Every few years, Tacoma and the South Sound 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.
Currently, in Tacoma and most communities in the South Sound area, a permit is required for a new 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.
The following are safety regulations that we have found are typically enforced in Tacoma and the South Sound at the moment. 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 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 & the East Side 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 local 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, local 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. Local inspectors 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 Shutoff – 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 shutoff to your water heater. Local inspectors see this as imperative and will insist on its inclusion.