Skinny Water Heater


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Old 01-27-11, 11:32 AM
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Skinny Water Heater

Question: My vacation home needs a new water heater -- because it's a small house, the water heater (40 gallon, electric, 15 years old) is located in what is basically a closet, with an opening only a little under 17 inches wide. The water heater that's there now is about 16 1/2 inches, so it was obviously a tight fit. The plumber I contacted to replace it says they don't make water heaters that skinny anymore and we'll need to do something about the opening. Is he feeding me a line to sell a bigger water heater, or is this actually true? Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 01-27-11, 04:10 PM
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contact your local plumbing parts houses and ask for the different measurments of what they offer----lowes can give you the sizes of whirlpool if your interested in whirlpool
 
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Old 01-27-11, 04:25 PM
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You can get a 20 gallon 16" but the smallest 30 or 40 I know of is 18".

If it was gas you can get a 16" 30.


Whats your HW needs there???

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-27-11, 05:33 PM
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The non plumber thought is, "Is the closet big enough for a 24" pre-hung door? You'd need a total width of about 26"-27" on the wall with the door on the inside. On the outside allowing for trim about 29".

Installing the new door should not be hard. With a Sawzall maybe half a day.
 
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Old 01-28-11, 04:20 AM
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Thanks to all for the replies; appreciate the input. It sounds like the plumber isn't feeding me a line on the size of the tank.

I went by the local Home Depot (unfortunately no Lowes nearby) and the smallest diameter they offer in a 40 gallon is 17 3/4 inches. I will try the local plumbing parts supplier and see what they say.

My hot water needs are supplying two small bathrooms and the kitchen and the use is sporadic, whenever we or our kids can get there and use it (of course, heavier use in the summer). I had thought about an on-demand system, but the plumber is discouraging that, saying the electric ones aren't very good (there is no gas service to our area and I would have to do propane) and that they are very expensive.

Aside from the opening, there is probably another good 10-12 inches of clearance on either side of the water heater itself once inside the boxed out area containing it. The opening is covered by a piece of drywall with molding around it, cut by the previous owner to fit the existing opening, which is framed with 2 x 2's. It's sounding more and more like we may have to do some surgery on the opening; it's located in an area near the toilet, so unfortunately the door options are limited. Small house, small spaces. The plumber is coming by today to look at it and see what he thinks.
 
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Old 01-28-11, 05:24 AM
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How about increasing the door size and using a bifold door? it won't need as much room to open as a hinged door.
 
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Old 01-28-11, 09:14 AM
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The opening is covered by a piece of drywall with molding around it, cut by the previous owner to fit the existing opening,
That person deserves an award for stupidity. IMHO the water heater should be easily accessible. Can't say if it is code. I'd strongly suggest re-frame the opening and using a 24" bifold door as suggested by Marksr.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 01-28-11 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 01-28-11, 09:45 AM
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I framed my WH in when we re-did the 20 y/o laundry room. Used painted ply and trim and held the floor to ceiling front on with 8 screws. Takes less than 30 sec to remove. I left plenty of room for the existing WH, but a new one may require me to remove one side of the box (again screwed to the wall, so easy removal if needed, but I doubt it will be).

Just couldn't stand the ugly old WH there with the rest of the room looking bright and updated. Gas WH and I installed 2 12 x 12 vents top and bottom for combustion air.

Couldn't believe a house of a friends back in VA. Don't remember exactly, but the furnace and WH were in the same small closet type space..but one in front of the other! Can't believe that would pass, even 30 yrs ago.
 
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Old 01-28-11, 10:52 AM
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Have you given any thought to changing to a tankless electric water heater?
 
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Old 01-28-11, 01:41 PM
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Thanks again for the replies and ideas. Actually did consider a tankless (which I earlier called on-demand) but the plumber recommended against an electric one -- said he's had to yank a couple of them out because the people weren't happy with it. I'm sure this WH setup would never pass code today; maybe it was o.k. when the house was originally built in 1976 but it sure isn't very sensible or easy to access. As suggested, I'm going to cut the opening larger and reframe the door, putting in a bi-fold that will allow fast access and also could be removed quickly and easily the next time the WH needs to be replaced.
 
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Old 02-19-11, 01:52 PM
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get another plumber. the point is by selling a small inexpensive tankless water heater and installing it within couple hours, he is not going to make much money of you. that's why he suggested a bigger unit.

You said yourself - it's a vacation home. why do you want to keep a tank full of hot water if you're not using it? tankless or on-demand water heaters allow you to save a lot on electric bill.

Did you ask your plumber why people were not happy? May be units were not sized or installed correctly.
Get experienced contractor with references.

Buyer's Guide to Tankless Water Heaters
 
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Old 02-19-11, 03:44 PM
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A small electric tankless (single 60 amp) may in warmer areas of the country provide enough hot water for one or two people. However if more the one or two people or in colder areas the electric requirement just for the water heater may exceed the total capacity of your current panel. That means $1000-$2000 assuming this isn't rural. Out in the counyry the elactic company may not allow it or charge for upgrading their system to handle your need.

Not to say it is always a bad idea. I have a friend that installed a 60a and loves it but this is a warm area where incoming water temps probably never drop below 50.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-30-12 at 02:18 PM. Reason: Correct Typo.
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Old 08-30-12, 01:40 PM
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Skinny Water Heater - SEARS SELLS THEM!!!!!! Looked for 18 hrs myself!!

Go to Sears website or call customer service. I needed a 16" diameter and yes, they had it after looking on websites and calling plumbers.

SEARS (Kenmore) has THEM!!

Mine was Item # 04232636000, Model 32636
 

Last edited by lawrosa; 08-30-12 at 01:53 PM. Reason: Removed phone # and change to "call cutomer service".
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Old 08-30-12, 01:50 PM
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OP's original issue was answered. This thread is over a year old, so I am closing it.
 
 

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