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  1. #1
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    Default Water Heater in Garage

    I have a water heater in a garage. The unit is in a room within the garage with the only access being from within the garage. The water heater is no elevated 18" off the floor. The door to the room is not air-tight. The city codes department says this is a gray area. One plumber says its fine. One plumber says it needs to be raised. My understanding is that the room should be sealed off from the garage to keep gas fumes from entering the room and reaching the water heater burners if not elevated 18" off the floor. Who is right?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by David Block View Post
    I have a water heater in a garage. The unit is in a room within the garage with the only access being from within the garage. The water heater is no elevated 18" off the floor. The door to the room is not air-tight. The city codes department says this is a gray area. One plumber says its fine. One plumber says it needs to be raised. My understanding is that the room should be sealed off from the garage to keep gas fumes from entering the room and reaching the water heater burners if not elevated 18" off the floor. Who is right?

    Older water heaters were required to be raised 18" above the garage.
    Most, if not all, newer water heaters will be FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant).
    FVIR water heaters are not required to be elevated.
    FVIR WH have a sealed combustion area, they also have electronic ignition (like a gas grill).
    As for this being a "gray area", nope, it's black or white. Can only be one or the other.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
    don agel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by David Block View Post
    I have a water heater in a garage. The unit is in a room within the garage with the only access being from within the garage. The water heater is no elevated 18" off the floor. The door to the room is not air-tight. The city codes department says this is a gray area. One plumber says its fine. One plumber says it needs to be raised. My understanding is that the room should be sealed off from the garage to keep gas fumes from entering the room and reaching the water heater burners if not elevated 18" off the floor. Who is right?
    If the intentions are to seal the room off entirely from the garage I hope that that doorway was not the only means of fresh air into the room for the gas appliance!! Keep that in mind if somehow things head in that direction. Here in NC all water heaters in the garage have been raised. Honestly, IMPO, raising these on anything other than a solid masonry base where able to be impacted by a car is dangerous also. Many of these store bought metal stands are laughable and easily rock. Not having a level garage floor can also pose problems for store bought stands and rocking water heaters. Some builders install a parking lot concrete stop to deter water heater impact. Though a good intention and nice when pulling in slowly, these have also been launching pads for some elderly hitting the gas in the wrong gear. (Side note, remember one couple would call us nearly every 20 days regarding the repair of the garage door from the wife shifting, looking back, hitting the gas, and rolling forward into the garage. lol)


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Here's what the NJ code states (note there is nothing about sealing the door)-

    "Appliances having an ignition source shall be elevated such that the source of ignition is not less than 18 inches (457mm) 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." M1307.3 of the 2006 IRC mechanical code.

    Of course, as previously stated, have a newer FVIR heater makes the above a moot point.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
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  5. #5
    don agel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    [QUOTE=Darren Miller (note there is nothing about sealing the door)-[/QUOTE]

    I believe the intention at the door would be to install a fire rated entry door unit to provide the door and opening the same level of fire/smoke resistance as the rest of the fire wall separation.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    A closet/utility room located in a garage is part of the garage.
    Any appliance (that may ignite vapors) in the garage (including those in a closet) must be elevated or be FVIR.
    I know of no exception that allows an exterior door or a sealed door instead of elevating the appliance, or using a FVIR water heater.
    Further more, sealing the door would likely require ventilation (intake and exhaust) to the outside, in addition to an existing water heater vent.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by David Block View Post
    I have a water heater in a garage. The unit is in a room within the garage with the only access being from within the garage. The water heater is no elevated 18" off the floor. The door to the room is not air-tight. The city codes department says this is a gray area. One plumber says its fine. One plumber says it needs to be raised. My understanding is that the room should be sealed off from the garage to keep gas fumes from entering the room and reaching the water heater burners if not elevated 18" off the floor. Who is right?
    The 18 inches is measured from the Garage Floor.
    Not the floor of the room ( steps?) the WH is located.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  8. #8
    don agel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    A closet/utility room located in a garage is part of the garage.
    Any appliance (that may ignite vapors) in the garage (including those in a closet) must be elevated or be FVIR.
    I know of no exception that allows an exterior door or a sealed door instead of elevating the appliance, or using a FVIR water heater.
    Further more, sealing the door would likely require ventilation (intake and exhaust) to the outside, in addition to an existing water heater vent.
    Exactly, here they raise electric units as well.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by don agel View Post
    Exactly, here they raise electric units as well.
    Some may debate that an electric water heater is a "source of ignition", but it is good practice to elevate them.
    Would I report an electric WH that was not elevated? Not high on the list, but, yes.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Some may debate that an electric water heater is a "source of ignition", but it is good practice to elevate them.
    Would I report an electric WH that was not elevated? Not high on the list, but, yes.
    Always wondered why the electric were raised being that there are electrical receptacles in some garages and storage rooms (where stored fuels/combustibles would be stored) which are at same height of the bottom element on the water heater. Same potential hazard of spark.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    If it matters - WH in separate enclosed space accessible from outside the garage and no combustion air from garage - is allowed 2406.2 , 2009 IRC


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by don agel View Post
    Always wondered why the electric were raised being that there are electrical receptacles in some garages and storage rooms (where stored fuels/combustibles would be stored) which are at same height of the bottom element on the water heater. Same potential hazard of spark.
    Not quit the same hazard.

