Can You Transport An Electric Water Heater On Its Side?

To transport an electric water heater on its side refers to the practice of moving the heater in a horizontal position, rather than its typical upright position. This is often done when the heater needs to be moved to a new location and the vehicle used for transportation cannot accommodate the heater’s height.

Imagine you’re moving to a new home and you’ve decided to bring your reliable electric water heater with you. You’ve got everything packed, but there’s just one problem – the water heater doesn’t fit in your vehicle standing up. Can you lay it down on its side?

While it’s generally recommended to transport a water heater upright, it can be laid down for transportation in some cases. However, this should be done with caution. For traditional tank water heaters, laying them down can cause damage to the internal components or dislodge sediment, leading to blockages.

Considerations Before Transporting

Before diving into the logistics, it’s crucial to understand the significance of proper handling. Electric water heaters are intricate systems with sensitive components. Mishandling during transportation can lead to malfunctions, leaks, or other damages that may compromise their functionality.

When it comes to relocating a water heater, the key to successful and safe transport lies in thorough preparation. Follow these steps to ensure your water heater is ready for the journey:

Turn Off the Unit

The initial and crucial step is to turn off the water heater unit. This involves shutting down the power supply to prevent any electrical mishaps during the transportation process. Locate the power switch or circuit breaker connected to the water heater and ensure it is in the off position.

Disconnect the Water Heater From the Gas Line

For gas water heaters, disconnecting them from the gas line is not only a matter of safety but also a facilitator for the subsequent steps. Locate the gas shut-off valve connected to the water heater and turn it to the off position. This ensures a safe disconnect from the gas supply.

Cap the Gas Line

To prevent gas leaks during transport, cap the hot water heater gas line securely. Use a suitable cap that fits over the end, ensuring a tight seal. This extra precaution is vital for safe transportation, especially if there’s any residual gas in the lines.

Remove the Flexible Gas Line From the Heater

Fully disconnect the flexible gas line from the water heater, ensuring a clean and complete separation. Use a wrench to loosen the connection, and once detached, inspect the line for any signs of wear or damage. Replace the line if necessary.

Drain the Water Tank

Draining the water tank is a vital step to reduce weight and prevent water splashing inside the tank during transport. Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and direct the other end to a suitable drainage area. Open the valve to allow the water to drain completely.

Disassembly of Certain Parts

Depending on the water heater type, some components may need disassembly. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions on disassembling any removable parts. This may include items like heating elements or anode rods. Carefully follow the provided instructions to ensure proper disassembly without causing damage.

By meticulously following these steps, you ensure that your water heater is properly prepared for transport, minimizing the risk of damage and ensuring a smooth relocation process.

Transporting a Water Heater

Check the Heater Will Fit in the Vehicle

Before embarking on the transportation process, it’s essential to verify that the water heater will fit comfortably in the chosen vehicle. Accurate measurements of the heater’s dimensions are crucial to prevent any complications during loading. Ensure that the vehicle’s size and capacity align with the dimensions of the water heater.

Protect the Casing & Glass Liner

To safeguard the water heater from potential damage during transport, take measures to protect its casing and glass liner. Utilize appropriate padding and protective materials to create a buffer around the heater. This ensures that the outer components remain intact and undamaged throughout the transportation journey.

Protect the Pipes & Controls

Secure the water heater’s pipes and controls with additional padding. This precautionary step prevents any impact damage that may occur during the transportation process. By providing a cushioned layer around these critical elements, you minimize the risk of breakage or dislodgment.

Don’t Hurt Yourself

When handling the water heater, prioritize safety to avoid personal injuries. Implement proper lifting techniques, ensuring you bend your knees and lift with your legs. Additionally, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and sturdy footwear, to minimize the risk of injuries during the loading and unloading processes.

Transporting the Water Heater Using a Dolly

Employing a dolly can significantly ease the transportation process. Securely strap the water heater to the dolly to prevent any shifting during transit. The dolly provides stability and mobility, making it easier to maneuver the water heater, especially in confined spaces or during the loading and unloading stages.

Transfer the Water Heater to the Vehicle

With the water heater securely attached to the dolly, proceed to transfer it to the chosen vehicle. Exercise caution during this step to avoid unnecessary lifting or strain. If necessary, use ramps to facilitate the smooth transition of the water heater into the vehicle, minimizing the risk of damage and ensuring a safe loading process.

By adhering to these guidelines, you enhance the safety and efficiency of transporting a water heater, reducing the likelihood of damage and ensuring a successful relocation.

Drive Carefully and slowly

During transit, drive carefully and avoid sudden movements. Secure the water heater to prevent any shifting or tipping that could cause damage.

This comprehensive guide ensures that every aspect of preparing and transporting a water heater is covered, emphasizing safety and proper procedures at every step. Following these guidelines reduces the risk of damage and guarantees a smooth relocation process.

Benefits of Proper Transportation

Properly transporting an electric water heater not only prevents potential damages but also ensures the longevity of the appliance. By following guidelines, homeowners can protect their investment and guarantee a continued reliable hot water supply.

Check the Heater Will Fit in the VehicleVerify that the water heater dimensions align with the vehicle’s capacity. Measure carefully to avoid complications.
Protect the Casing & Glass LinerUse padding and protective materials to shield the water heater’s casing and glass liner from potential damage.
Protect the Pipes & ControlsSecure pipes and controls with padding to prevent impact damage during transportation.
Don’t Hurt YourselfPrioritize safety during handling. Utilize proper lifting techniques and wear personal protective equipment.
Transporting Using a DollySecurely strap the water heater to a dolly for stability. The dolly facilitates mobility during transportation.
Transfer to the VehicleCarefully transfer the water heater to the vehicle, using ramps if necessary to ensure a smooth loading process.

This quick reference table summarizes key steps for transporting a water heater, providing an easy-to-follow guide for a safe and efficient relocation process.


Can I transport a new electric water heater on its side?

Yes, you can transport a new electric water heater on its side.

Can an electric water heater be installed horizontally?

No, electric water heaters should not be installed horizontally.

Can an electric water heater be moved?

Yes, an electric water heater can be moved.

What is the side clearance for an electric water heater?

The side clearance for an electric water heater varies, check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Can you lay a hot water heater down for transport?

It’s not recommended to lay a hot water heater down for transport.


The question of whether you can transport an electric water heater on its side requires careful consideration. Adhering to manufacturer guidelines, preparing the appliance adequately, and avoiding common mistakes are pivotal in ensuring a safe and damage-free relocation. 

Transporting an electric water heater requires careful preparation and adherence to safety measures. Following proper steps ensures a smooth and damage-free process, protecting both the appliance and the individuals involved.

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