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  1. #1
    Steve D'Gerolamo's Avatar
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    Default Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Just purchased a home in Mooresville NC from a high end builder and the home's water heaters (a pair of 40 gallon AO Smith gas heaters) and the 2nd floor air handler are in the attic. There is NO pull-down stairs. Access and service will have to be through a 22x30" scuttlehole which in a 9' ceiling.

    Is this allowed? I'm pressing the builder to put in a set of pull-down stairs and would love to have some building code support for my case.

    I dread having to go up in the attic to relight the pilot lights (should the gas ever be shut off), change the relief valves and eventually replace the heaters. SD

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Do you know what model building code your local municipality or state has adopted? Most do require access, but there are some differences in the codes.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  3. #3
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Builder installed the minimum size opening - IF it is large enough to accomodate service, removal, replacement of attic installed equipment.
    You could consult appropriate service techs for that info.
    You probably don't want to hear this either - sounds like maybe you could afford to install one if the builder doesn't "throw" it in!!


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Here are some pics. The problem is there are built-ins and the hallway is fairly tight in this spot. For $900k in NC, I expected a dedicated utility room but this is what I got.











  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    IRC 2003 - M1305.1.2 APPLIANCES IN ATTIC:
    : Attics containing appliances requiring access shall be provided with an opening and a clear and unobstructed passageway large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance, but not less than 30 inches high and 22 inches wide and not more than 20 feet in length. The passage way shall have continues solid flooring not less than 24 inches wide. A level service space at least 30 inches deep and 30 inches wide shall be present along all sides of the appliance where access is required. The clear access opening dimensions shall be minimum of 20 inches x 30 inches where such dimensions are large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance.
    EXCEPTION: The passageway and level service space are not required where the appliance is capable of being services and removed through the required opening.
    APPLIANCE ELECTRICAL REQUIREMENTS: A lighting fixture controlled by a switch located at the required passageway opening and a receptacle outlet shall be required at or near the appliance location.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Eastman View Post
    That recessed light is located adjacent to the scuttle opening. I bet the builder did not protect the electrical cables from physical damage......and is there a smoke alarm in that hallway?
    There are smoke detectors in the bedrooms but all are "local" hardwired units. I had to install a few others throughout the house with the security system to get central station monitoring and a reduction in my homeowners insurance. SD


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    There are "different" stairs out there that might fit that opening.
    Calvert USA, Attic stairs
    An extra $100-200 would be worth it to me, not to have to drag a ladder out to check on the mechanicals.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    Just purchased a home in Mooresville NC from a high end builder and the home's water heaters (a pair of 40 gallon
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    The problem is there are built-ins and the hallway is fairly tight in this spot. I expected a dedicated utility room but this is what I got.
    Steve,

    And you just figured this out? Didn't look at the plans? Didn't do a walk through? Bought it
    off the Internet?

    What did your Home Inspector Report?

    David gave you the code if the largest piece of installed equipment fits through the hole,anything beyond that is now on you.

    If you didn't think you needed a Home Inspection now you now different.Get it inspected
    before the New Home warranty expires.or not if you think this is all the High End builder
    forgot,

    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.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    From the IRC. (underlining and bold are mine)
    - P2801.2 Installation.
    Water heaters shall be installed in accordance with this chapter and Chapters 20 and 24.

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

    - P2801.4 Prohibited locations.
    Water heaters shall be located in accordance with Chapter 20.
    - M2005.1 General.
    Water heaters shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions and the requirements of this code. Water heaters installed in an attic shall conform to the requirements of Section M1305.1.3. Gas-fired water heaters shall conform to the requirements in Chapter 24. Domestic electric water heaters shall conform to UL 174 or UL 1453. Commercial electric water heaters shall conform to UL 1453. Oiled-fired water heaters shall conform to UL 732.
    - M1305.1.3 Appliances in attics.
    Attics containing appliances requiring access shall have with an opening and a removal of the largest appliance, but not less than 30 inches (762 mm) high and 22 inches (559 mm) wide and not more than 20 feet (6096 mm) long when measured along the centerline of the passageway from the opening to the appliance. The passageway shall have continuous solid flooring in accordance with Chapter 5 not less than 24 inches (610 mm) wide. A level service space at least 30 inches (762 mm) deep and 30 inches (762 mm) wide shall be present along all sides of the appliance where access is required. The clear access opening dimensions shall be a minimum of 20 inches by 30 inches (508 mm) by 762 mm), where such dimensions are large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance.

