At Water Heaters Only, Inc we install water heaters to the current California Plumbing Code (cpc), based off Chapter 5 (water heaters) of the CPC. We also install our units to the best of our ability to codes enforced by the municipality where the water heater will be installed. Municipalities and Counties can enforce some parts or all of the California Plumbing Code. In our experience, we find enforcement of the code requirements in the California Plumbing Code varies from city to city as well as between inspectors.
As licensed contractors, we perform a site inspection upon arrival to inform our customers of what areas the water heater is not compliant with the current code. We must inform our customers of the requirements of the state of California and make clear the items enforced in your area. This allows our customer to make informed decisions about their residence. Below is a list of requirements regularly enforced in the San Diego Area.
Please note: We try to keep our code requirement information current; however the city or municipality you live in can interrupt, update or enforce the code as they deem necessary, without notifying the licensed contractors that provide services in their jurisdictions.
Location of the Water Heater: The California Plumbing Code Regulates where a water heater may and may not be installed. Gas water heaters are not approved to be installed in bedrooms, bathrooms, or closets (unless sole use). This plumbing code regulation prevents the potential of human contact with trace amounts of Carbon Monoxide (CO) released from gas water heater vents and the possibility of inhalation accidents. This is presently enforced in the San Diego Area. If you have a gas water heater located in a bedroom or bathroom, see our information on Direct Vent Water Heaters.
Earthquake Bracing and Strapping: Protection from seismic damage, since California is in an earthquake zone there are specific safety requirements for how water heaters must be protected from possible seismic activity. Storage type tank units are required to have certified earthquake straps on the top and bottom thirds of the tank. Inspectors in San Diego enforce this regulation.
Flue Venting: Every gas water heater has a flue venting system. Some water heaters are power vented and have a plastic vent, but most traditional tank water heaters have a metal vent that attaches to the top of the unit to disperse the carbon monoxide created by the gas being burned to heat the water. The size of the water heater vent depends on the amount of BTU’s the hot water heater burns during combustion. Vents must be installed in a specific manner per the CPC for safety. Depending on the type of vent there must be a certain amount of clearance from the vent to any flammable or combustible surfaces. Vents must also terminate to an approved location. During our onsite assessment we will inspect the venting system and alert you to any preexisting issues we see.
Combustion Air: The CPC has specific requirements for air for combustion, ventilation and dilution of flue gases. A sufficient amount of air is required for a gas water heater to function properly. Depending on the location of the water heater there are a variety of approved remedies for a lack of combustion air, air vents may be required, louvered doors and/or other means of providing combustion air will be recommended is it is noted there is a lack of combustion air for the water heater.
Drip Pan and Drain Lines: For water heaters located in an area where (water) damage can occur, on a built-in platform, an inside location, attic or 2nd floor where water leakage could cause damage to your residence a drain pan with a drain line running to an approved location (usually the exterior) is required.
Temperature / Pressure Relief Valve and Drain (T/P Overflow) to the Exterior: The CPC requires the Temperature / Pressure relief valve to have a drain that is piped to an approved location, most often this pipe is required to run to the exterior of the building. This is to prevent accidental scalding and damage when the T/P relief valve opens and releases water due to high temperatures or excessive pressure. This code requirement is being enforced by San Diego.
Dedicated Water Shutoff Valve: A water shut off valve is required at the hot water heater. The shutoff valve allows the water to be turned off on the cold water supply to the tank, when necessary, while allowing the rest of the home to maintain normal water usage. We recommend and install 1/4 turn ball style valve.
Gas Valve Replacement: Older style grease pack gas valves were a common part installed with older water heater. However, due to a high failure rate, the California Plumbing Code does not approve their use any longer. Our technician will check for this valve when inspecting your hot water heater and advise that is be changed if we find one. Our technician will also inspect the entire gas line and give recommendations based on the current condition of the gas line. This item is enforced in San Diego.
Gas Drip Leg / Sediment Traps – The gas drip leg or sediment trap is located on the gas line running to your water heater, usually below the gas control valve on the water heater. It is a pipe that looks like a T and is intended to catch debris and moisture in your gas line. It stops those particles from entering the combustion chamber of the water heater and can help your units performance. A gas drip leg / sediment trap is generally required by the water heater manufacturers, but is not always enforced by inspectors. We install water heaters to the manufacturer’s specifications and to the plumbing code.
Expansion Bottles – The California Plumbing Code has required expansion bottle on ‘closed loop plumbing systems’ for many years. A “closed loop plumbing system” is a system has a backflow preventer or a pressure regulator between the house and water main. When water is heated it can increase by about 2% volume causing pressure to build in the plumbing system, when a faucet is opened in the home it causes a rapid drop in pressure and can result in deterioration of the plumbing system in the home, fixtures and the water heater. The pressure build up can also lead to the P/T valve on the water heater opening and releasing water unnecessarily. Expansion bottles are designed to absorb the excess pressure and relieve the build up of pressure in the plumbing system. If you have a “closed loop plumbing system” we recommended installing an expansion bottle on the cold side piping of the water heater.
Water Piping Insulation: The first 5 feet of hot and cold water pipes are required to be insulated if they are exposed in unconditioned space. We install insulation to piping as required by the California Plumbing Code and also to help with energy efficiency.
Electrical Bonding: Bonding of the hot cold and gas water piping with 6 AWG (American Wire Gauge) wire and clamps will successfully ground all the pipes. This will prevent degraded wires from energizing your pipes which could lead to a dangerous situation.
Pressure Regulators – Water Heaters are sensitive to pressure and a PSI over 80 will void most manufacturer’s warranties. When we replace your water heater, we test your water pressure and let you know what your PSI is. If you have a regulator that is failing or do not have a regulator and the PSI (incoming water pressure in pounds per square inch) is over 80, we will recommend to install a pressure regulator to reduce the incoming water pressure. Very high water pressure can damage your pipes, fixtures faucets and appliances including water heaters.
On occasion our technician may perform work that the inspector believes was unnecessary. Water Heaters Only, Inc makes every effort to keep our code requirements up to date, but we advise you to talk with your local building code official if you have any concerns prior to your installation commencing. Our technician will have the most recent information from our annual survey from the municipalities, but it is not a guarantee that the inspector may want additional items or may decide that work was completed unnecessarily.