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  1. #1
    phil kaznowski's Avatar
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    Default Electric water heaters

    In California are electric water heaters required to be 18" off the ground (lower thermostat) in garages? If so, please site reference.

    Thank you,

    Phil K.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    This is probably very location specific but the 18" rule in the IRC is only included in the fuel gas section so it does not technically apply to electric water heaters.

    I have two electric ones sitting on my garage floor, 2001 build.

    Can someone verify the code section, I am relying on memory here.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    This is the one thing many people have problem understanding. It is assumed by many that an electric water heater is not an issue being on the garage floor. What they forget (code or not code) is the simple science that gasoline vapors can ignite not only from a ignition source from a pilot on a gas water heater but also from an electrical arc from the startup of an electric water heater.

    Gas fumes could care less whether it is a Gas water heater or an Electric water heater. Its going to light up if it has the opportunity.

    Hope your loved ones are not in the home when it occurs.

    rick


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    This is the one thing many people have problem understanding. It is assumed by many that an electric water heater is not an issue being on the garage floor. What they forget (code or not code) is the simple science that gasoline vapors can ignite not only from a ignition source from a pilot on a gas water heater but also from an electrical arc from the startup of an electric water heater.

    Gas fumes could care less whether it is a Gas water heater or an Electric water heater. Its going to light up if it has the opportunity.

    Hope your loved ones are not in the home when it occurs.

    rick
    All the same. most elements are up the side of the tank, so above the floor more than 18 inches.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 05-23-2009 at 09:39 AM. Reason: I stand corrected, mine is ONLY 12".

  6. #6
    Bob Spermo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Bruce,

    Unless I am reading the IRC incorrectly the part that addresses appliance elevations in the garage is M1307.3 which is the General Mechanical Section not the gas fuel section. It says appliances having an ignition source shall be elevated. I guess the only question is - is a water heater an appliance? The IRC definition of appliance - a device or apparatus that is manufactured and designed to utilize energy and for which this code provides specific requirements. I think one could make the argument that an electric water heater in the garage should be elevated.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    All the same. most elements are up the side of the tank, so above the floor more than 18 inches.
    John,

    Measure your water heater's bottom element height.

    Unless you have a weird water heater the bottom element *is not* even close to 18" above the floor. The bottom element in our electric water heater is about 10" above the platform it sets on (because I had it raised on an 18" high stand, it no longer sets on the floor).

    By definition in the IRC:
    - IGNITION SOURCE. A flame, spark or hot surface capable of igniting flammable vapors or fumes. Such sources include appliance burners, burner ignitions and electrical switching devices.

    Then, it is not just in "gas", it is also in the Mechanical section:
    - M1307.3 Elevation of ignition source. Appliances having an ignition source shall be elevated such that the source of ignition is not less than 18 inches (457 mm) above the floor in garages. For the purpose of this section, rooms or spaces that are not part of the living space of a dwelling unit and that communicate with a private garage through openings shall be considered to be part of the garage.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    So, if the ignition source is 10" above the base of the appliance, then the platform would only have to be 8" tall.

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    So, if the ignition source is 10" above the base of the appliance, then the platform would only have to be 8" tall.
    Yep.

    But all manufactured platforms I've seen were 18" high, making the ignition point elevated to greater than 18" as required. I doubt a manufacturer would want to make a shorter platform based on not knowing what is to be installed on it, then having complaints about their platform being too short.

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    John,

    Measure your water heater's bottom element height.

    Unless you have a weird water heater the bottom element *is not* even close to 18" above the floor. The bottom element in our electric water heater is about 10" above the platform it sets on (because I had it raised on an 18" high stand, it no longer sets on the floor).

    By definition in the IRC:
    - IGNITION SOURCE. A flame, spark or hot surface capable of igniting flammable vapors or fumes. Such sources include appliance burners, burner ignitions and electrical switching devices.

    Then, it is not just in "gas", it is also in the Mechanical section:
    - M1307.3 Elevation of ignition source. Appliances having an ignition source shall be elevated such that the source of ignition is not less than 18 inches (457 mm) above the floor in garages. For the purpose of this section, rooms or spaces that are not part of the living space of a dwelling unit and that communicate with a private garage through openings shall be considered to be part of the garage.
    I sorta agree with what Jerry has posted but only if there is an arcing or sparking part such as a contact that open and closes that is less the 18" above the floor..

    We put our water heaters in the basement where they belong in my area.
    Or in a first floor utility room in the few slab on grade homes.
    Due to cold temps in this region a water heater in the garage would be silly.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    The City of Dallas has issued what they consider proper installation of electric water heaters in the garae. Stick 'em on the floor but you better protect it from damage!!!

    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Larson View Post
    I sorta agree with what Jerry has posted but only if there is an arcing or sparking part such as a contact that open and closes that is less the 18" above the floor..

    Such as arcing contacts at bottom elements ... right?

