elevating hot water heaters.

Hello All
I would like some imput on electric water heaters being elevated 18 inches if installed in a garage.
Some of the water heater manufactures state in their instalation instructions that electric water heaters need to be elevated 18 inches because of the risk of explosion due to a spark when turned on. some have gaskets around the access covers some don’t. So should they be elevated or not? Gas was required to be elevated untill 2004 when the design was changed and became sealed at the lower section.

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The ignition source (for electric) is not at the bottom of the water heater (gas is).
Why does it have to be raised 18"?

Furnaces don’t have to be raised either. Their burner is >18" above the floor.

The bottom coil on my electric water heater is 10" off the floor so it would not require the normal height stand but would still need to be elevated.

Washington requires that home inspectors “Report as a fire hazard the presence of any ignition source (gas and electric water heaters, electrical receptacles, electronic air cleaners, motors of installed appliances, etc.) that is within eighteen inches of the garage floor.”

That applies here also!

It is a matter of interpetation.

The T-stat on a residential electric water heater are #1) sealed contacts and #2) more than 18" above the bottom of the water heater on some models, so there is no reason to elevate the tank.

Let the Code Officer know how stupid his determination is.
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Sorry Marcel but just look at the photo you posted. Those contact screws are in the wide open, not sealed. The same goes with the contact screws on the end of the heating elements. They are not sealed either. The thermostat is normally located at the top element with the reset button, so it is not an issue. The bottom heating element is less than 18 inches from the bottom of the tank, therefore the connection is also less than 18 inches. A loose wire can mean arcing. Don’t ask me why it would arbitrarily come loose without movement of some sort but there are times when people just replace the $20 element instead of spending $500-800 for a complete new heater.

The screws you are looking at is for the Line Voltage, and the contactor is in a sealed case.
Believe what you want. I will not call out an electric water heater in a garage.

As David alluded to, the requirement is for elevation of the ignition source. That does not equate to the water heater needing to be elevated 18 inches above the floor.

I have an electric water heater in my garage. The lowest potential source of ignition is 10 inches above the bottom of the unit. The unit itself only needs to be elevated 8 inches to to meet the 18 inch requirement.

In Texas the state SOP requires electric water heaters to be reported as a defect if they do not meet the clearance requirement. Check for any specific rules in your state.

For those that are really worried that the electric water heater needs to be at 18", because of the if “Spark”, and I don’t believe the garage has been labeled as a hazardous zone as of yet, maybe you should recommend one of these.


Why be a smartass about it?

Because I don’t think they have to be elevated for the worse scenario of any flammable fumes that can accumulate in a residential garage.
It is an over reaction.

If it were that dangerous, they would have mandated electric water heaters to be designed like the gas ones in 2003.

Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistance (FVIR). Which they have not to my knowledge.

Maybe the “what ifs” in this industry is getting a little to paranoid. :):wink:

He asked about the rules. People conveyed what the rules were. I didn’t witness any fear mongering here.

If you disagree with the rule, you might take it up with the ICC and the various state regulatory agencies that require it.

Smartassery was not necessary.

I don’t disagree with the rules, just the interpetation of the readers here. :slight_smile:

Is a thermostat control a switching device??

My quote was directly from the Washington State Standards of Practice as codified in State law. No Washington State inspector has a choice. It must be reported as a fire hazard.


A device, as in a home heating system, a refrigerator, or an air conditioner, that automatically responds to temperature changes and activates switches controlling the equipment.:slight_smile:

Steve, I don’t disagree with what you need to follow in your area.

The next question was my last post.
Is the switch a t-stat? I guess by definition it would be.

So now what do we do with the chest freezers and the refrigerators that people have in a garage?

Good question isn’t it. They all have t-stats that create the key word that all seem to lay upon, “Spark”:):wink:

Same for Texas inspectors


Not concerned about the thermostats. But the refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers all have motors within the 18 inch zone. I call them out and explain to my client the reason.