You’ve got to be kidding! Electric water heaters have to be raised too? Says who?

Everybody knows that gas water heaters have to be raised to 18″ off the garage floor, right? But electric water heaters as well? What about the new FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) gas water heaters? Can they sit on the floor?

All of these questions can be answered with a single word…maybe.

OK, so it has to be raised. Why?

  • Gasoline vapors, as well as many other types of flammable vapors, are heavier than air.
  • Most flammable vapors, gasoline included, will settle at ground level.
  • The garage is the most likely location to encounter flammable vapors.
  • Studies have shown that elevating potential ignition sources dramatically reduces the incidence of flammable vapor ignition.
  • Studies have also shown that gasoline vapors tend to leak through the doors and walls to the exterior before they get higher than 18″.

When located in a garage, all national and international code authorities require all ignition sources must be at least 18″ above the floor.

As you might have noted the concern is not for pilot lights but for any ignition source that could ignite flammable vapors. Since the electric heating elements of electric water heaters are considered to be ignition sources, the requirement to be 18″ above the floor applies to electric water heaters as well as gas units.

Says who?

Here’s where it gets complicated. In the state of Oklahoma the “jurisdiction having authority” has the final say as to code enforcement. This means that the municipality or county the home is located in determines the rules, period.

HouseMaster has taken the time to speak with each jurisdiction in the Tulsa Metro area to find out what their water heater installation requirements are. You’ll see the local requirements for electric, old and new gas water heaters below.

Gas FVIR Electric
Bixby 18″ 18″ 18″
Broken Arrow 18″ floor 18″
Catoosa 18″ 18″ floor
Claremore 18″ 18″ 18″
Coweta 18″ floor floor
Glenpool 18″ 18″ 18″
Jenks 18″ floor floor
Owasso 18″ floor floor
Rogers County 18″ floor 18″
Sand Springs 18″ floor 18″
Sapulpa 18″ 18″ 18″
Tulsa 18″ floor 18″
Tulsa County 18″ floor 18″
Wagoner County 18″ 18″ floor

In all things code-related change happens quickly and without warning. Regardless of the location of the home it’s always prudent to consult the local code authority concerning installation specifics and permit requirements before taking any action.

If you have further questions about this subject, or any other industry-related concern, we have the answers! Call or email any time, and we’ll gladly help you in any way we can.

Dan LaBrake
9807 S. 226 E. Avenue
Broken Arrow, OK 74014