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Electric Hot Water Heaters in Garages
December 1, 2008
2:12 pm
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inspectorgift
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Fred, the dryer and washer motors are often at the bottom of the machine, and within 18" of the floor.

December 1, 2008
1:45 pm
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fmanuel
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Guys, correct me if I am wrong but all the electrical componants on washers, dryers, ETC... are at the top of the appliance right, so there would not be an issue with any of those appliances being installed in a garage at all, seems to me the 18" doesnt even come into play.

December 1, 2008
11:50 am
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jj1289
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I would say an electric water heater would not have to meet the 18" clearance because the elements are within a sealed vesel and emmersed in water. and the contacts are generally towards the top of the water heater.

The clothes dryer on the other hand, I would have to say would need to be elevated, unless it can be proven the heating element and motor are more than 18" above the floor.

December 1, 2008
11:48 am
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grayheadedmule
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If the water heater (gas) is a sealed combustion then it is allowed on the floor of the garage IF it is protected from damage...

The 18 inches doesn''t have anything to do with the protection from automobiles. It can be a wall, bollards, offset from an area where damage can occur.

M1307.3.1 Protection from impact. Appliances located in a garage or carport shall be protected from impact by automobiles.

Washers and dryers...never even gave it a second thought.

December 1, 2008
11:26 am
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fmanuel
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Guys, correct me if I am wrong but all the electrical componants on washers, dryers, ETC... are at the top of the appliance right, so there would not be an issue with any of those appliances being installed in a garage at all, seems to me the 18" doesnt even come into play.

December 1, 2008
10:36 am
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mayjong
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yes on the WH...
we see lots of washer/dryers in the garages here in sunny CA... i haven''t seen one elevated, yet.

December 1, 2008
9:46 am
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rj2085
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JAR: My first post was similar to Paul Sweet''s. Your sections are clear and most definitely the definition. So I feel, no, but those sections say yes.

I do not get many people wanting electric hot water heaters in garages much. But I have never seen a refrigerator or freezer on an 18" plat form, nor do I believe that was the intent of the code.

Dryers and close washers? Once again I don''t see many in garages. But, how is the wife going to load a top load washer or dryer 18" off the floor?

December 1, 2008
8:48 am
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fmanuel
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jar546, In all the new homes being built out here, they are all gas fired appliances, not electrical water heaters. All the gas water heaters are elevated by either a platform with protection if needed or installed in an elevated niche for the water heater in the garage. I have seen electrical water heaters installed in other places of house''s, older homes, in exterior compartments, which was not elevated, and in other parts of the house, not elevated. These compartments were for exclusive use of the water heater. But, if I was to see an install at floor level and not elevated then I would make sure that any ignition device, controls or spark producing contacts are elevated to 18" or higher, if installed in a garage. So, in being honest, I have not come across any electrical water heater installs in a garage yet. But I totally agree with you on your comments. Fred

December 1, 2008
8:43 am
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paul sweet
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An electric water heater element is typically 4500 watts at 240 volts. The element is inside the tank where the water will absorb its heat, so the element itself isn''t an ignition source. However, the thermostat could produce a pretty good spark.

A garage door photocell doesn''t spark. Receptacles don''t spark, unless the cord is frayed or you pull the cord out while whatever it is attached to is still on.

December 1, 2008
7:37 am
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pwood
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elevate em!

December 1, 2008
7:04 am
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jar546
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OK So back to the original question:

Who enforces the 18" code requirement for water heaters in residential garages?

I don''t think that electric water heaters were part of the intent. That is my opinion.

If you do then:

What do you do about dryers, clotheswashers, freezers, refrigerators, receptacles, switches that are below 18" in a garage.

Now tell me what you are going to do about the photo eyes for garage door openers that are required to be no more than 6" off the floor?

Where does it end?

Come on, take a stand and tell us what you do instead of making general comments.

December 1, 2008
6:11 am
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mtlogcabin
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IGNITION SOURCE. A flame, spark or hot surface capable of igniting flammable vapors or fumes. Such sources include appliance burners, burner ignitions and electrical switching devices.

Last time I looked an electric water heater, refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, and dryer are all appliances under the code and all have electrical switching devices (contacts)installed which can spark.
A neighbors garage caught fire when their son set a gas can next to the electric dryer.
Yes all electrical appliances should be 18" above a garage floor.

December 1, 2008
5:16 am
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jar546
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Residential

December 1, 2008
4:52 am
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jackson2112
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jar,

Are you referring to a Residential garage or a Commercial garage?

Either way, we DO enforce the 18" height requirement if the source of spark is in the lower end of the appliance. We try to be consistent in our application of the I codes, like `em or not. 🙂

December 1, 2008
4:16 am
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rj2085
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Well reading those sections I would say it has to be 18". The element could get hot enough to ignite gas vapors! Look at manufactures instructions/ restrictions.
I still think this is a stretch. Do you have an installation that is a problem. If so, have them put it on a plat form or provide documentation that it would be exempt.

December 1, 2008
4:05 am
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jar546
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Some are citing M1307.3 from the IRC then going to the definition of ignition source.

December 1, 2008
3:56 am
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rj2085
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Jar: IFGC 305.3 elevation of ignition sources.
Also, see exception

IMC: 304.3 elevation of ignition source/heating-oil-tank-hot-exam-oregon lso look at conflicts 304.2

Some heaters can sit right on the floor if the ignition source is 18" of the floor.

What does the manufactures instructions say?

December 1, 2008
3:42 am
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jar546
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Packsaddle and Uncle Bob, do you have an opinion on the question?

Looking for input on this one to see how divided we actually are on this subject.

December 1, 2008
1:22 am
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rj2085
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I would say NO! However, you could take the position that a spark could happen on the element. I believe slim and none. The 18" rule is for heaters gas or oil. They would all need bollards.

November 30, 2008
11:30 pm
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rosso
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Jar,

And bollards.

Uncle Bob