If your old water heater is beginning to leak or you’re concerned that your new unit might, you should consider adding a water heater drain pan.
The drain pan serves as a kind of insurance, protecting you from potentially serious damage if your water heater leaks. With so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which drain pan to buy.
To help you choose, we have reviewed the best water heater drain pans and ranked them by durability, material, compatibility, and price.
- Works with electric or gas units
- Zinc plated steel core
- Slanted sides & 4-inch depth
- Galvanized steel construction
- Versatile square footprint
- Simple installation due to detachable edge
- Easily mounted on any wall
- Convenient bottom drain fitting
- Size compatible with most tankless heaters
Do I Need a Water Heater Drain Pan?
A water heater drain pan is a simple concept. It is a pan that is placed beneath your water heater. It usually has a drain hole attached to a pipe to remove any leaking water.
The water runs down the pipe and into a drain, where it can’t do any harm to your home. When installing a pan, it’s important to remember to uncap it and fit a suitable pipe.
Most pans include a pipe made from PVC or similar material, designed to fit them perfectly.
This is an inexpensive solution to a potentially expensive water heater problem. Water damage to walls or floors can be difficult to get rid of and could even cause mildew or mold if left untreated (1).
Types of Water Heater Drain Pans
A hot water tank pan is usually one of four materials: plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, or steel.
Plastic drain pans are usually made of black, hard plastic. They are very affordable but also unreliable.
The material is vulnerable to environmental factors such as temperature change. Plastic pans have been known to melt or break, which you might not notice until it’s too late.
Plastic Not Recommended
Aluminum drain pans are perhaps the most widespread type. They are more durable than plastic but still affordable.
A major advantage of an aluminum drip pan is that it is usually quite flexible. You can easily bend them slightly to fit into tight spaces. They are also very resistant to corrosion (2).
Steel is highly durable but also more expensive. Drain pans made of steel won’t break or become brittle like plastic. They’re also more robust than aluminum or fiberglass.
When choosing steel, it’s important to find a pan that won’t rust. A rusty pan can quickly lead to a rusty heater, which could cause serious issues.
Fiberglass drain pans usually look similar to bathtubs and showers, only much smaller.
The material is very durable and easy to maintain — you can easily clean it by hand if needed.
Most fiberglass pans also have a glossy finish.
The Best Water Heater Drain Pans of 2022
Here are our top picks for the best water heater drain pans.
1. Camco 20922 Water Heater Drain Pan
If you’re searching for an adaptable water heater tray, look no further than this pan from Camco. Its versatility allows it to be used with both 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. Its size and shape make it compatible with other appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers.
The 4-inch depth provides plenty of room for any sudden leaks. You also receive a PVC drain fitting connected to either a 1-inch or 1.5-inch drain pipe.
The pan’s material is zinc-plated steel. This is very durable and resistant to corrosion and cracking, ensuring a long service life.
Versatile — Works With Electric or Gas Units
This water heater drain pan is perfect for both gas and electric units. Some customers have also successfully used it under their compact washer or dishwasher. The square shape makes it very versatile.
This pan is built to last. Thanks to the zinc-plated steel core, it’s very durable and resistant to corrosion, rust, and cracking.
Slanted Sides and Decent Depth for Leaks
There’s plenty of room in this metal pan in case a larger water leak occurs. These are rare but, if the worst happens, the 4-inch depth should contain the water as it drains through the pipe.
The Top Measurements Are Larger Than Specified
Some users noted that the top is wider than stated in the description. Instead of 25.25 by 25.25 inches, it appears to be 26 by 26 inches—something to consider before buying.
|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. KMG Square Water Heater Pan
Best for Multiple Uses
It’s always helpful when a product can be used in multiple places. This KMG water heater pan is a versatile square pan with a detachable edge.
You can use this in various places such as under a water heater, dishwasher, and much more. It also works with both gas and electric water heaters!
It’s made from heavy-duty galvanized steel, so it’s built to last and do a great job. Made in the USA, this is the only IAPMO certified pan, so you know you’re getting a high-quality option.
To install it, you simply need to attach the removable edge. This creates a water-tight seal, and you’re good to go.
Galvanized Steel Construction
We love the high-quality construction of this water heater pan. It’s made from durable galvanized steel in the USA, which means it’s easy to clean and very durable.
Fits in Various Places
You can use this pan under your water heater but it can also be placed in various other places, including a dishwasher. It also works with a gas or electric water heater.
Easy to Install
With a detachable edge, all you need to do is remove it and install it where you want it. This quickly and easily creates a water-tight seal.
Better With Silicone
You may find that it’s slightly more effective with added silicone to ensure there are absolutely no leaks. This is an extra step but worth taking to ensure it’s watertight.
|Measurement||24.1 inches by 24.1 inches|
|Drain fitting||Not applicable|
3. Camco 11430 Aluminum Tankless Water Heater Drain Pan
Best for Tankless Water Heater
Even tankless water heaters leak and it’s important to be prepared. This water heater drain pan is made from aluminum, which is 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, both of which are included. You can use it for either a gas-powered or electric unit.
It measures around 21.72 inches wide, 14.17 inches tall, and 11.62 inches deep. 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
This drain pan is straightforward to install. Simply mount it wherever 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 to ensure better drainage.
Compatible With Most Tankless Water Heaters
Most tankless water heaters are small and compact, which fits perfectly into this drain pan. Still, be sure to measure twice before buying.
Drain Fitting Isn’t Flush, Resulting in Standing Water
Although the sides of the pan decline toward the center of the base, the drain fitting is slightly raised. Unfortunately, this 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||Overall Pick||Zinc-plated steel||Base (24 inches” x 24″), top (25.25″ x 25.25″)||4″||1″ – 1.5″ PVC pipes|
|KMG Square||Multiple Uses||Galvanized steel||24.1″ x 24.1″||2.6″||N/A|
|Camco 11430||Tankless Heater||Aluminum||21.72″ x 14.17″||11.62″||1″ – 1.5″ PVC pipes|
How Big Should a Water Heater Drain Pan Be?
Find an appropriate size by measuring the diameter of your heater, then consider the amount of space available around the unit.
We recommend choosing a pan at least slightly bigger than your heater. An additional two inches could make all the difference, should a leak occur. For example, if your unit is 20 inches in diameter, you should choose a pan 22 inches in diameter.
You should also consider pan depth. Deeper pans are usually 4 inches or more. However, you are unlikely to ever overflow the pan.
A drain pan isn’t intended to hold the 40 gallons or so of water in your heater. If you have a significant leak, you might need to replace your unit. The pan simply catches the water from a leak and channels it to a drain line so it won’t end up on your floor.
Some people choose a deeper catch pan because they can’t drain via a pipe. In this case, it’s essential to check on the pan regularly to avoid it overflowing.
Which Water Heater Drain Pan Material is Best?
Of the four main water heater drain pan materials, the best drain pans are steel or fiberglass, which are also the most expensive. Aluminum is the most commonly used material today, thanks to its price, durability, and flexibility.
Plastic is the cheapest material but also the weakest and the most prone to being affected by environmental factors. Generally speaking, drain pans made using any of the three other materials, steel, fiberglass, or aluminum, will perform admirably.
I Have Automatic Shut-Off Valves. Do I Still Need a Drain Pan?
Automatic shut-off valves are sensors that detect a leak and then close valves to prevent the leak from growing. These are very useful and can prevent further damage to the heater or your home.
However, the shut-off valve only prevents more water from entering the tank. It won’t prevent water already present in the tank from escaping through a leak.
As such, we recommend that you use a drain pan even if you have an automatic shut-off valve installed.