    Something plugged into a power outlet is controlled by the occupant.
    The person using the plug in appliance has the opportunity to determine if it is safe to use.
    Whereas a WH (gas or electric) is an appliance installed by a contractor.
    There is a greater burden of safety placed on the contractor than on the HO.
    So, back to the power outlets in the garage.
    If you smell gasoline, but still plug in something and the place blows up, It's your on damn fault.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by chris foley View Post
    If it matters - WH in separate enclosed space accessible from outside the garage and no combustion air from garage - is allowed 2406.2 , 2009 IRC
    Hi Chris
    Good to have you here.

    When referencing a specific code, it's appropriate to include the code.
    Everyone may not have a copy of the code.
    In my area we are using the 2006 IRC, so I have no need for the 2009 (yet).

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Hi Chris
    Good to have you here.

    When referencing a specific code, it's appropriate to include the code.
    Everyone may not have a copy of the code.
    In my area we are using the 2006 IRC, so I have no need for the 2009 (yet).
    My Code Check book only gives me excerpts , unfortunately that's the way it was written. I wish they would give more info also. Thanx for heads up , i'll try and get entire code from internet and post next time. BTW I'm a former Fort Benning alumni. Good to hear from my old zip code


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by chris foley View Post
    My Code Check book only gives me excerpts , unfortunately that's the way it was written. I wish they would give more info also. Thanx for heads up , i'll try and get entire code from internet and post next time. BTW I'm a former Fort Benning alumni. Good to hear from my old zip code
    I understand, and not a problem.
    When and for how long were you at Ft Benning?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  16. #16
    don agel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Not quit the same hazard.

    Something plugged into a power outlet is controlled by the occupant.
    The person using the plug in appliance has the opportunity to determine if it is safe to use.
    Whereas a WH (gas or electric) is an appliance installed by a contractor.
    There is a greater burden of safety placed on the contractor than on the HO.
    So, back to the power outlets in the garage.
    If you smell gasoline, but still plug in something and the place blows up, It's your on damn fault.
    Might be propane or natural gas as well, but an arc at plug in of some older equipment/tools etc may be present also. What if on a timer such as a sprinkler system or lighting? Anyhow, newer houses are so airtight in garages with the seals and insulated door units and such that enough time goes by with piped gas leakage or stored fumes increasing on a hot summer day inside the garage that the height of the water heater may not matter. Concentrations may still be elevated enough to reach a level where HWH now installed. But safer is better so we raise these units to reduce the risk of spark of flammable vapors. But in doing so we now have average of 40-80 gals of heated, pressurized water with an electrical or gas source installed. These units are heavy and best be placed on a stable, durable, and level base. As for my fault, I have no gas appliances in my home, had them removed when purchasing the home, and have a two car garage which hasn't the room to store a can of gas let alone a car. Too many tools and excess materials stockpiled in there. The vehicles are in the driveway and the fuel/chemicals are in the rear yard in a vented shed. I am far too paranoid with two young sons at home to have things present which I tell others may be a safety issue. LOL, first thing to go was the traditional masonry wood burning fireplace in the den which now has an electric insert and terminates below the roofline. Heavy media filtration and UV lighting of the HVAC system with a completely redesigned ducting system routed with interior unit and ducting system entirely on the heated side of the living space, conditioned crawlspace, protective coating applied to all exposed floor framing and sub-flooring to reduce the chances of any fungal/mold growth, etc etc etc. IMPO with the more training, experience, and education I gain, I almost think ignorance may be bliss as the knowledge of what can occur can haunt us in our own personal lives.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    I'm a bit cautious also.
    I have a solid brick fireplace in the den, have not had a fire in it for at least 10-12 years.

    As for tools plugged in to an outlet and having a spark (or whatever).
    Even if the outlet were 3' above the garage floor, the tool can still be on the floor.
    Codes don't always protect people from themselves.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I'm a bit cautious also.
    I have a solid brick fireplace in the den, have not had a fire in it for at least 10-12 years.

    As for tools plugged in to an outlet and having a spark (or whatever).
    Even if the outlet were 3' above the garage floor, the tool can still be on the floor.
    Codes don't always protect people from themselves.
    Not sure anything does. Side note...have you seen new windows have stickers which read, "opening a window can be hazardous" lol Did somebody sue a manufacturer and win? lol What's next? warning label on toilet, "water fixture may have accidental overflow which can result in property damage and spread of human waste"?.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by don agel View Post
    ...have you seen new windows have stickers which read, "opening a window can be hazardous" .
    Nope, I have not seen that.
    But I can kinda understand it.
    Have you seen a spring jump off on the tip out windows.
    Could be hazardous.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by don agel View Post
    l What's next? warning label on toilet, "water fixture may have accidental overflow which can result in property damage and spread of human waste"?.
    Here and Now.

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by don agel View Post
    Always wondered why the electric were raised being that there are electrical receptacles in some garages and storage rooms (where stored fuels/combustibles would be stored) which are at same height of the bottom element on the water heater. Same potential hazard of spark.

    I always thought receptacles were at least 18" above the floor as well. Maybe even higher in garages.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Water Heater in Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by James Kollhopp View Post
    I always thought receptacles were at least 18" above the floor as well. Maybe even higher in garages.
    Many times receptacles are raised to 18" or even higher, however I do not know of any requirement to place them that high.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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