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Water heater permitting

Water Heater Installation – Code and Safety Precautions

Proper water heater installation requires careful attention to detail, adherence to codes, a focus on safety, and in some cases, a permit. When not installed properly, water heaters can wreak havoc on your home and pose a dangerous threat to your family. It’s a complex job best left to the pros at Washington Energy Services, who can consult on your options, obtain the right permit, install, and maintain your water heater.

Will I need a permit?

In most locations, yes. But it’s not something you need to worry about. When you choose Washington Energy, we guide you through the permitting process.

Why do I need a permit?

Water heaters are a powerful home appliance. For your safety, you’ll want to make sure it is installed properly.

Elements of a permit

Here are some of the most important code elements found in the Pacific Northwest. We are knowledgeable about, and strictly adhere to all code requirements to ensure optimum performance and safety.


Accessibility is key for water heater placement, and a 24-inch minimum perimeter around the unit is required. In general, water heaters should not be installed in bedrooms, closets, or bathrooms, as there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. For garage installation, a protective barrier (like a post) must be present to protect the unit from a collision. Our experienced water heater specialists will discuss all location and placement options with you.

Earthquake safety

It’s no secret that the PNW is in an earthquake zone. 20-gauge seismic bracing will help protect your water heater, home, and family from a tipping or broken water heater, should an earthquake hit. One strap is placed on the upper third of the water heater and a second strap is placed on the lower third to enhance security and meet code.

Expansion tanks

Expansion tanks are required when homes have a closed system—a system in which water can only flow into the home. Water heaters expand when they get hot, and the expansion tank serves as a backup when this occurs. Without it, the hot water would be released through the pressure relief valve, which can result in a reduced lifespan for your water heater. Your Washington Energy Services technician will tell you if an expansion tank is needed for your home.

Temperature and pressure relief valves

Pressure happens—and when it does, the temperature and pressure relief valves allow hot water to be released. The valve connects to a pipe that runs to a drain or outside using gravity.

Gas water heaters

This type of heater rightly requires more stringent adherence to codes and safety. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be a very real danger if inadequate venting is installed. For this reason alone, hiring skilled, experienced technicians from Washington Energy Services is crucial for the health and safety of your family.  Please note if you are installing gas piping or changing your current gas piping, a separate gas-piping permit is mandatory.


The electrical aspects of water heater installation must be precise. It is required that the gas and water pipes be bound with wire and clamps in order to ground the system.

Pans and Drain Lines

Leaks don’t have to be disastrous. If your water heater is on a platform or in an internal area, pans and drain lines are required. The experts at Washington Energy Services will tell you if your water heater location necessitates a pan and drain line to protect your home.

Pipe Insulation

This one is easy, but often goes unchecked. You must have pipe insulation in unconditioned spaces. Our technicians can provide installation for both the water heater and surrounding pipe insulation for optimum time and money savings.

Trust our experts

No matter what county you live in, our professional installers and permitting staff will make sure your project goes without a hitch. We explain every step of the process to you and make sure you get the water heater you want when you want it.

Get your water heater quote

In most cases, we can quote replacement water heaters right over the phone or via email. Contact us today to get started.

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