State of California Health and Safety Code mandates that new and replacement water heaters be braced and anchored, and that compliance is a point-of-sale requirement.
During past earthquakes, water heaters have moved or tipped over if they were not securely anchored to adjacent walls or floors. This movement has resulted in gas line or water line leaks, and electrical wiring damage. Gas line leaks and damaged electrical wiring pose health and fire hazards, and water line leaks can cause significant and costly property damage.
Specifically, California law (Health & Safety Code Sections 19210-19217) requires:
• Any new or replacement water heater sold in California on or after July 1, 1991 be braced, anchored or strapped when installed to resist falling or horizontal displacement due to earthquake forces.
• The seller of any real property containing a water heater must certify in writing to the purchaser that water heater bracing requirements have been met.
The minimum standard for this security is set forth in the California Plumbing Code, although additional or more restrictive requirements may be adopted by local building departments. The certification can be included with the Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety, in the Real Estate Purchase Contract or Receipt for Deposit, or with the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement. (California Health and Safety Code, Section 19211)
The California State Architect has prepared guidelines for several earthquake bracing systems for typical residential water heater installations. These guidelines meet the bracing requirements of California’s building and plumbing codes, which require that a minimum of two bracing straps be provided to secure the water heater against movement. The installation of residential water heaters (including seismic bracing) is under the jurisdiction of local building departments.
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