Water heaters are a gift of the modern world. Who doesn’t love a hot shower? However, water heaters can be tricky to install and inspect if you aren’t accompanied by a professional.
Any repair or renovation comes with codes, requirements and violations that are typically dictated by your city or county. Whether you’re a business owner wondering if your current water heater is up to code or you’re a homeowner in the middle of renovations, you’ll want to know whether your water heater is up to code, especially if you’ve just spent $1,176 on a new water heater, which is the average cost for one nationally.
Ensuring your water heater is up to code is important for your safety as well as the health of your wallet. Unsafe or improperly installed waters heaters can cause serious injury or extensive property damage that could cost you money in repairs down the line. That being said, let’s take a look at water heater codes, requirements and common violations.
Water Heater Codes
Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, it’s important to stay up to date on water heater codes to avoid any violations. These codes typically take your safety, the safety of your home or business and the safety of the environment into consideration.
Temperature: If you have a tankless water heater in your home, the temperature of its water cannot be over 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Your water heater must have automatic temperature controls that are able to switch to the lowest temperature possible, the highest temperature possible and any temperature in between. Your hot water heater must also have a warning label that relates the severe dangers of water temperatures above 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drain valve: If your water heater has a tank, a drain valve needs to be installed in the bottom of the tank. Drain valves perform the necessary function of allowing water vapor to escape when water reaches a certain level. The drain valve inlet has to be a minimum of 3/4 of an inch, and the outlet should have male garden hose threads.
Water heater supports: If your International Building Code has earthquake load as applicable, then water heater supports must be installed on your water heater.
Discharge piping: If the discharge pipe of your hot water heater serves a temperature or pressure relief valve, then it must not be connected to your drainage systems, and it must not have valves or tee fittings.
Shutdown: If you have an electric hot water system, you have to have a way to directly shut off its energy supply, and for all other water heaters, you must have a way to shut down their energy sources.
Vacuum relief valve: You must have a vacuum relief valve installed if you have a bottom-fed water heater. These valves allow air to automatically enter pipes, preventing vacuum-like conditions that can damage the system.
Siphoning: You must have a way to prevent siphoning of your water heater. Otherwise, your tank will continually empty of hot water, wasting money on your utilities, and it can also cause your elements to burn out.
Water circulation: The connection between your water heater and its tank should promote proper water circulation.
Cold water line valve: A valve must provide your hot water heater with the cold water branch line that comes from your main water supply.
Location: Water heaters and hot water storage tanks must be installed in an area that allows access to them for repairs and replacement. You must also have your water heater and/or hot water storage tank in a location that does not prevent the replacement or repair of other appliances or any nearby pipes.
Labeling: Water heaters must be third-party certified.
Pressure marking: Your water heater must have its highest allowable working pressure clearly marked on the outside.
Clearances: Clearances should be provided on the sides and rear of each appliance to comply with the manufacturer’s installation instructions or a minimum of 3 inches, whichever is greater.
Water Heater Requirements
Water heater requirements can be tricky to navigate because they can differ depending on the size of your water heater and where your water heater is located. If you aren’t sure about the requirements for your particular brand of water heater, there’s no harm in contacting an experienced professional to conduct an inspection.
If a professional is installing or replacing your water heater for you, make sure they have a firm understanding of what requirements come along with your brand of water heater. Below is a list of possible water heater requirements.
Uniform energy factor (UEF) metric: In 2017, manufacturers were mandated to label their water heaters with information regarding their water heater’s energy efficiency in the form of standardized efficiency metrics.
Gallons held: Water heaters that hold less than 55 gallons need to be installed with three extra inches around the whole heater. Water heaters that hold 55 gallons or more and are electric models must have hybrid electric heat pumps. Water heaters that hold 55 gallons or more and are gas models must be the condensing water design.
Expansion tank: If your backflow is blocked between your house and your main water supply, then an expansion tank is typically required. This is to prevent the increased pressure from the heating of water from putting stress on your water heater.
Drip pan: A drip pan is recommended and sometimes required to be installed beneath your hot water heater. If your hot water heater is in your home or basement and you fail to have a drip pan installed, you could face severe water damage from leakage.
Pressure and temperature valve: Depending on the area you live in, your pressure and temperature valve may need to be piped to the exterior in order to prevent dangerous accidents.
Energy efficiency: Over the years, there have been changes to hot water heater requirements in order to promote energy efficiency. Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) are an energy-efficient alternative to water heaters that are electric-resistance.
Let’s take a look at the most common violations when it comes to water heater codes. That way, you’ll know what violations to look for first! You’ll also know whether you’re working with an experienced professional if that professional does not have knowledge of common violations and how to avoid them.
