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Thread: Hot Water Tank in Uninsulated Shed?

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Question Hot Water Tank in Uninsulated Shed?

    Hello Everyone,

    I have a shed/storage area attached to the end of a ranch house with no basement in cold New York State. I would like to install an electric hot-water tank in there. It is an uninsulated space, yet I have access to the insulated attic from the area.

    Proposed install is this:
    1. Place Tank in uninsulated storage room at end of home
    2. Run water lines in attic and insulate over them
    3. Use heat tape to on the water lines between the tank and the insulated attic.

    I have three questions;
    1. What is the best brand of PEX to use for this project?
    2. What is the best brand of Heat Tape to use?
    3. Is there a better way to do this?

    Any advice on this project will be greatly appreciated,
    Thanks, Molo
    Last edited by molo; 11-11-2006 at 01:15 PM. Reason: adding text

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    Personaly, I would find another way of doing this. The whole idea does not sound good. NY can get mighty cold and I wouldn want to take a chance with a freeze break or fire from heat tape. Just my NSHO.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Default

    While it would take awhile, what would you do if you had an extended power outage? Pex is pretty good (much better than copper or cpvc) about freezing, but the tank could not handle it at all.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Not suer if PEX can be heat taped and insulated without causing a problem.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default tape

    Most plastics are poor heat transfers, so the tape could overheat the PEX before it sensed any change in the water temperature.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Response and Possible Solutions

    Hello Everyone,
    I am really trying to solve this hot water tank installation problem. I plan on taking it on as soon as i have a sensible solution. I appreciate any input/help on this project.

    To Jadnashua; If the power goes out I'm in trouble even if the tank is inside the building. I figure i would have to go and drain the lines.


    To Hj; I only plan on having a 10 foot section of water line wrapped in the heat tape. (the section going from the tank to the attic.) So.. I'm wondering if I could make this short section copper and then convert to pex for the long run through the attic.

    Any suggestions for how to best solve this problem would be much appreciated.

    Thanks, Molo

  7. #7
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Not knowing anything about your house, I would ask these questions: why does the water heater have to go outside? is there a way to insulate and heat the shed?

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Hi Jimbo

    The house is a one story ranch style duplex. I have to supply water to both apts, and am therefore installing two of these tanks! Currently there are gas hot-water tanks in the bathrooms, and I want them out for safety reasons and so that i can make more room in the bathrooms for new tub units. There isn't any room in either apt for the new tanks. The end of the house has a 250 sq. ft. uninsulated storage area that is attached to the building (seperated by an insulated wall with 2 bedrooms on the other side) There is access to the attic from this space and thats how I planned on running the water lines.

    Thanks in Advance for any help on this project.

    Molo

  9. #9
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    will the outside units be gas?

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Hi Cass

    I want to install electric tanks. The electric panel is in this storage area as well.

    Thanks again,
    Molo

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member viennamicro's Avatar
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    Default Personal Experience

    I had a water heater in an uninsulated area a few years back - BAD idea.

    The water froze, creating real problems since it was also the same water pumped through the floor for heat. The weather broke 10 days later; only 4 more days for the ice to clear and the water to start flowing. Too bad I could only find 1 kerosene heater in town. Two or three mre might have been able to raise the temp inside above 40.

    My advice - find a way to insulate and heat the area or keep looking for another idea.

  12. #12
    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    Why not just put the electric heater where the gas one is and run a power line the same way you are thinking about for the hot water pipe. The plumbing will basically be where is needs to be with much less to run, and the wire won't freeze.

    Sorry did not grasp the "no room" point.
    Last edited by alternety; 11-14-2006 at 10:05 AM.

  13. #13
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Default it'll work. You can do this !!

    I have done a lot of work with heat transfer problems and i know about insulating spaces and buildings. I live in a similar climate to Molo, north of the St. Lawrence.

    You can do this, Molo. Yes you can.

    First, let us all have a common understanding of concepts and terminology.
    See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_energy paragraph #1 linking to
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_transfer including
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_transfer#Radiation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulation which links to both
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_insulation and to
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_insulation including
    -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buildin...tight_envelope

    Molo, please explain what you mean by "heat tape". A few words.

    David

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Hello David

    Heat Tape: Something I can plug into an outlet and wrap around water pipe that will warm the pip enough to prevent it from freezing.

    I appreciate any help,

    Thanks again,

    Molo

  15. #15
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Default airtight, this is the first big concept

    ok, assuming you have read up on heat, or are about to, here we go:

    1. Everything works, to some extent, and all products and systems work, to some extent.

    2. Combining several "ways" or "systems" is the only robust and reliable way to build up thermal resistance so you are not losing (as much) heat to the outside and you are not risking a pipe freeze when the power goes out, as it will from time to time.

    3. Therefore, no relying on any one single product to do anything crucial or critical. No comparing one heat tape to another. No getting fussy with labels and manufactured products. Your key concerns here are
    - 3 a.) the big picture, not missing out on significant concepts, and then
    - 3 b.) the little detail, not missing or omitting to seal little air leaks.

    3. I repeat, it is important to understand what needs to be done, in the overall sense, and then to execute the plan properly. Right down to ensuring airtightness as perfectly as possible.

    4. to 7.
    I'll skip a few steps here so I don't come across as unbearably pedantic and domineering.

    8. So, in summary, you can make the storage room itself airtight, and the enclosure around the two HW tanks airtight, and this alone will be 90% of the solution that most people miss. Add to that, the radiative insulation that you placed in all the right places with no air gaps, and the layering (of several layers) around the pipes, of conductive and radiative insulation, and you have 99% of the ideal solution.

    Quiz question: is it possible to say that, for all intents and purposes, you can stop heat transfer from occuring ?

    David

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