The Importance of Permits for Water Heater Installations

Written by: Angel Manginelli-Ford

Acquiring permits for water heaters and similar work is crucial for two main reasons: safety and legal compliance in California.

Many contractors in California perform unpermitted work. This practice can lead to dangerous shortcuts. Incorrect installation of gas lines, water lines, electrical components, and earthquake straps can result in fire, water damage, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other hazards. These issues not only endanger your home and family but can also become very costly. Obtaining a permit and having the work inspected by local authorities ensures a system of checks and balances designed to protect you.

What do permit offices say about this? Are permits just another tax? A common misconception is that plumbers can acquire a “blanket permit” for all their water heater installations. We emailed the Elk Grove permit office and spoke with a supervising permit technician who said, “the inspectors discussed [blanket permits] in their staff meeting this morning. A permit is required for all water heater replacements and new gas/plumbing lines and sometimes plumbing repairs.” The Sac County website says, “permits provide the first line of defense against building disasters and ensure the safety of the structures in which we all live, work, and play.”

Here are a few examples of water heaters A2Z has encountered and the dangerous state they were in.


  • This gas exhaust pipe, which runs from the water heater into the attic, is fully disconnected, exposing your family to carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, blurred vision, loss of muscle control, and unconsciousness. Severe cases can lead to memory loss, personality changes, and movement problems. Since carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, proper installation and inspection are essential.


Pictured above are two water heaters with severe corrosion caused by water leaks, which can worsen and increase the risk of water damage in your home. Additionally, the insulation around the piping was improperly installed and is creating a fire hazard. While water lines need insulation, it must be kept at least 6 inches from hot exhaust pipes. In both cases, the insulation was incorrectly placed around the corroded pipe next to the exhaust.



  • On this exhaust pipe from the top of a water heater, the metal “ring” is improperly installed. It should be positioned higher at the ceiling to block the large hole, reducing the risk of fire spreading from your garage to the attic, where firefighters have limited access.


Aside from safety, unpermitted work can lead to legal, insurance, and financial issues. If your water heater causes water damage, your home insurance may deny coverage if the heater was unpermitted. This applies to all unpermitted work, not just water heaters. The Sac County article “Why You Need a Building Permit, How to Get One” states, “Most lending institutions will not finance a house with illegal work and most insurance policies will not cover damages caused by or to illegal work.”

Unpermitted work can also complicate selling your home. California law requires full disclosure of all remodeling work, whether permitted or not. The Elk Grove website article “Building Safety, Inspections and Permits” points out that “with permits and inspections, you can expect a smoother closing process free of last minute hassles, inspections, and repair work if the home isn’t up to code.”

A2Z Water Heaters always acquires permits because we value your safety and take pride in our work! If you need a water heater replacement or repair, call Fred Ford at (916) 402-9006 for a free estimate.




by client July 1, 2024

Author: client

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