A gas/propane water heater in a garage is elevated. This is to ensure the open flame (at the bottom) is above a certain height (?) to avoid any combustible fuels in the garage from igniting.

This all makes sense.

But does it apply to electric/heat pump hot water heaters? I assume not, as there is no flame to cause combustion, but I'm not sure where in the code to find out if this is true or not. Is it a plumbing code? Electrical?


6 Answers 6


As I suspected, the code you're referencing is from the National Fuel Gas Code. I was not able to find anything in National Electrical Code, or International Residential Code that mentions this in the context of electric appliances.

So this code only applies to gas water heaters, and only those that are not listed as flammable vapor ignition resistant (FVIR).

NFPA 54: National Fuel Gas Code 2015

Chapter 9 Appliance, Equipment, and Accessory Installation

9.1 General.

9.1.10 Installation in Residential Garages. Appliances in residential garages and in adjacent spaces that open to the garage and are not part of the living space of a dwelling unit shall be installed so that all burners and burner ignition devices are located not less than 18 in. (460 mm) above the floor unless listed as flammable vapor ignition resistant.

  • Thanks! This makes sense. It's all pertaining to open flame appliances.
    – DA01
    Jan 17, 2015 at 2:22

The International Residential Building Code, section G2408.2, Appliance Elevations, Exceptions, specifically states that FVIR-equipped appliances are exempt from the elevation requirement.

That would cover virtually all water heaters manufactured and sold in the US since roughly 2003. Elevation might be advisable for water damage mitigation, but is no longer required for gas-fired water heaters in garage installations.


Which means, for all practical purposes, the actual water heater should be elevated approximately 12-14" above the garage floor. The burner/ ignition flame is likely 4"-6" above the base of the water heater. Adding the two together gives the required 18". Code doesn't require the gas water heater itself to be elevated 18"' just the burner/ ignition assembly.


Most gas water heaters in the 30-50 gallon range sold/manufactured in America since 2003 are FVIR (flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) By 2005, all sold are FVIR. If a water is FVIR, it does not have to be elevated when installed in the garage. http://www.ashireporter.org/HomeInspection/Articles/FVIR-Flammable-Vapor-Ignition-Resistant-Water-Heaters/2361


I was looking to install an electric heat pump water heater and had the same question. After researching, I've come to the conclusion that it is not necessary to elevate a HPWH per: https://basc.pnnl.gov/code-compliance/heat-pump-water-heaters-code-compliance-brief

Specifically: "- IRC Section P2801.7 Water Heaters Installed in Garages. Water heaters having an ignition source should be elevated such that the source of ignition is not less than 18 inches (457 millimeters) above the garage floor (currently not relevant to HPWHs)." (emphasis added)


"FVIR certified gas water heaters can be installed on a residential garage floor without the use of an 18-inch stand in accordance with the National Fuel Gas Code, NFPA 54, ANSI Z223.1, unless otherwise directed by State and Local code requirements."

  • 2
    Where are you quoting that from? Please cite your source.
    – Tester101
    Jan 9, 2017 at 15:08

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