Can You Transport A Water Heater On Its Side?

Can You Transport A Water Heater On Its Side

Unless you love cold showers and don’t care about cleaning your dishes, you need a water heater. But, unfortunately, water heaters only have an average lifespan of about 10 years. So, to keep that hot water flowing, you’ll likely purchase several water heaters in your lifetime.

When you buy a new water heater, the salesperson might tell you it must travel upright to avoid damage. But, more than likely, they’re just trying to get you to pay extra for delivery; you can transport a water heater on its side. However, it’s critical that you do it properly, ensuring it is perfectly flat, on an even surface, and using proper straps.

The idea that you can only move water heaters upright is usually populated by salespeople pushing delivery fees. They know you won’t fit that appliance in a car, so you need the added delivery unless you have a large truck. But, the truth is, you’ll have some risks whether you move your water heater horizontally or vertically.  However, you can do it either way as long as you do it right.

Are There Risks To Moving A Water Heater On its Side?

Any time you move an appliance, no matter which way you position it, you’ll face some risks. Things get scratched, dented, broken, and lose pieces during a move.

There is a risk to the internal liner if the unit rolls or bumps things during the move. If the liner gets damaged, the water heater won’t do you any good.

But, this doesn’t mean you can’t move the water heater on its side. Specifically transporting your water heater on its side won’t significantly increase your chances of a problem.

After all, even transporting it upright, you run the risk of damage, perhaps even more so. Most water heaters are about five feet tall. If you don’t properly secure it, when you hit a bump, the whole thing can topple.

You can bet if that happens, you also will have a useless water heater. So, yes, there are risks. But you’ll have those potential issues whether you move your water heater on its side or upright.

What Is The Best Way To Move A Water Heater On Its Side?

So, now that you know there are some risks when you move your water heater, it’s time to learn how to safeguard against them. First things first, don’t buy a new (or even used) water heater without a plan to move it. Moving this appliance takes some preparation.

1. Know The Water Heater’s Details

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Before you plan to transport anything you need to know some basic information about it, namely the size. You also want to see how the item is packed. For example, most new water heaters will come in a box, which offers some added protection.

But, if you’re purchasing a floor model or a used appliance, you’ll be transporting it boxless. Make a note of the exact measurements of what you are moving, whether it’s the water heater by itself or a box.

If you’re moving a used water heater to a new location, make sure to let it cool and drain it first. Never attempt to move a water heater with water still inside of it. Doing so, especially on its side, will undoubtedly cause damage to your appliance, not to mention it would be much heavier.

2. Use The Right Vehicle

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Once you know the size of the water heater or box, you need to check the vehicle size to make sure it will fit. The water heater must lay flat, so you need to verify that your vehicle has enough room for it to do so.

Even positioning the appliance at a slight slant can cause damage to various parts of the water heater. For this reason, a pick-up truck is often the ideal way to move a water heater since the truck bed is flat. If you don’t have a truck, see if you have a buddy willing to let you borrow theirs.

If you have a large SUV, this could be another possibility, but keep in mind you’ll need to make some adjustments. To move a water heater in an SUV, you’ll have to put your backseat down, but the seats don’t lay flat.

Create A Flat Surface

This means you’ll need to use some boards and supports to create a flat surface for your water heater. Use a level to make sure the boards are perfectly even before you load the water heater.

If you’re moving a small water heater, for example, 30 gallons, it could potentially fit in a large car. This size water heater is about 48 inches tall with a 20-inch diameter. If your backseat lays flat, with proper bracing, you could do it.

But what if you’re uncertain about your ability to brace your appliance? Or, what if the water heater will not fit flat in your vehicle, no matter what you try?

Then it’s worth ponying up the dough for the delivery fee. Plus, if anything happens to your appliance when the pros move it, they’ll be liable.

3. Ask For Help To Move Your Water Heater

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On average, water heaters weigh between 120 and 150 pounds, so you’ll need some help. Using a handcart or dolly can also be helpful to get the water heater to your truck and then into your home. However, make sure to get a dolly that can handle the weight of the water heater.

When moving the water heater on a dolly, keep it upright and secure it with straps. It’s also a good idea to have your buddy walk alongside to spot it and keep it from wobbling.

Then, ask your pal to help you load it onto the truck on its side. You’ll also need helping hands when you arrive at your destination.

4. Protect The Water Heater’s Controls And Parts

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When putting the water heater in your vehicle, make sure to face it the right way. If it’s in a box, it might not matter, thanks to all of the packaging. However, if a specific side should be facing up, it will say so on the box.

If there is no box, you need to make sure that the controls are facing up. If you lay them face down, the weight of the appliance would crush them.

5. Secure The Water Heater

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Once you have the water heater in your vehicle correctly, it’s time to secure it into place. If it’s in a box, you can use a couple of ratchet straps to keep the box in position. Place one strap about two inches from the top of the box and the other two inches from the bottom.

However, if there’s no box, you need to make some supports on either side of the water heater. Otherwise, it can shift and roll slightly, potentially damaging the controls and other parts.

You can create a brace for your water heater using boards with wood blocks on each end. Space the blocks out on the board according to the diameter of the water heater so it can fit snugly. Then, secure the blocks to the board and make one more brace in the same way.

Position one board toward the back of your vehicle and the other toward the front, nestling the water heater between the blocks. Then strap the water heater into place.

6. Plan Your Route

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Whenever you’re moving something fragile, it’s a wise practice to choose a slow and steady route. In other words, avoid the interstate and major highways. Plan out your route ahead of time so that you can take a more slow-paced trip.

Likewise, know the route you need to walk. For example, is the water heater going up any stairs? Are there narrow doorways to maneuver through? Knowing these things ahead of time can make things easier and less risky for you and your appliance.

7. Drive Safely And Slowly

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Be extra cautious when you’re driving, go slow, and stay alert. Any big bumps, sudden stops, or accidents can jar the water heater lose or cause damage.

What If I Want To Move The Water Heater Upright?

If you decide to move the water heater upright instead, you need to follow many of the same basic guidelines. Plan the move, ask for help, choose the right vehicle, secure and position the appliance correctly, and drive safely.

Additionally, you need extra straps to secure the water heater in multiple places to prevent it from tipping over. If it isn’t in a box, you might want to consider wrapping it in furniture pads or blankets.

Once it’s secure, take a quick little test drive for about two minutes, then re-check your straps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does professional delivery cost for a water heater?

Appliance delivery can vary from store to store. If you purchase a new water heater, in some cases, the store might include free delivery. Lowe’s, for example, often will offer free delivery over a certain amount; otherwise, you’ll pay a delivery fee.

Delivery fees can be anywhere from $50 to $150. For a water heater, you might be looking closer at the $75 to $100 range. Do you plan to have the service also install your water heater and remove your old one? If so, this can add another $200 to $300 to the bill.

When do I know it’s time for a new water heater?

Some signs that your water heater is failing are discolored water, water that smells, or visible leaks or corrosion. You will also notice that your hot water doesn’t stay hot as long or get hot at all. If you notice these issues, and your water heater is already 8 or more years old, it’s best to get a new one.

How much is a new water heater?

Of course, price varies based on size, type, and brand, but expect to pay between $500 and $900. Gas water heaters tend to be more expensive than electric. HIgher-end models and those with special features can cost closer to $2,000.

On top of the cost of the appliance, you also need to pay for installation. This can cost another $250 to as much as $800, depending on what needs to be done. If swapping out a similar unit, it takes about two to three hours.

Plumbers typically charge by the hour, so if yours charges $100 per hour, you’ll pay about $300. If your plumber charges $200 per hour, you could pay closer to $600.