We really wish that those who design and build utility spaces understood that water heaters don’t last forever, and that they are not all equally well made.
Above left, there are two commercial water heaters, one behind the other, and two boilers, also one behind the other, and about a foot of space to pass between the two columns of equipment. We pity the poor technician who has to do ANYTHING to this equipment. Only the anorexic need apply. And if the tank or boiler in back need to be replaced, well, it’s going to be a big job.
The picture on the right is similar. Two commercial water heaters are tucked into a narrow room on the second floor of an apartment building. You can see the door in the background on the right. We’ve serviced these and we know that the tank in the rear is the better-made of the two. That means that if service were neglected, first the front tank would fail and be replaced, and then two years later, the rear tank would do the same and the front tank would have to be disconnected and drained to give access to the broken one.
A big part of a water heater replacement is labor. This adds significantly to the bill.