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Do You Need a Water Heater Stand? A Buyer’s Guide

 
 

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If you've just purchased a new water heater you're probably preparing to get it installed. In fact, you may be wondering if you should use a water heater stand. But do you really need one? Some water heaters require the use of a stand, but it's typically the building and plumbing codes in your area that have the final say on the matter.

You may have noticed that some of your neighbors have their water heaters installed on a stand, and others don't. This article will explain why a water heater stand is needed, and help you determine if your new heater actually needs one.


What is a Water Heater Stand

A water heater stand is exactly what it sounds like. It's a stand that a water heater sits on top of to elevate it above the ground. And, as you might expect, a water heater stand is typically manufactured from durable materials such as galvanized steel, which allows it to support the weight of a full tank of water and last for a very long time.

It's important to note, that you shouldn't simply place a water heater on top of any stand, it needs to be designed specifically to support the weight and shape of a modern water heater. In fact, there are two simple requirements that every water heater stand needs to meet:

  • It needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the water heater.
  • It needs to be shaped in such a way that it can balance the water heater without causing the heater to topple over.
Eastman 86278 Water Heater Stand 30-60 Gallon, Silver

Does a Water Heater Need to Be on a Stand?

If you own an electric tank-style water heater, you don't need to place it on a stand. However, that's not the case for gas tank-style water heaters, and although newer heaters are built in such a way that don't need to use a water heater stand, it is still highly encouraged by many plumbing professionals and local building codes.

Why Use a Water Heater Stand

There are three main reasons you should place your gas water heater on a water heater stand.

Safety -  This is undoubtedly the most important reason. Gas water heaters require air in order to operate. When flammable liquids, such as gasoline, are stored or spilled near a gas water heater a huge fire or explosion could occur, and since water heaters are often installed in the garage, basement, or a storage area, these situations can often go undetected until there's a problem.

After 2005, gas water heaters have been built with Flame Vapor Ignition Resistant (FVIR) technology. These water heaters prevent the breakout of flashback fires by trapping and burning the the hazardous vapors within the body of the heater instead of the surrounding area. They are able to do this, in part, because the combustion chamber is completely sealed. 

Even though FVIR heaters are far safer and technically don't require a water heater stand, it's still a good practice to add an additional layer of protection to your home.

Uniform Plumbing Code - Codes may vary from one city or county to the next, and they may even be stricter than the Uniform Plumbing Code which is responsible for the nationwide standards. The UPC requires that the flame or sparking mechanism be a minimum of 18" above the ground.

Also, many local building codes still require FVIR water heaters to be elevated on water heater stands, even though they are designed to operate safely sitting on the ground. We highly recommend consulting with a professional plumber if you have a newer heater to ensure the installation of your water heater is in compliance with your local codes.

Service Life - Installing your water heater directly on concrete may cause it rust far quicker than if its off the ground. Once a water heater begins leaking from the bottom, the problem is almost always an issue with the tank itself. When this happens, the only solution is to replace the entire water heater since the tank can not be repaired. Placing the water heater on a stand can extend the unit's service life.

Camco Gas Water Heater Stand Kit - Constructed with 18 Gauge Galvanized Sheet Metal | Holds Up to 50 Gallon Water Heaters with a Diameter of 22" or Less - (11231)

How Much do Water Heater Stands Cost

Water heater stands aren't very expensive, especially considering the benefits they provide. The price you pay will largely be based on the quality of construction and the size tank it's designed to handle.

The average water heater has a 50-gallon tank and you can likely find a water heater stand around $50 for these units. Larger heaters with tank capacities of 80 to 120-gallon tanks may run over $100.

It's important to remember that just like everything, there's a wide range of prices depending upon quality, construction, and manufacturer. You shouldn't have a problem finding a quality water heater stand to meet your needs.

Tape Measure

Required Height of a Water Heater Stand

A common question homeowners have is "How high should a water heater stand lift up a water heater from the ground?" As we mentioned above, the Uniform Plumbing Code sets the nationwide standard, but the actual answer to this question can vary from city-to-city because each area creates its own codes and requirements. In other words, the code may be stricter than the UPC. 

The Uniform Plumbing Code states that the pilot light or other lighting mechanism on a gas water heater should be at least 18" from the ground. So, you'll need to take into account the location of where the pilot light is positioned within your heater. If its 2" from the bottom, you'll want to install your water heater 20" from the ground.

With that being said, the National Fuel Gas Code requires that all gas water heater installed in garages be at least 18" off the ground. Although not required, it's a good idea to follow the recommendation when your water heater is installed in other locations, such as a basement as well.

Water Heater Stand 21" x 21" x 18" 650 Lb Limit

Considerations When Purchasing a Water Heater Stand

There are several things you should consider when you're shopping for a water heater stand. Here's an overview of the key factors:

Dimensions

You'll need to make sure that the water heater stand you purchase has the width and length needed to support your specific water heater. You can do this by measuring your water heater. Knowing the exact measurement of your heater will make selecting the stand that much easier.

Weight Capacity

Get a pencil and piece of paper, you'll need to do a few calculations to determine the weight capacity your water heater stand can handle. Since the stand will need to be able to support the weight of a full water heater you'll need to determine the weight of the heater and the weight of water. Your water heater manual should list the weight of the heater when empty, but you can also do a Google search for your model. 

As an example: We'll look at the GCG-50 ProMax by A.O. Smith. It weighs approximately 168 pounds without water.

A gallon of water weighs approximately 8.34 pounds, so 50 pounds of water will weigh: 417 pounds.

In this example, you'll need to purchase a water heater stand that can handle at least 585 pounds (168 + 417 = 585).

Material

The majority of water heater stands are built out of galvanized steel. This is a solid option that's durable enough to withstand the weight of a water heater for years without buckling.

Wood Blocks with Faces

Top 3 Water Heater Stands

Here are our top 3 picks for water heater stands:

Camco Gas Water Heater Stand

This water heater stand from Camco is a no-nonsense choice that will simply get the job done. It's made from 18-gauge galvanized sheet metal. The solid construction provides durability and a secure platform for your water heater that'll last for many years.

It fits most water heaters up to 50-gallons and is 21" x 21" x 18". Although it requires some assembly, it is very easy and straightforward.

Camco Gas Water Heater Stand Kit - Constructed with 18 Gauge Galvanized Sheet Metal | Holds Up to 50 Gallon Water Heaters with a Diameter of 22" or Less - (11231)

Camco Gas Water Heater Stand


IPS Corporation Water Heater Stand

IPS Corporation manufacturers a water heater stand that can handle up to 1,200 pounds. Making it an excellent choice for homeowners with heavy-duty water heaters. It's one of the best options on the market for large gas water heaters thanks to it's sturdy construction and affordable price tag.

It's made from durable galvanized steel and is 24" x 24" x 18" in size, and is easy to assemble.

IPS CORPORATION 83181 478002 Water Heater Stand with 1200 lb Limit, 24" x 24" x 18"

IPS Corporation Water Heater Stand


Holdrite QuickStand Water Heater Stand

Another solid choice is the Holdrite QuickStand Water Heater Stand. It can handle water heaters weighing up to 1,200 pounds and is UPC/IAPMO and IPC compliant.

It's constructed from galvanized steel and aluminum, and is very affordable and easy to assemble. It's dimensions are 24" x 24" x 16" and can be installed on concrete or framed walls.

Holdrite 40-S-24-U QuickStand Water Heater Stand, 24-Inch x 24-Inch x 16-Inch, Aluminum

Holdrite QuickStand Water Heater Stand


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