Are you wondering how to raise a water heater off the floor? Both electric and gas water heaters (but especially gas) benefit from elevation to protect the water heater, and also prevent fire risk. In many states, gas water heaters must be lifted to meet certain code requirements.
In this PlumbingNav guide, you will learn how to raise a water heater off the floor yourself (or with the help of some handy muscle).
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How To Raise A Water Heater Off The Floor
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you raise your water heater off the floor and onto an appropriate platform.
Step 1: Examine Your Current Water Heater
Look at your current water heater to examine its condition. Things to consider include:
- Type of water heater (gas or electric)
- Location of water heater on your property
- Code requirements in your area
Why Should A Water Heater Be Raised Off The Floor?
Keeping your water heater off the floor will help in the event of flooding, water damage, or excessive moisture on the ground that can possibly damage your water heater tank through corrosion.
Even more important, you don’t want your gas water heater to come into contact with flammable materials. Gas water heaters contain an open flame in the form of the pilot light. Lifting the water heater will eliminate potentially serious hazards, and can also prevent the pilot from blowing out from windy drafts.
Step 2: Learn Requirements in Your Area
Your area may have detailed requirements about how high you must keep your water heater off the floor. Learn your local requirements. Keep in mind that requirements will vary based on the type of water heater and the location of the water heater.
Most areas only have requirements for gas water heaters. If you have an electric water heater, you may not need to lift it unless that’s your preference.
The location of the water heater in your home also matters. Places with a high likelihood of containing combustible materials or those that experience regular flooding, such as the garage or basement, will have stricter requirements.
Can a Water Heater Sit Directly on the Floor?
It depends on the location of the water heater as well as the type of water heater.
For a gas water heater, the general consensus states that you want to lift the water heater at least 18 inches from the ground to the pilot light (not the bottom of the water heater).
Once again, be careful to check the regulations in your area, especially if you live in an area known for additional precautions. Be mindful of additional regulations.
For example, in California, all water heaters need 12” clearance on all sides. Make sure that lifting your water heater won’t put you in violation of any other building codes.
Step 3: Turn Off Heating Mechanism
As always, turn off the gas before working with a gas water heater and turn off the electricity before working with an electrical gas water heater. This small yet important step should become a habit for any DIYer working with water heaters, but it doesn’t hurt to provide a reminder.
Step 4: Gather Supplies
You will need several items to get the job done. Get the following items ready before getting started:
You need a platform to place the water heater on. Ideally, you need a platform that can hold the weight of the water heater and won’t damage your water heater or your floor. You can either buy a platform at the store or create your own. If you make your platform, make sure to use the right materials and make the platform perfectly level. A tilted water heater can create a hazard in your home.
Can You Put A Water Heater On Blocks Or Bricks?
You can put a water heater on blocks and bricks. However, the most common material is steel. Do not place the water heater directly on concrete or wood.
- Lifting Tools
Water heaters weigh a lot. You will need help lifting the water heater. Luckily, there are tools specifically designed to help you accomplish your task. Two popular methods are using a strap system or using a ramp method.
- Owners Manual
You will likely run into questions during your DIY adventure. Have the owner manual handy when you need to reference it. If you don’t have the owner’s manual handy, look online to see if you can find it on the manufacturer’s website.
Step 5: Drain Water Heater
Draining your water heater will make it lighter and easier to lift.
To drain a water heater, attach a water hose to the tank drain outlet at the bottom of the unit. Secure the connection and put the other end of the hose by the drain in the room or outside.
Next, turn on a hot water faucet in your home. This allows air to enter the hot water pipes.
Finally, open the drain valve slowly and allow the tank to drain completely.
Step 6: Disconnect Water Heater
Disconnect any pipes connected to the water heater and remove any obstructions in the area. You don’t want to have things in your way while you lift the water heater, possibly causing an accident. Safety first!
Step 7: Lift Water Heater Onto Platform
Now, the fun part. You need to lift the wavy water heater onto the new platform. Tools are available to allow adults to lift the water heater by themselves, but it can be useful to recruit the help of 2 – 3 people.
How Do You Lift A Water Heater?
Generally speaking, there are three ways to lift your water heater: use straps, use a lift, or lift it manually. Of course, if you have a large capacity gas water heater it will be heavy. Get some help.
You can buy water heater straps at just about any hardware store. First, attach the magnetic handles to the water tank. You will place the strap on the handle. Tighten the strap, and the strap will allow you to lift a 200 lb. water heater by yourself.
If you have access to a rig, this provides the simplest solution. You will simply place the lift under the water heater and mechanically lift it. Most lifts also come with straps in case you need to keep the water heater secure.
If you choose to lift the water heater manually, you will need to enlist help. Water heaters are heavy, even when empty. You will need to be careful to place your hands where you will not hurt the water heater or yourself. You should not use this option unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Final Steps For Raising Your Water Heater Off The Floor
You’ve completed the most difficult parts, but make sure you finish this project right with these final steps:
Step 8: Place a Pan Under Water Heater
You don’t want water damage to affect the platform you placed your water heater on. Sometimes water heaters create condensation or leak slightly. To eliminate water from getting onto the platform, place a pan underneath it to collect any water.
Step 9: Reconnect Water Heater
Now that the water heater sits on the platform, you need to reconnect the water heater. Use the user manual if you run into questions about hose inlets. Read more about how to fill a hot water heater the right way.
Step 10: Reinstate Power and Test Water
Now it’s time to turn the water heater back on. Once power is restored, turn on the heating mechanism of the water heater again. Wait a couple of hours and check the water to make sure it’s hot. Not heating up?
Learn more about how to troubleshoot a water heater that isn’t heating up.
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BrantI'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!
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