Relocating a Water Heater

Let’s face it, unless you have invested in the new state-of-the-art tankless systems, water heaters take up a lot of space. In most older homes these units are even positioned right smack in the middle of the house, or “hidden” in some hall closet or just sittin’ right in the kitchen. This can be annoying, and a thought that fills many people’s minds is ‘what you would be able to do with all of that space if that water heater wasn’t there.’ It’s a great thought, and quite hopeful, but what many people don’t know is, how much work and how many different costs go into relocating a water heater, even if it’s just to the other side of the wall.

First, there is the water heater itself: Will you be using your existing water heater or purchasing a new one?

If you plan to use the same unit, you should first find out how old the unit is, if it’s working properly in its current location, and when the last time it was inspected and completely flushed. If the unit is old and on its last leg, you might want to consider purchasing a new unit to get it all taken care of at once. Having to go back in to replace the unit will just make it that much harder and more expensive for you. If the unit is fairly new or in good working condition, wipe your brow because you just saved yourself a few hundreds of dollars.

If you plan to purchase a new unit, you need to decide what type of unit you would like to purchase; A new tankless system or a conventional tank water heater. If you are leaning toward a tankless unit, although they are great space savers and highly energy efficient, there can be some pitfalls to them, so do a little research first and figure out if a tankless unit is actually a good fit for you and your family. Either way, keep in mind that water heaters are not cheap, they are a good sized investment for your home and should last anywhere from 10-15 years depending on their maintenance and weathering around them.

Next, is figuring out where you would like to relocate your water heater to.

This is one of the most highly impactful parts of your decision in regards to cost next to purchasing a new unit. First and foremost is the safety and code of moving the water heater. Most cities require a permit, which you can request from your city’s building department (as well as an inspection after the unit is moved). This is primarily due to the fact that you will most likely be moving some major structural fixtures such as the exhaust, the natural gas lines and the water lines. Next, you will need to know if there is a water and gas supply at the location where you would like the unit moved to. If not, this again can be quite a pocket buster and will require a lot more work, but if there is, go ahead and take another sigh of relief!

Finally, once the location is chosen, it’s all about moving the water heater

This is the part that most people don’t really think about: What actually goes in to moving a water heater. It’s not as easy as just picking it up, moving it and reconnecting it. There’s quite a bit more involved. If the supply lines (gas and water) need to be moved that is the first major issue, then you have to think about the other details: replacing the exhaust pipe, a new concrete slab, a metal shed, earthquake straps, exhaust straps, and not to mention any flooring, ceiling and roofing repairs along with some hefty patchwork.

As you can see, relocating a water heater isn’t as simple as you may have thought. It takes quite a bit more labor and skill than most people may think, but that’s not to say that it can’t be done on your own. In fact, we have many customers who have taken the DIY route in relocating a water heater and we’re all for it! But if you’re one of those who would just rather have a professional do it for you, we hope this article has prepared you a little bit for what you can expect. We always take our time in explaining to our customers what each job entails, and always provide them with options so they can decide themselves what works for them and fits in their budget, any good local plumber should be able to help you by offering you the same type of service. So call your local plumber today to find out more!