Electric water heater?

Do electric water heaters need to be at a height of 18" as well? I sure the answer is yes, but I thought I would ask yall before I write it up.

Uh…no. They don’t.

Why are you sure…or why would you even think…the answer is “yes”?

Start with thinking about exactly what part of the water heater is required to be 18" from the floor and when.

One must be aware of the reason behind a code, before one can elaborate further.
Make suggestions based on code, plus common sense.

Thanks Bob - That is why I asked.

Not busting your chops as much as showing my reasoning when writing reports.
Required 18" is in garages for gas heaters only.

P.S (has nothing to do with water)(all about flammable gases)

And that which can ignite them.

Now, if the electric WH was set-up like an old electric range, with the heat elements exposed and underneath the tank, I would say yes, 18 inches is necessary.

Perhaps you guys should explain to Chris under what circumstances a gas water heater in a garage would NOT need to be raised.

I wouldn’t be too quick to make that my final answer for all situations and jurisdictions. I have seen it required that the bottom element be elevated 18 inches above the floor.

IRC P2801.6 Water heaters installed in garages (note that this is in the plumbing section, not the gas fired appliance section).

The commentary goes on to describe ignition source as including “electrical component capable of producing a spark or an arc.” and “This section effectively prohibits the installation of water heaters directly on the floor of residential garages.”

R202 Ignition Source

Excerpt from electric water heater installation manual http://www.americanwaterheater.com/support/manuals/res-elect.pdf

If the bottom element is not at least 18 inches above the floor, I will comment on it. Lowboy units also often have the thermostat and contacts located near the bottom of the unit.

We will agree to disagree.

Your interpretation would require all electrical receptacles to be elevated at that same height, as well, in addition to any other permanently installed electrical device, such as freezers. That is not what the code is addressing, here.

If it were, the same code would not forbid your scenerio and still allow for the FVIR gas heater to be placed on garage floor.

M1307.3 Elevation of Ignition Source (mechanical section) addresses the issue with regard to appliances not specifically covered in other sections.

G2408.2 Elevation of Ignition Sources (fuel gas section) specifically addresses the issue relative to gas fired appliances (e.g., gas fired water heaters) and includes the exception for appliances listed as flammable vapor ignition resistant.

We can agree to disagree and we can agree to disagree with the standards, but the standards are what they are. The 18 inch standard in garages is not restricted to water heaters nor is it restricted to fuel fired appliances. The topic is addressed specifically in at least three separate sections of the IRC. This is not accidental.

Not directly related but I came upon this tidbit of Darwin’s theory at work while looking for a real life example. A little humor to keep it light

I stand firm that an “ignition source” (pilot and burner) is different from a “potential ignition source” (spark from an electrical receptacle, electric heating element in a water heater, etc) and the IRC is addressing open flames and sparks intended to ignite them, which is why this requirement is in the Mechanical and Gas codes (as you pointed out) and not the Electrical code portion of the IRC.

You can warn your client about anything you want, since codes do not restrict home inspection reports, but I would never write up an unelevated electrical water heater in a garage as being defective.

You can argue this both ways as many have and still do (including AHJs). You have chosen to ignore the reference to electrical switching devices in the IRC definition of ignition sources (not potential)

My point was that the answer was not so simple and straight forward as you indicated and for a TX inspector such as Chris your reply is downright wrong.

From the TREC SOP for Texas Real Estate Inspections (emphasis added):

So back to Chris’ original question, for him the correct answer is emphatically YES, but only to the lowest electrical component. There is no reason Chris should be made to feel foolish for asking his question.

I agree Chuck…

You’re right. TREC requirements were not considered in my answer. I was wrong. Sorry.

While I defer to your TREC requirements, I still disagree, however, with your IRC interpretation.

While debatable because of ambiguous wording (imagine that) even the 2006 IRC Commentary on this subject supports Chuck’s interpretation in my opinion. It’s not just a TREC thing.

Perhaps, but I disagree.

CA’s code also calls for elevation of an exposed heating element that has a “glow” capable of igniting flammable vapors. . .

CMC 308.1 Heating and cooling equipment located in a garage and that generates a glow, spark, or flame capable of igniting flammable vapors shall be installed with the pilots and burners or heating elements and switches at least eighteen [18] inches (457 mm) above the floor level.

ditto :smiley:

Pretty clear…

I suppose you could classify a water heater as “heating and cooling equipment” instead of plumbing, if you wanted to. A gas heater does fall under the “ventillation” section of HVAC.

Still, I disagree that electric water heaters fall under the same rule as gas water heaters, which has the open flame.

Jeff’s quote has to do with “heating and cooling equipment” where an electric furnace with a heating element exposed to the same air carrying gasoline fumes could ignite them. Likewise with an electrical or gas space heater. Not so with the unexposed heating elements of an electric water heater.

IMO, if you guys were right…the code could clearly say that all water heaters should be elevated, and it doesn’t.

If your state tells you otherwise, that’s different. As for me, unless every electrical recepticle and permanently installed electrically operated device in a garage were required to be elevated, the electric water heater is also exempt.

I am much more likely to see a spark jump from an electrical recepticle when I trip over and yank out an extension cord in a garage than I am to see a spark coming from the stationary connection of a bottom heating element behind the insulated cover of an electric water heater. Yet, neither the NEC or the IEC forbids electrical recepticles at floor level in the garage.

How far off the ground is the motor in an electric washing machine found in the garage? Where is the requirement to elevate that?