Water Heater Installed Sideways

One of the ways to void your water heater warranty is to install it incorrectly. Today we are showing you one of the ways how not to do it!

A. O. Smith water heaters come with bottom inlets, one of the most energy-efficient designs because it allows for the hottest water at the top of the tank to be drawn out reliably.

See: Why are side outlets less efficient?

Below are the front and side views of a cylindrical water heater tank which is installed correctly. Cold water flows in from the inlet on the right. A heating element heats up the water and the hottest water rises to the top as it is less dense than cold water. Hot water is then drawn out from the outlet.

What happens when you fix your heater incorrectly?

When you fix your heater incorrectly, the outlets and inlets which are straight horizontal tubes get tilted at a 90-degree angle. Water is still drawn out from the outlet as usual but in this scenario, you won’t always get access to the hottest water at the top of the tank. Even if your entire tank is full of hot water, you will be utilizing perhaps only up to 50% of your tank!

On an (important) side note, wall brackets that come with an AOS heater are as its name suggests, wall brackets and not ceiling brackets. Mounting a heater to the ceiling is a huge safety hazard!

There is certainly more than one way to fix your heater incorrectly but we received the most requests on this one. Coincidentally, this explanation also helps make clear the concept of how hot water is drawn out.

Have an installation question you’ve always wanted to ask? Write to us at sales@aosbath.com and we’ll be glad to help!

Why are side outlets less efficient?

The side outlet is a usually a bent tube screwed into the side of the tank. While twisting the outlet to fit and securing it tightly, it is hard to control the exact location of the tip of the outlet.

If the outlet tube’s highest point is not at the top of the tank in the 100% efficient position, users will not get the hottest water from the heater either.



Amanda is an education specialist at AOS Bath. She enjoys building a trusted network by sharing knowledge. Making difficult concepts simple and engaging is rewarding, on both ends.