Informational Guide

How To Build A Water Heater Enclosure Outside

by Ian Haynes

A water heater is a crucial appliance for your house, but it also requires adequate room to be placed. This might become an issue if the house is small and you have to make the most of the available space.  

Here, building a water heater enclosure is better as it lets you hide your heater while also improving aesthetics.  

This guide will help you understand everything about water heater enclosures and how to build one for your home!  

water heater enclosure

image source: pinimg.com

Before diving into the building process, we must first understand how many types of water heater enclosures there are: 

Outdoor Water Heater Enclosure 

As the name suggests, the outdoor water heater enclosure is outside your home; and they also have two types.  

  • Conventional
    This one is placed outside your room. Moreover, it must be enclosed as a form of protection from the elements.
  • Tankless
    Its compact size offers more space-saving. And these don't need enclosures because they come encased in an aluminum closet.

Indoor Water Heater Enclosure 

A water heater installed in the open can make a property look shoddy. So homeowners hide them in a room or kitchen, otherwise known as enclosures. The two options include: 

  • Cover
    This consists of screens or curtains, and they are cheap and straightforward to install
  • Complete Enclosure
    This holistic concealing technique makes it seem like the heater isn't even there. It involves hiding them behind closets and cabinets that meld into the kitchen, basement, or wherever else its installed

Do You Need a Water Heater Enclosure Outside? 

You might be thinking, "do I need to install a water heater enclosure when I install them outside?" After all, it shouldn't be an uphill task to build a water heater enclosure. 

Bear in mind that gas and electric tank-style water heaters are not made to be installed without a shelter outside your house.  On the other hand, some models of tankless water heaters can be installed without the need for an enclosure.  

However, most heaters are better of being covered; even the newer tankless water heaters need shelter to protect them from the weather.  

And it is better to be safe than sorry. For example, consider the financial burden of not insulating an outdoor water heater by installing an enclosure. 

water heater

image source: pinimg.com


Things To Consider When Building an Outdoor Water Heater Enclosure  

build outdoor water heater enclosure

Before installing an outside hot water heater enclosure, think about how it will fit into your house and brave the weather conditions.  

Here are some common factors to consider for outdoor hot water heater enclosure: 

Size Of The Hot Water Heater 

One of the most critical factors when building the enclosure is the size of your water heater. In most cases, it's better to measure the area according to the size of the heater you're buying. 

Positioning 

Consider the location and position of your enclosure. Decide on where you want it placed outside and where it will be protected. 

Also, consider what location will help it achieve access to repair and maintenance.  

Enclosure Materials 

Decide whether you want a vinyl, metal, or wood construction for your enclosure. The choice of material will depend on the climate of your location.  

You would want to choose one that is corrosion-free and rot-resistant while also sturdy enough to protect from harsh weather.  

Aesthetics 

Since your water heater enclosure will become part of your home's external image, it must be hidden away and not become an eye-sore. 

To help it blend in naturally to your house's landscape, use the same color scheme as the walls.  

Air Circulation 

Cover all the openings in the walls with window screens or wire mesh, ensuring air circulation while also acting as a barrier for bugs during summer.  

Furthermore, you can wrap insulation around exposed pipes. 


Building An Enclosure For Your Water Heater: Step-By-Step Guide 

Without a doubt, water heaters (tank-based or tankless) are essential for any household. Even though their importance is non-negotiable, they generally do not offer a lot for your outside house décor.  

Because of this, many homeowners are keen to hide them away by building an enclosure for their regular or tankless models.  

Here is a guide on how to build a water heater enclosure outside: 

Material Required 

It is better to collect all tools, materials, and equipment beforehand to make the work easier. Here is a list of things you will need: 

  • Six pieces of 2 by 4 by 92 5/8" wood 
  • Six pieces of 2 by 4 by 40" wood 
  • Two pieces of 2 by 4 by 81" wood 
  • Three pieces of 2 by 4 by 36" wood 
  • Three pieces of 2 by 4 by 12" wood 
  • 16 D-nails 
  • Drill machine (variable speed model) 
  • Carpenters level 
  • 3" drywall screws 
  • Framing square 
  • Head screw tip 
  • Wallcovering (according to your preference) 

Step-By-Step Guide 

  • Lay four of 6 - 2 by 4 by 40" wood on the worktable and mark the middle. Trace 0.75 inches in every direction from focal point — mark on all the pieces 
  • Place framing square at the marks and draw horizontal lines across the width on all pieces. 
  • Fix studs of three 2 by 4 by 92 5/8" wood between every 40" wood piece to detach them 
  • Secure those studs to 40" wood via nails (16 D). Place a single nail on opposite ends and one at the focal point 
  • Now place framing square on the roof, which will be above your water heater — mark it 
  • Drill holes in places where the 40" wood will be secured  
  • Repeat a similar process for the 36" wood as well and then attach these three sections to the ceiling via drywall screws 
  • Put the two leftover pieces of 36" wood on a worktable with the long edges adjacent to each other 
  • Mark center and then 0.75" from both sides of the midpoint 
  • Firmly secure three 12" pieces amongst two 36" wood by nails (16 D) 
  • Build the dual-wall by 92" wood, place them below 40" pieces connected to the ceiling by standing them upright 
  • Ensure that walls are even by using a carpenter's level 
  • Fix the walls to the floor and ceiling with drywall screws 
  • Fix two pieces of 81" wood on both sides of the opening and bind them to fixed walls using drywall screws 
  • Build the wall via 36" wood by placing it atop an 81" piece and firmly securing it 
  • You can now set any wall cover of your choice, either paneling or drywall; but do not apply a finish without installing proper ventilation 
  • Ensure that opening space at enclosure's entrance is similar in size at the top and floor 
  • Before finally securing the fitted wood on the ceiling, check the areas over the ceiling for wiring or plumbing 
  • You can also fix some shelves and hooks inside the shed to store commonly used items in repairing or handling your water heater 

Please watch this video that covers various steps on building an enclosure for a water heater. 


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can a water heater sit on wood? 

Yes, a water heater can sit on wood; however, it is not advisable. If your tank starts leaking, the water will seep in, and if this happens for a long time, the wood will weaken.  

Can I put my water heater on bricks? 

Yes, you can. When installing your water heater in the basement, ensure it is placed on higher ground or a stand to keep it off the floor, preventing rust and corrosion. 

How high should a water heater be above the floor? 

In accordance with the Uniform Plumbing Code, your water heater must be installed at least 18-inch above the ground. If it isn't, it can malfunction and become a burden on the property and its structure. 

Can a hot water heater freeze? 

A tankless water heater has a built-in 'freeze protection'; therefore, it cannot freeze as long as it is connected to an electric outlet. However, freezing can occur after extended power outage periods along with freezing temperatures. 

How far does a water heater have to be from a wall? 

Water heaters should have a fair amount of air space, or clearance, to function safely and correctly. Also, your water heater must have a clearance area of 12-inches on all sides.  

Is a removable cover sufficient for an outside hot water heater? 

No, a removable cover is not sufficient for an outside water heater. Even though they can suffice if your water heater is inside, they will not protect it from external factors.  


Conclusion

Outdoor water heaters must have an enclosure to protect them from various environmental factors like storms, snowfall, rain, etc.  

The suitable material for your water heater enclosure will go a long way, and it is such a simple and easy process to build a section for your water heater by yourself.  

We hope that this guide was able to help you on how to build a water heater enclosure outside! 

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.

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