Despite the fact that British homes now prove that we’re well and truly in the era of the combi-boiler, with over half of UK homes heating their water this way, in many lofts a water tank still lurks.
Most of the time this isn’t an issue – in fact, the tank may well be a necessary part of the household plumbing and be in good working order. However, when it comes to a loft conversion, a water tank can be a real blot on the loft-room landscape that you may find yourself having to plan around. So what are your options?
Box in the tank
The quickest, simplest and cheapest solution of boxing in the tank (with plain or decorative panelling) means the tank is hidden and will not upset the aesthetics of the new room. However, a tank which is central within the loft space can influence not only the flow of the space, but also the way the loft space can be used. It will certainly be necessary to consider whether access to the tank needs to be accommodated, in case of repairs to plumbing and whether the space will have to be split up around the boxed-in tank, rather than using it as one large space.
Creating built-in storage can be a great way to hide a tank and built-ins can be designed to incorporate a tank cupboard, although it be frustrating sacrificing cupboard space to a tank if overall storage is going to be limited.
Even when boxing in is carried out carefully and skilfully to blend in with the rest of the décor, the fact that there’s a box containing a water tank can still affect the look of the loft and of course may mean that your tranquil space will include the occasional sounds of gurgling water, so what else could you do?
Move the tank
Far from being prohibitive to your loft conversion plans, a tank which needs to stay in the loft but could be better placed is something which can really inspire your ideas as to how you want to use the space, after all:
- Relocating a tank into a corner, particular an eaves corner where headroom is limited for standing but accommodates the tank, can actually make good use of otherwise unusable space in the room’s overall features and layout, whilst freeing up a significant amount of usable space in the room.
- The location of the tank can support other decisions you need to make about the space such as when creating several smaller rooms, for example a master suite comprising of bedroom, dressing room and ensuite. Relocating the tank to fit alongside the plumbing for the ensuite is a great way of ‘losing’ the tank from the main area of the new space, as well as keeping all of the plumbing in one part of the roof.
If moving the tank sounds like a good solution and the old tank is going to be drained ready for the move, it’s worth also considering if an upgrade to a more efficient make of tank or switching to a smaller model is opportune at the same time. Incorporating this type of plumbing work into the overall conversion can be useful as:
- It actually doesn’t add significantly to the amount of time the conversion will take but can certainly add to the appeal and size of the accommodation available afterwards.
- Where the loft conversion is to include a bathroom or ensuite, the solution of moving and upgrading the tank may not come in at a great additional cost as plumbing is already part of the plan. Instead it could offer the perfect solution to loft limitations of the tank kind.
In the case of many loft conversions though, particularly where space in the loft room is going to be at a premium, removing the tank altogether might be the best solution. By doing this, additional space can be gained not only by losing the tank, but also its associated pipework. The only question then is what’s best for replacing the tank to facilitate hot water?
Upgrading to an unvented hot water cylinder
A tank lurking in the loft is usually a dedicated hot water tank or a cold water tank which forms part of the hot water system. In older homes, this cold water tank is usually plumbed into the hot water tank and immersion heater, which is often found on the floor below the loft tank – in what most homes call the airing cupboard. With this system, the cold water tank in the loft acts as a vent for the hot water tank.
Swapping to an unvented hot water cylinder updates the hot water plumbing to a completely pressurised system. This is fed direct from the cold water mains to deliver hot water at mains pressure without the need for a cold water tank, so upgrading to an unvented tank in the airing cupboard means the cold water tank in the loft can be removed.
Upgrading whole plumbing system to include combi boiler
A combi boiler is the popular choice for literally combining hot water and central heating systems in the home or business premises. This combined boiler system offers efficiency and cost-effectiveness in water heating and delivers mains pressure hot water, rendering a cold water tank in the loft to be unnecessary.
Although replumbing the whole hot water system by installing a combi boiler in order to make a space in the loft may sound expensive, particularly in the context of the overall budget for a professional loft conversion, this solution could actually turn out to be cost-effective in improving overall efficiency of the home and heating costs. After all, the new loft room is likely to be added to the central heating system and the floor and wall insulation in the roof space will certainly also be upgraded as part of the loft conversion, so the whole area maximises efficiency in heating and could also help to minimise utility costs.
Of course, as with all aspects of loft conversion, any additional work undertaken should be carried out by a plumbing professional or specialist and in accordance with building regulations, otherwise you may literally be in hot water. If you’re unsure which of these tank-tackling methods could offer the best solution for the loft space you’re hoping to convert, don’t forget to ask one of Abbey Loft’s team.