The electric domestic hot water generating system can essentially be operated like any other electrical appliance in your home. However, having a different power supply does not render them immune to municipal codes and regulation. If you are living the Chicago, there are some aspects of the Chicago plumbing code you should definitely be mindful of.

As far as current building practices go, obtaining hot water comes under the umbrella of MEP engineering, more so than it does under that of the local administration. And with this, the operation of such a system becomes the responsibility of homeowners. 

Why Would You Prefer Electric System Over Gas?

Electrical systems are inherently easier to operate since they only require the push of a button. To add to that, they also cause no pollution, unlike oil or gas powered systems. An efficient electric hot water generation system will not only help you economize energy but also help in reducing power bills.

There are certain places like a bathroom, or attic, in which you are prohibited to keep a fuel-fired water heater, thankfully, such restriction will not apply to electric heating systems. However, if certain spaces are to be avoided as per the manufacturer’s instructions, then according to clause 18-29-502.1 you are required to adhere to them.

Pick the Right Spot for Installation

While most of the rules and regulation in the Chicago plumbing code still apply only to oil or gas powered water heaters, some instructions still need to be followed even for an electric domestic hot water generation system.

According to the Municipal Code of Chicago, before the installation of a domestic electric hot water generation system, you need to ensure the place of installation has a clear unobstructed passageway, large enough for the heater to pass through. Furthermore, the passage should at least be 30 inches high, 22 inches wide and a maximum of 20 feet long. Upon the installation of the heater, a service space of 30 inches by 30 inches has to be provided along its front or service side as well.


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Establish Connections Carefully

As per Chicago plumbing code, no extension or installation to a domestic plumbing system interferes with the overall supply of water across the household. At the same time, they also stress on the need to prevent any potential harm, relating to household equipment such as hot water tanks or water heaters.

For this reason, as per clause 18-29-503.1 of the plumbing code, a valve needs to be installed with every water heating device. This valve has to be accessible near the heater, or at least on the same floor at which the heater is installed. Bear in mind that, one valve must only serve one water heater or heating device.

For the sake of ensuring more control, clause 18-29-503.1.1 also states that the shutoff valve should be installed only on the inlet side of the heater, and not on the outlet side.

Do Not Forget Safety Devices

Maintaining safety and an uninterrupted main supply are the major concerns Chicago engineers need to address in water projects. Many electric hot water generation systems on the market today come with preset safety devices. But homeowners are better off having a functional understanding of safety requirements themselves as well.

Local codes require you to prevent supplied water from siphoning into the water heater through the use of either vacuum relief valves or a hole at the top of the tube connecting the water supply to the heater. A vacuum relief valve is also necessary if the heater is at a level higher than that of the faucets, or generally operating at a higher atmospheric level.

Relief valves have to be installed within the shell of the electric heating device. The valve can be outside if the tank and the heater are separate, but remember to not place it in between the tank and the heater. Place the temperature valve such that it responds to the water in the top 6 inches of the tank’s depth. Temperature and pressure relief valves must be limited at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and 150 psi respectively.

Most importantly, your electric heat generating device must have an energy cut-off device that cuts the energy supply off to the heater, before the water reaches a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, it should come with a separate switch that shuts the entire system down altogether. These provisions will play a pivotal role in containing any potential accidents.

Do You Need to Get an Inspection?

Yes, of course. For those who may not be aware, the addition of an electric water heater system to your domestic plumbing system constitutes as an added installation to the existing system. The plumbing code of Chicago states that such projects can be subject to inspections before or after the project is complete.

All inspections will take place by representatives of the Chicago Water Works System, during which the equipment and the quality of craftsmanship are inspected to determine whether the project is up to local standards. The code also states that in case the project is deemed unapproved, homeowners must comply within 10 days, after which the utility company is authorized to restrict their water supply.

The primary objective of these inspections is to ensure safety at all times. So inspections should be a welcomed part of the process since it will not only save you the trouble of having to dismantle or replace equipment but more importantly, provide you with the peace of mind of living in a safe home.

Conclusion

A domestic hot water generation system should be a staple in all homes. The annual minimum temperatures recorded in Chicago are around 4 degrees Celsius. At the same time, the Chicago water supply does not take the temperature of the water into account. As a result, more often than not, the water available in the main water supply is much colder than what you might prefer.

Installing an electric hot water generation system for your household can be a great decision in term of efficiency and usability, especially if it is a tankless water heater. Such devices make our lives much more convenient, but can also be potentially harmful, if not installed and operated responsibly.

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