    We've all seen elements burned up from arcing at the terminal screws. They *ARE* "ignition sources".

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Such as arcing contacts at bottom elements ... right?

    We've all seen elements burned up from arcing at the terminal screws. They *ARE* "ignition sources".
    Perhaps but as far as I know terminal screws are not considered arcing and sparking parts.

    If you can provide some clarity on this issue it would be appreciated.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    We've all seen elements burned up from arcing at the terminal screws.
    Are you saying you have NEVER seen water heater elements with burned and arced terminals at the elements?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Larson View Post
    Perhaps but as far as I know terminal screws are not considered arcing and sparking parts.

    If you can provide some clarity on this issue it would be appreciated.
    Does that mean you do not remove those covers and look?

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Here is an excerpt from the Dallas TX interpretation:

    An electric water heater installed in a garage does not need to be elevated. (Manufactures state that an “electric water heater have no ignition source.”)


    As I said, it depends on your area.

    An elevated gas water heater is way more dangerous than an electric one sitting on the floor. I always think about a kid swinging on the gas line until it leaks and then going inside the house because it now "stinks in the garage".


  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Receptacles, water heaters, anything than can overheat, melt from such, cause an arc, anything at all that can be an ignition source, I write up as in need of repair, moving, what ever.

    If anyone wishes to think about it.....why do we now have arc fault breakers for the home.....Could it be due to a faulty connection *arcing* and a possible fire hazard....I guess there is no more to think about now is there.

    If it can heat up, arc, spark, call it what ever you wish, if it is in a garage it needs to be 18 inches off of the floor as far as I am concerned


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Burnett View Post
    The City of Dallas has issued what they consider proper installation of electric water heaters in the garae. Stick 'em on the floor but you better protect it from damage!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce King View Post
    Here is an excerpt from the Dallas TX interpretation:

    An electric water heater installed in a garage does not need to be elevated. (Manufactures state that an “electric water heater have no ignition source.”)

    From an American Water heater installation instructions ( http://www.americanwaterheater.com/s.../res-elect.pdf ), page 4, top left: (bold is theirs)
    - Location Requirements
    - - Site location
    - - - Select a location near the center of the water piping system. It must be installed indoors and in a vertical position on a level surface.
    - - - The water heater should be located in an area not subject to freezing temperatures. Water heaters located in unconditioned spaces (i.e., attics, basements, etc.) May require the water piping and drain piping to be insulated to protect against freezing. The drain and controls must be easily accessible for operation and service.
    - - - Do not use this water heater in conjunction with a spa or hot tub.
    - - - Note: Local codes and requirements in your area may require the installation of your water heater be accomplished in a way that the bottom element is elevated from the floor at least 18 inches.

    "Note: Local codes and requirements in your area may require the installation of your water heater be accomplished in a way that the bottom element is elevated from the floor at least 18 inches."


    NOT ALL water heater manufacturers state what Texas says. Guess you Texas guys need to read the installation instructions and, if the water heater installation instructions do not state “electric water heater have no ignition source.”, then that Texas/Dallas/Wherever-in-Texas says that would not apply. It that is the reason given, and that reason does not exist, then the exemption does not exist.

    By the way, is there really a water heater manufacturer who will state that in writing? With their attorneys' permission and knowledge? I seriously doubt it, that would be grounds for a lawsuit if there ever was a problem. Those manufacturers are smart boys, and their attorneys are smart boys, they are not going to state something will would raise a lawsuit from minor dollars to major dollars just to say it *OUR WATER HEATERS *DO* *NOT* NEED TO BE RAISED* - that would be just plain stupid and dumb.

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Gerry,

    You're digging a hole and being insulting at the same time.

    bye

    P.S. go back and rad my post.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Larson View Post
    Gerry,

    You're digging a hole and being insulting at the same time.

    bye

    P.S. go back and rad my post.

    Mikel,

    Not digging a hole, simply pointing out that the manufacturers don't say that, at least not all, and probably none of them.

    Who am I insulting? The Texas officials who wrote that document? Yes, I am. The manufacturers who do not say that their electric water heaters are not ignition sources? Nope, they are right. Anyone who writes a document that silly when the manufacturers and the code says otherwise is due being insulted - they have earned.

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Mikel,

    Not digging a hole, simply pointing out that the manufacturers don't say that, at least not all, and probably none of them.

    Who am I insulting? The Texas officials who wrote that document? Yes, I am. The manufacturers who do not say that their electric water heaters are not ignition sources? Nope, they are right. Anyone who writes a document that silly when the manufacturers and the code says otherwise is due being insulted - they have earned.
    Can't follow simple instructions


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Larson View Post
    Can't follow simple instructions

    No, they can't.


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  22. #22
    John Korupp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    From the City of San Jose, CA:

    All new and replacement water heaters installed in the City of San Jose shall be installed in compliance with the latest edition of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPS) regarding elevation and bracing.

    UPC Section 1310(a) requires that the pilot light, burner, heating elements, or any other portion of a water heater which could serve as a source of ignition of flammable vapors be elevated at least 18" above floor level when installed in garages.


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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Burnett View Post
    This has the smell of an AHJ with his panties in a wad over what some home inspectors kept calling out and he wanted to set the record straight on his interpretation. That might fly for his city inspections, but not for the rest of the state.
    By the way, the TREC standards have required that we call out electric heaters on the floor of a garage for many years.

    The inspector shall... (3) report as Deficient:
    (G) burners, burner ignition devices
    or heating elements, switches, or thermostats
    that are not a minimum of 18 inches above the
    lowest garage floor elevation, unless the unit is
    listed for garage floor installation;
    But then the OP question was about California and I can't help there.

    Last edited by Jim Luttrall; 05-22-2009 at 02:45 PM.
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  24. #24
    Tim Netzley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Barring any local codes, the IRC nor the International Fuel Gas Code have this requirement for electric water heaters.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Netzley View Post
    Barring any local codes, the IRC nor the International Fuel Gas Code have this requirement for electric water heaters.
    Actually they do.

    For one: The water heaters are required to be installed in accordance with their installation instructions, and most, if not all, now address that issue as being raised up for the ignition source issue. This is a CODE requirement (installing in accordance with the installation instructions).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  26. #26
    Tim Netzley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    I stand corrected with 'the catch-all'.


  27. #27
    Joshua Hardesty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Let's add some more fun by throwing in the newer "sealed combustion chamber" fuel heaters that are no longer required to be raised. Woo!


  28. #28
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    Smile Re: Electric water heaters

    I beleive that as long as the water heater is installed correctly (Electric ) and all power connections are properly installed . its what ever the code requires for your area . here in Ohio Most electric HW tanks are set directly on the floor . I always recommend that when the client needs to replace the unit to elevate it a little about 4 to 6 inches so that moistier wont set at the bottom and cause early tank fail from rust. Depends on the area . and as far as removing covers to the eleiments . I only remove them If I see asign Of arcking on the outer cover . We are only to inspect it power & water connections and examin it outer condition .


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny L West View Post
    and as far as removing covers to the eleiments . I only remove them If I see asign Of arcking on the outer cover .
    So, you are looking for evidence of that ignition source?

    We are only to inspect it power & water connections and examin it outer condition .
    Your SoP limits you to that? Wow!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Does anyone believe that Jerry opens every electric water heater element cover?


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    We have hashed this for years. Our area it is not enforceable. I also called a WH company a couple of years ago and the tech snickered when I asked him that question.
    Think about it. The starter on you car is more of an ignition source then the electric water heater and you haven't heard of any explosion about that!

    Let's add some more fun by throwing in the newer "sealed combustion chamber" fuel heaters that are no longer required to be raised. Woo!
    You mean like an electric water heater........

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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    The trouble with having a sealed combustion water heater in a garage is the dust. The dust will foul up the intake screens on the FVIR system and cause the unit to starve for combustion air. I have ran into this issue 100 times already with these heaters in garages and in utility rooms where they have the washer and dryer in the same room


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    this post is awsome...we will end up with someone making a patent for filters at the screens of the FVIR systems....


  35. #35
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Joao Vieira View Post
    this post is awsome...we will end up with someone making a patent for filters at the screens of the FVIR systems....
    State water heaters already have a sad attempt at a screen on the air inlet section.


  36. #36
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    I am seeing the word Appliances here. So does that also mean a gas or electric dryer and electric washer. If their motors and pilot lights are elevated 18 inches then Grandma can't reach the knobs.


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Quote Originally Posted by Damon McCarty View Post
    I am seeing the word Appliances here. So does that also mean a gas or electric dryer and electric washer.
    Yes it does.

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  38. #38
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    Default Re: Electric water heaters

    Interesting run today (I'm a fireman in Dallas as well)

    Very large north dallas home. A couple just returns from their memorial day weekend. They smell "natural gas" when they walk in their home and dial 911.

    We arrive and they've opened all of the doors and windows. Now I can't smell anything but fresh air.

    I take a look around at the usual suspects, but nothing.

    I ask where the water heaters are located and they take me to the attic stairs. Up in the attic there are two water heaters side-by-side and there is a blue flame lapping out of one of them. The flame has melted the plastic collar that would normally surround the lower drain, but in this case there is a recirculator and fire is lapping that soldered, copper pipe as well. On the other side of the burner compartment, the flame is lapping up the the gas line and the regulator. The paint is also blistered above the opening.

    I turned off the gas and explained their situation. I never did discover is this was the source of the gas smell (wrong part of the mansion); however, they were very pleased that this issue was discovered.

    Wish I had a camera on my phone; I could've taken a picture.

    B

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
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