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Thread: Can't Find Lowboy Gas Water Heater

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Marlis's Avatar
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    Default Can't Find Lowboy Gas Water Heater

    I have a lowboy 40 gallon gas water heater (about 33" tall) in my crawl space in my townhome. It's time to replace it (it's 22 years old). I have called all over and I am told they don't make them anymore. Why would they not make them anymore and what can I do now?

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default lowboy

    They don't make them because the market was too small to support their production. You will have to find a new location where a regular one will fit and repipe it.

  3. #3

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    You could look into an indoor or outdoor tankless heater.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member Marlis's Avatar
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    Default lowboy

    The only place it can go is the crawl space. Any other suggestions?

  5. #5

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    I'm not a pro but the specs for this particular model indicate it would fit in your crawl space. http://www.tanklesswaterheaters.com/waiwelaspecs.html Outdoors is not an option?

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member Marlis's Avatar
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    Default Lowboy Gas Water Heater

    I live in a townhome so rules say it can't go outside. Crawl space is only place. I don't know much about tankless. What are the upsides and downsides? So far my options have been: dig a pit for a regular water heater (but some have said that wouldn't meet code?), go electric, or now, tankless. Any opinions on what would be best?

  7. #7

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    I personally don't like the idea of a gas heater being installed in a crawl space. I think they should be placed where you can immediately detect any abnormal functioning. How would you smell a gas leak under your unit? How would you do regular maintenance, relight the flame, have it serviced? Maybe now is the time to install an electric heater. Surely you have room in a closet for a tank or tankless electric. How have your neighbors solved this problem? Is this a problem with finding a vent for an upstairs gas heater? I suggest you read some of the posts related to tankless heaters, especially the one by hj that suggests there may be no monetary advantage to installing one residentially.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member Marlis's Avatar
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    Default lowboy gas

    Unfortunately there are no places in my small townhome besides the crawl space for any kind of tank. There is only a gas line down in the crawl space to the furnace and gas water heater on one end of the crawl space. I don't have a gas clothes dryer or gas stove so the gas only goes to one end of the crawl space. The crawl space is a large area, approx 500 sq feet, just not very tall. I do go down there to change my furnace filter so it is accessible. The neighbors I know replaced their lowboy gas water heaters when they were available (a year ago) so right now I'm the first one coming up against this dilemma. I guess they'll face the same problem as me when theirs go out. Tankless, for all the money they cost and mixed reviews don't sound like a good bet for me. Looks like electric will have to be the answer. Will need to rewire the crawl space for an electric though. Any chance these manufacturers might make them again? or was it a code thing?

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default water heaters

    More of a lack of demand. There was not a lot of incentive to design a low boy gas heater with the new "flame guard" system when they may only have sold a few hundred, or less, units each year total for the whole industry.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member Marlis's Avatar
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    Default lowboy

    There are at least 75 homes in my townhome complex alone that use a lowboy gas water heater. If just one complex in one small city needs that many I would think across the country there are many with the same problem. Every plumber I call I get the same response, that everyone is looking for those. I guess I'm back to going electric or dig a pit for the gas. What's the best choice?

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member Bob Minck's Avatar
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    Default Stubby hot water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    They don't make them because the market was too small to support their production. You will have to find a new location where a regular one will fit and repipe it.
    I have the same issue - I need a shorter 40 gallon gas heater. It is now April 2012 so I am wondering whether any units have come back on the market, or if it is a dead product. Can anyone update me on this?

    Thanks,

    Bob Minck

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Dead and buried.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    You may want to look into a tankless water heater then.
    They are very compact.

  14. #14
    DIY Junior Member Pete W's Avatar
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    I have been doing some research on lowboys and found 5: Whirlpool (Lowe's), Bradford White, Reliance (Ace Hardware), AO Smith and American. Hope this helps

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member Pete W's Avatar
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    Oops, didn't see the part about you looking for gas. Could you run a 220 line and go electric?

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