I received a "gift house" from my father-in-law a few years ago. A lot of the problems have been repaired over the past few years, but I have a major one that keeps kicking my butt.
The previous owner (not inlaw) enclosed the garage and did a sloppy job of enclosing a gas water heater in a closet inside of the washer/dryer room. It has literally killed me for the past few years as it has zapped my electricity bills and allowed rodents access to the internals of the house. The house is on peer and beam minus the enclosed garage which is obviously slab. The inside of the hot water heater closet has holes, gaps and large drywall cut outs everywhere which opens up to the crawl space below the platform the water heater sits on. You can also see the roof planks if you look at the closet ceiling. The water heater also does not sit inside a proper drain pan. In addition to all of this, the size of the closet causes the washer/dryer (side by side) to overtake the door entry way to the laundry room.
I do not have the funds to upgrade to a tankless unit at this time. But, I am wondering if I can drain and remove the heater and then tear down the closet. Properly fix the walls and ceiling behind the HWH and fix the heater platform (with drain etc) and make sure I properly vent out the gas exhaust and basically get rid of the closet all together.
A few other pieces of info. The washer/dryer are electric. The water heater is 3 years old. I live in Dallas. There are two standard interior doors; one leading to the kitchen, the other leading to the master bath. The washer/dryer room is about 6x12 and does not have an a/c vent in that room. However, the kitchen and master bath both have ducting.
Is it safe to get rid of the closet? Can I demolish it and repair the walls behind the unit and simply sit the HWH back on its platform opened to the laundry room? Does anyone know if this would cause any code issues? I do plan on having a CO2 detector next to it if I do so.
Here are some pictures to hopefully give you an idea of what I am working with. Please ignore the mess.
Thanks in advance for your advice!