What can I do to protect a laminate floor in case of a water heater leak? It’s in our cottage, and at times no one’s around to deal with trouble, should it arise. Everything is located on the same level, with an open crawlspace underneath the floor. Is there anything we can do besides draining the tank every time we leave?
That’s a great question, and it applies to more than just cottages these days. A growing number of year-round homes also have water heaters located where a leak would cause serious damage to surrounding floors or living space below. The best option is to find or create a safety pan that sits underneath the water heater. Factory-made pans are available (though not common). You can also make your own (or have it made) from galvanized sheet steel with folded and soldered corners. This material is very easy to solder using nothing more than an ordinary propane torch.
If you’re making a pan, build it with sides that rise three or four inches up. Also, solder a piece of 3/4-inch copper water pipe into the bottom as a drain spout that goes through your floor. Stuff a piece of coarse kitchen scouring pad into the end of the pipe to keep bugs and mice out. With your safety pan in place, rest easy. Any leak will be contained while it drains out harmlessly onto the ground below.