Most homes have water heaters safely tucked in the basement, hidden from the eyes of neighbors and guests. However, repurposing or renovating the basement can reveal the ugly truth. In this case, relocating the appliance to another room might be a viable solution.
Homeowners must learn how to hide a water heater, lest it detracts from the room’s aesthetics. Great news! We have four ways to make a water heater as inconspicuous as possible while adding value to your home.
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Ways to Hide a Hot Water Heater
Water heaters are essential equipment in modern homes, especially for families in colder regions. Sadly, most water heaters are bulky and unsightly, detracting from a room’s elegance.
We searched for the most effective ways to hide a hot water heater to help maintain your home’s aesthetics, improve its value, and help you continue enjoying hot water.
1. Use a Room Divider or Screen
A room divider is hassle-free. It requires no drilling, cutting, or installing anything. The only effort you will make is the trip to a home improvement shop to buy a decorative hot water heater cover.
Of course, if you do not like the designs, you can always craft a DIY room divider. Screens are perfect in bathroom units, unfinished garages, and similar areas.
What to Prepare: You will need commercially-available freestanding room dividers or screens to hide hot water heater units. Ensure the panels are sufficient to cover the water heater using a tape measure.
- Determine the water heater’s height, including components sticking out of the water heater’s top (i.e., vents, water pipes).
Although you do not need to measure the water heater’s depth and width because room dividers have accordion-like folding panels, you can measure them to be sure.
- Pick a room divider according to your preferences and measurements. We recommend complementing the room’s aesthetics to make the water heater cover blend with other room elements.
- Position the decorative screens in front of the water heater, ensuring one end touches the wall. Extend the room divider to enclose the water heater. If the screen leaves a part of the water heater visible, you might want to place two room dividers around it.
2. Use a Curtain or Drape
This trick is undoubtedly one of the easiest to execute, making it a perfect solution for hiding water heaters in laundry room units, unfinished basements, and similar areas.
What to Prepare
You will need a floor-length curtain with a design of your choice. Two ceiling curtain tracks that follow the two angled sides of the water heater cover are also necessary. Of course, prepare a tape measure as well.
Have some drill bits and a screwdriver to install the curtain track. Use masonry bits for brick and concrete and steel ones for wood. The kit you buy should have screws and plugs for setup.
- Measure the water heater’s depth and width, then add five inches on all sides so that the curtain doesn’t brush against the heater. These measurements help in determining the curtain track length.
- Determine the ceiling’s height to know how long the curtain should be.
- Buy ceiling curtain tracks and install them on the ceiling using plugs and screws.
- Insert curtain glider hooks into the curtain tracks.
- Hang the curtains to the hooks to cover water heater.
3. Build a Cabinet
Unlike the first two water heater cover ideas, building a cabinet for the water heater takes more effort, time, and resources.
Despite their complexity, such cabinets are perfect in kitchen units, finished basements, and in garage.
What to Prepare
You will need one-by-fours to create the cabinet’s frame (five for the height, three for the width, and two for the depth) plus ½-inch plywood for the midsection and top. Nails, screws, a handsaw, hammer, and tape measure are also necessary.
- Measure the water heater’s height, depth, and width, observing the recommended allowances on all sides.
- Cut the one-by-fours according to your measurements. Add several inches to the digits for clearance. If the heater isn’t next to the wall, you’ll need two additional one-by-four pieces, one each for the height and width.
- Create rectangular frames for the cabinet, ensuring the bottom horizontal section is three to four inches above the right and left “legs.”
- Cover the “open” midsection of the frames with plywood and secure it with staple wires. Staple the wood every two inches along the wood panel’s edge.
- Connect the frames at a 90-degree angle by fastening screws on the side. The fasteners should be four to five inches apart.
- Cover the top with plywood, securing it with nails.
- Ask an assistant to help you lift the cabinet and slide it over the water heater.
- You can paint the faux cabinet and add ornaments if you like.
Hiding Methods Comparison
Water heater hiding methods vary in durability and application. For example, although screens are the most straightforward to use, they tend to have low to moderate durability.
They might also be less suited for kitchens. Meanwhile, closets and cabinets entail hard work but offer exceptional durability. On that note, you can only place them in “more permanent” locations.
|Hiding Method||Durability||Best Rooms||Worst Rooms|
|Room Divider or Screen||Low to moderate||Unfinished basements and storage areas in garages||Kitchens|
|Curtain||Low||Unfinished basements only||Finished basements and kitchens|
|Closet||High||Finished basements, bedroom, garage workspaces, kitchens, and other rooms||Storage areas|
|Cabinet||High||Finished basements, garage workspaces, and kitchens||Unfinished basements and garage storage areas|
Of these methods, closets are probably the most complex and best constructed by professionals. There are building code requirements for them, such as a gasketed, self-closing door for bedroom/bathroom closets and outdoor combustion openings.
Is it OK to enclose a water heater?
Yes, you can build a cabinet around a hot water heater or install a ready-made freestanding enclosure for the device. However, we recommend verifying your water heater brand’s clearance requirements to ensure efficient heat dissipation and servicing.
How much clearance do you need around a water heater?
Gas water heaters require at least 24 inches of space between the unit and any adjacent surface fronting the device to allow for efficient and safe servicing. You can observe at least a couple of inches of space at the back and sides to ensure water heater safety.
Electric water heaters have brand-specific space requirements. For example, Westinghouse recommends a minimum service clearance of six inches on the top and sides and two feet in front for its Premium electric water heaters. Hence, we suggest considering these specifications when making a DIY water heater cover.
Moreover, the National Electrical Code has minimum clearances for electrical equipment. For instance, the NEC requires electrical equipment (i.e., water heaters) to have a six-foot minimum headroom and a three-foot front clearance.
Meanwhile, Questar recommends a minimum clearance of four inches (front) and six inches (vent pipe) for its gas water heaters.
It will be in your best interest to check the brand-specific water heater’s clearance requirements before making a cabinet or enclosure for the water heater outside or inside the home.
How to hide a water heater might be the last thing on your mind as an owner. However, it pays to conceal these water appliances from plain sight to maintain the home’s aesthetics, if not add to it.
Your choices range from a simple room divider to a more complex water heater cabinet. It is vital to pick one that hides the water heater and adds value to the home without undermining its water-heating capabilities.
As the founder of Usawaterquality, I have been working to deliver quality advice on utilizing water components for numerous households. Here, we believe that water quality is the most critical part of health care, so the investment and attention for the water system will never go to waste.