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I got a new heat pump water heater installed. Unfortunately my installer should have never ever gotten a license. Among many “crimes” that he committed I only afterwards found out that I cannot even replace the filter how he installed it:

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The black plastic bar on top of the heater is the filter which is supposed to be pulled out straight upwards. Unfortunately you can see that there is an insulated pipe (hard to see because it’s black) in the way.

I cannot manage to pull it out beyond a few cm.

The only option I see is to rotate the whole tank. But then the exhaust is more blocked. Also this tank is so heavy that I do not know how I would even rotate it.

How to I replace the filter?

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  • If you can't get the contractor to fix this, then it looks like the easiest fix is to reconfigure your hot water lines (those insulated pipes). In that case, then you should probably open another question on how to reconfigure copper piping or look around at the existing threads.
    – popham
    Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 22:26
  • Rotating the tank involves cutting and rerouting plumbing to the rotated position. I suspect that rerouting plumbing alone is sufficient to solve your problem, so it's probably simpler just to do that. Isn't the insulated pipe the only thing blocking filter removal? My intuition from the manual was that 6" was enough to remove the filter as you bend it toward horizontal while removing it. That puts 6" as a minimum where you probably want a few more inches.
    – popham
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 20:14
  • A picture with the filter's upper edge oriented vertically at the bottom of frame would help visualize exactly everything directly above it and the width of obstructions that the filter could potentially bend around as you remove it.
    – popham
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 20:20

1 Answer 1

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You're probably governed by the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC). My municipality has a website that lists my codes, but it could be your county or even state. Verify that your plumber is governed by the UPC.

Note the "No water heater shall be hereinafter installed that does not comply with the manufacturer's installation instructions" from 501.1 of the 2021 UPC:

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So now you need to find your water heater's installation instructions and verify that they prescribe a clear space above the filter to facilitate access. I'm pretty sure that I found your tank or at least a close analogue:

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and

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and

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Your contractor has some wiggle room because of the common use of the word "ceiling," but the "6 [inch] Clearance for filter" and "sufficient room to service heater" look to favor you in my opinion.

More directly from the UPC alone:

UPC 504.3.1

Note the "accessibility for servicing."

Now that you're well informed that your plumber has installed your water heater out of compliance with the plumbing code, you need to call him back to bring his work into compliance. Use your manners, because I suspect that hardball involves damaging yourself with a call to your city to give yourself a legal claim against the contractor. Unless you haven't paid him yet. If you haven't paid him yet, then rest easy (and don't pay him until he gets it right).

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  • I was somewhat afraid this may be the suggestion but here's the thing: SO MUCH went wrong that I actually don't even want the contractor to come any more. I called him already back multiple times for other stuff. This is also a mental drain already. You added a remark about re-configuring hot water line. This may be an option. Could you add this to your answer? Also I am wondering if rotating the tank counter-clockwise would work of if there's an issue with that. And if it works, how to even rotate such a huge tank?
    – divB
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 20:04
  • @divB, there's a line to walk between answers for the questioner and answers for subsequent visitors with the same or a similar question. My instinct is to leave the answer as-is. In the comments of your question, however, I can offer a couple of solution patterns, where you could pursue those with subsequent questions.
    – popham
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 20:09

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