Is It Okay To Store Things Near A Water Heater? (Explained)

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As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t store items near a water heater. That’s because water heaters should have a certain amount of air space clearance to function correctly and safely. The clearance should be about 12 inches on all sides of the water heater for proper ventilation and combustion.

modern independent heating system in boiler room

Is It Safe to Put Things Around a Water Heater?

Your water heater might seem safe, sitting there daily offering a continual supply of hot or warm water.

However, water heaters can create fire explosions if the gas is leaking in or around the appliance. Thus, you shouldn’t use the space surrounding the heater for storage.

The pilot light flame underneath your water heater can set fire to the items stored near it. Besides, if the flame is extinguished accidentally, the fumes may create a hazardous, highly combustible situation.

So, don’t keep flammable materials within 18 inches of the heater.

Furthermore, electric heaters can also create sparks that could cause a fire in the presence of combustible materials.

Moreover, since water heaters run on electricity or fuel like gas, propane, or oil, it’s vital to ensure that the appliance has adequate space for ventilation.

 Can You Store Things Next to An Electric Water Heater?

Depending on what you store near or around your water heater, it can potentially cause concern and safety risks to you and your home.

In addition, building codes indicate that proper airflow should be provided as per the manufacturer’s specifications when the unit is being installed.

For instance, you should install one combustion air opening within 2 inches of the upper enclosure of the water heater and another 12 inches of the lower.

The air ducts needed for combustion should be at least 3 inches in diameter.

 How Much Space Should Be Around a Water Heater?

The clearance required around a water heater depends on whether it’s an electric or gas model. For the gas heater, twenty-four inches of service clearance in the front and two inches on the sides and back are recommended.

Unlike most heating devices, the electric ones don’t require minimum clearance. But most electrical device codes recommend a provision of 30-inches of working space on the sides and front of the heater to assess, adjust, and maintain the equipment.

The National Electrical Code also proposes a 3-foot clearance in front of the equipment and a minimum headroom requirement of 6-feet.

Where Should a Water Heater Be Placed in A House?

A water heater is one of the essential appliances in your home. The problem is, many people who live in apartments, smaller homes, or condominiums might find that they lack the additional storage spaces they need.

Hence, utility closets housing water heaters become a viable solution for storing excess items.

Moreover, water heaters (except tankless ones) can take up a lot of space. Hence, most water heaters are situated in the garage, attic, or basement of a house. These spaces are often ideal for storing the heater to accommodate the size.

Remember that some homes might require two water heaters and thus more space is necessary.

Where the house lacks a garage or basement, you can install the water heater somewhere inside the house. These can include bathrooms, under the sinks, pantries, and stairs.

In some instances, the heater can be installed in a closet where it isn’t visible. However, this is legal under specific circumstances, and a permit should be obtained when installing, replacing, or repairing the heater.

Note that when the heater is placed in a closet, the closet requires doors. Therefore, the doors shouldn’t be left open. However, the doors should open and close freely and easily and close and hatch by themselves if left unattended.

Do You Have to Put a Water Heater on A Stand?

Many water heaters are installed on stands, especially those in garages. While there are some code exceptions, the heater stand is designed to keep the gas burner 18 inches off the floor. Some local regulations might require this for electric water heaters.

What To Do If You Have to Store Items Near the Water Heater?

In some areas, the heater is in the storage closet, and there’s an area for storage. So, if the space holding your water heater doubles as a laundry or storage room, ensure that you keep it organized and clean. You can also consider installing hooks to keep laundry detergents and other household things away from the heater.

You can also install a broom rack to keep mops and brooms. It’s okay to store brooms and mops if the water heater is electric. However, it may not be okay for the gas water heater. While the brooms and mops aren’t an issue, they can pick up lofted flammable materials easily.

Can You Install Shelves Above a Water Heater?

You can install shelves above a heater only if there is adequate space for maintenance experts to service the appliance and the shelves don’t pose any fire hazard.

You can examine the manufacturing instructions dictating the clearance distance to determine if there’s ample space to install your shelf.

Moreover, you can only install shelves above elective water heaters and not gas or fuel-fired water heaters.

What Shouldn’t Be Kept Near the Water Heater at All?

Don’t store items prone to moisture damage, including magazines, books, photos, or papers near the heater. Besides, paper items are highly combustible.

Chemicals are highly flammable, and some are even explosive and thus shouldn’t be stored near the heater. So, avoid storing things like solvents that create basic acids, household cleaners, or paints around the heater.

Like paper items, wood, including wooden antique furniture or firewood, is combustible and shouldn’t be stored near the heater. Besides, poorly maintained or untreated wood can introduce pests like termites that could damage your heater.

Also, avoid placing items that could block or obstruct the water heater view. That’s because if hidden, you might not notice the water heater leaks until it’s too late. Moreover, don’t store anything on top of your water heater to prevent dials from being bumped.

Can You Store a Dryer by A Water Heater?

You shouldn’t store a dryer with a water heater. That’s because it introduces the possibility of having insufficient ventilation for both appliances.

Besides, the dryer lint may build up and, with the fuel and heat of the water heater, result in fires or explosions.

But this applies to small storage- if it’s a large basement with ample air ventilation, you can store the dryer within the vicinity of the heater. However, ensure that you keep a reasonable clearance distance between the appliances.

Can You Store a Refrigerator by A Water Heater?

It’s wise not to store a fridge by the heater because the heater is a source of heat while the refrigerator is a source of coldness.

Hence, the refrigerator might have to work twice as hard to keep the chilled food if a heat source is nearby.

Moreover, the heater might sometimes need to be switched off because of maintenance or leakage. You don’t want your fridge to be hooked to the same outlet that might get switched off.