The majority of house I inspect in Riverside County CA, with electric water heaters do not have “insight” disconnects. I continue to call them out on my inspection reports, yet relators tell me the electricians say they are not required. Any thoughts?
They are not required by any code that I am familiar with.
What have you based you actions on?
You talking code now? They are required for the same reason that an A/C condenser needs one: So that a technician can work on it without risk of being electrocuted by someone switching on the circuit breaker.
Try NEC article 422.31(B)
To apply this code, one has to assume that the water heater is not within view of the service panel. It would be reasonable to assume that the electricians that argued with the report did not choose to apply this particular part of the code to the heaters in question.
It would be incorrect to imply that all water heaters needed a disconnect.
You should reread the citation ref: “shall be provided to disconnect each appliance”. It is not optional. It doesn’t say if, or when, or maybe, or sometimes. It does say that under certain conditions the circuit breaker is permitted to serve as the disconnecting means…
This does not make this part of the code “choosable” as far as applicability nor does it nullify the code.
If there was no approved disconnecting means for the water heater, Ken was correct to call it out. You and I don’t have enough information to debate over whether there was a qualifying disconnecting means or not, however, a disconnecting means is certainly required according to the NEC.
You re-read it. It clearly states that the service panel breaker can serve as the disconnect device.
Where I live now the Water Heater Breaker has a Lockable Breaker… as required
I believe the panel breaker must be in the same room for this to apply, if not you would need another disconnect located within sight of the water heater. At least, that is my understanding.
I have builders tell me “that is not required in the county” for any number of things. My response is " yes, it is required, there is just not any enforcement in the unincorporated areas".
As already stated, the same rule that applies to disconnects at furnaces, AC condensers, dishwashers applies to water heaters. That is they have to have a disconnect if they are not within light of sight of the panel (unless the breaker is lockable). Before calling it out, carefully observe the breaker. Like Brian said, sometimes they are capable of being locked out and that is acceptable.
I write it up on 80% of all water heaters.
That has not always been the code. Up to at least the 1980’s “for permanently connected appliances of greater rating the branch-cricuit switch or circuit breaker shall be permitted to serve as the dis connecting means where readily available to the user of the appliance.” 1984 422-21
99.99% of our water heaters are electric. I only see the shutoff by the unit in new construction.
Article 100 of the NEC defines within sight as being visible from the equipment up to 50’. That could be in another room. It also means that it could be 5’ away in the same room and not be within sight. Under the current code all water heaters require that there be a disconnect within sight or have provisions to install a lock on the switch or circuit breaker. If panel with the branch circuit CB is *within sight *then it qualifies as the maintenance disconnect. Either way the unit must have a disconnecting means or a breaker lockout.
*Everything *has “not always been code”.
Whether code or not, no matter the age of the home, working on any appliance without being able to control the power source is a recognized hazard and should be called out by a home inspector IMO.
P.S. When OSHA wrote it’s lock-out/tag-out rules, they didn’t grandfather existing facilities.
When someone gives one of my clients a line like that, I suggest that they request that the electrician write it down on their company letterhead and sign it with their name and license number because they want to double check with the department of licencing and regulation.:mrgreen:
I just wanted to thank my fellow inspectors for their fine input on the “Insight Disconnect” for electric water heaters. I originally posted this and was impressed with the proffessional replies. Only Mr. Bushart argued the point, as he did not understand the “Insight” part of the requirement. Obviously if there was a sub-panel in view of the appliance it would not be required and I have seen a few like that, in which case I did NOT call those out.
It is truly a safety consideration for someone servicing a water heater, be they a contractor or a home owner. When I get a respose from a so called electrician (who is more likely a handyman), I like Mr. Evans response: When someone gives one of my clients a line like that, I suggest that they request that the electrician write it down on their company letterhead and sign it with their name and license number because they want to double check with the department of licencing and regulation.
I did (reread) and **I **believe you to be right.
The key phrases are.
III. Disconnecting Means
A means shall be provided to disconnect each appliance from all ungrounded conductors in accordance with the following sections of Part III. If an appliance is supplied by more than one source, the disconnecting means shall be grouped and identified.
422.31 Disconnection of Permanently Connected Appliances.
(A) Rated at Not Over 300 Volt-Amperes or 1/8 Horsepower. For permanently connected appliances rated at not over 300 volt-amperes or 1/8 hp, the branch-circuit overcurrent device shall be permitted to serve as the disconnecting means.
Which applies to water heaters.
(B) Appliances Rated **Over **300 Volt-Amperes or 1/8 Horsepower. For permanently connected appliances rated over 300 volt-amperes or 1/8 hp, the branch-circuit switch or circuit breaker shall be permitted to serve as the disconnecting means where the switch or circuit breaker is within sight from the appliance or is capable of being locked in the open position. The provision for locking or adding a lock to the disconnecting means shall be installed on or at the switch or circuit breaker used as the disconnecting means and shall remain in place with or without the lock installed.
Applies to condensers, blower fans.
Just one other thought, the locked in the open position provision of 422.31(B) does not apply to most dwelling A/C compressors/fan units. They would be covered under 440.14:
So are we all agreed? The Realtor and the electrician were right? According to the NEC an electric water heater does not require any disconnect other than a circuit breaker at the main panel or sub panel and it does not need to be insight.
Nope. I don’t agree.