    - - Exceptions:
    - - - 1. The passageway and level service space are not required where the appliance can be serviced and removed through the required opening.
    - - - 2. Where the passageway is unobstructed and not less than 6 feet (1829 mm) high and 22 inches (559 mm) wide for its entire length, the passageway shall be not more than 50 feet (15 250 mm) long.



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Jerry,

    Did you check out that air filter in that return? Its one of the kind we discussed on another thread last week I believe. 900K house with a buck filter.

    rick


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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Jerry,

    Did you check out that air filter in that return? Its one of the kind we discussed on another thread last week I believe. 900K house with a buck filter.

    rick
    Yeah, that blue is a dead give-a-way for those things.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Steve,

    And you just figured this out? Didn't look at the plans? Didn't do a walk through? Bought it
    off the Internet?

    What did your Home Inspector Report?

    David gave you the code if the largest piece of installed equipment fits through the hole,anything beyond that is now on you.

    If you didn't think you needed a Home Inspection now you now different.Get it inspected
    before the New Home warranty expires.or not if you think this is all the High End builder
    forgot,
    In April of this year, we visited Charlotte to check out the area as a possible place for relocation. We spent 5 days looking at homes and on the last day, ran across a model home in a new development that my wife fell in love with. We purchased the home with all of its furniture (it was staged for display...see Sconset Village House ) and a boat slip on Lake Norman for $875k.

    I wasn't keen on the water heaters being located in the attic but most everything else was done nicely so we let it slide (I figured I could always replace the 1st floor water heater with a tankless unit in the crawl space (one designed for outdoor installation). Now that I've had a chance to walk through some of the builders other homes (including newer versions of mine), I see they now all have pull-down stairs for attic access.

    I did my own inspection before the closing but unfortunately the issues I documented were not addressed before we took ownership....the builder promised to take care of the issues during the warranty period.

    I have a meeting with the company owner my next visit south (we're only at the house a few days out of each month) to go over my concerns. The builder has a high regard for customer service and I doubt he wants any negative publicity.

    The whole point of the initial post was determine if there was anything in the building code about attic access.

    Thanks........SD


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Jerry,

    Did you check out that air filter in that return? Its one of the kind we discussed on another thread last week I believe. 900K house with a buck filter.

    rick
    I know....the builder (or at least his subs) got a bit cheap with the mechanicals of the house. I guess that's $10 more profit in his pocket per filter. I've already replaced the first floor filters with the Super Alergen ones . SD


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    We spent 5 days looking at homes and on the last day, that my wife fell in love We purchased the home

    I wasn't keen on the water heaters being located in the attic but most everything else was done nicely so we let it slide I see they now all have pull-down stairs for attic access.

    I did my own inspection before the closing ....the builder promised to take care of the issues during the warranty period.

    The whole point of the initial post was determine if there was anything in the building code about attic access.Thanks........SD
    Steve,
    I lived in Charlotte many years ago,very nice area. I have went Along with my wife on some things also.I hope you have your list in writing from the builder.We see this type of thing everyday sadly they are rarely resolved.

    I strongly suggest you hire a Professional Home Inspector to help you.This is not a knock against you.I'm sure you are very good at what you do.A well written documented report will give you recourse if the builder does not carry through.
    Well wishes,

    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.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Steve,
    I lived in Charlotte many years ago,very nice area. I have went Along with my wife on some things also.I hope you have your list in writing from the builder.We see this type of thing everyday sadly they are rarely resolved.

