Water heater closet - outside door

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Russell Harris, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. Russell Harris

    Russell Harris New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2019
    Occupation:
    IT Manager
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Hello,
    I am going to be replacing my 20 year old 75 gallon heater with a new 50-55 gallon heater. In reading specifications on the new heaters, I noticed that they often talk about the operating temp not being below 40 degrees or at least not in a location that freezes. I get the freezing I suppose due to the idea of pipes breaking. However, 20 years ago in our house remodel, the water heater was put in what is essentially an outside access closet. A small room that backs up to our utility room and is accessed via a steel insulated door on the outside of the house. There is no conditioned air put into the room. Just vented air from the attic space. You can see in the picture below. Now this all passed inspection and in the 20 years since, we've never had an issue. Probably the coldest it got during that time was maybe 15 degrees for a few hours one time. It's Austin, TX so never gets that cold.
    (see attached pics)
    Going forward should I be concerned or just replace the thing and move ahead? I plan on doing a PEX remodel of all our lines during this time but the 3/4" copper to the water heater would remain and be reused. Also, looking at the design and bend of the flex connections into the water heater, is there now a better/different/other way of doing that these days?
    Thanks for any help/suggestions and if I need to clarify anything please ask.
    RH in Austin
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Older WHs often had a standing pilot, most of the new ones do not. That small amount of heat from that flame may have been what kept things from having a problem. Newer WH also have more insulation, which means less heat gets into the area, which could be an issue, too.

    Some places require flex lines, some prohibit them. If they're allowed where you live, that is still the easiest and probably best choice. Replace those lines, do not reuse them. The gaskets at the end will deteriorate over time, and the flex work hardens, so doesn't bend well when you try to install them on a new WH.

    It's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. If the closet is well insulated, could you put in a vent or grate to the heated space? That would potentially make that closet a heated space, and overcome the potential issues. One of the issues with any burner is where does it get its air from. It sounds like yours gets it from the attic. If you open things up to the house, that could create a chimney, and dump a lot of heat out the roof, not a good thing. The alternative might be on the WH you choose. Some of the better ones use a closed combustion system, so they draw air from outside from a duct. That would mean you could close off the attic and eliminate the chimney effect.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
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  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Normally you would want venting of air low and high to prevent a gas leak from collecting. Lot's of trapped gas in one place can do bad things.
    You've had a gas heater in that location for twenty years? I guess that parts been working.
     
  5. Russell Harris

    Russell Harris New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2019
    Occupation:
    IT Manager
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Yes! March of '99. I guess I've done pretty good given our hard water in Central TX. That Richmond I guess is a Rheem?

    I do have the two flexible vents providing attic air, one which stops at the top of the heater the other goes down to the bottom. I'm guessing that's the high/low venting you are referencing.

    Regarding, jadnashua's mention of adding in conditioned air into the space, it's basically insulated as well as the front door to a house. Think like a mud room. However, the idea of creating the chimney effect and loosing that air into the attic is not appealing.

    Thinking about it, thousands of homes in TX have tank water heaters out in the garages which are un-airconditioned spaces. So maybe just the radiant heat of the house is enough and I'm overthinking this?
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
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