Author Topic: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?  (Read 2482 times)

a_scanner_brightly

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The smallest bedroom in my house was converted into a utility room and the garage was converted into a master suite.  In the utility room was a gas furnace and electric water heater.

I've since replaced the electric water heater with a heat pump hybrid water heater (it ducts into the room).  I've also replaced the gas furnace with ductless heat pumps.  The water heater is basically all alone in the utility room.  In fact... it could be a bedroom again if I moved the water heater outside.

Is this... legal?  The place I'd like to stick it is actually on the other side of the smallest bedroom's exterior wall.  I would only need to extend the PEX hot/cold piping, the drainage PVC pipe, and the electrical conduit a few feet.

I imagine I could buy a metal enclosure for the WH that had some insulation and then just cut holes for the intake and exhaust fans.  Maybe also find a stud to bolt the earthquake strap to. And then I'd be done.

Could it be this easy?

Surely some extremely annoying regulation will get in the way right?

lthenderson

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2020, 08:07:21 AM »
Yes a water heater can be installed outdoors but with a several caveats. First, indoor water heaters are designed to be indoors and exterior water heaters are designed to be outdoors. I wouldn't just stick my indoor water heater outside and expect it to last the designed lifetime. Outdoor water heaters have better paint and seals to protect it against humidity in an outbuilding and rain, sun, etc. if truly exposed. Second, you live in Oregon which I am unfamiliar with winter temperatures but if it gets below freezing, you would also need to heat the enclosure to prevent pipes, condensate lines, etc. from freezing. Finally, when anything with wires and sensitive electronics is outdoors, one must contend with insects and rodents which can play havoc on things.

I have only seen such setups down south where it is quite common to see utility equipment outside the house, usually in enclosures under car ports so they are only exposed to humidity.

a_scanner_brightly

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 09:45:44 PM »
Oh, the spot I want to stick it in is under a covered patio, so would be protected from rain/snow/leaves. 

It dips below freezing in Oregon but rarely.

Wouldn't sticking it in an enclosure next to the house be similar to keeping it in an unheated attached garage?  Why isn't the latter a concern?  I assume some people's garages hit below freezing and they probably don't have exterior water heaters.

ixtap

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 10:01:37 PM »
Oh, the spot I want to stick it in is under a covered patio, so would be protected from rain/snow/leaves. 

It dips below freezing in Oregon but rarely.

Wouldn't sticking it in an enclosure next to the house be similar to keeping it in an unheated attached garage?  Why isn't the latter a concern?  I assume some people's garages hit below freezing and they probably don't have exterior water heaters.

We have a water heater in the attached garage. The garage itself is absurdly warm. I assume this means that the water heater is not properly insulated for extreme temperatures. We do not have extreme temperatures here, though. The pipes through uninsulated spaces also mean that in the winter it takes forever for certain faucets to get up to temperature.

bacchi

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2020, 10:48:25 AM »
An exterior WH can't be too close to a window or door.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 10:51:39 AM by bacchi »

lthenderson

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 12:01:18 PM »
Wouldn't sticking it in an enclosure next to the house be similar to keeping it in an unheated attached garage?  Why isn't the latter a concern?  I assume some people's garages hit below freezing and they probably don't have exterior water heaters.

I really can't answer your question since where I live, nobody has an outside water heater or one in their garage but we can go a month with below freezing temperatures. In the south where freezing isn't an issue, I see them. I haven't studied installations up close in the in-between areas where it only occasionally freezes to know what is done to protect their equipment.

Exterior water heaters have nothing to do with freezing temperatures. They are just protected with better quality paint and seals to prevent them from rusting in the humidity which would still be a factor on a covered patio.

a_scanner_brightly

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2020, 02:38:23 PM »
Ugh.   Physics.

The only other option is to build a small closet around it.  But that'd be an annoying waste of space in the room,  and it makes a non-trivial amount of noise while it's running the heat pump. And I have to run ducting to the outside.

Meh.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 02:40:19 PM by a_scanner_brightly »

GizmoTX

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2020, 10:44:52 PM »
Or consider an instant on water heater, ie the kind that doesn’t have a water tank. We’re building a new house & our water heater is small & hung on the outside of the house.

jpdx

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2020, 04:46:48 PM »
If you move it outside, yes you should build or buy an enclosure to protect everything and make it more esthetically appealing. Make sure the heater is properly secured, like you said. Insulate all hot and cold pipes well to prevent freezing. Ensure all wiring is protected from rodents in flexible conduit.

Follow local codes for everything. The NEC may require a disconnect switch if the unit is installed far away from the service panel.

I'm no expert on any of this, but I have seen it done this way many times in Southern California. Granted it doesn't ever freeze there.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 04:51:02 PM by jpdx »

lthenderson

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2020, 06:52:02 AM »
Insulate all hot and cold pipes well to prevent freezing.

Just to clarify, insulation alone doesn't guarantee that outdoor pipes won't freeze. It only lengthens the time it will take for them to freeze. To prevent pipes from freezing outdoors, one needs to apply external heat to them like using heat tape between the insulation and the pipe. The one caveat, is if you lose your power during a cold snap, you have to have some way to drain the pipes or they will freeze.

jc4

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2020, 12:32:23 PM »
You could always put in an outdoor tankless water heater, or just buy a new outdoor traditional water heater.

lutorm

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Re: can I move my indoor water heater outside immediately next to the house?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2020, 12:16:06 AM »
I've since replaced the electric water heater with a heat pump hybrid water heater (it ducts into the room).  I've also replaced the gas furnace with ductless heat pumps.  The water heater is basically all alone in the utility room.
We just got a heat pump water heater and it's cut the amount of power we use to heat water to at least 1/3. But: if you have it in a heated space, it does no good. It'll just take the heat that those house heat pumps worked so hard to put into the house. It's not clear from your description whether it takes air from the outside and exhausts into the room or if both intake and outlet are in the room, but in either case it will cool the house as it heats the water. So for that reason, too, you'd be better off putting it outside or at the very least routing both inlet and outlet outside.