Furnace and water heater in a bedroom closet

Ok folks, this is going to be a real stupid question on my part, so forgive me.

I observed a remodeled basement bedroom closet with a gas fired furnace and water heater, as well as the lift station for the basement plumbing.

The lift station had a hole cut in the top through which I could look down into the bucket and see water from the tub and toilet filling it up. This is a no brainer and the hole should be sealed.

However, my question is what exactly should I say about the gas fired appliances in a bedroom closet. The danger from a set up is the risk of combustion gasses getting into the bedroom (not to mention the noise!), but I was wondering if there was anything else I should add.

Thanks for the advice!



Doesn’t sound like you have a “legal” bedroom anymore. No closet = no bedroom.

I don’t think they remodeled a closet. That looks like a closet to the right without doors. In this case they had everything installed and finished the room around the utility area. I sure wouldn’t be sleeping in that room. Also, is there a secondary egress from the basement? Window wells or other door?
I run into a lot of basements that have been finished after the home has been occupied for quite a while… usually game rooms or bars etc. and even additional bedrooms that would not have been allowed. I would venture to say that most, if not all of them are done without permit.



There was a window in this room, however it was 47 1/2" from the floor and in the gallatin valley, eggressable windows are required to be no more than 44".

A step may permitteted to get to window. Check with your AHJ.
The water heater and furnace may be ok but ot ideal.

Not all AHJ have a definition apparently.

This is from Salem Oregon. Particularly the explanation.

Code Forum – Tri County newsletter Salem, Ore

Bedroom Definition

Q. Do you have a definition of a bedroom in the Dwelling Code? I’m currently building a house which has a specific room dedicated as a exercise/weight room. The inspector is calling it a bedroom and requiring me to install smoke alarms and an egress window. This room is not a bedroom and I feel it’s wrong for the inspector to insist on these requirements. Doesn’t a bedroom have to have a closet or something like that? This room doesn’t have a closet and has a lot of special wiring done to accommodate the exercise equipment, which should make it obvious we plan on using it for a exercise/weight room.

A. The Dwelling Code does not define bedroom, so we need to go to the dictionary for a definition. The definition in the dictionary is; "**bed-room: **a room furnished with a bed and intended primarily for sleeping."

It is not uncommon for someone to submit a set of plans which has an extra room designated as a den, office, weight room, library, etc. The primary use in these rooms is not intended for sleeping. However some contractors and/or homeowners may designate a room as a den or office to circumvent the local SDC’s (System Development Charges) or septic tank requirements or sometimes the original owner may use this room as it was designated on the plans, but the next owner has a larger family or their mother-law living with them and they end up using the “den” as a bedroom. The cost of smoke detection and appropriate egress windows is small compare to the cost of a human life, therefore it may be advantageous for the local jurisdiction to require these safety provisions, but the homeowner/contractor should be given the benefit of the doubt for the purpose of the SDC’s. It is inappropriate for a jurisdiction to tell a homeowner/contractor how each room of their home will be used or classified. There are many times when it is obvious the room in question is not a bedroom, i.e. no closets, a door leading to the outside to be used as a office entrance, wall of shelving for library use, special provisions for exercise equipment, etc. These rooms need to be treated as designate on the plans, not based on speculated future use. If, however, this room had a closet in it and the only distinguishing difference is that it’s called a “den” on the plan, then the requirements for smoke detectors and egress windows would be appropriate.

As long as adequate combustion air is provided, which seems to be the case due to the lack of doors on the furnace enclosure, I see no violation. The IRC is clear about combustion air, and your answer is there.

This installation seems fairly modern, so I’d be more concerned about the presence/lack of AFCI protection for the furnace, if indeed this is a bedroom.

Are there not seperate rules for water heaters and furnaces? I think so.

Last I saw, a Gas water heater is prohibited in a bedroom, bathroom (or storage closet) EXCEPT direct vent type OR separated by a weatherstriped self-close door and all the combustion air is from the exterior. In this case, the water heater itself would not be appropriate.

I think the wording is the same for a gas furnace except that the furnace can be accessed through a bedroom closet.

The presence of lack of an AFCI circuit would be the least of the worries with a gas burning appliance in a sleeping room.


Hi Steve, you are correct, so lets start with this issue:

And this would seem to apply:

I’d say that was a potentialy lethal combination as it stands



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This is all that needs to be said.

That’s what I was going to say, but Jeff beat me to it.

Building codes aside; there are a few things that I don’t like the looks of and would want to investigate further from just looking at this photograph:

Water pipe type? Adequate support?
TPR valve discharges where (Into the finished space)?
No auxiliary drain pan or switch below the HVAC equipment in a finished space.
No drain pan below the water heater (finished space).
Open sump pit; source of radon. Negative pressure caused by combustion of two gas appliances adjacent to this pit will increase the radon draw from below the slab.
Ceiling height less than 7 feet.
Interior utility closet not enclosed with sheet rock as a barrier to the bedroom.
No utility closet door.
No makeup air duct installed.
Two flue pipes into one. Furnace has induced draft motor? Water heater natural convection? Back drafting?

Just the few concerns I might have if this were my house.

That’s what i was going to say, but Gerry, Jeff, and Russel beat me to it. What’s that tell you? Swift by name but not by nature. PS I know my name (Swift Inspections) has cost me a lot of business, and I might just have well called myself Lickedy-Split Inspections, or Once-Over-Lightly Inspections. Too late now, but I did change it to include my first name. Dare I say my “christian” name, or would that be politically incorrect?

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I like that!

That is funny Keith.
I don’t think this board has to many Politicians, so mention of your chistian name works for me and if anyone does not like it, tuff sh#t.:wink:

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:



Just wanted to determine if the codes mentioned only apply
to gas heaters… Given the same senario, if the water heater
was an electric or tankless system, could it be installed in a
closet inside of a bedroom. I was considering having my den converted
to a den/bedroom… but my problem is similar. There is a gas waterheater installed in the room (closet). I was kinda thinking maybe i could have it converted to electric or better yet tankless… Just thinking out loud…
Any ideas?



Hi all,

I am wondering if somebody can help me out. I currently live in a complex in Northern VA where I have a water heater in my bedroom closet. I am not the most educated on what type of water heater it is, but can this be up to code? I was told by the property staff that it is fine to store things inside of the closet including clothing, etc just do not having anything touch it. I am just worried I am at a risk. Any comments or replies would be greatly appreciated, I can also get you any information from the tank if anyone is curious on the type of tank.


Nicholas, is it electric?

The above is regards to gas.
If electric it may be ok.

Mother in law suite