Is Your Water Heater up to Code?

A water heater.Plumbing codes exist for a reason. Most codes are in place to protect homeowners from dangerous situations such as fire, explosions, and catastrophic leaks. Water heater installations must follow guidelines and be permitted and inspected. 

In order for a water heater to be up to code there are a few rules that MUST be followed:

  • All water heaters must have a safety pan underneath them which will be piped to the exterior of the home. The ONLY exception to this is if the water heater is in a land locked closet in the middle of the home. In this case a boiler drain would be attached to the pan and a hose connected for drainage.
  • Water heaters located in garages or in an area exposing them to combustible gases must be elevated 18″ off of the ground. This can be done by a built up floor or a pre-made stand. We use our construction skills to hand craft these out of lumber.
  • All gas water heaters shall have a minimum of one inch clearance between the vent pipe and combustible materials. (i.e. dry wall or insulation) The vent pipe must be double walled from the ceiling to the point where the pipe goes through the roof.
  • Adequate combustion air shall be in place. This means a vent in the ceiling and a vent near the bottom of the closet must be in place to allow air circulation.
  • Gas valves shall be located where they can be easily accessed and must be quarter turned ball valves.
  • Gas water heaters must have coated stainless steel flex lines between the shut off valves and the regulators. The coating is to prevent damage to the flex line.
  • All water heaters must be equipped with a temperature/pressure relief valve (T&P). This is a safety measure that will activate if the temperature in the water heater gets too hot. If the T&P gets too high the valve will open allowing it to be relieved.
  • The T&P valve must be piped out of the home where it will be visible. This will cause the homeowner to notice water coming from the line alerting them of a problem.
  • The T&P relief line must be pitched downward and fitted with a union so that it can be easily disassembled and repaired.
  • Flex lines shall not be permitted on T&P lines. The pipe for the T&P must be a full ¾” in diameter and corrugated flex lines reduce the inside diameter.
  • The top of the vent pipe must have a cap to keep rain out and reduce the effect of wind blowing over and causing the pilot light to go out.

Water heater safety can be a life and death situation not to be taken lightly. As homeowners it is our responsibility to take care of our homes and our families.

Is your water heater up to code? If you are not sure or just need peace of mind give us a call (972) 424-6479 and one of our licensed, qualified plumbers will be happy to inspect it for you.

Photo Credit: Danny Skinner

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