Tile floor safe under filled 55 gallon water barrel?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I've been planning to store one of my filled 55 gallon water barrels in an unused tiled bathroom . I just got to wondering if the weight (450#?) would be damaging to the tiled flooring. Anyone know? Thanks, in advance.

-- Jo Ann (MaJo@Michiana.com), October 12, 1999


It definitely could crack the grout between the
tiles. To mitigate any possible damage you can
support the floor joists under the house with
blocks and 4x4 posts.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), October 12, 1999.

I'm wondering where to put my 55 gal water drums. I was planning to leave them in the garage after I fill them. But what about the cement floor. There's no basement underneath. thanks for any input! --wondering

-- (wondering@wherewhatwhy.com), October 12, 1999.

a 55 gallon tank of water will weigh about 440 lbs.

spread out over an area about 4 square feet, (2ftx2ft), this means the weight is 110lbs per square foot.

this should not be a problem in a garage. Your car weighs probably 4000 lbs and rests on 4 wheels, that means each wheel is putting down 1000lbs per square foot of pressure.

As for the tiled bathroom, you could spread the weight over the tiles better by laying down a sheet of plywood or underlayment, or anything at least 1/2" thick and then laying a few 2x4's down and putting the drum on the 2x4's, this would spread the weight out over a larger area, lessening the chance of damaging tiles. You could skip the plywood and just use the 2x4's... or you could skip the 2x4s and just put the drum on a scrap of plywood, this would help prevent cracking the tiles as well...hey, either one, both, whatever....

-- plonk! (realaddress@hotmail.com), October 12, 1999.

I, too, stored my drims in the garage. I suggest putting the drum on top of two 2X4 boards to leave a speace below the barrel. If you have to move it later you can then easily place a hand truck under the barrel to move it around. Please note, this does increase the weight per square inch under the 2X4's and would not be suggested for a tile floor for the reasons listed above.

-- smfdoc (smfdoc@aol.com), October 12, 1999.

On the original post, it depends whether the tiles are on wood or on a concrete slab.

"each wheel is putting down 1000lbs per square foot of pressure" - nope, each wheel is putting down 1000 lbs, period. If each wheel has a bearing surface of a quarter square inch, then the pressure is 4000 lbs per square inch. If the surface is a 10th of a square inch (probably pretty close) then the pressure is 10k lbs per square inch.

To spread the load best, put down a 1/2 inch layer of sand, then use plywood or whatever. The sand acts like a fluid and spreads the load real well. But a 55 gallon drum on a concrete slab is no problem at all - use the sand only for a good finished floor that you want to preserve. Of course, the floor has to be strong enough, so brace joists if needed.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), October 12, 1999.

Hey, now I am scared!!! In a second-floor apartment is it alright to have a 55-gal. water barrel if the weight is spread out on plywood, as you suggest here?? I can't shore it up from below, obviously. The walls are called fireproof because there are cinder blocks in between each apartment and between the rooms (which I saw when I moved in and tore out some ancient stuff.) Will that help? Thanks for advice.

-- Elaine Seavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), October 12, 1999.

Without knowing more about your construction, the barrel is probably safest if it sits right next to one of the cinder block walls. The joists probably butt into that wall. It wouldn't hurt to put a couple 2x4's (cut to about 4 feet long) along that wall, one next to the wall and one about 18 inches out, to spread the barrel weight across several joists.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), October 12, 1999.

If you don't know how the joists run, just put the barrel in a corner, where that corner has a corresponding corner in the room below.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), October 12, 1999.

I wrote: ""each wheel is putting down 1000lbs per square foot of pressure"

oops, you're right, thanks, I "meant" to say 1000 lbs for each wheel.

the road to hell is paved with good intentions.......



-- plonk! (realaddress@hotmail.com), October 12, 1999.

I decided against using a 55 gallon drum (steel or plastic) because of weight considerations - I live in a 90 year old house. Instead, I'm using 6 gallon green plastic "jerry cans" that I bought at Wal- Mart for $6 each. They're food safe, and easily moved, not to mention that they won't damage the floor...

Wal-Mart also offers a blue version for $7 that has a pour spigot already in. I found both of these in the camping section. (Meijers grocery stores also carry the same items, but are a bit more expensive.)

-- Deb (travelersfourcats@worldnet.att.net), October 12, 1999.

Come on people, a 55 gallon drum weighs about 440 pounds. A large person can easily weigh 220. Have you ever heard of two people falling through a floor because they stood too close together?

Now if you your're planning on dozens of drums in one room that might be different.

However the rim of one barrel could crack tile or dig into a wooden floor so you should put plywood under it.

-- biker (y2kbiker@hotmail.com), October 12, 1999.

If 55 gal barrel has radius of 24", then area of barrel is approx. 452 sq inches. If barrel weighs 440 lbs., pressure under barrel is 440 lbs/452 sqin = .97 psi.

My shoe is approximately 4"x11" (44 sqin). If I weigh 220 lbs, and stand on one foot, and my shoe distributes the pressure evenly (unlikely, but close enough for our little exercise) then I am applying 220 lbs / 44 sqin = 5 psi. Haven't punched through a floor yet.

But we have one caveat here - what we really need to know is the actual surface area of the barrel that touches the floor . If it is only sitting on a rim (i.e. a metal barrel) then the pressure could be much higher. Lets assume a .25 inch wide rim on our 24" diameter barrel. Running through the calcs, we are now talking about 23.6 psi (the equivalent of my weighing 1040 lbs). Sounds like a lot. Read on....

Now consider this. I have a four legged chair, each leg being 1" diameter. If I park my 220 lb posterior in the chair, and lean back on just two legs, and could maintain my balance without using my toes on the floor (again, pretty unlikely, but close enough), and if the chair legs have swivel pads that allow the full area of the leg tip to stay in contact with the floor, then I will be exerting 140 psi on the tips of the chair legs. Imagine what happens if you have a wooden chair without swiveling tips...

Sounds to me like in most instances a barrel isnt going to cause much of a problem on a normal floor. I might leave a depression in your carpet, but as y2kbiker pointed out, you wouldnt expect two of your 220 lb. football player friends (or biker friends I suppose ;-) to crash through your floor, and you wouldnt expect your tile to crack if one of your friends leaned back in their chair. You do want to be careful not to put too many in one place - that can overload the floor. Any construction people out there who know what is considered the nominal PSF for an average residential floor?

I'm just using the high school math I can remember, does anyone else agree with this assessment?

-- math_isnt_just_for_dweebs (area@radius_squared_times.pi), October 12, 1999.

Oops! I meant if the barrel has a *diameter* of 24". The rest is the same, since I did actually use a 12" radius in the calcs. The math works if you put the right values in! That's half the battle.

-- math_isnt_just_for_dweebs (area@radius_squared_times.pi), October 12, 1999.

Just put a piece of carpet scrap or several layers of newspaper down under the drum. If you've got plywood, fine; but don't run out and buy any. The drum is not a problem for the grout or the floor joists, unless you have SEVERELY substandard construction. Whoever pointed out about two people weighing 440 pounds is right on. I am a 230 pound builder, and if I stand in my bathroom with my 200+ pound son, we don't cause a collapse, nor does the tile grout crack.

A caveat to whoever said they were going to forego the 55 gallon drum in favor of a bunch of 5 gallon ones. Fine, but don't forget that 11 five gallon jugs are as heavy as one fifty-five gallon drum. Dont' cover the floor totally with five gallon jugs.

I once had to repair the floor support system at a furniture factory where the workers piled up oak chair seats. The seats each only weighed a little bit, but after piling them some seven feet high over a room sized area, they ended up putting over 90,000 poumds on a 4x12 girder with a twelve foot span, and split the girder for almost its entire length. Lots of little weights equal one big weight.

By the way, your water heater is probably heavier than a fifty five gallon drum.


-- Al K. Lloyd (all@ready.now), October 12, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