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My electric water heater is in a corner of my home's garage in Dallas, TX. Code requires it to be raised 18" off the floor, so it creates this odd shaped nook in the corner. It currently sits on a framed out box that is built into the walls of the garage.

I'd like to buy a lowboy water heater (35" tall) and build a ~5' tall platform for it to set on to give the garage more unobstructed storage on the floor.

Is there a problem with this? I know the platform would have to support at least 600lbs, but would it violate any code? The T/P valve drains to the outside via a pipe and it still could. The supply and electrical come from the top, so they would essentially not have to move at all.

How close can the top of the heater be to the ceiling? I know I'll need room for the water connections but is there some "minimum ventilation" type distance?

This all seems like a good solution but I've never seen anything like it so I feel like I'm missing something.

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  • How do you plan to service the thing 5 years down the road? Jan 8 '17 at 1:49
  • What service? I'd still be able to drain it. The t/p valve would be side mounted. What would I need to do that would get harder?
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 8 '17 at 1:51
  • Checking/changing anodes can be a nightmare with the heater sandwiched against the ceiling (although segmented/flex anodes are a thing). Also, if it does leak or fail, how are you going to replace it? I'd also replace the drain valve with a full port brass ball valve to make sure it doesn't get clogged by flakes o' sediment... Jan 8 '17 at 1:52
  • Ok, that may be a PITA, but not a deal breaker yet.
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 8 '17 at 2:04
  • If you've got the power or gas, go with a tankless on-demand heater, they take way less room. Jan 8 '17 at 4:09
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The Uniform Plumbing Code has some language regarding placement, the spirit of which seems to require access for "cleaning... lubrication... adjustment" and other types of service.

It doesn't say easy access (in fact you are allowed to place water heaters in attics, but if you do "the passageway... and area adjacent to the appliance must be floored"). I am thinking that if you built a fixed ladder (maybe against the wall to save the space you are elevating it to gain) up to the platform you would be OK. Final word would rest with your AHJ. Always ensure clearances and other installation requirements in the manufacturer's instructions are adhered to, that is all over the code.

UPC 504.3.1- The clearances shall not be such as to interfere with... accessibility for servicing.

UPC 505.1- Each such appliance shall be installed in a location approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction...

UPC 507.26 Accessibility For Service- Appliance shall be located... so as to permit access to the appliance.

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I have never seen a tank water heater elevated 5' and exposed in a Dallas garage. It seems like a hazard. If the support would get taken out, then hot water would come cascading down. A vehicle hitting the end of the garage is a known thing. Leave it where everyone puts it. If you would elevate it 5' some inspector might say you have to enclose it.

My neighborhood of tract houses in Dallas was built with gas-fired tank water heaters in a utility closet over the plenum for the HVAC. One night in the house across the street, there was a catastrophic failure of the water heater. The plastic drain valve split and was ejected. The full flow stream of scalding water was taken by the walls and doors of the utility closet.

A water remediation contractor in Dallas told me of a case he handled where several electric water heaters in an attic had the quartz envelopes around the heating elements fracture. This occurred when the family was on a 2 week vacation; the house had to be gutted down to the studs. It seems to me that any water heater in the open is a potential hazard, but the higher it is the greater is the hazard to people and to property.

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