Water Heaters

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Glockenspiel
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Water Heaters

Post by Glockenspiel » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:35 pm

Speaking of water heaters, my water heater is located in an unfinished portion of our basement, about 2 feet away from a floor drain. The water heater is 8 years old. We finished our basement and had carpet/pad installed in the basement last year, so now the water heater is in our unfinished utility room, about 5 feet away from the doorway where the carpeting begins. We are planning on selling our house in about 2 years (for various reasons). The water heater does NOT have a drain pan under it.

Is it risky to continue the status quo and hope we make it until the time to sell our house? Or should the water heater be replaced or drain pan installed immediately?

sport
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by sport » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:37 pm

Glockenspiel wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:35 pm
Speaking of water heaters, my water heater is located in an unfinished portion of our basement, about 2 feet away from a floor drain. The water heater is 8 years old. We finished our basement and had carpet/pad installed in the basement last year, so now the water heater is in our unfinished utility room, about 5 feet away from the doorway where the carpeting begins. We are planning on selling our house in about 2 years (for various reasons). The water heater does NOT have a drain pan under it.

Is it risky to continue the status quo and hope we make it until the time to sell our house? Or should the water heater be replaced or drain pan installed immediately?
I would just replace the anode.

livesoft
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by livesoft » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:44 pm

I would do nothing.

We've replaced both of our heaters over the years when they stopped working without issues. Our home is 24 years old so that's an average of 12 years per heater. I think they can go many years more. Replacing a heater is generally a bread-and-butter job for any plumber or HomeDepot or Lowe's contracted plumber.

In general heaters do not catastrophically fail, so I wouldn't worry at all about it.
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sport
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by sport » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:47 pm

An anode replacement is much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. If you are handy, you might be able to do it yourself. However, anode replacement is preventative. If you wait for the tank to fail, then it is too late.

Nicolas
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:48 pm

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Last edited by Nicolas on Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

livesoft
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by livesoft » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:50 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:48 pm
I had the bottom drop out of one of my heaters unexpectedly, I wouldn't want to repeat that experience.
Maybe it was leaking for a week or month before that and you didn't notice?
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Nicolas
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:51 pm

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neilpilot
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:54 pm

sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:47 pm
An anode replacement is much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. If you are handy, you might be able to do it yourself. However, anode replacement is preventative. If you wait for the tank to fail, then it is too late.
Unfortunately in my area the vast majority of water heaters and furnaces are attic installations. Often the gas water heater tank's anode cannot be removed since there's little space between the tank's top and the roof. Even a special segmented anode will not work.

I cannot replace either tank's anode without first draining the tank, disconnecting the gas line, water inlet and outlet lines, as well as the roof vent. The tank then needs to be tipped on it's side to allow anode replacement. Overall a significant undertaking compared to anode replacement when sufficient head-space already exists.

z91
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by z91 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:55 pm

Unless you live in an undesirable neighborhood or think it will be a buyer's market when you sell, don't do anything. I don't remember anyone not buying a house due to the condition of the water heater or lack of a pan. As long as it looks somewhat clean and not leaking it's fine. Worst case scenario get it replaced by a contractor within a day. Most love doing this job because it's quick/easy and nets a big check for the contractor.

sport
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by sport » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:06 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:54 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:47 pm
An anode replacement is much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. If you are handy, you might be able to do it yourself. However, anode replacement is preventative. If you wait for the tank to fail, then it is too late.
Unfortunately in my area the vast majority of water heaters and furnaces are attic installations. Often the gas water heater tank's anode cannot be removed since there's little space between the tank's top and the roof. Even a special segmented anode will not work.

I cannot replace either tank's anode without first draining the tank, disconnecting the gas line, water inlet and outlet lines, as well as the roof vent. The tank then needs to be tipped on it's side to allow anode replacement. Overall a significant undertaking compared to anode replacement when sufficient head-space already exists.
I can't think of a worse place for a water heater than an attic. If it fails, and they do fail, you can have a lot of expensive water damage to the rest of the house. Getting an anode out of a tank when the ceiling is low is not a big problem. You can bend the anode as much as needed to allow clearance. If a segmented anode cannot be used for replacement, then you are correct. This is a major problem and another reason not to put the unit in an attic. However, even with all these difficulties, it should be less expensive to replace the anode every 5 years, or so, than it is to replace the entire tank along with the risk of a flood.

livesoft
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by livesoft » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:12 pm

We have 2 heaters in our attic spaces. They have drain pans under them. It is true that the drains to the outside could be clogged by spider webs and/or mud daubers. It is also said that they can act as lightning rods.

