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Do I need to bring up a code when installing the water heater?

    I had a 13 years old 50 gallon tank  natural gas A O Smith water heater .  It located in the laundry room with furnace  all together in one unit.   Now I am thinking to get a new one.  I got two estimates one of them suggested me to go with tankless water heater because my old water heater is so close to the  circuits breaker .  The other one said they could not do as same as the situation. But did not mention the tankless.   He suggested me  the water need to be moved somewhere in garage .  The third estimate said since my house is old he can install the way it is now.   Don't need any code unless it is new house.   So which one is to be true.    Also the first 2 requires me to replace the new furnace.   I know my furnace is old and it is time to replace anyway.  Million thanks


I mean, I have been lived in this house 15 years.  Now I am renting out. And the water heater with me all the time.  Nothing happened  before.  Now code change.  So not because of code change I have to get someone to re pipe and move the water heater.  The house is built the way it is.

14 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    I would install a tankless water heater.   It does not use any gas unless you are using hot water.  It can provide hot water for as long as you need it.   Many have an outside air intake so you are less likely to get a back draft on the furnace vent.  

  • 1 month ago

    the new heater needs to comply with the code 

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 month ago

    Really need to know where your at as code can vary from locality to locality, state to state ect.  

    An while tankless are nice I've enjoyed mine no more cold shower but don't think I'd make that investment on a rental unless you  plan on moving back in or selling it.

  • 1 month ago

    NEVER EVER EVER trust a contractor who tells you you don't need to be "up to code."  NEVER. That's like rule #1.  ALL installs and contracting needs to be up to code, no matter how old your house is and when you replace such things as furnaces and water heaters. 

    Tankless water heaters are far more expensive and produce your hot water on demand--and tank water heaters are what you have now. You know that. How much money do you want to spend? And when are you planning to replace your furnace?  Maybe you could get some estimates on having both done at the same time. It was cheaper for me when I did that--it may be for you too. That way they can put in the required ductwork, pipes and electrical lines for both and ensure the safety and reliablity. GET A GOOD FIRM to do it. Do NOT hire someone for 'price alone' for these items. You'll always be sorry if you do. 

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    They may be wrong about "too close". Code requires a 30 inch wide and 36 inch deep working space (i.e. rectangle on the floor) in front of electrical equipment you might have occasion to work on. Those boxes can overlap, it's not per unit.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    The first 2 want to replace the furnace(these guys are salesmen) THE 3RD GUY IS CORRECT.  However because it is a "gas furnace" a certified Licensed Gas installer is the only person qualified to install it properly. That is why they go to school first.

    Same goes for the furnace . to disconnect from the gas line requires the licensed certified gas installer to disconnect and reconnect.  My furnace has been in place since 1975.  If you do not want to get a gas guy to hook up a new gas water tank, He could cap the line. and you could go with electric tank.  You need an electrician to hook it up to the breaker box.   There is "no PROBLEM" with the water tank close to the breaker box because the breaker box is high and gravity dictates where water goes.(It goes low)

    My gas HW tank was in place for 43 years and was not leaking.

    So you need a certified licensed GAS GUY when you do the furnace.  If you decide to gas the water tank then he could also do that at the same time.

    If you decide to go electric tank, you need an licensed ELECTRICIAN to wire that up. properly to breaker box.

    You can get a handymen to do the plumbing or you can get a LICENSED PLUMBER.

    However now that you are renting out YOU ARE A BUSINESS.  Rules are different to private homes. You GOT TO GET THE LICENSED GAS GUY. & ELECTRICIAN.  However there is nothing wrong with the placement of the water tank to the breaker box.  That was nonsense.

  • y
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    State by state, in my state anythign you touch has to be brought up to current code.

  • 1 month ago

    code may not be the same everywhere -- varies slightly by state.  in my state, a licensed plumber has to add a cold water expansion tank if you do not have one; which pushed the quote for a 40 gallon electric water heater to $1200.  However, homeowner is exempt from this if does the work himself.  So I did [with help moving the tank from neighbor] for under $500, including new flex piping and drip pan.  For gas, you NEED someone with experience fitting the gas line and checking it for leaks.  You might find that someone working as handyman in source such as craigslist, etc.  Ask him if he has to install cold water expansion or can just 'help' you replace the existing tank.  -- grampa

  • 1 month ago

    Exact law vary. In general, replacing a unit requires the new unit meet current code.

    I wouldn't trust the third person unless he can PROVE code explicitly allows what he claims.

  • T C
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    I am guessing that the third one is knowledgeable of codes and realizes that you are grandfathered in with your home…..I would use that contractor.

    I do have a question about the first two requiring a new furnace. …..Maybe I have misunderstood. But is your water heater also tied into the furnace? I have see those type of configurations with a heat exchanger, but not with a water heater tank…only with a boiler.

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