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Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

I just finished installing a new GAS water heater in my garage. I am wondering if it matters if it is right up against the wall.

It's sitting on a stand (18" requirement) to keep it off the floor. I also have two earthquake straps holding it in place. I finished hooking everything up and soldering my pipe for the overflow drain (it runs into a wall and then outside) and then I went to put on some insulation and I realized I didn't leave any space at the back of the water heater. I can't even get my hand between water heater and the wall.

It's right up against the wall. I can't for the life of me remember if the old one was also that close but I'm wondering if it's safe to have it that close or if I need to drain it and try to shove it out 1-2" away from the wall. Because it's on the stand I can probably only move it 1" away or so.

I was trying to figure out if it will be possible to move it with everything attached because I hate to have to unhook everything. It's got the flexible tubing pipes at the top and the copper drain pipe has at least 1" of give to it. The vent at the top might be the only tricky part.

Not sure if anyone knows if there needs to be a gap between the wall and the gas water heater, I do know I didn't move the stand at all and it was right up against the wall with the last water heater.

On the plus side the new one is working beautifully.

Thank you for the help.

Re: Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

There is no need to move it they can be against the wall. Just feel the heater they are insulated so well very little heat is transferred to the jacket. That also beings up the point of not needing to add insulation around the tank.


Re: Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

In CA and the west the code is different from the east, due to the threats of quakes and fires. They recommend/require a 1" to 2" clearance from the wall.

In fact, your strap kit includes two spacers, to be mounted between the heater and the wall. Straps should be located at the bottom 1/3 and the top 1/3 of the heater.

It looks like you got the other requirements down right:
- T&P valve drain line (3/4" copper is advised) to the outside, down 6" above ground.
- An 18" stand in a garage setup.
- A gas shutoff valve and a gas flex supply, 36" or shorter.
- A cold water supply shutoff valve.
- Cold and hot water flex supply lines to tie to the rigid lines.

Re: Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

My straps were already there with the old water heater and didn't have any spacers, what do the spacers look like?

I've been reading on the net and it says 0-2" for spacing at the back of the water heater. I'm guessing that means right up against the wall is okay?

I'm in Whatcom County WA and not sure the code here would be different than anywhere else.

In my city if you do an install you have to pay $60 and someone from the city has to come out and inspect your install to make sure it meets code. I know lots of people that never did this but I'm guessing it's important to follow the rules for insurance purposes.

Would like to know what the spacers look like and if anyone can say definitively if there needs to be space between the water heater and the wall.

A. Spruce
Re: Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

Google images "waterheater strap kit" and you should come up with plenty of examples. In the kits that I've installed it's just a piece of heavy gauge sheet metal that is stamped into an angle. The strap slips through the spacer to hold it in place.

The point of a physical spacer is so that the water heater is being held firmly captive against the wall in the event of an earthquake.

Re: Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

If you don't have the spacers (you can see them in the photo that Spruce posted, on the top left) you can use a 2x4 between the unit and the wall, then tighten the straps.

A. Spruce
Re: Gas Water Heater - distance from wall?

True story, I was helping a friend clean out their garage today and came across a set of water heater spacers. Whoever had installed her straps had used 2x4 rather than the kit spacers. Didn't spend any time to figure out why, just thought it interesting to this thread.

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