    I strongly suggest you hire a Professional Home Inspector to help you.This is not a knock against you.I'm sure you are very good at what you do.A well written documented report will give you recourse if the builder does not carry through.
    Well wishes,
    Billy....in the past, any home purchase I've made, I always hired a Home Inspector. These were existing homes that I was buying in "as is" condition (ie, no warranty) and wanted to make sure there were no major issues.

    This is the first new home I've ever purchased that came with a builders warranty. Even if I had hired an inspector, I'm not sure they would have cited any issues that were merely "inconveniences" (attic scuttlehole access, humidistat controls in the crawl space, etc.).

    SD


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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    This is the first new home I've ever purchased that came with a builders warranty. Even if I had hired an inspector, I'm not sure they would have cited any issues that were merely "inconveniences" (attic scuttlehole access, humidistat controls in the crawl space, etc.).
    Steve,

    While a home inspector might not have picked up on some of those issues, I'm guessing that there are *many* things which you did not pick up on that they would have.

    Having "a builders warranty" is not a substitute for a good home inspection, neither is the fact that it was inspected by city/county code inspectors. Before I retired, for most of the last 4-6 years ... almost all of my business was 'new homes' and 'one year warranty inspections' ... and even 'quality control inspections' for a couple of high end builders - all from word-of-mouth-client-referrals.

    Meaning - you really should find a knowledgeable and skilled home inspector to inspect for your 'under builders warranty' NEW home for you.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  17. #17
    Steve D'Gerolamo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    [Jerry Peck;22647]

    Steve,

    While a home inspector might not have picked up on some of those issues, I'm guessing that there are *many* things which you did not pick up on that they would have.

    Agreed....the more people who look at it the better. I'm sure hiring a second home inspector would catch some of the things the first one missed.

    Having "a builders warranty" is not a substitute for a good home inspection, neither is the fact that it was inspected by city/county code inspectors. Before I retired, for most of the last 4-6 years ... almost all of my business was 'new homes' and 'one year warranty inspections' ... and even 'quality control inspections' for a couple of high end builders - all from word-of-mouth-client-referrals.

    I never thought to hire an inspector with a new home. Just as when purchasing a new car from the dealer, I wouldn't think of having a private garage go over the car before signing the contract.

    Meaning - you really should find a knowledgeable and skilled home inspector to inspect for your 'under builders warranty' NEW home for you.

    Any inspectors on this list in the Charlotte area?


  18. #18
    Steve D'Gerolamo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Eastman View Post
    An inspector worth any sort of salt would write up repairs of a scuttle opening too small to get the mechanical equipment out (and those electrical cables too close to the scuttle opening). I damn well know I would. Who is going to pay to make the opening larger when the water heater dies? If an inspector missed it, him. Now, it's you.
    If the opening were too small to get the equipment out, I never would have gotten a CO. My complaint is its bad enough having the water heaters in the attic but the lack of a pull-down stairs access is unexcusable in a house costing this much. It also takes 50 seconds to get hot water in the main shower...no recirc pump here....a lot of wasted water in an area that's in a severe drought.

    Here's some pictures I took recently at a customers home of a nicely configured utility room with easy access to all the mechanicals. See Munchkin and Chiller HVAC
    SD

    Last edited by Steve D'Gerolamo; 10-27-2007 at 05:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Steve,
    Beautiful area for a first or second home.

    "If the opening were too small to get the equipment out, I never would have gotten a CO."

    Nice theory, but it's not based in reality. I've had CO's in my hand where the final electrical isn't issued yet. I'd be surprised if the local AHJ even considered removal of the heater.

    What kind of protection did your builder provide against water damage? Next time your down there take some pictures of the installation.

    Don't be so quick to demand the ladder, Steve. If you insist on one, assure that it's going to handle the weight of the plumber and the heater.

    I never thought to hire an inspector with a new home. Just as when purchasing a new car from the dealer, I wouldn't think of having a private garage go over the car before signing the contract.

    Not a great analogy, Steve. You must be good at something to afford keeping the house in NJ, where a dump can exceed $1M and to own a house for $900K in NC. But, if you are not a professional Inspector, hire one. As a matter of fact, if you are a professional inspector, hire one. If you were paying $900K for the car you might consider having someone more knowledgeable than yourself go over it.

