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  1. #1
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default water piped in from the attic

    While I was inspecting this 1912 home I was surprised to find this well equipment in the attic. This is no longer in use since this house is now on city water. But, can anybody explain to me if at some point in history putting this equipment in the attic rather that the crawl space was common? There was room in the crawl for this equipment and the foundation did not look like it was installled after the original construction. I have never seen this befor.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Gravity flow? Pump the tank full of water and you have water until the next time the tank needs filling.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Thanks, Jim. That just looks like a lot of weight to be in the attic but I appreciate you clearing up the mystery.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    More than gravity flow I would think it was to increase water pressure as putting the tank up there would give better head pressure simply because of gravity.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Gravity flow for pressure does make sense. So, tell me, is this something that was fairly common at one time?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Weaver View Post
    Thanks, Jim. That just looks like a lot of weight to be in the attic but I appreciate you clearing up the mystery.
    Chuck, you did see the question mark in that post, right?
    I can't take credit for clearing up the mystery, that was just a thought.
    I have no experience with this and have never seen that setup. Just thinking "out loud."

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  7. #7
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    No, I missed the ?. But thanks for the input anyway. It may be closer to the facts that you thought.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Weaver View Post
    Gravity flow for pressure does make sense. So, tell me, is this something that was fairly common at one time?
    Chuck,

    I've seen it on occasion in homes, however, that same principle is used throughout the country wherever you see a water tower.

    The city/town pumps the water up to the tower, the head pressure created by the water in the tower is what creates the water pressure throughout the city/town, the pumps just keep the water tower full to a preset level.

    In South Florida most water towers have been taken down and the pressure is provided by pumps instead of gravity.

    At least with the water towers, when power goes out and the pumps shut down you still have water pressure. Without those towers, when power goes out, so does the water pressure (unless their emergency power works properly and kicks on, sometimes yes, sometimes no).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Chuck,

    By the way, in the older homes in South Florida, most water tanks were either on the roof or in the attic so the sun would heat the water (the tanks were all painted flat black to help collect that solar heat), that was their first source of 'hot' water.

    Later, electric heating elements were added to those tanks, the elements strapped around the tanks and heated the steel tank, which then heated the water.

    Later the water heaters were replaced with water heaters with electric elements in them.

    Later, when those water heaters were replaced, new water heater were installed in the garages or utility rooms and those just abandoned up in the attics because they would have been so hard to get out.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  10. #10
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    My God!!!!!!!! Just how old are your Jerry Peck? That is a lot of history. Just kidding. Great insight into the evolution of water pressure and water heating not to mention solar heating. There has to be an energy conservation lesson in this somewhere. I am glad I made this post, it has been very informative for me. Thanks for all the input.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    In South Florida most water towers have been taken down and the pressure is provided by pumps instead of gravity.
    Jerry, any clue as to what the reason is behind this?

    Around here they just keep putting up more and newer towers as urban sprawl spreads.
    I just did an inspection in an area that was about 12 years old but the house had 110 PSI. The water sprinklers system was spraying more into the neighbors than the owners yard!
    It used to be on the edge of the city when built but has since been taken in with newer development. I can only guess that the original pressure was much lower and when the towers were raised (or built) the city did not require the installation of pressure regulators.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  12. #12
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    How old is Jerry? Lets just say that his first business card has a phone number with only 3 digits.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    This looks more like components from an old hot water boiler system. The tank being the expansion tank. The first picture looks like a safety valve.
    I have seen these in turn of the century homes in Denver.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Chuck

    You hit the nail on the head. This is from a former hotwater or steam heating system. Along with water expansion tank commonly found in boiler heated homes of the period. Also the insulated piping is a giveaway. A return loop has also be added at some point. The initial poster did not mention how the home was or is heated.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    I've seen several early 1900s homes around here with metal tank cisterns in the attic over the second floor to provide gravity flow water but the well equipment was always in the basement/crawlspace.

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    In South Florida most water towers have been taken down and the pressure is provided by pumps instead of gravity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Jerry, any clue as to what the reason is behind this?

    Jim,

    Hurricanes and maintenance costs for the water towers. Cheaper to have, maintain, and operate those back up power systems for the pumps than those water towers.

    You guys are probably getting some of the ones taken down there. The water towers are disassembled as they are taken down, so they may be reassembled at a new site at some other town.

    Even "up in Ft. Pierce" which is north of South Florida, the water town was taken down - but that was long after I moved from there. We used to live across the street from the water tower right in the middle of town (never had a problem with water pressure, wonder why? ), went through there a few years ago and ... What? Huh? Where is the water tower? It was gone, had been removed a number of years earlier I later was told (but long after I moved).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Chuck

    You hit the nail on the head. This is from a former hotwater or steam heating system. Along with water expansion tank commonly found in boiler heated homes of the period. Also the insulated piping is a giveaway. A return loop has also be added at some point. The initial poster did not mention how the home was or is heated.
    I see disconnected pipes so safe to say - an abandoned heat system, nothing to do with potable water supply.

    The original well pump may well have been in the crawlspace.

    With water or steam heat, the expansion tank was mounted high to aid in distribution of heat from the source, which was likely a boiler downstairs.


  18. #18
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Raymond, you are dead on. These insulated pipes are to large to be just water lines and are not drain lines. This is the best explination I have seen. The house has been upgraded with a packaged central unit on a slap outside. There are no reminents of "radiator" or holes in floors that indicated that type of steam heat or I think I would have picked up on it. But, yes, I have to agree with you, this is left over steam equipment.
    Thanks for your input.


  19. #19
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Sorry, Chuck, I just realized this was your original comment. Thanks for the information.


  20. #20
    Mike Truss Guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Isn't tanks at ceiling level how they do things in old London buildings with "flats"? It seems like I saw something like this on "This Old House" once.


  21. #21

    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    Gravity flow hot water heating systems were open to atmosphere. The large green tank was probably not an original piece of equipment. As water heated and expanded it expanded into a tank, which had an overflow pipe, usually draining out onto the roof and into a gutter. The asbestos wrapped pipes are original. The original tank would have been galvanized with a sight glass on it so you could see how much water was in the system when it was hot. These boilers had manual fills on them. (Many of these older systems were originally coal fired and then converted to gas later on.)

    Later, the original system was converted to a circulator type closed loop system, and the pressure relief valve, water feed, and expansion tank were added. When the system started using a circulator the loop had to be closed, hence the galvanized pipe to complete the loop. This would never have been part of a steam system.

    Just my two cents.

    Last edited by John Ghent; 04-17-2009 at 07:14 AM. Reason: spelling

  22. #22
    Chuck Weaver's Avatar
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    Default Re: water piped in from the attic

    John
    That would account for the absence of any distribution evidence such as radiators or other piping. Thanks for all the input. This has been a very informative blog. I am constantly amazed at what people (like you guys) know.


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