Slightly unusual water heater location

Came across a couple gas water heater tanks in a slightly unusual setup today on a warranty inspection. The customer was concerned because of comments made to him on a previous inspection and by the building supervisor. Also because he has noticed that the builder moved the tanks in newer builds of this model. Ultimately the installation passed city code and was left as is, despite his complaints.

The setup was in an area that would normally be a walk in attic off of a bedroom closet. It was slightly unsual because the attic part was not accessible, they had just created a second closet behind the first. Or perhaps it could be described as a semi finished attic space.

The area was ventilated properly as far as I could see with inlet and exit openings for the combustion air to mix with the attic.

The door from the closet was weather-stripped.

The units appeared properly installed and exhausted. And appeared to be functioning correctly.

As the closet ventilation appeared correct and weather strip was in place, I would consider this installation no different from it being a conventional attic install or a closet type installation in a hallway between bedrooms. Both of which I see with regularity.

I thought I had seen something somewhere that prohibited this by a bedroom. But I could not find anything in my books. As I said, the homeowner had been scared by previous “experts” he talked to. My initial thought was that this installation, while a bit unusual and not preferred in my opinion (mainly for being in the attic), would pose no more danger to his family than any other water heater installation in the area.

Any thoughts from code or plumbing gurus out there? Would you write it up at all? Recommend that the city come out and check that it meets their requirements?

The only things I would bring up:

  1. Is the water heater is a drain pan with a drain. When it fails, will it wind up flooding the dining room or some such.
  2. Is the attic properly ventilated? Sure, the enclosure is vented, but to what?
  3. Is the water heater accessable for normal. bi-annual maintenance?
  4. Is the area properly insulated?
  5. Find the architect who OKed this and kill him, slowly :mrgreen:

But, that’s just me.

Was there a vent in the roof to the exterior?

Check the 2006 IRC 2005.2, 2801.4x1, 2801.4x2

Thanks for the replies.

Yes. Everything appeared proper with the installation - from venting to pans etc. In fact, had the client not brought it up, I would not have given it much thought, aside from the unusual way they semi finished that attic.


Water heater tanks in attics are a common thing around here. I would agree about the designer, but that is not my fight. Occassionally you get lucky and they actually connect the drain pipes and use pipe glue on them in the parts of the attic you cant see.

I find it particularly amusing that the TREC makes inspectors site as in need of repair AC condensate drain traps that are not insulated because they sweat - but has no problem with the 50 or 100 gallons of water tanks sitting next to the air handler that WILL break one day into a pan that is most likely clogged up. Then there are the attics that make it impossible to remove the tank down the road…

But back to this situation. I really don’t think that there is a problem, just wanted to bounce it around a bit to make sure.

Architects get all the glory and money, even if they really mess up. Thinl Frank Loyd Wright. One heck of a designer, but his houses are a real bitch to live in and maintain.

I would LOVE to have a law where architects were required to buy back the messed up houses that they designed, but went wrong.

But, always remember. Different areas, different climates and conditions and different requirements.

Hope this helps;

I have yet to see a pan that will hold a typical pop off from TPR. Where does it go from there or did the plumber route it to a drain?

I am not aware of any issue with the unit’s proximity to a bedroom.

The reference I was remembering was the requirement for sealing the door when near a bathroom or bedroom. This was done in this application. As I said before, all the other installation requirements, including the drain pan and TPR valve were okay.



I’ve run into them before and as long as they meet the requirements below, and all other safe installation requirements, I don’t give them a second thought. I will however make sure to note that the client should be aware of the door seals and ensure they do not fail at a later date. Many people don’t look at these things even though they live in the home for years.

2003 IRC: