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  1. #1
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    Default Water Heater Clearanance?

    Bradford White water heater located at attic space next to return air duct. What is the minimum clearance? I'm thinking (5) inches from the front of the water heater casing but not for sure.

    Yeah, yeah, I noticed I spelled Clearance improperly. Why can't we edit the title's, Brian?

    Rick

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    MINIMUM CLEARANCES
    WARNING
    Failure to adhere to these installation and operating instructions may
    create a hazard to life and property and will nullify the warranty.
    This installation shall allow access to the front of the water heater and
    adequate clearance shall be provided for servicing and operating this water

    heater.
    This is from a Bradford White manual
    http://www.bradfordwhite.com/images/..._44219_00G.pdf


    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    ... AND ... no sediment trap on gas supply black pipe.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Nolan,

    You are correct, no sediment trap present.

    Also you can't see it in that picture, but in this one you can see that some water was in the pan below.

    rick

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearance?

    Rick,

    You get freezing temperatures there?

    The installation instructions Jim linked to state: (bold IS IN THE instructions)
    The location of this water heater is of the utmost importance. Before installing this water heater read the Installation section of these instructions. After reading these Installation and Operating Instructions, select a location for the water heater where the floor is level and is easily accessible to gas and water supply lines. DO NOT locate the water heater where water lines could be subjected to freezing temperatures. Make sure the cold water pipes are not located directly above the gas control so that condensate during humid weather does not drip on the controls.
    Regarding clearance, from the 2006 IRC.

    - P2801.3 Location.Water heaters and storage tanks shall be located and connected to provide access for observation, maintenance, servicing and replacement.


    No "provide access" dimension given, but that photo sure looks like it does not "provide access for" those listed actions.



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Nolan,

    You are correct, no sediment trap present.

    Also you can't see it in that picture, but in this one you can see that some water was in the pan below.

    rick
    Rick,

    Look at that pan drain connection, that fitting is not sealed to the pan, it is just loosely stuck through the pan into the coupling on the other side. That male adapter fitting tightened down into the coupling on the other side, but did not tighten down to the pan.

    Yep, water in the pan, that's why I wrote up water heaters setting down in the pan and not up on blocks of some kind to keep the water heater above the overflow level of the pan, otherwise the water heater will prematurely rust out. I referred to it as water heaters are not listed or labeled for being installed submerged (or partially-submerged) in water.

    I had a big go around with A. O Smith on that issue, their position is that, no, water heaters are NOT listed or labeled for being partially submerged, therefore (instead of requiring the water heater to be raised) their position is that if water gets in the pan that "someone is to immediately towel dry the water out of the pan". Yeah, right, like someone is watching it 24/7 *just in case* water gets in the pan.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    plumbing code requires a 30"x30" working space on the control side of a water heater. don't see it.


  8. #8
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Ah, now that wet piece of paper is a great idea. Now I won't have to listen to "I don't see any water in the photo."


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearance?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian schmitt View Post
    plumbing code requires a 30"x30" working space on the control side of a water heater. don't see it.
    The "plumbing code" does, but the IRC does not, and the "plumbing code" is not applicable.

    At least I looked for it in the IRC (because I thought it was there, used to be in the older codes) but could not find it.

    If it is in the IRC, please point that out to me, I looked and looked and ... well, could not find it.

    Thanks.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    what's irc?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian schmitt View Post
    what's irc?
    International Residential Code

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  12. #12
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian schmitt View Post
    what's irc?

    Brian

    Are you an ASHI graduate. They say 30 inches in front of a water heater. That is more than likely where you got that. Years ago I believe ITA taught that. Also just scanning around the net for different states they have particular requirement for working clearance in front of water heaters for services. I have seen 24 inches to 36 inches for clearance. There is a distance from combustibles for the hood and flue area and I guess you could use that.


    Yes you do need working space in front of any water heater for servicing the unit. That is going to depend on the area you are and the manufacturers installation. I do believe Rheem tankless require 2 feet in front of those units.

