Elevation of water heaters

Reference M1307.3, Elevation of ignition source.
“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.”

I am sure this means storage closets etc. in the garage but what about utility rooms that are located between the garage and the the rest of the house. I have seen water heaters elevated in some utility rooms that have a door that opens into the garage on one side and a door to the living space of the house on the other side of the room. However, I also see water heaters in the same type of location that are not elevated. Should they all be elevated when the door opens on to the garage or not?

Thanks in advance for any information you may provide on this question.

Gary Loughman
Assured Home Inspections, PLLC

Yes, they should be elevated in utility rooms that open to the garage and then also to the house.

I would say they don’t need to be elevated. The quoted code section states “not part of the living space”. The utility room would be considered part of the living space. We could get into what is more safe, what individual AHJ’s require, etc. but not necessarily by what the code says.

Since the input on this topic is divided as to wheather or not they should be elevated in this situation, I decided to visit with the City of Houston Code Enforcement folks. They are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for most of the area that I work in. The AHJ says that they must be elevated. This includes electric water heaters. I suppose that different AHJ’s could have different positions on this issue, but for me, the question has been answered.

Thanks for your response to the question and perhaps what I learned will help someone else out there who may have wondered what the correct position on the matter was.


The *International Residential Code *says that water heaters located in rooms adjacent to and that open into a garage MUST be elevated:

Consider what the 2006 International Residential Code Commentary Volume II says about this Code section:


So YES, water heaters located in rooms that open ONLY to a garage MUST be elevated under the IRC codes.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the question. Please go read post #1 again.