Should electric water heaters be elevated 18 inches in a garage for safety.

just had a question if electric water heaters should be elevated above 18 inches in a garage for explosive safety due to a spark if the unit is turned on.
thanks for any help

Depends who you ask.

Thanks Bob I think the code is stating that any sparking device that is capable of creating a spark in a flammable area is worth commenting about. It may be a worst case senerio but it can happen. A. O. Smith states nothing about its electric water heaters. But Bradford White States that their unit should not be placed in a flammable gas area. To me that means a garage where a gas can or car can leak fumes. I don’t want to be called to court because a fire that was caused by a electric water heater caused it.

Do electric wall outlets, extension cords, refrigerators, freezers or any other electrical devices also need to be elevated 18 inches?

Yes in a garage. HMMMMMMMMMM what does that make you think.

I think…If you write up an extension cord or un-elevated refrigerator in a garage you’re going to be looking for a new job because word will get out that you’re crazy. :mrgreen:

For a dwelling garage the answer is no. The 18" area above the floor is not considered a hazardous (classified) area by the NEC in a residential garage. A commercial repair garage is a different story and would fall under Article 511.

So do you write up electric water heaters in a residential garage sitting on the floor of the garage?

I think Robert was responding to your non-water heater related question. Electric water heaters are specifically addressed in the IRC.

But those items are not permanent fixtures.

I was responding to, with reference to the NEC:

And the answer is no since the NEC does not consider the area up to 18" above a dwelling garage floor to be a hazardous (classified) area. Does the IRC say something different? and subsequent posts.

As an FYI: Texas inspectors are required to write up electric water heater that are not elevated as deficient. The 18 inch requirement is to the lowest ignition source, not the bottom of the unit.

So the question remains? I have been commenting on electric water heaters in garages. There is a possibility of spark around the heating element correct?

My tablet flips the pics sorry. Working to figure that out but currently at an insp.

You are specifically required by Washington State to report them as fire hazards.

Thanks Stephen. I have been, I appreciate that reminder. I did have a client giving me a hard time a few months ago about my mentioning an electric clothes dryer being the same potential hazard. I believe the Dryer would be a greater potential hazard.

Just tell them the State of Washington gives licensed home inspectors no choice. You are required to call it out as a fire hazard. The same thing goes with GFCI in all the new areas.

The floor area is not considered a flammable area under the NEC for vapors. What would a spark ignite?


I believe the thought is that in garages flammable vapors are more likely to collect on the floor presenting a fire or explosion hazard. The concern is NOT that the floor is flammable.