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Question DetailsAsked on 7/16/2013

Can I replace a 40 gal. gas water heater with a 50 gal. gas water heater?

My 10+ year old gas water heater is near the end of its life & I wonder if I might be able to replace it with the 50 gal. size?

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1 Answer


Certainly - usually they are about 6 inches or so taller, and a bit fatter, but unless you are extremely tight on clearances, will normally fit fine. This is a common upgrade for families with a lot of people in the house, especially long-showering teenagers or houses washing a lot of baby clothes or frequent bedding washing for ann invalid.

It will likely require minor modifications in the exhaust duct and the two water pipes, but this should not add more than about $50-100, as they commonly have to be changed around a bit anyway on a changeout as each brand's tank sizes are different.

Should not require any modifications to the gas or electric system, in most cases.

Before buying a water heater (if you are buying it yourself) have the clearances checked out by the plumber for maximum allowable dimensions, asd there are code-required air gap clearances, and the exhaust duct is required to have a certain slope on it, which limit how close you can be to walls and ceiling. If tight, there are models that are fatter rather than taller for low head-clearance installations, as well as taller ones that are about the same diameter as 40 gallon ones if you are tight on the back or sides.

If you have a wood support platform for the water heater and it is built of less than 1 inch plywood, I would have a middle support post or joist put under the center of where the heater will sit (if there is not one already)- 50 gallon tanks cause pretty dramatic swaybacking and cracking of 3/4 inch plywood platforms.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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