Can You Put A Refrigerator Next To A Water Heater? (It Depends…)

The water heater is among the most important pieces of household equipment found in every functional home.

When your water heater is not working perfectly, you can’t enjoy a warm shower in the morning or even have hot water in your dishwasher and help clean your utensils.

By not taking certain precautions and keeping it well run and maintained, it can easily pose a safety danger to your family and home in general.

The main problem is that more and more people are being forced to live in small homes, condos, or apartments for some reason.

Two-thirds of Americans today can’t afford a decent spacious home due to an uncertain economic climate.

Many of these individuals end up cramped spaces that can’t adequately support even the most basic household equipment.

As a result, more and more families are forced to cram some essential items in small spaces to save on space or make the most out of the available space.

Depending on what you’re storing around or near your water heater, this arrangement can be concerning.

So, Can You Put A Refrigerator Next To A Water Heater?

In one word – No, unless it’s very necessary. Generally, fridges don’t pose a safety risk when installed close to any appliance, be it a water heater, oven, washer, or dishwasher. Water heaters, however, do produce significant amounts of heat. Boilers that use natural gas or propane as fuel have also been found to be a fire risk when installed close to spark-producing home appliances. Fridges themselves don’t pose a risk to water heaters, but their function can be affected by the smooth running of the adjacent water heater.

The Heat Factor

Whether or not you can install your fridge close to your water heater depends on the location of the condensing coils in your fridge. Then there’s a second factor worth considering – how hot your water heater gets at optimum capacity.

Most fridges have their coils in the rear section of the body.

Some manufacturers still put coils at the bottom of the unit. It’s not uncommon to find a fridge with coils on the left side beneath the metal skin.

The location of coils aside, you don’t want them to be on the same side as your water heater.

How do you tell the location of the coils? Let the fridge cool down then investigate the temperature of the entire surface using the back of your hand – the side with coils will remain hot a little longer.

You don’t want any extra source of heat around your fridge – it can cause problems easily including momentary malfunctions and total failure (this is rare).

The warmth emanating from your water heater tends to compel the fridge to work extra hard to keep your food and drinks cold.

This means the fridge will have to increase the amount of energy used per cycle.

The result of this increased energy demand is a bloated energy bill.

Worse yet, this extra labor is more likely to shorten the lifespan of the system, meaning frequent repair or complete replacement within a short time.

Problems with the angle at which the fridge’s door opens

In which direction does the fridge’s door swing?

Perhaps the second biggest issue when it comes to fridge and water heater placement and coexistence is the angle at which the doors of your fridge opens, and in which direction.

You want to ensure that the water heater doesn’t get in the way of the swing of the door.

If your fridge features angled handles, you probably can install it near your water heater, but you still need to bear in mind other factors.

If you must, what’s the best distance?

Let’s say your home is so small and crowded that you must position your fridge close to the water heater, just how close should they be to each other?

The reasonable distance between them should be about 20 centimeters (assuming your fridge comes with a layer of insulation as usual.

This figure can change widely according to the brand that made your water heater or fridge – some manufacturers spell out certain standards for their products.

Bosch, for example, advises installing their appliances a distance of 30 cm from any closest heat-generating appliance or anything that uses flammable materials as a fuel. Zanussi recommends 50 cm.

Fortunately, most fridges and water heaters come with instructions written on them to guide you through the installation process and how to run the product.

You are going to realize that most of them strictly forbids the user from installing the product near any heating equipment or source of heating; you’d void the warranty if you flaunt their guidance.

So, What Should You Do If Your Space Is Small? We Offer Three Solutions That May Help Get Out Of This Problem:

1. Stick heat-insulating materials to the fridge’s wall (you can choose to go with Izolon PES or Fomisol

This is probably the easiest and budget-friendly method you could try.

With these materials, the fridge can coexist even with your water heater and any other heat-producing appliance including stoves and ovens.

Simply cut the right size of the insulating material and carefully stick it on the fridge with glue (preferably, it comes with an adhesive on it).

2. Embed the fridge in a box. Here, the frame of your box will serve as a barrier and absorb the ‘heatstroke’ all itself.

Even better, it protects the body from greases, scratches, and all exterior abrasions that may come close during the regular repair and maintenance exercises on your water heater.

3. Put a sizeable screen or partition between the fridge and water heater

The benefits of the partition method are very much the same as those of enclosing the unit in a box.

Partitioning protects each of the two pieces of equipment from dirt, undue heat, and scratching resulting from maintenance work.

What makes a great partition or screen? Suitable MDF panels, drywall, plywood, and tempered glass (used in combination with a few other thermal insulation materials).

Related: Can A Washer And Dryer Be Next To A Water Heater?

Related: Can A Water Heater Sit Directly On A Concrete Floor?

Summary

So, can you put a refrigerator next to a water heater? No, unless it’s very necessary in which case you must put protective measures in place.

Water heaters produce a significant amount of heat, and that should be a good reason why you shouldn’t bring your fridge closer

Whether or not you can install your fridge close to your water heater can also depend on the location of the condensing coils in your fridge.

Then there’s a second factor worth considering – how hot your water heater gets at optimum capacity

Most fridges have their coils in the rear section of the body.

Some manufacturers still put coils at the bottom of the unit.

It’s not uncommon to find a fridge with coils on the left side beneath the metal skin.

The location of coils aside, you don’t want them to be on the same side as your water heater.

To tell the location of the coils, let the fridge cool, then proceed to investigate the unit to locate areas that takes longer to cool – that’s where the coils are located

You don’t want any extra source of heat around your fridge – it can cause problems easily including momentary malfunctions and total failure

The warmth emanating from your water heater tends to compel the fridge to work extra hard to keep your food and drinks cold. This means the fridge will have to increase the amount of energy used per cycle.

The result of this increased energy demand is a bloated energy bill.

Even worse, this extra labor is more likely to shorten the lifespan of the system, meaning frequent repair or complete replacement within a short time.

Also, there may be problems with the angle oat which the fridge’s door opens

You want to ensure that the water heater doesn’t get in the way of the swing of the door.

If your fridge features angled handles, you probably can install it near your water heater, but you still need to bear in mind other factors.

  • If you must run these two units close to each other, the reasonable distance between them should be about 20 centimeters
  • Bosch, for example, advises installing their appliances a distance of 30 cm from any closest heat-generating appliance or anything that uses flammable materials as a fuel.
  • Zanussi recommends 50 cm
  • If you live in a small home but you still want these two to be installed close to each other to save some space, you can opt for one of the three recommended solutions
  • First, stick heat-insulating materials to the fridge’s wall (you can choose to go with Izolon PES or Fomisol
  • Secondly, you can install the fridge in a box.
  • The frame of your box will serve as a barrier and absorb the ‘heatstroke’ all itself.
  • Even better, it protects the body from greases, scratches, and all exterior abrasions that may come close during the regular repair and maintenance exercises on your water heater
  • Thirdly, you can put a sizeable screen or partition between the fridge and water heater
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