View Full Version : Bollard Placement for Water Heater Protection

Gar Durant
05-27-2011, 05:12 PM
Hello. First post anywhere. Constructive criticism appreciated.

The local building department's website suggests specifications for a bollard to protect a water heater. However, it does not suggest location of the bollard relative to the water heater. When going through the related threads at this site, I noted one non-precise dimensional spec for locating the bollard a minimum of 18" from the water heater. In photos I have seen, the bollard location varies from maybe 18" from the water heater to almost right up against it.

Can anyone give a generally accepted distance, or distance range, of the bollard from the water heater? An explanation of why that distance is most effective would be educational.

Thanks for considering this question.

Bruce Ramsey
05-27-2011, 06:01 PM
The code book is silent relative to placement of the bollard. The idea is to keep you from driving over the appliance.

Most water heaters and HVAC equipment have manufacturers instructions regarding clearance and accessibility. It the bollard blocks access panels, then that is too close. Too far away and you have wasted your garage space.

How tall is the bollard? The water heater /appliance is going to be sitting on an 18 inch platform so if the bollard is only 18 inches high it would not block access for servicing but may be too low to strike a vehicle bumper.

The answer is close enough to give you maximum garage space but far enough away so the appliance can be serviced or replaced.

Bruce King
05-27-2011, 06:04 PM
Placement is only limited as long as it protects the water heater from a vehicle. Common sense would prevent the bollard from taking away garage space where certain vehicles would no longer fit.

Most bollards are not imbedded in a proper concrete "cube" and just stuck into the ground with 4 inches of concrete around them. Even when properly filled with concrete they will probably lean over if hit hard with a vehicle.

Gar Durant
05-27-2011, 06:22 PM
Thanks, Bruce Ramsey.
That helps.
The post will be 36" high. The water heater is in the left back corner of the garage. Given that access panels are not blocked, does it sound OK to locate the bollard just off the right front corner of the stand?

Gar Durant
05-27-2011, 06:33 PM
Thanks also Bruce King.
Yes, this will be a surface mounted bollard, accepted by local code, bolted to the 4" garage floor slab.
A related question is that the building department sketch of the bollard shows a 1/2" thick base plate. The ones I've found so far have a 3/8" plate. Do you know of a manufacturer who provides a 4 x 36 standard bollard with a 1/2" plate?

Scott Patterson
05-28-2011, 09:25 AM
I my area the AHJ's want the bollard to be in front of the gas line. They want the gas pipe protected.

Gar Durant
05-28-2011, 11:56 AM
Thanks Scott.

In my case with the water heater in the left back corner of the garage, the gas line comes out from the back wall between the left side wall and the water heater.
I understand you to say that I should locate the bollard at the left front corner of the stand rather than the right front as I suggested before. The distance out from the water heater should be sufficient to allow access to the line, valve and fittings.

Did I get that OK? A further question. Since the car would be coming from the right and the bollard would be between the car and the gas line in either case, is the difference in location between the left front corner and right front corner of the stand significant?

Much thanks if you can clarify that for me.

H.G. Watson, Sr.
05-28-2011, 06:38 PM
The bollard must not enroach upon the service-ability of the unit, the gas line, the shutoff valve, the sediment trap, etc. accessibility to the shield, the burner, the flue, the appliance connector, the vent, the anode(s) not restrict or prevent full inspection, testing, cleaning, maintenance or servicing, of same; nor ready removal and/or replacement of those componants or the entire unit itself, should the unit require replacement, It must not encroach upon required clearances, or airflow. Further not create a situation which makes accessing safely to shut down the unit should there be a necessary emergent need to do so (run-away) keep in mind access path to gas valve(s) regards to TPRV discharge.

The TPRV discharge must also be protected from damage - yet visable and detectable.

If upon a platform - the platform supporting the Water Heater needs to be protected from vehicle contact/damage not just the water heater itself.


A wall or half-wall works. Consider you may likely need more than one bollard to protect a corner.

Gar Durant
05-28-2011, 09:44 PM
Thanks H.G.
Appreciate the new emphasis on accessibility. I’ll put a mockup in trial locations and try to dry-run the various activities. I think in this installation, the discharge is protected by location and we will try to protect the stand and water heater as a unit.
The garage is a narrow one-car garage that limits the angle of approach of the vehicle to the water heater. I can try simulating possible collision paths. It seems to me that in this garage, one bollard can probably make a good defense. Do you think that a valid hunch?
Thanks also for introducing me to HTH. Because of you, Google and Wikipedia, I’m now ignorant about one less thing.

H.G. Watson, Sr.
05-28-2011, 11:21 PM
You're welcome.

Not so sure about your referenced method of installation. The Water Heater, Gas Line, etc. must also not be subject to damage if for example the bollard falls, for example due to seismic activity.

You *might* also consider, since you seem to have a tight space, a curb-stop for the vehicle.

Garry Sorrells
05-29-2011, 08:05 AM
If the bollard was placed in the center of the garage door opening the that would meet the requirements for protection would it not?

Sure you couldn't get the car in, but that was not the question.

H.G. Watson, Sr.
05-29-2011, 11:13 PM
If the bollard was placed in the center of the garage door opening the that would meet the requirements for protection would it not?

Sure you couldn't get the car in, but that was not the question.

No it would not.

If the only motor vehicles were cars
if the only vehicles were motorized

Trailers backed in, say for boat or snow mobile storage, how about a motorcycle "vehicle"? How about Jr. riding in on a (peddle) bike? What about a "golf cart"? Rider mower/Lawn tractor?

I've seen the damage a battery powered mobility "scooter" can do which includes taking out strapped WH on a stand, backed into same at just the wrong speed and angle.

If subject to damage, adequate barriers must be installed. (CPC 508.14)

Some light reading: Best protection for garage water heater | Inman News (http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/barrystone/best-protection-garage-water-heater)

Garry Sorrells
05-30-2011, 06:03 AM
Just being silly stupid.

I find it interesting that there is even a question about protecting a H2O heater in a garage.
Reasonable people would protect themselves & equipment. Code or no code to tell them to.

Jerry Peck
05-30-2011, 06:26 AM
Placement is only limited as long as it protects the water heater from a vehicle. Common sense would prevent the bollard from taking away garage space where certain vehicles would no longer fit.

The bollard needs to be installed where it protects the appliance from vehicle damage, regardless of where the bollard falls in the vehicle parking area.

If that requires the bollard to fall in the vehicle parking area, then "common sense" would be to not have installed the appliance where it was installed.

You do not *not protect* the appliance because there is no room for the bollard, if that happens then you relocate the appliance to a different location - that is "common sense". :)

Gar Durant
06-02-2011, 12:03 AM
Thanks H.G. for the further comments and to Jerry Peck for reminding about location as providing either protection or exposure. Thanks, in general, to all those who contributed helpful comments. I feel a little better prepared to interpret California 2010 Plumbing Code’s 508.14 instruction that the water heater “shall be located or protected so it is not subject to any physical damage by a moving vehicle.”

This Inspection News site provides a great service.