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Why a Permit is Required to Replace a Water Heater


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The more you look at this scenario, the scarier it gets. It's kinda like looking into one of those posters to see other images within the image.

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  • The framing doesn't rely on a header and jack. (The cross-member is merely toe-nailed into the stud with 6 penny nails. So, in reality, the only thing holding the whole affair together is the ply-wood shelf top.)
  • The toe-nailed joints are pulling apart as the cross-member is pushed down and away from the stud under the weight of the full water tank
There is no diagonal bracing, so the whole affair can parallelogram if the nails against the outer wall pull out. The whole mess is combustible There is no impact protection, which wasn't required when the house was built, but boy does it need it now. The water alone in the fifty gallon tank weighs 417.5 pounds, let alone the weight of the water heater (probably about 600 lbs total?)

As I was explaining this to the defensive macho listing agent he walks over and starts pushing at the whole thing with his foot - ("Yeah, that's it idiot. Keep that up. You'll excuse me as I inch toward the open overhead door...")

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A lot of what we're going to be talking about today is just like that seat belt in your car. You hope you never, ever need it, but when you're driving down the road and say to yourself "Oh, my goodness, I think I'm going to have an accident (actually most of us use a shorter two word phrase that starts with OH!), it's way to late to reach for your seat belt. It already needs to be in place or it won't do you any good.

There's a lot of seat belts in your home: smoke detectors; anti-tip brackets on kitchen stoves; carbon monoxide detectors; ground fault circuit interrupters; arc fault circuit interrupters; guard rails; grippable handrails on stairs; door locks; window sill heights; garage door opener safeties; etc.

I want to make sure you are aware of all those seat belts and keep them buckled.

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Don't ask why I threw that in there. It just popped into my head when I read the thread. It's one of the lectures I preface my inspections with but haven't ever written down before. Guess it'd make a good blog thing too! I'll go do it.

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Here's, also, what I tell my clients about state inspections when the sticker is missing.

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All water heater installations are supposed to be inspected by the State of Kentucky plumbing inspector who is supposed to put a dated sticker on the water heater indicating the inspector's approval of the installation.

There is no plumbing inspection sticker present.

Consult the seller to determine if the water heater was inspected and ask them to provide, in writing, the state plumbing inspectors approval of this installation.

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You hope you never, ever need it, but when you're driving down the road and say to yourself "Oh, my goodness, I think I'm going to have an accident (actually most of us use a shorter two word phrase that starts with OH!),

I thought accidents in Kentucky were prefaced with....."hey, hold my beer, I'm gonna try somethin'"........

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The whole mess is combustible

The label on my gas water heater tank says "May be installed on combustible flooring." Is there some rule I'm not aware of?

Yeah, honestly I wasn't making a "code" statement about it being combustible, but I think resting a 600 lbs gas water heater on such a frail wood platform up off the concrete floor in a garage is a really bad idea. Doesn't steel or masonry seem a lot safer? [:-graduat

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You hope you never, ever need it, but when you're driving down the road and say to yourself "Oh, my goodness, I think I'm going to have an accident (actually most of us use a shorter two word phrase that starts with OH!),

I thought accidents in Kentucky were prefaced with....."hey, hold my beer, I'm gonna try somethin'"........

I've heard that a few times.

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As far as I'm aware, gas water heaters in garages need to be raised 18" above the floor. I don't think there's any mention how they need to be supported. Is this the plumbing inspectors area of expertise...I don't know?

...would you call out the TPR extension as not terminating 6" from the floor on this installation?

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My main concern isn't minor code issues. I did notice the extension being more than 6" off the floor, but didn't worry about it since the water heater needs to be relocated.

The BIG problem is that 600 lbs of water heater is balanced on that front 2x4 assembly and braced by the rest of that mess. It's flat out dangerous. The 2x4 cross members that extend bac to the wall are moving down and away from the front assembly, under the weight of the water heater. So really, the brace is slowly diminishing to be just the plywood.

I couldn't sleep at night knowing that such a heavy piece of gas equipment was tetering on a tight rope out in my garage.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, let's say that the wood platform is built like a train trestle, what else is wrong with the platform? It's missing a drip pan, that's what. A water heater will always leak at some point, then the wood will rot and you know the rest.

Out here in CA, there are a number of other items may be wrong, YMMV.

Should have: flex water connectors, flex gas connector, gas sediment trap, earthquake bracing straps, TPR line extended to the outside of the building and terminating within 2' of ground pointed down, protection from car(as you said). I consider all of these safety issues, none are mere minor code.

You're right, it must be moved if only to comply with safety related code re: clearance around the electrical panel.

Also agree with Denray, don't see much slope in vents.

A disaster waiting to happen, soon...

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