Attic Plumbing

I have never seen water supply lines routed through an attic. Looking for opinions from any inspector who has encountered attic plumbing. Keep in mind the cold environment for the Maryland area where this home is located. Yes, there is a heating element for the cold water side and as you can see foam insulation. Of course, the heating element could fail.

Attic-routed plumbing is very common. . .

Even in cold weather climates?

No, that Pope fella forgets he lives in California.:wink:

That metal braided heat cable has me wondering if that is a legitimate install for that product.

Any tags indicating who the manufacture is?

True dat.

How do you repipe in colder climates (assuming no basement and no crawl space)?

Did not notice a tag, the thermostat is Honeywell. I think the plumbing may have been re-routed from the original slab location. You can see the slab with abandoned copper & poly lines in the photos posted in the Structural Section yesterday. It all seems to be tied together.

In the attic but below the layer of insulation and no pipe insulation.
The insulation traps the heat from below and warms the pipe.

Why no pipe insulation?

It is not needed and you want the pipe exposed to the warmest temp just above the interior ceiling materials.

Even if you have to run the pipe perpendicular to the joists or truss bottom chord, all you have to do is have the insulation go up and over the pipe with no insulation below it.

Of course this is problematic with any blown in insulation systems and would require a open sided half box above the pipe. You need to trap the warm from below for it to work.

Thanks for the information. I spoke with a local retired inspector who was in the business for 21 years, and he does not recall ever seeing water supplies in an attic. But, there may have been occasions when the plumbing was concealed below the insulation as you suggested.

A prudent man might point out that there is no freeze alarm or any other warning device that would warn of heat tape failure. Heat tapes do have a lifespan, but it’s unclear to me what that might be. I replace them from time to time, typically under mobile homes, but normally only following a pipe failure. There are commercially available freeze alarms with a probe you stick under the Armaflex. An extended power failure would also put the pipework at risk for freezing if the home was not equipped with a generator or provisions to connect a portable generator. This might be something worthwhile to point out.

Under the slab and inside wall cavities.Useing interior walls as opposed to exterior walls whenever possible Mr.Pope.

x-nachi member and current builder/remodeler for 28 yrs.

Update. According to the local plumbing inspector, this installation is not allowed. As mentioned in this thread, the county may possibly allow attic plumbing if placed above the ceiling and covered with adequate insulation.

Pretty common to have water heaters in attics here. This is what I say, depending on whether or not insulation is provided.

“The visible portions of the water pipes in the attic are insulated and are in acceptable condition, but should be monitored because of their location. Leaks from pipes that pass through an attic can be soaked up by insulation, and are difficult to detect until significant damage is evident elsewhere.”

“Water pipes in the attic are un-insulated and insulation is recommended to prevent freezing. The pipes should be monitored because of their location. Leaks from pipes that pass through an attic can be soaked up by insulation, and are difficult to detect until significant damage is evident elsewhere. Note: combustible insulation should not be closer than 1” to a water heater flue."

Did you note that where the pipes are fastened to the rafter legs that the insulation has been cut and removed? This may allow the cold climate to transfer to the pipes, and also may make the heat tape work more. The insulation should have been left on in these areas and large straps around insulation & pipes. I generally use conduit clamps sized to fit the O.D. if the insulation myself. Also the I.D. of the insulation should be sized to fit the pipe plus the heat tape. It looks as if some of the insulation seams were slightly open. They need to be closed tight.
Looks like Frost-Tek type heat tape. This is about the best I have found to use.

There are open insulation joints from apparent shrinkage or movement. The joints were taped together at one time, the tape residue is visible.
Mounting the copper so high above the ceiling does not appear to be correct, and is not according to our local county inspector.

Just updated on the attic plumbing issue by the buyers agent. Despite the fact that I have accumulated information from plumbers and inspectors stating the current placement above the ceiling is incorrect, a “contractor” evaluated the plumbing and declared it to be OK! Of course the realtor is unhappy with me, but what else is new? I did my very best to protect the clients.

I never said it was incorrect (except for the gaps that should be insulated). Undesirable to have plumbing in an attic in my personal judgment, but there is nothing “incorrect” about having plumbing in an attic as long as its insulated.

Plumbing supply lines in the attic are not uncommon in 70’s installations in more moderate climates such as Houston. Lots of heat, not too much cold.

Course, there was a big cold / snow one year, and that was the night they shut down power at the So. TX Nuclear plant to do maintenance and everyone lost power most of the night. Lost a lot of water lines, too.