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I own a condo with a terribly cramped water heater closet (it sits underneath the air handler with about 6 inches of clearance). I need an expansion tank, but it really will not fit in that closet (not to mention I really don't want to have to touch that again after having just changed the water heater). Is it reasonable to tee the expansion tank into the washing machine's cold water valve? My laundry room has a lot more space than where the water heater is, so there's plenty of room to support it, and easy access if I need to change it out.

  • Expansion tanks are for the expansion (and contraction) of HOT water has it is heated. Why do you want to add it to the COLD water line? It is used on hot water heaters sometimes but mostly for boilers. – Alaska Man Jul 31 at 20:59
  • AM, no. they're to reduce the frequency of well pump engagement and make water volume more uniform. – isherwood Jul 31 at 21:00
  • @isherwood that would be a pressure tank, NO? The question referenced Hot water heater. – Alaska Man Jul 31 at 21:01
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    @k4kfh How did you come to the conclusion that you need an expansion tank. – Alaska Man Jul 31 at 21:06
  • @AlaskaMan my temperature and pressure relief valve on my hot water heater is discharging, and it's brand new so I know it's not just a bad valve. There is no check valve between the hot/cold sides of the water heater, and hot water is actually harder on the bladder in the expansion tank, so I see no reason to install one on the hot water side rather than the cold side. – K4KFH Aug 1 at 21:04
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So long as you do not have any check valves between the hot and cold supply, an expansion tank can be located anywhere in the system.

Thus, if you have a check valve or PRV (which acts effectively the same as a check valve from the system point of view) on the main inlet to the house, you can put the expansion tank wherever it is convenient if there are no other check valves in the system. All the water (hot and cold) experiences the same pressure throughout the system, and the expansion tank will work wherever you put it on the system.

This appears to be a widely misunderstood concept, as can be seen in the comments.

Note that if you put it on the far side of a valve, (i.e. not a check valve) it will not work when the valve is closed (but that will also make servicing it easier, if needed.)

  • There are no other check valves in the system between the water heater's cold inlet and the washing machine valve. The only valve in the way would be the shutoff valve for the washing machine, but this would never "accidentally" get turned off, so I think that's good enough. It also means that I can shut off the valve when I have to replace the tank so I only have to deal with a little water dripping when I unscrew it. – K4KFH Aug 1 at 21:06
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Reasons for expansion tanks on a domestic water systems:

  • Required by code/bylaw. Some municipalities may require one be installed so that the municipality's water system does not receive back pressure caused by the expansion of water when heated.
  • Use of backflow prevention devises. When using a backflow devise, as may be required by some codes/bylaws, the pressure caused by the expansion of water when heated may cause the temperature and pressure relieve valve on the tank to open. This is not always the case as it depends on multiple variables.

Location of expansion tanks on domestic systems:

When required, the expansion tank is located on the cold feed to the water heater after the shutoff valve. However in your case, installing it somewhere else on the cold side should be fine so long as there are not isolation valves in-between.

Typical install:

enter image description here

Source for above drawing

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