After a recent electric hot water tank leak on the second floor - I've decided to relocate the tank to the garage.

On the other side of the block wall in the garage - I have the laundry room - so we can tap into the h/c lines. The electrical panel is inside the house right near the entrance from the garage.

Lots of questions...

What should I be aware of while doing this - is this even a good idea? Should I keep the tank on the concrete floor or should I use some kind of barrier (over even a drain pan) Should I use expansion tank? Can I just connect to the h/c water line currently feeding the laundry room?

Appreciate your feedback and guidance/suggestions.


  • Information from this answer might be useful.
    – Tester101
    Oct 21, 2014 at 20:54
  • Oh man...thanks for mentioning this. The more I think of it, I'll have to live with the idea of keeping the tank on the 2nd floor.
    – MMJ
    Oct 21, 2014 at 22:26
  • An electric water heater is not a gas water heater, so much of that answer seems quite irrelevant. Well, I guess the parking block part is not gas-specific, but it's also not much of a hurdle .vs. repairing water damage.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 22, 2014 at 1:23
  • Give us some pictures and guesstimates of how far it is from the laundry room to the heater's current location. I'm not seeing this as an impossible task by any means. Also where the cold water supply for the house travels and in what-sized pipe at present.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 22, 2014 at 1:31

2 Answers 2


Have you considered adding a drain and rigid metal drain pan to the water heater in its current location. That's likely to be a much saner approach?

To move an electric water heater, the new location needs the following:

  1. 220v outlet on its own circuit with heavy-gauge wiring rated for an electric water heater. This is doable. If there isn't already such a circuit, you can hire an electrician to put in a new one, and you said the panel is pretty close by.

  2. An incoming cold water line, which will be harder, but if worse comes to worst, you can run a PEX line from the incoming cold water line on the second floor to the new location in the garage.

  3. An outgoing hot water line that serves as a trunk feeding the rest of the house with branch lines going to the fixtures. This is going to be the deal-breaker. The previous location probably has the correct trunkline hot water plumbing. If you seal that off and make a new input in your garage, you'll be supplying hot water to your whole house through a former branch line, which is narrow. Hot water pressure may decrease, and the time it takes to get hot water to distance fixtures will rise quite a lot. And you may be able to run fewer hot water outputs at once.
  • We were thinking of running a new 220 for the current tank into the garage leaving the old on in place. You do bring up good points about hot and cold water lines. We were thinking of connecting to the cold line in the laundry room on the other side of the wall. Now you've got me thinking about the hot water line...the size of the water line from the current tank is the same as any other line - but I'll check again. That would be a deal breaker. See my comment below about the drain pan - may be I'll opt for that and ensure I buy a bigger pan to cover drips from the shutoff valve as well.
    – MMJ
    Oct 21, 2014 at 20:42
  • 2
    If you have a skeevy underplumbed system at present (when you say "size of the line from the current tank is the same as any other" I recall a lot of older houses with the entire system, even the main trunks, on 1/2" pipe) You should have a slam-dunk for moving it and putting some 3/4" PEX lines in place to beef up the supply.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 22, 2014 at 1:09

There are a lot of questions to ask before an answer can be given:

What climate are you in? Is the garage heated or insulated? Is the hot water heater gas, electric, oil, solar, nuclear, gerbil-powered? Are going to do this yourself?

You can probably get some pretty good, free advice on this by calling one or two plumbers to come out and give you a quote and a recommendation.

It's a pretty big deal to move a hot water heater, even more so if it's gas or oil. There's electrical code (220v?), pipes, etc.

What about just putting in a nice pan on the second floor with a drain under it...might be cheaper and easier...

source: none, i'm not a plumber or electrician, but I do a lot of my own stuff.

  • It's in FL - around Orlando area. It is electric. The plumbers have differing advice - which is why I am at this dilema. I have already had ceiling damage and some laminate flooring damage. There is a drain pan with a drain line still it overflowed. During my diagnostic tests to find why its leaking, I noticed the shutoff valve was also leaking - that water is not caught into the drain pan.
    – MMJ
    Oct 21, 2014 at 20:34
  • As an aside, you have a great opportunity to replace your ceiling and laminate flooring with things that aren't moisture-sensitive, like fiberglass-faced drywall and tile.
    – iLikeDirt
    Oct 21, 2014 at 20:44
  • unfortunately, the laminate is brand new and of the best quality - 12mm top of the line. Even the cieling was repainted - basically the entire house was renovated. Which is why I am thinking can I afford another accident - by leaving the tank on the 2nd floor.
    – MMJ
    Oct 21, 2014 at 20:51
  • IMHO there is no such thing as "top of the line" laminate. If it's got an MDF base, it's going to be ruined by moisture post-haste.
    – iLikeDirt
    Oct 22, 2014 at 1:51
  • Agreed...I was referring to the "sales pitch" from the flooring guys. What I meant to say it was not the 0.79 sq ft cheap looking stuff you get. And the vapor barrier as well as soundproofing padding I used was "top of the line as well".
    – MMJ
    Oct 22, 2014 at 3:35

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