    Last edited by Thom Walker; 10-27-2007 at 11:47 AM. Reason: spelling
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    [
    Any inspectors on this list in the Charlotte area?
    Gentlemen,

    I think Steve is starting to get the point. What has happened is all ready done.He fell for the builders line that surely everything is fine,bla,bla,I'll be more than happy to correct bla,bla.then nothing happens. We have all seen this before.It's an expensive lesson to learn and is taught every day around the country.

    Steve still wish you well.

    PS:Just did a Zoom on developers propaganda photos clearance of siding to roof on dormers looks too close potential water damage,rot area.

    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 10-27-2007 at 02:40 PM. Reason: PS: Added
    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.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Gentlemen,

    PS:Just did a Zoom on developers propaganda photos clearance of siding to roof on dormers looks too close potential water damage,rot area.
    Billy....can you explain?? If there's a problem, I'd like to know about it so I can add it to my list.

    I did have some other issues with the roof which the builder claims was fine until he saw my photo. I discovered this when I was putting a satellite dish up on the roof. Great spot for birds, squirrels and bats to nest. Not visible from the ground...not even sure an inspector would have caught it.



    Last edited by Steve D'Gerolamo; 10-27-2007 at 05:24 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Walker View Post
    Steve,

    What kind of protection did your builder provide against water damage? Next time your down there take some pictures of the installation.
    There are drain pans around the base of tanks plumbed to a 2" PVC drain. The contractor also installs a thermal expansion tank (in addition to the relief valves) and a water shutoff in the first floor closet for the whole house. while we're away.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    Billy....can you explain?? If there's a problem, I'd like to know about it so I can add it to my list
    Steve,

    There should be apr. 2in. gap between the siding and the roof with flashing behind the siding running under the(top) shingles. Brochure pictures of the dormer windows appear they may be in contact with the roof.Water will degrade the siding at those contact points.
    Picture you posted of the roofing shingles at the back wall with all the little pieces stuck under each other looks sloppy,and whats the siding clearance in that area?
    (is that suppose to be a valley weave?little shingle pieces)
    Any other pictures?.

    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 10-27-2007 at 05:06 PM. Reason: (top)(valley weave)
    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.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Steve,

    For courtesy to people who do not have DSL, cable modems, or other high speed internet connection, this site is set up to have the photos show as a thumbnail, then those reading these posts may click on the thumbnails to view the photos ... instead of having the photo have to load with each page.

    I have cable modem, so it is not a problem for me, but there are areas where high speed connections are not available yet. Your consideration for them would be helpful.

    Thank you.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    From the last photo Steve posted above, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am looking at a 'most-likely-to-leak' photo from some builders high school year book ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Again Steve hire a professional home inspector. When I do a New Home Punch Inspection I average 15 - 20 Items that need corections, repair or replaced. I have seen major issue that could do great bodily harm. After local jurisdiction inspections. Your family protection is priceless!


  27. #27
    Steve D'Gerolamo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Steve,

    For courtesy to people who do not have DSL, cable modems, or other high speed internet connection, this site is set up to have the photos show as a thumbnail, then those reading these posts may click on the thumbnails to view the photos ... instead of having the photo have to load with each page.

    I have cable modem, so it is not a problem for me, but there are areas where high speed connections are not available yet. Your consideration for them would be helpful.

    Thank you.
    Sorry Jerry....as an older guy, I need big pictures to see the detail properly. I'll make sure I reduce the size to under 800 pixel width maximum. The picture is now 61k in size and should load a bit faster.

    SD


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    From the last photo Steve posted above, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am looking at a 'most-likely-to-leak' photo from some builders high school year book ...
    Mr.Peck,

    You know that stuff doesn't rot and fall off until AFTER the warranty expires.

    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.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Attic Water Heaters - Scuttlehole Access only

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve D'Gerolamo View Post
    Sorry Jerry....as an older guy,
    Stuart,

    I'm "an older guy" too.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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