I'd strongly recommend the watercop or the leak-guardian...either system works great!!
In My Opinion there are only 2 choices...
Whatever valve you choose should not be a simple valve that just shuts off the water supply to the water heater, it also needs to shut off the energy source to the water heater. This IMHO eliminates the WaterCop and Leak-Guardian from contention....
This leaves the 2 choices as the Watts FloodSafe and Taco WAGS valves...
The Taco WAGS is a one-time use valve and is non-resettable which removes it from my short list...
This leaves the Watts FloodSafe as my #1 Pick as it is resettable, and removes the energy source from the water heater.
Watts FloodSafe Protection From Leaking Water Heaters
In addition a set of normally open contacts is provided for system expansion such as alarm monitoring....
I guess I am just stuck in the fact that I have installed so many darn leak-guardians and have had so many go off over the years WHILE PEOPLE WERE AROUND that I haven't really looked at the power source as an issue. Perhaps I should re-evaluate this a little myself though
Good stuff, for sure!!
PS: Hi Redwood, nice to meet you!~
Yea, I realize the best system would be to put a device on the main line coming into the house. Believe me, I would rather do that since I had an accident in 2009 that had the main water line break and flood the whole basement (hence the reason I am looking to do this for the water heater), but in my situation, this would require ripping drywall out & then repairing it so not sure I can afford that expense right now. Maybe in the future. If only I knew then what I know now, I would of maybe had one of the whole house wireless systems I am seeing put in BEFORE I had the basement fully finished (on a ranch house), but what is done is done. Oh well & that is why I am looking to at least maybe cover the water heater (for now).
I saw how the WAGS is a one-time use only device so not sure I really want to do that. For now, Floodstop seems to be the cheapest solution for just wanting to put it on a water heater & its source line. Yea, I realize it doesn't allow for much expansion, but again, its much cheaper than all the others I have listed so its all relative. Also, I have a power outlet in the same room so a power source is not an issue either.
Now, I have read about how the Watts FloodSafe does cut of the heat source (in my case, gas), & that sounds like a good feature, but I'm also hearing from some people that some of these water heaters are designed to shut the gas off anyway if the water level gets below a certain level. Does this sound about right?
One other thing. I have a neighbor who is gonna possibly help install the new water heater since he has replaced his own and is sort of in the field of repairing all kinds of appliances (works in repairs for a county school system). He was telling me that when his water heater went, it was simply an excessive amount of "dripping" as opposed to a gush of water coming out (what I am envisioning since it happened with my 2009 basement flood incident I mentioned). Is this excessive dripping usually the main sign and action that happens for water heater leaks? Also why I currently have the dampness around the water heater now; a slow leak
Therefore, I wonder how effective one of these devices would really be in the sense that I would probably notice the area around it becoming wet and could cut the water off manually anyway and then drain it as needed.
Finally, while these devices will shut off the water supply coming into the tank, there is still 40-50 gallons of water IN the tank that will ultimately wind up leaking out. I have heard some suggest some sort of pan underneath that can then drain to an outside area or tap into a drainage pipe in the home. Not sure that is doable in my situation. Any other suggestions on how to divert the water IN the tank if a leak does occur??
NOTE: Yes, I now do turn off the MAIN water line coming into the house (from the street) when I go on vacation or leave for several days so at least do this.
The leak rate from a failed or malfunctioning water heater will vary from a slow small leak to a very large one it just depends on the manner of failure.
It is absolutely essential to have an Energy Cut Off as the only one built into the water heater activates when the water temp in the tank goes too high. One of the failure modes that can generate an enormous flow of water is a T&P discharge from uncontrolled heating. This is a problem which can often be repaired on an existing water heater without replacement of the water heater. It is also one of the most dangerous malfunctions possible on a water heater as you are 1 safety device away from an explosion.
If you do have a repairable leak on a water heater and a shut off is activated that does not remove the energy source the resulting dry firing if the tank is empty can damage the water heater beyond repair.
In addition closing a valve on the water heater without removing the energy source can result in a pressure increase due to thermal expansion which will result in hopefully a discharge from the T&P Valve which again is the single safety device that is between you and an explosion.
I like the thought of an energy cut off on the valve!
Most codes I know of do require the installation of a drain pan.
Sounds good about the energy shutoff option and I might have to seriously consider this (even if it's a bit more expensive).
Let me ask about this too. While my current water heater's pipes are essentially soldered on & will require "cutting" them in order to get the new water heater in there, I have seen a flexible pipe option (in my local Lowes) that have specially designed compression fittings on one end. Some sort of "shark teeth" compression design.
From the way I understand it, I guess the way it works is this flex pipe would just attach to the one side of the bare cut copper piping and the "teeth" would sort of self-attach and dig into the pipe. The other end would simply screw on to the water heater's threaded pipe. Therefore, no soldering is needed for this kind of set-up.
My initial thought is I'm not sure I would really trust this kind of design in the long run compared to a true solder design, but maybe its just as good. The advantage I see is that using this kind of flex pipe would allow for easier removal down the road if/when replacement is needed again. A new water heater can then be self-installed with less headaches if you're not familiar with soldering.
Not sure and what are some opinions about this kind of flex piping?
If allowed under your local plumbing code they are fine.
Some places do not allow flex connectors.
As for the sharkbite connectors they are good too, I have used them myself.
Well, I'm assuming since I currently have all soldered copper piping, my code requires it and may not allow flex piping. Or could it simply be a choice the plumber made at the time? If so, would I just contact my local county office to find out about the plumbing code for my area? Or do I contact some other specific dept. about this?
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