I want to install a water heater pan under my 12 year old water heater. It is located in the basement and is on bricks. I can't figure how I can physically get a pan under the water heater. Thanks.

  • 2
    Is the heater plumbed with rigid pipe, or flexible fittings?
    – Tester101
    Mar 3 '16 at 4:15
  • 2
    Not Easily - best done when installing or replacing; and at 12 years of age, probably nearing time to replace.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 3 '16 at 1:15

The only slightly easy way is to drain the water heater of all water. Hopefully the tank is connected to the water supply pipes with flexible hoses and not soldered copper. The tank is now ready to be raised so the new "Smitty" pan can be slid underneath.

Depending on the size of the tank you may want to enlist some helpers. I've managed to wrestle a 30 gallon tank onto a catch pan, but a single family dwelling is more likely to use a 40 or 50 gallon tank. Even empty it will be awkward for 2 people to lift while a third person slides the pan underneath.

I've found it helpful to have some 2 x 4 or 4 x 4 blocking on hand so if needed can support the tank and slowly removed as the pan is inserted.

  • +1 for using the original inventor's name, "Smitty" for George Smith, plumber from Lomita CA who invented the now ubiquitous catch pans. Aug 2 '16 at 4:18
  • @Jimmy Fix-it- George would most likely frown upon the latest pans. I tried installing a plastic one only to have it crack and the aluminum pans are nothing more than tick foil.
    – ojait
    Aug 4 '16 at 21:31

Water Heater lift 1Water Heater lift 2I have a water heater installed in a manufactured home and needed to install the pan. After crushing a couple, a friend came up with an idea using a Hi lift (Farmers) Jack.

  1. Be sure water heater is empty and all plumbing, gas, vent connections are removed.
  2. Place the jack in a position you can still slide the new pan in. I removed the side wall of the water heater closet to allow this access.
  3. Loop a ratchet strap under the back side of the water heater and over the lift part of the jack around the outside of the jack post (pulling the post into the water heater).
  4. Use cardboard between the jack post and the water heater jacket to protect the water heater from damage.
  5. Place a short 2x4 below the jack lift to space the water heater away from the jack.
  7. The side walls in of the closet will prevent the water heater from falling over. Use cardboard to prevent any damage if needed. I didn't since it is not a "visible" surface.
  8. Slowly raise jack watching strap for any issues and clearance above the water heater (vent pipe out the top).
  9. Once water heater is up about 3", you should be able to slide the pan thru the side of the opening in my case.
  10. Position the pan so your pan drain opening so it is oriented correctly with where you want it referencing the water heater, not the floor. If you need to rotate the water heater once you set it down, the pan will most likely rotate with the water heater.
  11. Set the water heater down into the pan and remove jack.
  12. Hoop up water heater.

I used these threads on websites like this to help me out of situations all the time. with how worked well for me, I feel obligate to help out any other DIY'ers in the future who might run into the same issue.

Good Luck!


The Water Heater (WH) will need to be drained & fully detached from plumbing, electricity & vent or everything that applies.

You'll want to slowly & gently tip & roll the bottom edge of the WH off of it's brick stand. I say slowly & gently because there's an Anode Rod & Dip tube inside that are attached only at the top, they're pretty durable but try not to create any problems...avoid jerking & slamming the WH back down after being tipped.

Then, you'll need to determine the height of the new stand. You want at least 1/8" per foot drop or slope of the pan's pipe to your building exit point, floor drain or sump basin. Maybe your bricks are fine if you're very close to the pan's pipe outflow location, account for exterior wall thickness.

Now, you can put down your new stand & roll the bottom of the WH onto it. Use a ramp if needed, a section of 2x4 or wider is usually sufficient. Then, you want to tip the WH to insert your pan, without piping, under the tipped side.

At this point you'll just do the edge roll again to get the WH into the pan. Then, you can gently rock or jiggle the WH to get it & the pan & the pan's drain centered & aligned to your liking. Finally, re-attach the WH & your new pan's piping. Shark-Bite type fittings are perfect for WH's.

  • 1
    'Useless gimmick'? Its not a closed dish - so it isn't supposed to 'hold' any water. There's supposed to be a 3/4" drain pipe leading outside. So only if your leak is fast enough to not be able to flow out through that 3/4" pipe ...
    – brhans
    Mar 4 '16 at 3:57
  • WH leaks don't exist in my world. I've never had one & when I was in insurance for 20-yrs with thousands of clients we never had a single one even mentioned. But thank you & you're absolutely right, the guy wants it & maybe even has it & I should address his desire.
    – Iggy
    Mar 4 '16 at 11:41
  • 1
    Either you're lucky or I'm unlucky - I once had a serious leak from a 3 year old heater ... manufacturing fault, but I'm very glad for my pan ...
    – brhans
    Mar 4 '16 at 13:28
  • Sorry about that. I just haven't yet needed one in the slightest & most I've seen don't even have any pipe attached & are truly worthless. For a short time I helped out a buddy of mine at a big condo complex & none of those were even drained. I was told they only needed to be in place for the inspector due to the zoning, total insanity.
    – Iggy
    Mar 4 '16 at 15:38

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