    Anyway you do need space and Ricks installatioin with a duct in front of it is more of a question of good building practices and it is just dumb and needs adjustment even if it is just turning the water heater to gain access to the working area.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    ted,
    the uniform plumbing code section 509.4.4 on appliances in attics states " a level working platform not less than 30 inches by 30 inches shall be provided in front of the service side of the appliance(nfpa 54:9.5.3). i don't think jp thinks this matters because it is not part of the ircdom! i don't feel the duct allows sufficient clearanance.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearance?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian schmitt View Post
    ted,
    the uniform plumbing code section 509.4.4 on appliances in attics states " a level working platform not less than 30 inches by 30 inches shall be provided in front of the service side of the appliance(nfpa 54:9.5.3). i don't think jp thinks this matters because it is not part of the ircdom! i don't feel the duct allows sufficient clearanance.

    i don't think jp thinks this matters because it is not part of the ircdom!
    Oh, JP KNOWS it matters ... in CALIFORNIA ... but Rick is in TEXAS, which is IRCdom.

    Do I think the photo shows "adequate" space for servicing? Guess you did not READ my post, did you? (underlining and red text are added)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    No "provide access" dimension given, but that photo sure looks like it does not "provide access for" those listed actions.
    Sheesh, I don't mind getting kicked when *I* screw up, but when *YOU* can't read?

    Next question: Do I think that 30" is sufficient and adequate clearance for water heaters ... *ALL* water heaters?

    Not only do I think it is insufficient working space, but I KNOW it is insufficient working space? Why, because I asked about *ALL* water heaters and that includes "electric" water heaters, and "electric" water heaters REQUIRE 36" by 30" working space.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Jerry,

    I had to make a second trip back to the house today so I checked out the drain line connection at the drain pan. You were correct. It was loose as a goose. If that pan had any sigificant water it would have leaked at that loose connection.

    Thanks again,
    Rick


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    jp,
    thanks for the clarification. the uniform mechanical code(section 305) states almost the same requirement verbaitum. yes, i know it is na in ircdom but it can be used to present a case.thanks again.


  17. #17
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Jerry,

    I had to make a second trip back to the house today so I checked out the drain line connection at the drain pan. You were correct. It was loose as a goose. If that pan had any sigificant water it would have leaked at that loose connection.

    Thanks again,
    Rick

    And you would have been in big twubble


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Ted,

    Probably not. See when the plumber had to move the water heater away from the return duct he would have to relocate that pan also which would necessitate disconnecting the drain line from the pan and then re-securing them.

    rick


  19. #19
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Ted,

    Probably not. See when the plumber had to move the water heater away from the return duct he would have to relocate that pan also which would necessitate disconnecting the drain line from the pan and then re-securing them.

    rick

    Ah yes. The old Plumber did it. Actually he did in the beginning.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    Did you get the code on the control? Two or three batches of them are on recall (silent).

    Doesn't the manufacturer reference the National Fuel Gas Code (NFPA 54) regarding required clearances, etc. for installation? I believe that was a valid reference.

    Most have several labels on them that reference installation and clearance warnings for operation. Covering those instructions and cautions would be of issue - part of accessibility is the ability to get to and read those labels.

    Realistic Servicing clearance would be the "man zone" plus the diameter of the cover plus about 2-6 inches to remove the burner and run a cleaning brush. Air path for combustion air and volume also outlined in NFPA 54.

    I do not believe a sediment or drip leg on the black pipe is required at the water heater if that was the highest point of the gas supply, since this is an attic install that may well be the case (in other words, likely not required but would be required below where the riser is).


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearanance?

    I believe the sediment trap is required after the service valve and as close as practical to the equipment.

    G2419.4 Sediment trap. Where a sediment trap is not incorporated as part of the gas utilization equipment, a sediment trap shall be installed downstream of the equipment shutoff valve as close to the inlet of the equipment as practical.

    Last edited by Jim Luttrall; 03-12-2009 at 07:19 PM.
    Jim Luttrall
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Water Heater Clearance?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    I do not believe a sediment or drip leg

    Correct on the drip leg as it would serve not purpose up there, but the sediment trap is required.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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