Having your water heater stowed away in a dusty basement corner is hardly uncommon. Countless homes in the Denver metro area have water heaters in these low-lying spaces. However, keeping your water heater in this location may not be the best choice. Although basements were once where water heaters were always installed, this is no longer the ideal placement. Not only is it inefficient, but it can also leave your home exposed to widespread water damage, pest problems, and mold.
Why Having Your Water Heater in the Basement Is Inefficient
Hot water has the greatest likelihood of retaining its heat if it’s distributed right where it’s produced. During a cold Denver winter, your basement water heater might produce more hot water than your household actually needs, and you could still struggle to draw a hot bath. When water heaters are in the basement, the hot water loses considerable heat as it travels to the fixtures where it’s wanted.
If you constantly struggle with showers that go from steamy to freezing before you have the chance to get all of your self-care done, having your water heater in the basement could be the reason why. This is all the more true if you have a multi-story home and have an especially hard time getting hot water on the second floor. The distance that hot water has to travel before use is further impacted by pipe sizes and overall flow rates. If your pipes have a 3/4-inch diameter, it might take hot water a few minutes to reach an upstairs destination. In fact, this is often why residents using showers in second-floor bathrooms have to wait a while for the water temperature to warm up.
Turning faucets on and letting water gush down the drain unused is common. It is also costly. Although people are wont to blame their water heaters for these delays, the real culprit is the location of their water heaters.
Basement Installations Were Largely About Aesthetics
There’s a good reason why hot water heaters have long been housed in basements. In the past, these units tended to be quite large. Installing them in downstairs areas freed up usable space for storage, resident activities, and other large-sized appliances. It also improved indoor aesthetics. Imagine having an old, massive water heater in the corner of your kitchen, family room, or other high-traffic areas. As older water heaters aged and began making regular ticking or knocking sounds, having them in the basement also meant being free of these disturbances.
Now, however, water heaters are becoming increasingly sleek and refined. Electric water heaters can be installed in upstairs locations without requiring residents to sacrifice comfort, space, or indoor aesthetics. Moreover, unlike older units, electric water heaters are virtually noise-free.
Basement Locations and Pest Problems
Failed hot water heaters can flood large amounts of residential space in seemingly no time. This is another common argument for installing these units in downstairs areas where they’re likely to do the least amount of visible damage. In reality, however, cleaning up flood waters in low-lying areas is just as important as cleaning them up upstairs, and it can be infinitely more challenging. Basements aren’t typically well-ventilated. They’re also filled with lots of unsealed building materials that trap and retain moisture. A flooded basement can retain a damp and musty smell for all time, even after professional water remediation treatments.
However, far worse than an in-basement water heater that bursts is one with a slow and steady leak. Much like other in-basement water heater problems, a slow leak can go unnoticed for weeks, if not months, before trouble is suspected. Unless you go down into your basement every day, you might not catch a slow leak in time to prevent serious water damage. Given that mold spore development can occur within just 48 hours of any leak or major flood event, it’s possible to develop a serious mold issue as the result of a relatively minor but unnoticed water heater leak.
The Potential for Pest Problems
Some of the best reasons for not installing your water in the basement or not keeping your current water heater there comes from pest control professionals. Having your water heater downstairs greatly increases the risk of pest infestations that involve various insects and animals that naturally thrive in the local environment. Although keeping garbage cans sealed and cleaned and storing food properly are important pest prevention strategies, many common pests will enter homes that have no accessible food sources simply because there’s an abundance of water. Certain insects and rodent species don’t actually need food. They can survive just fine on building materials and other items that humans deem non-edible. Where there’s water access, there’s always the risk of pests.
When there’s a leaking water heater in the basement, insects and animals may be attracted by either standing water or higher levels of humidity. Among some of the most common culprits are earwigs, silverfish, centipedes, and cockroaches. If you’re currently struggling with any of these pests and are having a hard time getting rid of them, you may need to check your in-basement water heater. While initial populations will congregate under or around this appliance, they’ll eventually spread throughout your home as their numbers become too large for a single area.
Out-of-Sight and Out-of-Mind
Tucking a water heater away in the basement makes it easy to forget. Although you don’t necessarily have to check on your water heater every day, it is important to schedule regular inspections and to be mindful of any strange sounds or suspicious smells that it produces. Most homeowners don’t go down into their basements often. As such, when water heater issues arise, they usually have the opportunity to spiral out of control before homeowners are able to identify and solve them.
This is one of the best reasons for moving your water heater to a new location. Not only can you choose from smaller and more efficient units that are easier to conceal, but you’ll also be able to keep tabs on your water heater’s well-being. Whether there are leaks, odors, or strange sounds to indicate problems, you won’t have to wait for a random trip down into the basement to notice them.
What’s the Alternative?
Modern water heaters of types are smaller, sleeker, and more refined. However, if you’re considering the advantage of relocating your in-basement water heater, a point-of-use water heater may be the best choice. These options are more efficient, easy to monitor and maintain, and easier to integrate into upstairs areas.
When planning these projects, a licensed plumber will perform a full assessment of your home, your household’s water heating needs, and other factors. This will ensure that your new water heater and your water heater’s new location are perfectly in line with your goals.
At High 5 Plumbing, we’re committed to helping residents of Denver, Colorado, and the surrounding areas save money. We offer reliable kitchen, gas, and outdoor plumbing services. We also provide water heater installation, maintenance, and repairs. If you’re ready to move your water heater to a new location, call us today to schedule an appointment.