Should You Install A Water Heater In A Closet?

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Installing an additional water heater can increase the amount of hot water available for your home during times of great demand. No longer would you have to arrange when to do laundry, wash dishes, and even when everyone in the home can take their showers so they all have the hot water they want. But installing additional water heaters comes with another issue — placement. Many homeowners look at closets as handy places to install water heaters, especially unused coat closets or larger walk-in closets. This is actually legal and possible, but you have to be sure you have the right setup to do so safely.

Building Codes

If you want to install a water heater in a closet, you need to meet building codes, and that includes ensuring there is enough room as required by law and that the fuel and ventilation type of the water heater meets those codes. You can't plop a gas water heater into a closet and be done with it, for example; you have to ensure the ventilation type allows potential carbon monoxide that is produced to safely exit the closet without getting into the air that you and your family breathe.

Individual Units and Control

Bedroom closet locations for water heaters are fantastic if you want to give someone individual control. If you are converting a bedroom and bathroom into a guest unit, for example, placing the water heater in the closet works well because you don't have to do as much retrofitting of pipes and connections due to the shorter distance. But if you're installing water heaters elsewhere in the house for use in appliances that everyone uses, for example, don't saddle one bedroom with the water heater. Find or build a separate hallway closet specifically for the water heater. That also makes it easier for others in the house to reach the heater's temperature controls without invading someone's space.

Clearance and Ventilation

Any water heater that you install in a closet needs to have not only clearance around it from walls and other fixtures, but also a good amount of room away from any home ventilation ducts, like AC supply and return vents. You do not want carbon monoxide leaks or odors from a water heater (should it malfunction) seeping into those vents.

Fire Risk

And of course, if you install a water heater in a regular closet, you have to keep clothing away from it so there is no fire risk. Usually a few inches is required, but to be sure, add barriers that keep the clothing away by a good distance.

Do not try to install new water heaters yourself. Get a plumber who handles water heater installations to do it so that all pipe additions, rerouting, and connections are installed properly, too.

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