Electric Water Heater Clearance Requirements (Explained)

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Written By John Roe Stephen

To install an electric water heater in your home, you should know its clearance requirements. Below, we’ll go over the necessary points you should know.

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Electric water heater clearance requirements by model

Water heater modelSize of the heaterRecommended minimum sizeRecommended maximum size
Richmond23.3 x 21.3 x 28 inches25.3 x 22.3 x 28 inches2.8 x 22.3 x 28 inches
Eemax17×17×3.75 inches17×17×3.75 inches21×21×5.75 inches
Reliance15×14.12×14.0 inches16×15.13×15.0 inches21×20×18.0 inches
EcoSmart3.75×8×11 inches3.75×8×11 inches4.45×11×11 inches


Richmond must be seismically strapped for installation in a basement or attic using the recommended minimum size of 25.3 x 22.3 x 28 inches. If you don’t have seismic strapping installed, you’ll have to install two 1-1/2″ X 18-gauge straps on each side.


The top strap of Eemax water heater should be placed approximately one-third of the way up, while the bottom strap should be two-thirds down. A temperature and pressure relief valve is also required, and a hard pipe must be installed.


The Manufacturer of Reliance electric water heater requires the water heater to have a six-inch clearance from its front and rear sides, and one foot of clearance from any combustible material.


EcoSmart electric water heaters require a six-inch clearance from combustible material, such as flammable materials. The recommended minimum and maximum size are 3.75×8×11 and 45×11×11 inches respectively.

There are also clearance requirements for tankless heaters, which are different than conventional models. Depending on the model, you need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

How much space is required around an electric water heater?

If you’re wondering how much room around an electric water heater, consider its location in your home. Generally speaking, it needs three feet of clearance from the floor, six inches on either side and a full foot from the rear.

However, these requirements vary from model to model and depending on the brand and type of water heater. Regardless of the location, make sure that the tank is three feet or more from combustible materials.

When planning your home, check for regulations. You can check the National Electric Code (NFPA 70) for guidelines. While gas-powered water tanks usually do not require space clearance, an electric-powered water tank may be different.

When you have limited space around your water heater, use a teepee or other structure for additional support.

Should an electric water heater be raised off the floor?

Gas water heaters must be elevated at least 18 inches off the floor for safety reasons. However, there are exceptions to this rule. In California, the water heater must be elevated at least twelve inches off the floor.

In addition, the water heater’s pilot light must be at least six inches away from the floor. Proper installation and safety standards will help prevent injury and fire. It is important to check local regulations before installing a water heater.

Gas water heaters without a fire safety rating (FVIR) are required to be elevated 18 inches off the floor. However, this requirement no longer applies to gas water heaters with FVIR certification.

Some homeowners and home inspectors insist on having their gas water heaters elevated. For these reasons, raising a water heater off the floor is a good idea. The safety benefits are clear, and it can save your home from flooding.

Can an electric water heater sit on the ground?

Yes, you can. There are some things to keep in mind before setting up your water heater. For one thing, you must be careful about the environment the water heater is. Some places have earthquake straps and require a clean environment.

For uneven ground, a water heater should be elevated to avoid accidents. Secondly, you should make sure the water heater is on a level surface. You should also follow the instructions for installation on the packaging of your water heater.

Otherwise, the pilot flame may ignite and cause an explosion. Fortunately, you can purchase a water heater stand. These stands allow you to set your water heater on an elevated surface and support its weight even when it’s full.

Can you put an electric water heater in a closet?

You can do it if your house doesn’t have a basement or other room with a crawl space. The answer depends on the type of water heater you’d like to install.

There are electric water heaters and gas-fueled units that fit in tight spaces. Electric water heaters are safer than gas-fueled units because of sealed combustion chambers. But you have to be aware of the risks and requirements if you wish to place a heater in a closet.

You need to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before installing a shelf over your water heater. Some models allow you to place a shelf above them, but others do not.

You should avoid placing flammable materials near a water heater as it poses a fire hazard. Important papers like birth certificates and family photos should be stored far away from the water heater. They are highly combustible.


In conclusion, you need at least six inches of space around the unit. Keep it three feet off the floor and away from combustible materials.

You also need to keep it at least 18 inches away from another vent and one foot away from other heating appliances.

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