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Question DetailsAsked on 7/6/2016

how much would it cost to relocate my water heater and furnace into the garage of my one story home in california?

The water heater and furnace are located in the hallway right in the middle of my home and we've already had an issue with the water heater leaking and causing damage to brand new carpeting not only that but this space could be better used for storage if my water heater and furnace could be relocated to the garage. Currently they are about 20-30 feet from my garage.

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Depends a lot on your duct configuration (assuming central forced air heating). The water heater of course the water lines (hot and cold) would have to be relocated, plus gas line if gas, and new electric hookup if electric heater or high-efficiency gas with heat pump or exhaust extraction fan unit.

Furnace of course you are talking possibly as much as 20-30 feet or more of ducting changes - and depending on how the ducting is run, possibly more.

Obvioously, all these are MUCH easier (especially if in non-freezing area of state) if you have a crawlspace to run the piping and ducting in.

Water heater - I would say probably about $1000-1500 typically for this type of move - depends a lot on how close existing cold and hot water lines and gas lines are to the garage because you can commonly tap in nearly anywhere on those lines, don't necessarily have to come back to the closet with new lines from the heater to tap into the existing connections. And if spending that kind of money if the water heater is at or past its rated life I would replace the heater at the same time to avoid another $500+ in labor charges to replace it just a few years down the road, though of course that does mean the $300-800 cost for the new water heater itself at this time. Obviously, moving the water heater (and thus eliminating the water leakage risk) is easier than moving the furnace.

Furnace move could be as little as under $1000 in ideal conditions, but I would guess probably more like $2000-3000 range in many cases - more if ducts have to be run through finished surfaces so you have typically $500-1500 drywall and repainting costs afterwards as well. If downdraft furnace (feeds air down into crawlspace or basement ceiling joists) generally easier than if updraft. Could take a fair amount of ducting work because it means not just moving the furnace and reconnecting to ducting from the garage, but also likely some swapping around of main duct runs so the "large end" is at the furnace instead of in middle of the house, and getting the ducting out of the closet to free up that space. And of course electric and gas hookups too.

Again, since the labor and incidental materials (ducting and such) is the majority of the cost, if an older unit you should consider replacing the furnace at the same time - an additional couple of thousand typically for the new furnace itself, but the move itself is likely to run close to half the cost of a totally new furnace install, so might pay to do it now while the install cost is already committed to in the move - and get maybe 20-30% higher efficiency in the process.

Also, you will need a new exhaust flue from any fuel-fired appliances - if up through the roof of a single-story garage no big thing, if up through an upstairs story a bit more work and can run $1000 range just by itself in that case. If these are high-efficiency units (direct vent out the wall) then the exhaust venting is simpler than having to put a new gravity vent up through the roof.

If you have central air conditioning (evaporator coil in the ducting) that would have to be moved too to where the new furnace location is also, and new refrigerant lines run from the outdoor unit to the evaporator, so probably in the order of $300-400 additional for that too (assuming done at same time), if applicable.

Note these are REAL ROUGH, ballpark numbers sight-unseen - get bids from several Heating and A/C contractors (or possibly Plumbers if for water heater only and no electricity to it) to get a real idea of cost for your specific situation - and if considering moving only the water heater get bids for that only and also for that plus the furnace for comparison. I would expect at leat 50% difference between bidders for this type of work, and be sure scope of work includes move and installation to current code and permit requirements, specifies HOW current unused ducting and exhaust venting is to be taken care of (remove and repair holes - which involves subcontractors) or abandon in place with capping off of vent and unused ducts, and how much drywall/flooring/ceiling tearout will be needed - because a rip it to heck approach might be cheapest for the installer, but cost you more by the time the damage is repaired. In fact, considering significant drywall repair is likely for ducting work, unless single story and all the ducting runs in/under open crawlspace/basement joists, you might be better off with a General Contractor for the whole job than just a HVAC contractor.

One thing on water heater where it is - an alternative at much less cost (maybe $200-300 range) which could eliminate much (but not all) the water heater leakage risk would be to install a pan under the water heater with a large diameter (minimum 1") drain from it to a floor drain or outside, to catch and collect leakage from the water heater. Should pretty well catch normal tank failure leaks, but not leaks or cracked pipes at the top of the heater from leaking pipes or such that might spray out the top. Probably would take care of about 90% of types of water heater leaks. Pans look like this and can be plumbed to drain if not too many turns -

Another alternative on the water heater failure - rather than move all, probably a lot cheaper to put in sheet waterproof vinyl or tile surround partway up the closet wall and on the floor, with a floor drain to remove any leakage. In most code areas floor drain for this use does NOT have to go to sewer (which invokes requirement for a trap and commonly a trap drip system to keep it wet) - can usually just go outside for emergency drainage of clean weater - in combination with a water alarm of course.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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