The heat pump is in there too, I think is the word, not the compressor for the A/C but the rest. I will not, I don’t think, get the water heater out to install a new one without tearing up the door jamb and part of the drywall. Morons, I tell you.
The first phrase that comes to mind is “well, they got it in there somehow…”
Realize that you can bust it up, to some degree, to get it out. You can move the heat pump or whatever temporarily to make room. Maybe just taking the door off the hinges can make enough room. If you hire someone decent, I can guarantee they’ve seen this before.
I don’t understand it, but it happens. The house I bought had a water heater in the attic with no way to get it out if it failed. And of course it failed and ruined the laundry room ceiling. So not only did I have to repair the damage and get a new water heater, I had to find somewhere else in the house to put it and plumb the hot water pipes to it. And, being who I am, it also grated on my nerves that this useless piece of junk was in my attic and I had no way of removing it.
Eventually, I made some built-in cabinets for a bonus room above the garage. The bonus room was on the same plane as the attic, so when I made a huge cavity in the kneewalls, I was able to finagle the dormant water heater out and carry it out to the curb for trash pickup. It was raining that night. Once I got it out there, I threw my arms up in the arm under the streetlight and felt like Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption after he emerged from the sewer.
Often, homes constructed today, like many vehicles, are made to be functional when new but not easily repaired. After it’s purchased and the warranty runs out, then it’s the owner’s problem.
It is not unusual for water heaters and/or HVAC air handling units to be installed after the house is weather tight but before sheet rock or finished millwork is installed and apparently your builder failed to consider future maintenance/replacements. The only advice I can offer is that whatever tear out and repair you complete, make some alterations to accommodate for future repair.
At my work we have a very, very small bathroom. The water heater is in the bathroom. When we redid the bathroom and enclosed the (new) water heater we knew the opening was too small to get it out. But we’re the ‘cross that bridge when we come to it’ type. Plus, multiple people there that can handle dismantling a little bit of structure to get it out.
My suggestion (even though, or maybe because I’m one of those handymen) is that when it eventually dies we just leave it there and stick a tankless one in there with it.
You have a solution so this is moot, but if it was me…If it’s one of those little one inch wide filters that the installers fabricated a slot next to the furnace for, I’d cut a hole in the other side or the top and close up the original one. If there’s actually filter in the box, like this (the white box in the middle where the filter goes is a separate piece, added on during the install), you could take it off and flip it around so the filter comes out the back or replace it with one there it comes out of the side.
I’m sure there’s another ‘proper’ way to do it, but the why my furnace is set up (filter out the back, incidentally), that’s what I would do.
Of course, yours might not have the space to do it.
ETA, if you ever have any work done on the AC that involves evacuating the refrigerant, that would be the time to ask them to reroute the lineset and get them out of the way.
Putting a water heater in the attic isn’t a bad plan if it’s implemented properly. i.e. knowing it will eventually have to be removed and replaced. Mount it in a properly plumbed drain pan in case the eventual failure is a leak.
It’s zero to low maintenance for the first umpteen years generally.
It produces almost no load for the air conditioner being outside of the insulated area.
It’s not taking up living or closet space.
This was the solution my dad and I came up with to remove the water heater in my house when it failed a year or so after I moved in.
When I came home to find flooding in the basement, and the sound of continuously running water, I actually had to follow the water lines to find the tank. There’s a full bathroom in the basement, and the tank was built into a cavity between the bathtub and the exterior wall. We spent an evening going at it with a power saw to cut away the exterior casing and insulation, and the inner tank was just small enough to squeeze out through the opening. At least they left the wall panel unattached, so we just had to pop it out.
I paid quite a lot to completely re-position the new tank, and when it failed this year, replacement was far easier.
It’s a cramped utility closet with the whole fan-heatpump system flush to the back wall, flush to the ceiling, with the supports underneath preventing any other access. And it’s only the incoming pipes that are in the way. The outgoing pipes are nicely straight with ninety degree bends sending them along supports, walls and floors. The incoming pipes hang in lazy arch over the top of the water heater.