Anyways, one should take a look at things every month or so to see if there are any minor leaks. I suppose I could pour some water in the drain pans and see if they drain properly, too.
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UALflyer
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by UALflyer » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:17 pm

z91 wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:55 pm
Worst case scenario get it replaced by a contractor within a day.
Worst case scenario is a catastrophic failure, which would result in a massive disaster. Most of the time water heaters do develop a slow leak, which gives you time to replace them, but catastrophic failures are also not that uncommon.

neilpilot
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:18 pm

sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:06 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:54 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:47 pm
An anode replacement is much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. If you are handy, you might be able to do it yourself. However, anode replacement is preventative. If you wait for the tank to fail, then it is too late.
Unfortunately in my area the vast majority of water heaters and furnaces are attic installations. Often the gas water heater tank's anode cannot be removed since there's little space between the tank's top and the roof. Even a special segmented anode will not work.

I cannot replace either tank's anode without first draining the tank, disconnecting the gas line, water inlet and outlet lines, as well as the roof vent. The tank then needs to be tipped on it's side to allow anode replacement. Overall a significant undertaking compared to anode replacement when sufficient head-space already exists.
I can't think of a worse place for a water heater than an attic. If it fails, and they do fail, you can have a lot of expensive water damage to the rest of the house. Getting an anode out of a tank when the ceiling is low is not a big problem. You can bend the anode as much as needed to allow clearance. If a segmented anode cannot be used for replacement, then you are correct. This is a major problem and another reason not to put the unit in an attic. However, even with all these difficulties, it should be less expensive to replace the anode every 5 years, or so, than it is to replace the entire tank along with the risk of a flood.
We've been in the house for 10 years, and about 6 years ago both tanks failed in the space of a couple of months. No water damage, since the pans drained outside as designed.

In this area you would be hard pressed finding a larger home that was built in the past 25 years that did not have HVAC and water tanks in the attic.

sport
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by sport » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:12 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:18 pm
In this area you would be hard pressed finding a larger home that was built in the past 25 years that did not have HVAC and water tanks in the attic.
That seems very strange from my experience. Around here, since the water enters the house underground, the tanks are always in the basement if there is one, or in a first floor closet otherwise. They generally are not in the garage because of the possibility of freezing.

neilpilot
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:08 pm

sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:12 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:18 pm
In this area you would be hard pressed finding a larger home that was built in the past 25 years that did not have HVAC and water tanks in the attic.
That seems very strange from my experience. Around here, since the water enters the house underground, the tanks are always in the basement if there is one, or in a first floor closet otherwise. They generally are not in the garage because of the possibility of freezing.
I know, I've lived in several other areas and never would have considered an attic until I moved to this area. I was a bit concerned that water lines would freeze in the attic, but that hasn't happened.

Here most homeowners would say "What's a basement?".

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NavyIC3
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by NavyIC3 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:18 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:54 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:47 pm
An anode replacement is much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. If you are handy, you might be able to do it yourself. However, anode replacement is preventative. If you wait for the tank to fail, then it is too late.
Unfortunately in my area the vast majority of water heaters and furnaces are attic installations. Often the gas water heater tank's anode cannot be removed since there's little space between the tank's top and the roof. Even a special segmented anode will not work.

I cannot replace either tank's anode without first draining the tank, disconnecting the gas line, water inlet and outlet lines, as well as the roof vent. The tank then needs to be tipped on it's side to allow anode replacement. Overall a significant undertaking compared to anode replacement when sufficient head-space already exists.
There are sausage anode rods. They are made for tight spaces. Google it.

Silverado
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by Silverado » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:37 pm

NavyIC3 wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:18 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:54 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:47 pm
An anode replacement is much less expensive than replacing the entire unit. If you are handy, you might be able to do it yourself. However, anode replacement is preventative. If you wait for the tank to fail, then it is too late.
Unfortunately in my area the vast majority of water heaters and furnaces are attic installations. Often the gas water heater tank's anode cannot be removed since there's little space between the tank's top and the roof. Even a special segmented anode will not work.

I cannot replace either tank's anode without first draining the tank, disconnecting the gas line, water inlet and outlet lines, as well as the roof vent. The tank then needs to be tipped on it's side to allow anode replacement. Overall a significant undertaking compared to anode replacement when sufficient head-space already exists.
There are sausage anode rods. They are made for tight spaces. Google it.
But that only helps the next time.

