Department of Public Protection
Water Heater Safety Requires Proper Installation, Inspection
When Bob Carmickle, a state plumbing inspector in Hardin County, went to a local residence to inspect a water heater, he could only shake his head at what he saw.
The gas heater was leaning at a crazy angle, its outer jacket peeled away. Carmickle determined that the installer used an inadequate temperature and relief valve and failed to use a required expansion device. Water inside the tank expanded as it heated and the appliance exploded, sending natural gas throughout the house.
The elderly resident was helped to safety by a neighbor and the gas supply was shut off, averting a more serious accident. But Van Cook, executive director of the Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction, said the near tragedy was completely avoidable.
“Our state wide code is clear: Except for farmsteads, and manufactured homes that meet a federal guideline, all water heaters installed in the state must have a permit and must be inspected,” Cook said.
Every county has a plumbing inspector to inspect water heaters. For the fee of $35, the inspector visits the home to ensure that the job was done properly.
“Not only is it state law to have an inspection, but if you don’t properly install it, you will void the heater’s warranty,” Cook noted.
The code allows either a resident who both lives in and owns a home or a licensed plumber to install the heater. The responsible party must obtain the permit and receive the inspection.
A violation carries potential penalties of $100 per day in fines and up to 90 days in jail per offense.
“If you’re moving into a home, make sure the water heater has been inspected,” Cook advised. “Look for the green approval sticker on the heater.”
More information is available at the office’s web site, http://www.ohbc.ky.gov/plumbing.
The Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction is a part of the Department of Public Protection in the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.