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Every few years, water heater codes for San Francisco and the Peninsula change to adopt new installation and safety measures. While intended to increase your overall home safety, these code requirements can result in extra installation charges.

Currently, most towns in San Francisco and the Peninsula require a permit for a water heater installation. The good news is we can pull the permit for you, and it will not slow down any work on our end.

We try to keep this information as up-to-date as possible, but your local installer will be able to answer any specific question you may have.

Local Water Heater & Plumbing Codes – San Francisco & The Peninsula

Codes Currently Being Enforced in San Francisco & the Peninsula

The following are safety regulations that we have found are typically enforced in towns are San Francisco and the Peninsula. We go to great lengths to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, but please consult your installer, whose knowledge will be in-depth and up-to-date.

Approved Location – In the Peninsula, bedrooms and bathrooms cannot be used for water heater storage areas. Closets may be used if that is their only purpose. This regulation is currently enforced in Peninsula because if a gas water heater is incorrectly vented, its deadly carbon monoxide (CO) emissions could enter your home.

Earthquake Straps – The California Plumbing Code requires the use of earthquake straps to secure your water heater. The straps must be located on the top-third of the tank as well as the bottom-third. Most communities in the Peninsula enforce this code for your safety.

Venting – Most water heaters in the Peninsula are gas-powered, emitting small amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) as they operate. This requires correct venting of the water heater. The size of the vent is determined by the size of the water heater. If the vent material gets hot, it will need sufficient clearance to avoid touching combustible or flammable materials. This is actively enforced in most of San Francisco’s Peninsula.

Pans and Drains – Water heaters situated on a built-in platform or in an interior location could leak and cause water damage. A requirement of the CA Plumbing Code requires that a pan be placed under the water heater with an attached drain-line running to the exterior.

Pressure and Temperature Relief Drain (“P&T Drain”) to the Exterior – Although your P&T Drain is required to be run to the exterior to prevent scalding while the pressure and temperature relief is discharging, there are some instances where piping to the exterior is not possible. Most inspectors in the Peninsula enforce this requirement, and also allow a Watts 210 valve to be used as a substitute.

Dedicated Water Shutoff – With a dedicated water shutoff you can turn off the water to the water heater while it is being serviced and still have water in the rest of the house.

Pipe Insulation – Pipes must be insulated if they are exposed in unconditioned space.

Bonding – The CA Electric Code requires water and gas pipes to be grounded. To successfully ground all the pipes, they must be bonded with 6 AWG wire and clamps. As plumbing and electrical wiring are often adjacent to, or near, each other, it is possible for your pipes to be energized if your wires begin to deteriorate, putting you in a dangerous situation. Inspectors are currently requiring this.