For someone in a hot climate, attic heaters seems brilliant for efficiency. Assuming proper safeguards to get a leak ouside. Ours are in the cool basement working hard to maintain things hot in a cool ambient.

mix
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by mix » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:48 pm

Everyone always says replace the anode, but if your water heater anode has never been replaced and it's more than 5 years old I'd say the chances of you being able to get the anode rod to break free with a wrench and come out are slim. You can watch some YouTube videos of plumbers with 5 foot long breaker bars and the things don't budge. There is a chance you will damage the straps or piping holding the water heater in place as it will start to spin when trying to get the anode out. I'd say don't touch it.

RCL
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by RCL » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:56 pm

mix wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:48 pm
Everyone always says replace the anode, but if your water heater anode has never been replaced and it's more than 5 years old I'd say the chances of you being able to get the anode rod to break free with a wrench and come out are slim. You can watch some YouTube videos of plumbers with 5 foot long breaker bars and the things don't budge. There is a chance you will damage the straps or piping holding the water heater in place as it will start to spin when trying to get the anode out. I'd say don't touch it.
^^^^ This And, if you managed to break it free, make sure you use something like anti-seize on the threads of the replacement rod.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:58 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:54 pm
I cannot replace either tank's anode without first draining the tank, disconnecting the gas line, water inlet and outlet lines, as well as the roof vent. The tank then needs to be tipped on it's side to allow anode replacement.
Might be easier to cut and patch a hole in the roof. :twisted: :shock:

I've probably been hanging out with too many engineers who regard welds as temporary fasteners.

2comma
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by 2comma » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:32 pm

mix wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:48 pm
Everyone always says replace the anode, but if your water heater anode has never been replaced and it's more than 5 years old I'd say the chances of you being able to get the anode rod to break free with a wrench and come out are slim. You can watch some YouTube videos of plumbers with 5 foot long breaker bars and the things don't budge. There is a chance you will damage the straps or piping holding the water heater in place as it will start to spin when trying to get the anode out. I'd say don't touch it.
After reading all of the anode replacement info on the internet when I replaced my WH I tried to take the anode out of the old one (I think 10-12 years old). After trying a socket wrench, I upped the ante to a breaker bar with a long piece of pipe (now you need a way to hold the WH). I finished the experiment with my pro air impact wrench and large air compressor - all it did was deform the head of the anode. Good luck getting an anode out of an old WH! When I installed the new WH I took the anode out and put teflon tape on the threads in hopes that I could remove the anode. It's been at least 5 years and I should get a new anode and give it a try.

We have all water heaters in the attic in our area but my 40 year old house has a large galvanized pan with a pvc runoff pipe that drains out of the side of the house - this is common in the south.

I suspect a lot more people have had flooding damage from hoses connecting toilets, sinks, washing machines and ice makers. That SS wrapped hose has a vinal core and that eventually breaks down and can burst. So far all of my WH failures were pin hole leaks from rust that slowly drained to the pan and out the drain pipe but I acknowledge a catastrophic failure could happen.
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Glockenspiel
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by Glockenspiel » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:48 pm

sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:12 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:18 pm
In this area you would be hard pressed finding a larger home that was built in the past 25 years that did not have HVAC and water tanks in the attic.
That seems very strange from my experience. Around here, since the water enters the house underground, the tanks are always in the basement if there is one, or in a first floor closet otherwise. They generally are not in the garage because of the possibility of freezing.
I'm in Minnesota and also find this bizarre. All utilities are in basements. The water enters into the basement and gets heated in the basement, the furnace is in the basement, the sump pump is in the basement. Usually these three are all right next to each other in the basement.

Of course, maybe Tennessee has bedrock at the surface, limiting the number of homes with basements, but in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (Minnesota), where glaciers deposited their sediment in thick layers over the bedrock, we all have basements here 8-)

obgraham
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by obgraham » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:21 pm

I too live in an area where basements are uncommon. Builders here love to put the HVAC and the WH in the attic. Though my current house is a spec, I contracted it before it was built. Insisted on several things:
HVAC and WH on ground level, in the garage. Right out where I can get at them and pop a filter in easily.
A/C compressor NOT near my bedroom window!
A/C drain line exits where I can see it easily, and can be flushed easily.

megabad
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by megabad » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:06 am

Glockenspiel wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:48 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:12 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:18 pm
In this area you would be hard pressed finding a larger home that was built in the past 25 years that did not have HVAC and water tanks in the attic.
That seems very strange from my experience. Around here, since the water enters the house underground, the tanks are always in the basement if there is one, or in a first floor closet otherwise. They generally are not in the garage because of the possibility of freezing.
I'm in Minnesota and also find this bizarre. All utilities are in basements. The water enters into the basement and gets heated in the basement, the furnace is in the basement, the sump pump is in the basement. Usually these three are all right next to each other in the basement.

Of course, maybe Tennessee has bedrock at the surface, limiting the number of homes with basements, but in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (Minnesota), where glaciers deposited their sediment in thick layers over the bedrock, we all have basements here 8-)
I live kind of in the middle of the country a little further south and I can tell you that no house built within the last 40 years has a basement here across multiple cities I have live in for hundreds of miles. Maybe a few custom homes, but I would estimate 99% of new construction is on a crawl or a slab. Contrarily, I actually always thought basements were bizarre and wondered why anyone would want one :D Seems strange to me to design a low area that is prone to flooding and moisture and deem that "living" space. Some appraisers do not even include finished below grade square footage in appraisals. I definitely would not want to be the poor installer that had to lug an old 80 gallon water heater up the stairs out of basement to replace with new. Of course, nor would I want to be the installer that had to drag the water heater and HVAC into the million degree attic. The HVAC and water heater should just have a closet somewhere on the main floors as stated by another poster, but you almost never seen a builder willing to spend the money for that.

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jharkin
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by jharkin » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:32 am

megabad wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:06 am


I live kind of in the middle of the country a little further south and I can tell you that no house built within the last 40 years has a basement here across multiple cities I have live in for hundreds of miles. Maybe a few custom homes, but I would estimate 99% of new construction is on a crawl or a slab. Contrarily, I actually always thought basements were bizarre and wondered why anyone would want one :D Seems strange to me to design a low area that is prone to flooding and moisture and deem that "living" space. Some appraisers do not even include finished below grade square footage in appraisals. I definitely would not want to be the poor installer that had to lug an old 80 gallon water heater up the stairs out of basement to replace with new. Of course, nor would I want to be the installer that had to drag the water heater and HVAC into the million degree attic. The HVAC and water heater should just have a closet somewhere on the main floors as stated by another poster, but you almost never seen a builder willing to spend the money for that.
A basement is not just for more finished living space. Actually that use is very recent (post 1970s) - traditionally basements where for storage, keeping the mechanical out of the living area, workshop space, storm shelter, etc.

As you are all probably gathering, there is a TON of regional variation in how homes are built and how utilities are installed. Sometimes we fall into the trap of assume how its done in our area is how its done everywhere - but that is not the case.

In New England, most homes have basements. This is a holdover from the days pre-electricity when basements where used as root cellars for cold storage of food. Naturally since we have that space we put our utilities there. Putting a water heater in an attic in NE doesn't make a lot of sense, as typically our homes have the ceiling of the top floor insulated and leave the attic as ventilated cold space (to keep the roof deck cold and prevent ice dams in winter). Putting water in that cold space can be a disaster and is very inefficient.

The other thing that's different in New England is that a lot of homes have hot water or steam radiator heat. Forced air is only common on homes built after the 1960s here. And in a home with hot water heat, often the boiler has an instant water heating coil in it - so we often dont have a tank type water heater at all. And more often than not this is fired by oil, since NE doesn't have a lot of natural gas infrastructure outside the major metros like Boston, Providence, Hartford.

For most of central and northern states I believe gas forced air heating is the norm and oil is rare. Much of the south is all-electric since AC loads dominate. And they tend to use heat pumps. Also areas with younger housing stock than NE tend to have basements less often since pouring a slab only costs a fraction of what excavating a basement does. And there are other reasons -maybe a high water table, or the ever present ground termites in the south.

The one thing that never made sense to me, was building houses with no basement in tornado prone states. But its done :confused

euroswiss
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by euroswiss » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:43 am

Back to the original poster's question: I would not bother with replacing the heater now or even installing a pan. Just buy one of those "water alert" devices for a few dollars on Amazon and place it next to the heater. Any leak will likely start as a pinhole, so the water detector will alert you of the problem in time to take care of it.
My own water heater is on the second floor in a closet with no drain. It did not originally have a pan either although I put one in last time I replaced the heater, so I have SOME degree of protection now (that said, the pan holds maybe one gallon of water, so a MAJOR leak will overwhelm it quickly). I did put one of those water alarms in the pan and, sure enough, last time I had an issue with a small leak, it alerted me just fine. Not perfect for all possible problems, but well worth a couple of bucks.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by Epsilon Delta » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:03 am

The main purpose of a basement is put the foundations below the frost line. Which is why you find them in New England and not the south.

It's usually cheaper to dig one big hole than lots of fiddly bits, in part because it gives the masons more room to work.

Secondary uses such as mechanical space, storage or extra living space are "because it's there". And even though I've often had a basement I still find finished basements bizarre, it's still a hole in the ground.

sport
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Re: Water Heaters

Post by sport » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:15 am

As one real estate agent told me "If you don't have a basement, there is always room to put one in". :twisted:

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