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  1. #1
    brianmiller's Avatar
    brianmiller Guest

    Default bathroom wall heater

    1950s home...are those wall mounted space heater in the bathrooms allowed by current code?

    thanks,

    Br

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Chicago IL
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    1,984

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    Don't know, don't care. Wrong question in my opinion. Codes aren't necessarily retroactive for something that 'has been' installed. If you found one of those new in the box and decided to install it today then there would probably be an issue.
    A more important concern is condition of the unit and wiring. I've seen those units in very good condition and others very rusted out. My guess is it depends on the humidity and ventilation in that bathroom over the years.
    - Did you run it, are the elements exposed or semi-covered, did it make noise when it ran, did it smell once it ran, did all elements glow or heat up, did you open the panel to look inside, filled with dust bunnies, etc?
    I usually recommend removal based on safety concerns, especially if the client has kids. Glowing red things and little fingers don't go well together. One can usually make a solid case for removal based on condition and safety concerns. However, I inspected a 1960's Condo not long ago, electric heaters in both bathrooms were in great shape, worked good, saw no reason to remove.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  3. #3
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    I give a few suggestions to my clients. 1. One is to always have the gas wall units checked for safety beyond what I do. 2. Remove it for safety. 3. At least take the handle/knob off so kids cannot mess with it.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chicago, IL
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    2,797

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    One thing I've learned about electric wall mounted bathroom heaters: especially if they do not appear to be original to the structure, try get behind them (for example, if they are installed in a knee wall) or whatever you need to do to check their power source whenever possible. These are often homeowner or handyman installed retrofits, and I've found them powered in all sorts of creative ways: taped to cut off extension cords, "fused" with 16 ga zip cord, powered off the junction box at recessed lights in the attic floor and... my personal favorite, found in a building I purchased for rehab....plugged into string of Christmas lights intended to be daisy-chained together and used to lengthen an equally ungrounded extension cord.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 09-27-2010 at 12:06 PM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Rockwall Texas
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    4,519

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I give a few suggestions to my clients. 1. One is to always have the gas wall units checked for safety beyond what I do. 2. Remove it for safety. 3. At least take the handle/knob off so kids cannot mess with it.
    Ted,

    About 99% of the older gas wall units on bathroom walls will also have copper material for the gas line which is not approved for use.

    rick


  6. #6
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Ted,

    About 99% of the older gas wall units on bathroom walls will also have copper material for the gas line which is not approved for use.

    rick
    Wow, I just signed in and there you are.

    The fact of the matter is that I find multiple issues with these wall heaters in baths and suggest they be removed for safety sake. I was being nice with the other suggestions. I am sure you saw me write a multitude of times that Realtors do not like me. It is because I just tell folks directly. Those wall units for the most part are unsafe in many ways and should be removed. I tell folks about countless things that they should do about many items. Some say it is not my job to do so. I tell them that I am hired to find concerns of all kinds in the potential future home of my client. It is also my job to suggest things to those people for safety sake or money savings. That is why I am hired. Some have told me that copper is OK in Texas because we have dry gas. I tell them it is unsafe in homes no matter what kind of gas we have. It is more easiliy corroded and or damaged that black pipe.

    Oh yeah...if you find an inspection in my neck of the woods....send it on over Things are just a we bit tight.


  7. #7
    Ana Nevada's Avatar
    Ana Nevada Guest

    Default Bathroom Heater

    The primary danger from a heater in the bathroom is electrocution. The humid environment coupled with the possibility of spilling water directly on the heater or knocking it into the bathtub or sink poses a safety hazard that can’t be ignored. Heaters made specifically for bathrooms are also built to handle high-humidity environments that might cause problems with standard units. In any case, heater in the bathroom should be placed as far from bathtubs or sinks as possible, and raised off the floor to avoid short circuits because of splashed water. Your bathroom can be the coldest room in your house especially if you have tile flooring and it can be tempting to use an electric space heater to keep things warm, but you need to take care when choosing a bathroom heater.

    Last edited by Ana Nevada; 11-15-2010 at 07:23 PM.

  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Bathroom Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Ana Nevada View Post
    The primary danger from a heater in the bathroom is electrocution. The humid environment coupled with the possibility of spilling water directly on the heater or knocking it into the bathtub or sink poses a safety hazard that canít be ignored. Heaters made specifically for bathrooms are also built to handle high-humidity environments that might cause problems with standard units. In any case, heater in the bathroom should be placed as far from bathtubs or sinks as possible, and raised off the floor to avoid short circuits because of splashed water. Your bathroom can be the coldest room in your house especially if you have tile flooring and it can be tempting to use an electric space heater to keep things warm, but you need to take care when choosing a heater for the bathroom.
    In Florida and then In Massachusetts I saw a lot of electric wall heaters in baths. In Texas I think I may have come across 1 or 2. About everything I run across in Texas is Gas wall units.


  9. #9
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    I usually see the old gas units that are not vented. When they are in use, you can smell the combustion products. I recommend removing or at least removing the gas connection.

    Darrel Hood
    DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    The Treasure Coast
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: bathroom wall heater

    I have seen a bunch of the electric ones. In most cases, the Client is going to remodel the bathroom and at that time, the units will be changed.
    The funny thing is, I have never found one that didn't work!

    Eric Van De Ven Magnum Inspections Inc. (772) 214-9929
    www.magnuminspections.com
    I still get paid to be suspicious when I got nothing to be suspicious about!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    ventura, ca
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: Bathroom Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Ana Nevada View Post
    The primary danger from a heater in the bathroom is electrocution. The humid environment coupled with the possibility of spilling water directly on the heater or knocking it into the bathtub or sink poses a safety hazard that canít be ignored. Heaters made specifically for bathrooms are also built to handle high-humidity environments that might cause problems with standard units.

    I don't agree with Ana's comment.
    If you are talking about an electric - hot element - wall heater (very popular in the 50's)
    The are typically considered a fire and injury (burn) hazard.
    I don't know a competent inspector who doesn't disclaim them, as everybody here appears to agree.

    However, I would be interested in what data supports Ana's claim regarding
    wall heaters and electrocution.
    Or maybe Ana is describing a portable (space heater) in which case I agree.
    But portable heaters are not part of any home inspection standard of practice that I know of - although if I saw one in a bathroom - I might consider a comment just for
    liability sake.

    mf

    Disclaimers are everything.
    After reading Ana's post - I'm writing my electrical appliance in a bathroom disclaimer.
    After all - as Ana has pointed out - look at the cord on any electrical bathroom
    appliance and you will see the makers - cautionary comment - a disclaimer.
    Then I'll quietly add it into the Topical Disclaimers and Report Limitations Section of my report. For you new inspectors or guys who haven't given it much thought.....I'd be happy to email you a copy.

    Matt Faust
    Real Estate Inspector

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