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 City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: bluesky99 (MI)

I live in Michigan (Novi) and I just got my water heater replaced this weekend (1/28) by a master plumber I found on thumbtack.com. On the day of installation, not only did he show up an hour later than the agreed appointment time but he brought a unit different from what I specified and he agreed to use. He basically talked me into accepting it citing it's not fair if he had to take the unit back and come back to install the correct one as long as the wrong unit would fit and heat the water. Long story short, I reluctantly accepted which I now find to have very low rating (1.5 star review on Lowes).

In any case, I called the city today and they said the contractor needs to pull a permit for the installation job not later than within 48 hours of the work performed. I texted the plumber but his comment was "you never told me I had a pull a permit". I told him I'm not a plumbing professional and am not at all familiar with requirements/code. Since then no reply from him. My questions are 1). is it plumber's responsibility to manger permit issues as my city is within the service area covered in his advertisement, 2). what should I do if he doesn't respond? Should I simply try to pull a permit directly with the city?

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: sum (FL)

Its kind of late now that everything has been done and he has been paid.

If he has agreed to use a specific brand and model he should have consulted you before buying a replacement and dump it on your lap.

Permit wise it is a tough call, a lot of people don't pull permits when its a simple fixture change and a water heater normally is a fairly straight forward task. Was permit part of the discussion in the beginning?

In my city, to pull a permit for a water heater change requires a general permit with two sub permits. The plumber can hook up the water lines and call for the plumbing inspection, and an electrician had to connect the wiring and call for an electrical inspection. Then a third guy comes out to make sure you posted the notice of commencement recorded at the county court house with a stamp, only then they "final" it.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: stuckinlodi (MO)

Rather than use thumbtack.com I'd suggest asking friends, neighbors, relatives etc for a plumber recommendation. Everybody has a water heater and they need replaced now and then so someone you know has had it or other plumbing work done. My understanding is that when you have someone from Lowe's install a water heater that the store will make sure it is done to your satisfaction (unlike the other places like Home Depot where the installers are independent and any disagreements are between you and the installer). If you paid Lowe's to do the installation you might have a case, go in and talk to the customer service people, you should at least get the model of water heater you selected in the first place. And if Lowe's agrees to replace the water heater ask them about any needed permits, but in a lot of places a permit isn't gotten for stuff like this. Adding on a room, yes, but replacing a water heater no.



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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: bluesky99 (MI)

Hi Sum, thanks for your reply. It's very helpful. No, I didn't discuss permit with the plumber before the job was done since I was not aware it was required by my city. Can you share (generally speaking) what if I do not pull a permit? Is ther a penalty of some sort or any other consequesnces I should be aware of?

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: PlumberLoren (CA)

Bluesky, there is a reason for permits and not only to raise money for the city to pay their employees. Whether you install a gas or electric water heater, there are code requirements that should be met. Size of wire, size of breakers, smitty pan, code approved gas valve and connector. Your inspectors job is to make sure the install is safe and according to code. If your home has a fire because of a faulty install, your insurance company might decline to pay for damages under certain circumstances. I would get an inspection by the city for your own safety. Not trying to scare you but listing possibilities for you to consider. Here in California, contractors must post a bond and have insurance among other requirements. They also are expected to be fair and honest with the public. Start with the City and take their advice. Good luck.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: packy (MA)

contact the juristiction at the state house that issues plumbers licenses.
my state call them..Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters
complain to them. they in turn will contact the local inspector who will contact the plumber who will then do ANYTHING you ask.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: sum (FL)

If you don't pull a permit, there are two possible consequences. One is legal/liability and the other is safety.

For something like a water heater change out, most likely no one would find out or care too much about it. But if they do catch you, the city could make you obtain a permit after they found out, and also impose a penalty fee. In my city the penalty is double the normal permit fee. The other issue could be when you eventually sell the house, the potential buyer conducts his/her due dilligence and found out your WH is umpermitted and use that as leverage to label your house being not "legally modified". Ok so how would someone finds out you didn't pull a permit? The city can't just walk into your home and look around and look for violations, but it is possible that in the future you are doing a major project and is pulling permits. The city plumbing inspector comes to inspect that part of the project but noticed your WH is not installed up to code, such as not raised or sitting on a pan or whatever and decides to take a closer look. Your WH has a sticker on it saying brand, model and serial number, the serial number can translate to the year the item was manufactured. So if they do not see a plumbing permit pulled after the year the WH was made they know you didn't pull one.

Safety wise even if you decide not to have it inspected, you need to have someone experienced to examine the installation to make sure its Ok. You need to make sure the WH's element wattages is compatible to the wiring and breaker. Most people take advantage of the opportunity to change out the ball valve on the cold water line at the same time. The WH is most likely required to sit on a pan so if it leaks it will not flood your property. That pan hopefully has an outlet that leads outside. The T&P valve needs to be tested and preferably visible where you can see it discharging if there is ever a problem.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: stuckinlodi (MO)

"The WH is most likely required to sit on a pan so if it leaks it will not flood your property. That pan hopefully has an outlet that leads outside. The T&P valve needs to be tested and preferably visible where you can see it discharging if there is ever a problem."
-------

I've wondered about those water heater pans. They may be ok for some nuisance leaking but really, if your water heater overheats and the T&P valve opens that pan isn't going to hold the gallons of gushing water, even if the pan has a discharge tube. I suppose the T&P will shut off once the cold water coming into the tank has cooled the water below the trip point but by that time you've got a flooded area.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: sum (FL)

I usually connect the pan to a 3/4" discharge tube that runs outside the house so unless the leak is coming out like a tub spout or the discharge tube is clogged it shouldn't overflow. If conditions permit I also run the T&P valve outside and test it monthly, running it outside is technically not best practice because you may not notice the valve dripping if it's in a back yard area you don't pass by that often. If you can't run it outside then yeah the pan will not do a lot of good, and the T&P valve would have to be piped into a bucket.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: stuckinlodi (MO)

I have a 1 1/2 or 2 inch drain pipe running right by my water heater and it has a tee-fitting with a connection where a 24 inch long, 3/4 inch size metal flex water heater hose is connected down to the T&P. This is the way it was done when we bought the house. I know the T&P is supposed to be plumbed so that any leakage is visible, but why? Just so you'll know it is leaking I guess, by the mess that it makes. The way mine is done if the water heater overheats and really gushes out it goes directly into the large drain line, no mess, and I will *hear* it running just as easy as I could see it if it was plumbed to discharge on the floor per recommendation.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: hj (AZ)

The pan is NOT for the T&P discharge and should NOT be used for that. It is a safety feature when the heater itself starts to leak.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: hj (AZ)

Plus, you have an ILLEGAL connection between the water system and the drain system. Depending on what material the drain system is made of, the "superhot" water from the T&P valve will probably soften it.



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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: stuckinlodi (MO)

yes, I knew it wasn't code when we moved in. The house was built in the 1960's with whatever pipes was in use back then. The drain pipe it is connected to is smooth metal (galvanized I think) and painted, good-sized, so no worry about deforming the pipe. But I agree with all you said.

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 Re: City permit required for water heater installation? My plumber won't do it
Author: sum (FL)

I hope your T&P valve never leaks when your drains are backed up or you might end up with dirty water inside your heater.

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