Phoenix Water Heater Codes

At Water Heaters Only, Inc. we install water heaters to the current Arizona plumbing codes. 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, all, or part of the Arizona plumbing code. In our experience, we find enforcement of the code requirements in the Arizona 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 Arizona and make clear the items enforced in your area. This allows our customers to make informed decisions about their residence. Below is a list of requirements regularly enforced in the Phoenix 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 Arizona 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 for 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 Arizona. If you have a gas water heater located in a bedroom or bathroom, see our information on Direct Vent Water Heaters.

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 Arizona Plumbing Code 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 pre-existing issues we see.

Combustion Air

The Arizona Plumbing Code 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 and louvered doors and/or other means of providing combustion air may be recommended if 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 such as 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 Arizona Plumbing Code 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 Phoenix.

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 a 1/4 turn ball-style valve.

Gas Valve Replacement

Older style grease pack gas valves were a common part installed with older water heaters. However, due to a high failure rate, the Arizona 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 it 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 Phoenix.

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 unit’s 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 Arizona Plumbing Code has required expansion bottles on ‘closed-loop plumbing systems’ for many years. A “closed-loop plumbing system” is a system that has a backflow preventer or a pressure regulator between the house and the 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 T&P valve on the water heater opening and releasing water unnecessarily. Expansion bottles are designed to absorb the excess pressure and relieve the buildup 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 an unconditioned space. We install insulation to the piping as required by the Arizona Plumbing Code and also to help with energy efficiency.

Electrical Bonding

Bonding of the hot/cold water and gas 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 manufacturers’ warranties. When we replace your water heater, we test your water pressure and let you know the PSI. 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 the installation of a pressure regulator to reduce the incoming water pressure. Very high water pressure can damage your pipes, fixtures, faucets, and appliances including water heaters.

Occasionally, 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 the inspector may want additional items or may decide that work was completed unnecessarily.