Vents and Connectors
Any vents or connectors surrounding your water heater must have sufficient room to breathe. Oftentimes, people want to use up as much space as possible in their homes, but it can be dangerous to not allow 1-6 inches between combustibles, depending on the type of vent or connector.
If wet gas is in use with your water heater, then a sediment trap must be installed to catch the sediment in the natural gas before it can enter the system. Some people think drip legs and sediment traps are the same, but they are not when it comes to code violations. It’s best to let a skilled professional install your sediment trap.
Plug and Cord
The plugs and cords used to install a water heater must be compatible with your make and model. People who install water heaters sometimes use generic cords and plugs that are not safe to use with their make and model, and this can result is a fire hazard.
Water Heater Pressure and Temperature Relief
Temperature and pressure relief valves are often installed incorrectly. These valves are especially important to have installed properly because they need to activate the drain in case water becomes to hot or the water pressure gets too high. In worst-case scenarios, water heaters can explode. Anything that causes excessive pressure to build up in your system can lead to this terrifying occurrence, so it’s essential to make sure heat and pressure can escape.
Pans and Drains
If you’re confused about pans and drains, you’re not alone. If you’re installing a replacement water heater, a drain does not need to be installed if there wasn’t a drain in the first place. However, a pan must be installed in a water heater that is located in an area where a leak could cause substantial damage, even if there wasn’t a pan installed in the first place.
Although an expansion tank is not required for every hot water heater, a means to control the increased pressure caused by the heating of water must be in place. An expansion tank isn’t the only means to control this increased pressure, which is why people often get confused about whether they need to install it or not. It’s best to ask a professional installer whether an expansion tank is your best option for pressure regulation.
When you or a professional install your water heater, the draft-hood that comes with the water heater must be the draft-hood that is installed. Sometimes installers will use an old draft-hood on a new water heater or they won’t use the method described in the instructions that come with the water heater to install the draft-hood. Any of these alterations can constitute a violation and worse yet, endanger people or property.
Homes are less leaky than they used to be, which is good for some things but not so good for keeping high enough levels of combustion air. Combustion air is needed around a hot water heater in order to ventilate it. Since homes don’t naturally promote higher levels of combustion air anymore, the proper amount of combustion air has to be promoted by the installer of the water heater.
Water heaters with plastic vents are popular. These plastic vents need to be supported in order for them to be able to slope and drain any condensation that might build up in them.
Vent and Vent-Connector Clearance
The two types of vents and vent-connectors are often confused. One is the B-vent and the other is the single-wall vent. B-vents only require one inch between them and combustibles, while single-wall vents require six inches between them and combustibles.
The Benefits of Working With Dick Ray Master Plumber
Whether you’re looking for someone to repair your water heater or install a new water heater for you, Dick Ray Master Plumber has the skill and the expertise to ensure you receive the best service possible. We want you to have hot water, and we want you and your home or business to be safe at the same time.
TPRV Pipe Installation
Temperature and pressure relief valve pipes (TPRV) are often installed incorrectly. However, the correct installation of these pipes is very important for your safety. More specifically, the pipe between the temperature and pressure relief valve and the discharge point needs to stay open at all times. There are 14 different criteria that need to be meant to allow this pipe to stay open, which is why we recommend the installer of your water heater be an experienced professional familiar with the full range of safety regulations.
We’ve been in business since 1941, so we’ve had experience with more plumbing mishaps and installation journeys than you can imagine! The following are services that we consider our specialties after decades in the plumbing business:
Heating and air conditioning service, repair, and installation
Locating freon leaks
Humidifier service, repair, and installation
Leaky showers rebuilt
Repairs with our backhoe and dump truck
Sewer gas leaks and odors
Hydrozion auger or directional boring
Repairs to piping under concrete floors
Plumbing repairs and installation
Repiping water lines
Carbon monoxide testing
Sewer cleaning and repairs
Septic system repairs
Boiler service and installation
Water heaters and garbage disposers
Pipe thawing and freeze protection
Emergency pumps and generators
Diamond core drilling equipment
Gas leak detection and repair
Underground gas piping
Backflow device testing
Water softening and purification
Pump installation or repairs
Furnace and air-conditioning maintenance plans
Because of our long history, we’ve been able to build up the number of services we provide through the years. The following is a list of those services:
Heating and cooling
Air conditioning repair
Heating system repair
Sump pump services
Septic tank replacement
Liquid waste management services
Grease trap/interceptor services
Water heater repair
Drain cleaning and rooter
If you want friendly and fast service for your water heater, schedule an appointment today with Dick Ray Master Plumber. You can also fill out a contact form here or give us a call at 913-888-0550.
Want to learn more about us and what we do? Check out our blog, our list of testimonials and our special offers on services like inspections as well as heat and air systems installation. We want to give you a service experience that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations.
Your water heater is an important feature of your business or home, so let us help you take care of it. We can’t wait to hear from you!