Is your old water heater beginning to leak? Or are you concerned that your new unit might? Then it sounds like you could use a water heater drain pan.
This acts as a humble insurance, protecting you from any potential expensive water damage if your water heater should leak.
Unfortunately, homeowners rarely think of these until it’s too late. But, we’re going to show you their value with our guide to the best water heater drain pans.
What Is a Water Heater Drain Pan?
A water heater drain pan is a very simple invention. It’s basically a pan which is placed underneath your heater. It normally has a drain hole where a pipe can be attached to remove any leaking water.
The water will then run down the pipe and into a drain nearby where it won’t do any damage. When installing a pan, it’s important to remember to uncap it and fit it with the right pipe.
Most pans come with a pipe made from PVC or other material, specifically designed for them.
Types of Water Heater Drain Pans
You might be surprised at how many different pan models you can find on the market. However, these can differ greatly when it comes to features, which we’ll get more into in a minute.
When we talk about types, we mostly mean material. Water heater drain pans are usually found in four materials: plastic, aluminum, fiberglass or steel.
Plastic drain pans are usually made of black, hard plastic. These are very inexpensive, but they’re also unreliable.
Keep in mind
Plastic pans have been known to melt or break for various reasons. This could leave you unaware of a leak until it’s too late.
We can’t recommend a product of this type and would suggest that you only use plastic water heater drain pans during an emergency.
Aluminum drain pans are some of the most popular models. These are more durable than plastic but still affordable.
A huge advantage with aluminum pans is that most of them are quite flexible. You can easily bend them just a little to fit them into a tight space. They’re also highly resistant to corrosion (2).
Steel is highly durable, but also more on the expensive side. However, steel drain pans won’t break or become brittle like plastic. They’re also more robust than aluminum or fiberglass.
When choosing steel, it’s important to go for something that won’t rust. A rusting pan can quickly lead to a rusty heater, and this could cause all sorts of trouble.
Fiberglass drain pans usually look similar to bathtubs and showers, only smaller.
Fiberglass is very durable and easy to maintain — you can easily clean it if needed.
Most fiberglass pans also have a glossy finish.
Finding the Correct Size
The best way to find the correct size is to measure the diameter of your heater. Once you’ve done that, consider the amount of space available around the unit as well.
We highly recommend choosing a pan a little bigger than your heater. An additional two inches could be very beneficial in case of a leak. Therefore: If your unit is 20 inches in diameter, you should choose a pan 22 inches in diameter.
Diameter isn’t the only question here, pan depth is also something to consider. Deeper pans are usually 4 inches or more, however, you won’t be needing all that space.
A water heater drain pan isn’t made to hold the 40 gallons of water or so in your heater. If you have a leak that big, you may need to replace your unit. The pan is simply there to direct the water from a leak to a nearby drain so it won’t end up on your floor.
Some people choose a deeper pan because they don’t keep a pipe attached. Now, having a pipe attached at all times is not possible for all. Perhaps you don’t have a drain nearby.
In this case, though, it’s crucial to check on the pan regularly, especially if there is a leak.
I Have Automatic Shut off Valves, Do I Still Need a Pan?
Automatic shut off valves are sensors that detect a leak and then shut off valves to prevent the leak from growing. These are very useful and the system can save you in case of a leak or other damage to the heater.
However, the shut-off valve only stops more water from coming into the tank. It won’t prevent water already present from escaping through a leak.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you use a drain pan even if you have an automatic shut off valve installed.
The Best Water Heater Drain Pans of 2021
Now that we know what to look for and why they’re so important, it’s time for our top three picks. There’s a vast selection of different types.
So, we’ve searched through top products recommended by experts and users. Then we narrowed them down to the three best water heater drain pans. Let’s see our picks.
1. Camco 20922 Water Heater Drain Pan
If you’re searching for an adaptable water heater drain pan, take a look here. This drain pan from Camco is a perfect example. It’s very versatile, meaning it can be used with electric and gas water heaters.
The pan is square and measures 24 by 24 inches at the bottom and 25.25 by 25.25 inches at the top. The size and shape make it compatible with other appliances such as a washing machine or a dishwasher.
The 4-inch depth provides plenty of room for any sudden leaks. You also get a PVC drain fitting which can be connected to either a 1-inch or 1.5-inch drain pipe.
The material of the pan is zinc plated steel. It’s highly durable and resistant to corrosion and cracking, offering you a long service life.
- Versatile — works with electric or gas units.
- Strong material.
- Slanted sides and a decent depth for leaks.
- The top measurements are larger than specified.
Why We Love It
Versatile — Works With Electric or Gas Units
This water heater drain pan is perfect for either gas or electric units. Some users also pointed out that they used it under their compact washer or dishwasher. The square shape makes it incredibly versatile.
This pan is built to last. Thanks to the zinc plated steel core, it’s amazingly durable, resistant to corrosion, rust, and cracking.
