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You may be wondering, “Do I need a permit to replace my water heater in Seattle?”

Currently, in Seattle and unincorporated King County, a permit is NOT required for an installation. However, most communities in Washington state do require a permit for the installation of a hot water heater. If needed, we can pull the permit for you, and it will not slow down any work on our end.

Every few years, Seattle water heater codes 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.

While you may not need a permit in Seattle, your technician will still install everything to code. That’s because water heaters cause more property damage than any other home appliance. And if the unit is not installed to code by a licensed professional and causes damage, your home insurance could reject any claims.

Your expert technician will go over an item-by-item checklist of all applicable safety codes needed for your installation prior to any work being completed, or cost to you.

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 – Seattle, WA

Codes Currently Being Enforced in Seattle

The following are safety regulations that we have found are typically enforced in Seattle, at the moment. We go to great lengths to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, but please consult your installation professional, whose knowledge will be in-depth and definitely current.

Expansion Tanks – An expansion tank is required if a plumbing system is closed – this means the backflow, which normally runs between the house and the city water supply, is blocked. However, when water is heated, it starts to expand, which causes a rise in water pressure. The increased pressure must dissipate. If there is nowhere for the pressure to go, it places undue stress and strain on your water heater and your home’s plumbing system. Increased pressure will shorten the life of your water heater. However, expansion tanks provide relief from this excess water pressure and protect your home. Seattle inspectors almost always enforce this code.

Approved Location – One of the dangers of gas water heaters is they can emit carbon monoxide (CO). This dangerous byproduct can cause sickness and can even be fatal. It is illegal to put in a gas water heater in a small, frequently used space such as a bedroom or bathroom closet. The only exception to this code is a direct vent style (or power-direct vent) water heater. Local inspectors are very strict in enforcing this rule.

Earthquake Straps – As you probably know, the state of Washington is at risk of earthquakes due to its geographic location, so you must keep your water heater secured by placing straps on both the top and bottom third of the heater. The Seattle plumbing inspectors will be sure to check your water heater is secured with earthquake straps.

Venting – As gas water heaters create CO as they operate, the proper installation of venting is crucial for safety. Our licensed, professional installers pay special attention to this. These vents should be made of the proper material and keep specific clearances from combustible materials. Again, Seattle inspectors will check to make sure your water heater is properly vented.

Pressure Regulating Valve – Devices that regulate pressure play an important role in preventing damage to your water heater and your plumbing. This is particularly the case if the pressure in your house is 80 PSI or higher. When we work with you, we take care to measure your PSI carefully and will let you know whether or not your plumbing situation requires a pressure regulator.

Pans & Drains – Water damage is always a concern with a leaky water heater, especially when the tank is located inside or in an area where damage can occur. Inspectors in Seattle will enforce you put a pan, linked to a drain line, under your heater where damage can occur.

Bonding – When your plumbing and your electrical wires are side by side, which is the case in many homes, there is a risk deteriorating wires can cause your pipes to become energized. This is extremely dangerous, so safety inspectors insist that you ground your pipes for both water and gas. You can do this easily with 6 AWG wire and clamps

Dedicated Water Shut Off – On occasion, you might need to turn off your water heater without compromising your household’s access to running water (like to drain sediment from the tank). You can achieve this by dedicating one shut off to your water heater. Seattle inspectors see this as imperative and will insist on its inclusion.