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Replacing A Crawl Space Water Heater? It May Not Be Easy!

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Replacing a broken water heater in a crawl space is challenging due to the tightly confined space the installer has to work with. However, now there are new energy regulations that can make installation even more challenging. Water heater manufacturers have had to increase the sizes of the appliances to meet these regulations. For some homeowners, that presents a huge problem when it comes time to replace their gas-operated water heaters.

If you need to replace a water heater in your crawl space and there are size limitations, here are a few important things to know.

Can you lower the crawl space flooring?

It's a good idea to try your best to keep the water heater located in the crawl space. That way, you won't have to worry reconfiguring your plumbing system and gas lines to accommodate a complete relocation. You won't be able to raise the ceiling of the crawl space, but you may be able to lower the flooring.

However, due to ground water and drainage problems, this may only work if you only need several inches of additional space. If you lower it any further, the effect would be more like a sump pump pit. If this is not an option, you'll need to relocate the water heater.

What do the building code regulations say?

Depending on your local building code authority and their regulations, you may be limited as to where you can relocate your water heater. This is particularly true if your water heater is gas-operated. The reason for this is due to the ventilation requirements that need to be met. Due to ventilation requirements, most building codes state that gas-operated appliances are required to be installed along an exterior wall with a vent.

How accessible are the utilities?

To keep costs down, you'll want to relocate it to an area where the plumbing and gas lines are already easily accessible or can be with a little installation. Here are a few idea locations inside your home for your replacement water heater:

  • in a spare corner in your kitchen where a closet can be built
  • along the adjoining wall of your garage if it's attached
  • in an existing closet
  • in the corner of a bathroom
  • in an enclosure built on the exterior of the house

Why not rethink it entirely with point-of-service water heaters?

If you cannot find a suitable location for the water heater replacement, consider installing point-of-service water heaters instead. These are appliances that do not have a large tank to hold heated water. They work by only heating water as it is needed when it is needed.

For more information, contact Garabedian Plumbing & Heating Inc. or a similar company.