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I used to have a pantry, but now I have a new water heater


This closet used to be a pantry — see where the shelves were? Now, it’s holding my new water heater instead. This tale might be of particular interest to those of you who live in condos, apartments, or townhouses where your current water heater is already a tight fit in the existing space. As we learned when our water heater went out a couple of weeks ago, new federal regulations as of April 2015 mandate higher energy efficiency standards, meaning that water heaters are now larger than before due to the additional insulation required.


If you have plenty of space around and above your existing water heater, you’ll likely have no problem. We have an older house, however, and our old water heater (say goodbye as it rolls up the stairs here…) was tightly wedged into a closet next to our furnace.  The new water heater? Yeah. It didn’t fit.

New water heater regulations mean trouble for tight spaces

This left us with three options:

  1. Put in a smaller water heater which would be insufficient for the size of our house.
  2. Go with a tankless water heater, which would be more expensive and require running ventilation duct work from the center of the house to the outside. (The total estimate here? $5-$6k.)
  3. Lose the pantry next to the old water heater closet, put the new water heater in there, and pay the water heater guy to extend the water and gas pipes over.

We went with option three. Four hours and over $1600 later, I was short one pantry but up one expensive water heater.

The kicker here? We believed the water heater guy (no complaints — nice guy, did a good job, but always do your research…) when he said the older models had been sold out for some time. Then the next week another parent whose brother-in-law does water heaters let me know that yeah, they’ve held some back and she could’ve got us one. Don’t get me wrong, energy efficiency is a good thing. But this isn’t $1600 I really wanted to be spending right now, and what if we hadn’t had a handy pantry right there to back the new water heater into?

Start building up that emergency fund now

I’d suggest taking a look at your current water heater location and how much wiggle room you have now, so you’re not surprised by the new water heater regulations and space requirements when your water heater needs replacing. If you think you’ll run into similar issues, you might want to research your options now so you’re not making a last minute water heater decision like we were.

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Friday 26th of February 2016

Is this the event that you needed to cool off from? Did you have damage from the old one on your floors/carpets? We live in a tight townhome, yet we have an unfinished basement where all the mechanics are. If ours sprung a leak, it would not ruin anything. I would KILL for a pantry in my teeny kitchen! Now where do you store everything that was in there? We have to store things upstairs or down in the basement because we have no cabinet space in the kitchen. Even the coat closet is being used for dry goods on the shelf above. They sure don't make things like they used to. I have a tip for others to maintain a water heater. My husband drains all the water out of the heater with a garden hose every couple years and this is to rid all of the sediment from the bottom of the tank. Calcium and lime are just a few of the bad things in there that cause buildup. Also, with the newer ones you need to vacuum around the sensors in order to keep them clean and also to prevent a fire. Our neighbors have had my husband help with their furnace and water heaters when they were blinking codes and all that was needed was a cleaning! We paid a furnace guy to come VACUUM my sensors about 10 yrs. ago in the old house about $150! I sat there and watched him in disbelief, so now I KNOW HOW TO DO IT! :>)


Friday 26th of February 2016

Yes, that's the one. Our carpet is all messed up over there from that leak and one previous -- and pretty much messed up in general, but it's not getting replaced any time soon because... oh yes... we spent all our money on a water heater. :) I moved stuff all over the place, but really do need to just reorganize in general.


Friday 26th of February 2016

I replaced mine last fall. Although we had enough room in the basement for the new one, new plumbing lines due to the change in size and other issues made it expensive. Don't forget that an electrical outlet is now needed!


Friday 26th of February 2016

We went through something similer with our water heater except it was in regards to the village. We have a rental property and it's in a townhome talk about a pain in the you know what.


Friday 26th of February 2016

Thanks for the info. I learn so much from everyone on this site! :)


Friday 26th of February 2016

I have to say that this is pretty terrifying information if you are on a very tight budget as many of us are. You really can't live without a water heater and it is just a matter of time before you need a new one. Thanks for the heads up, and so sorry you had to go through this to let us all know about it.

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