Slanted Sides and a Decent Depth for Leaks
There’s plenty of room in this pan should a larger water leak occur. Fingers crossed that won’t happen. But if it does, the 4-inch depth should contain most of the water as it drains through the pipe.
Keep In Mind
The Top Measurements Are Larger Than Specified
Some users noted that the top measurement is larger than specified in the description. Instead of 25.25 by 25.25 inches, it appears to be 26 by 26 inches. Something to take into consideration before buying.
|Material||Zinc plated steel|
|Measurement||Base — 24 inches by 24 inches, top — 25.25 inches by 25.25 inches|
|Drain fitting||1-inch to 1.5-inch PVC pipes|
2. Mustee 98-M Durapan Water Heater Pan
Who doesn’t love a product you can use in multiple places? This washer and water heater drain pan from Mustee is a must-see.
This is another square pan, which makes it compatible with other appliances if needed. It’s made of molded fiberglass, making it strong and durable.
It also has an aluminum front threshold, which is removable if you need to fit it into a tight space. The pan measures 30 inches by 31 inches with a depth of 2.5 inches.
The fiberglass material is similar to a shower base or tub. It comes in a glossy-white finish which is easy to clean. The glossy finish is also mildew-resistant and colorfast.
That said, you must drill the drainage hole yourself. Although it’s a minor inconvenience, it’s easy to do.
- Great for multiple uses.
- Removable front threshold.
- Excellent fiberglass and aluminum material.
- No drainage hole.
Why We Love It
Great for Multiple Uses
Imagine that you’ve installed this under your water heater when suddenly, your washer begins to leak. You can quickly remove this from the heater and place it under your washer to save your floor.
Removable Front Threshold
This may not seem like much, but it is a massive plus if you only have a little space under your heater. It saves having to unhitch the heater to install the drain pan. You can simply slide the pan into place, then attach the front. No need for too much DIY or heavy lifting.
Excellent Fiberglass and Aluminum Material
The fiberglass material is similar to what you’ll see in your shower or tub. It’s incredibly resistant to water damage, and the aluminum front threshold will stay put if a leak happens. Both materials are coated with a semi-gloss white finish which makes it easy to clean as well as durable.
Keep In Mind
No Drainage Hole
There’s no hole for the water to drain through, so if you want it attached to a drain, you’ll have to drill the hole yourself. If you do this, make sure you measure twice so the pipes fit.
|Material||Semi-gloss coated fiberglass and aluminum|
|Measurement||30 inches by 32 inches|
3. Camco 11430 Aluminum Tankless Water Heater Drain Pan
Even tankless water heaters leak, and before they do, you need to be prepared. This water heater drain pan is made from aluminum, which is both long-lasting and resistant to rust, corrosion, and cracking.
It’s compatible with either a 1-inch or a 1.5-inch dual size PVC drain fitting — these are included. You can use it for either a gas-powered or electric unit.
It measures around 21.72 inches in width, 14.17 inches in height, and 11.62 inches in depth. The drain pan itself weighs approximately 2.3 pounds. It should fit most tankless water heaters with a maximum 13-inch depth and 20.5-inch width.
- Easy to mount on any wall.
- Convenient placement of drain fitting.
- Compatible with most tankless water heaters.
- Drain fitting isn’t fully flush with the base, resulting in standing water if a leak is left unattended.
Why We Love It
Easy to Mount on Any Wall
This drain pan is very easy to install. Simply mount it where you need it — just remember it should be near a drain.
Convenient Placement of Drain Fitting
Instead of the usual side drain fitting, this one sits right at the bottom. All the sides are slightly slanted toward the middle so the water can drain.
Compatible With Most Tankless Water Heaters
Most tankless water heaters are small and compact, which fits perfectly in this drain pan. Still, be sure to measure twice before buying.
Keep In Mind
Drain Fitting Isn’t Flush, Resulting in Standing Water
Although the sides of the pan decline toward the middle of the base, the drain fitting is slightly raised. This, unfortunately, results in some standing water.
|Measurement||21.72 inches by 14.17 inches|
|Drain fitting||1-inch to 1.5-inch PVC pipes|
|Camco 20922||Best Overall||Zinc plated steel||Base (24 inches” x 24″), top (25.25″ x 25.25″)||4″||1″ – 1.5″ PVC pipes|
|Mustee 98-M||Best For Multiple Uses||Fiberglass & aluminum||30″ x 32″||2″||N/A|
|Camco 11430||Best For Tankless Heater||Aluminum||21.72″ x 14.17″||11.62″||1″ – 1.5″ PVC pipes|
Stop That Leak
Water heaters are essential in any household, but they can leak due to installation errors or wear and tear.
The best water heater drain pan is one that’s made from durable material, has sufficient depth, and fits the measurements of your water heater comfortably.
If you have further questions, please leave us a comment below.