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Can Water Heaters Be Transported Laying Down?

Water heaters have a fragile glass lining inside of a delicate metal casing. This can make it quite risky for them to lay on their side. Unfortunately, transporting a water heater vertically is not always an option.

Water heaters can be transported laying down on their side. Make sure the water heater is laid flat, has sufficient padding to avoid damaging the glass lining and metal casing. You should use straps to secure the water heater as well.

The rest of this article will discuss how to transport a water heater on its side safely. I will also include how to prepare it for transport, important equipment to have, and possible limitations to completing this task. Now, let’s get started!

How to Safely Transport a Water Heater Laying Down

As I mentioned earlier, with the right equipment and precautions, it is safe to move a water heater on its side. Follow along to learn the proper method. 

Prepare the Water Heater for Transport

Before your water heater is ready to be transported, you will need to do a few things to prepare it: 

  1. Collect your supplies
    • Garden Hose
    • Bucket
    • Screwdriver
    • Pipe cutter
    • Wrenches
  2. Ensure the gas or electricity is turned off. 
  3. Disconnect it from the heat source (gas or electricity). 
  4. Drain remaining hot water using a garden hose and bucket.

Watch this short YouTube video from HouseBarons on how to disconnect and drain your water heater properly:

Transport the Water Heater to Your Vehicle

This is the tricky part. You must take great care not to damage the glass lining, metal casing, anode rod, or dip tube. These parts are essential for a functioning water heater.  Now that it has been disconnected and drained, you have to get it to the vehicle you are using to transport it. Water heaters weigh approximately 68 to 90 kilograms (150 to 200 pounds), so this may be a difficult job for one person. Find a friend that owes you a favor and get to work! 

Here is a step by step guide to moving your water heater from its location to a vehicle.

Step 1: Make sure there is adequate space in your vehicle. Avoid getting your water heater to your vehicle and realizing that it does not fit. Measure the height and width ahead of time. Keep in mind that you may have to borrow or rent a larger vehicle if yours is not big enough. 

Step 2: Protect the glass lining and metal casing. Use furniture pads to keep the glass and metal from fracturing. Place a furniture pad on the back of the dolly and in your vehicle to offer as much padding as possible.

Step 3: Protect the controls and pipes. Ensure the controls and pipes face outward and carefully slide the water heater onto the hand truck or dolly. You could also remove the anode rod and dip tube all together to avoid potential damage.

Step 4: Secure the water heater to the dolly using ratchet straps. This will keep it stable on the journey to the vehicle as you navigate curbs or stairs.

Step 5: Transfer the water heater from its location to your vehicle. Slowly tilt the dolly back towards you. Be careful, as it will be heavy. Slowly navigate the dolly to your vehicle, taking extra care going over curbs or stairs. 

Step 6: Carefully transition the water heater from the dolly to your vehicle on its side. This is where an extra set of hands will be especially helpful, as water heaters can be heavy. Refrain from damaging the controls and pipes by keeping them facing outward or upward.

Step 7: Drive carefully. While transporting your water heater, avoid potholes, bumps, or other hazardous road conditions. This is potentially the riskiest part of transporting and why padding is so crucial. Roads can be unpredictable, and jostling from the car can cause the glass lining or metal casing to crack. 

Step 8: Stay Safe! This is not a risk-free task, so take the necessary precautions to avoid injuring yourself or others. Most importantly, use proper lifting techniques to avoid a back injury and not burn yourself while draining the water tank. 

What Equipment Do You Need?

Several items will make this a more manageable task. Read on for my recommendations on specific products.  Many of these products can be substituted with common household items in a pinch, but I encourage you to use the correct equipment.

Dolly or Hand Truck

A dolly or hand truck is crucial for safely completing this task, especially if you are attempting to do this alone. If you do not already own a hand truck, this Harper Lightweight Hand Truck is a great option. It makes stairs and curbs easy to navigate and can be converted into a four-wheel cart, making it extremely versatile.

Furniture Pad

As I mentioned earlier, abundant padding for your water heater is essential for protecting it during transport. You can use blankets or quilts from your home or these Sure-Max furniture pads. They are durable, versatile, and offer high-level protection. 

Ratchet Straps 

Ratchet straps are unnecessary for water heater transport, but they will certainly make the job a bit more manageable. If you think you will use ratchet straps, consider these RHINO USA straps. They will be long enough and strong enough to secure your water heater to the dolly and in your vehicle.

What Are the Limitations?

As I said before, with the right equipment and safety precautions, transporting your water heater can be accomplished in a short period of time. However, there are a couple of limitations that you should keep in mind. 

Does It Fit in Your Vehicle?

Potentially, the most limiting factor when trying to transport a water heater will be the size of your vehicle. Before you begin the process, ensure that your vehicle is large enough to hold your water heater. You can do this by measuring your water heater’s height and width and comparing it to the space available in your car. 

Do You Have Help?

Another limiting factor is simply having enough manpower. While it is not impossible for one person, the process will be made exponentially easier with an additional set of hands for support. Find a friend that owes you a favor and get to work!

Final Thoughts

Do not be deterred from moving a water heater without the help of a professional. Be mindful to protect the glass lining, metal casing, anode rod, and dip tube at all costs. Without these components, your water heater is useless. If you follow this simple guide, you will be well equipped to disconnect and transport your water heater with only the help of a friend and a few supplies!

Additional Water Heater Resources

To learn more about water heaters, check out some of our other articles about water heaters: