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Can You Lay a Water Heater on Its Side? (Quick Answers)

A water heater is exactly what the name suggests. It is an appliance which helps us to turn cold or room temperature water into hot water. There are different types of water heaters, and some are even costly to use regularly.

Lay a water heater on its side

A water heater can be laid on its side as long if it is not being used. Using a water heater which is laid sideways may not function properly and may run the risk of getting damaged. It needs to be handled gently when moving. Make sure to ensure the proper safety while moving.

There are many scenarios where laying a water heater on its side can actually help and is ideal. As long as the water heater is not functioning at the time being and is empty, there will be times where you might find yourself laying your water heater on its side.

During transportation:

There are many sizes of water heaters available in the market. Some might be bigger or smaller than others, but most importantly size matters here when you are about to transport the water heater on a truck or car.

It is inevitable for you that you will need to lay your water heater on its side when you see that it does not fit upright onto the truck or car you intend to transport it in. In cases like that, you may place your water heater on its side during transport.

Even though you can lay your water heater on its sides, it still has a thin layer of glass underneath its fragile metal cover.

Hence while transporting a water heater, it is important that you or the driver is driving reasonably and carefully to avoid the water heater from experiencing too much jerking and jolting.

For 30 minutes:

Laying a water heater on its side is usually not supposed to be a matter of time, but there are a few scenarios where it just might be.

Having a turned off water heater on its side for thirty minutes does nothing to it. On the hand, when it is a functioning one, you are not supposed to have it sideways under any circumstances.

There are high chances that having a turned on water heater on its sideways would not be taking in cold water or ejecting hot water properly. It is due to them being designed to stand upright.

To move:

In general, you can have your water heater laid sideways if you want to move it somewhere else. However, if you are moving a water heater which was already in service somewhere else, there are a few things you need to keep in check.

The water heater needs to be properly drained before you are able to move it in any way.

It may contain hot water which might be dangerous, and also make the water heater unnecessarily heavy for you to carry. Make sure the drain valve is closed afterwards.

Lastly if your water heater is gas operated, you need to make sure that the valves to the gas supply are turned off and properly detached from the water heater in order to avoid any sort of accidents. 

If the water heater is electric, in that case make sure to switch off the power and unplug before starting to move anything.

Can you lay a gas water heater on its side for transport?

A gas water heater is likely to be more fragile and dangerous than your regular electric water heaters. Unlike electricity requiring some sort of material for conduction to happen, gas can seep into everywhere without requiring any source of contact.

Although you can lay a gas water heater on its side for transport, there are certain things to keep in mind.

If the appliance gets damaged while transporting it, it would mean that the gas water heater now runs the risk of having a gas leakage. In the worst case scenario, the leak would cause a gas buildup and cause the water heater to blow up. 

It needs to be made sure that when transporting a gas water heater sideways, it is positioned in a place where it sits firmly. Ideally, the gas water heater should be packaged properly in a crate along with a thick layer of foam.

Which way do you lay a water heater down?

If you are in a dilemma of which way to lay the water heater down, you should check on the packaging of the water heater for instructions. In most cases you are going to find arrows on the box indicating which way should be right way up.

However, if the box of the water heater is not marked, checking the manual of the water heater could be a good start. If you do not want to go through the whole manual, try to skim for a fragile sign throughout the manual to pinpoint what you want.

Typically, there should be instructions on facing certain parts of a water heater upwards depending on the model for example: heat controls and drain pipes.

Although most water heaters might come with instructions, some might not. In cases like these, it is likely that it does matter which way the water heater is being laid down.

It is mostly likely that the packaging of the water heater is thicker than the controls, drain pipes, and gas lines on it. Hence, the water heater does not require any certain criteria on which way it should be laid down on.

How long can you lay a water heater on its side?

As mentioned before, having a water heater laid on its side does not create a problem as long as the heater is not being used or is switched off. It can be kept in that way as long as you need it.

On the other hand, if you don’t want your water heater to drain out while being sideways, make sure to keep your drain plug turned off. It would take roughly ten minutes for the water heater to be completely emptied out.

Moreover, during transport if you have your water heater sideways, do not panic about how much longer you can have your water heater sideways. But as soon as you reach your destination, make sure it is right way up in a secure place.

The longer you have your water heater on its sides, the more prone it is to being damaged somewhere along the line.

What happens if you lay a water heater on its side?

Having a water heater lay on its side can have consequences if that is how they are mounted to be used. Below are a few things that could happen.

Hamper in water circulation: 

If a water heater is laid sideways, it will not be circulating water like the way it used to. There will be symptoms of discontinuity in the flow of water. 

As a water heater is designed to be used in an upright position. (Hot water rises up, and cold-water sinks to the bottom) Hence, if the trajectory of the water heater is changed, so does the location of the fill and drain pipes.

Hence, the water has an unusual circulation with the entrance and exit to the water heater being on odd places and hampering the flow of water. This might cause slow damage over time.

Damage to the metal casing:

This applies specifically to the gas-based water heaters. When they are placed sideways, we are also making its heat element sit sideways.

This means that the heating element is now burning from the side of the water heater, which might cause irreparable damage to its metal casing.

In some cases, the damage might even spread into the inner glass layer of the water heater.

Uneven heating of water:

This is related to the hamper of water circulation in a water tank.

As the fill and drain pipes are now in different positions with the heating element on the side, there is an unusual pattern going on with the water circulation.

Since, the water heater depended on having hot water to rise and cold water to sink, it does not happen in the most efficient method anymore. Therefore, heating the water in uneven ways.

Final Thoughts

Therefore, water heaters needs to be handled with care. It is not a problem to lay a water heater sideways as long as it is not being used at the time being or turned off. If it is turned on during that time, there could be potential damage dealt to the water heater.