Portland Plumbing Earthquake Regulations

plumbing earthquake regulations in Portland

Solid Plumbing Helps to Maintain Integrity of Your Home

During its closing credits, the popular made-for-TV film The Great Los Angeles Earthquake lists West Coast cities that scientists predict will experience a major earthquake in the near future. Portland. Ore., is one of those cities. Luckily, we haven’t had a big one yet, but the possibility remains.

During and after an earthquake, home plumbing is a serious concern. More specifically, Portland plumbing regulations require that your home water heater be able to withstand a sizable earthquake. Any homes in Seismic Zone 3 – which covers the greater Portland metro area – need to adhere to these safety regulations.

Of course, keeping your home plumbing up to par with Portland plumbing standards is a good idea in itself, as it will help maintain the integrity of your home. With the help of a plumber, Portland residents are encouraged to do their best to ensure their plumbing systems will pass muster during the next “Big One.”

Safety hazards: During the event of an earthquake, your home plumbing can be seriously damaged. Water mains and pipes will burst or crack, depending on the size of the quake. More importantly, your water heater may fall over and leak out toxic gas and very hot water. Have a local Portland plumbing company inspect your system to make sure it’s up to safety standards.

Zones 3-4: According to a State of Oregon ruling passed in 1994, “in Seismic Zone 3 and 4 water heaters shall be anchored or strapped to resist horizontal displacement due to earthquake motion.”  Zone 3 roughly covers the Willamette Valley and all counties west of it, except a few areas along the southern Oregon coast. The latter fall under Zone 4, and everything east of the valley is Zone 2.

Installation: Portland plumbing regulations require that all homeowners and Portland plumbers follow specific water heater installation steps. For instance, “water heaters installed within 12 inches above the floor are required to be strapped between the top one third and top one-half of the tank”. If your water heater is higher off the ground, you will need additional straps near the bottom.

Connectors: Acceptable connectors used to fasten these installation straps include #12 screws for wood; ¼ inch x 1 ½ expansion anchors for concrete; and ¼ sleeve anchor for brick. The depth of your connectors is important too, as is the foundation your water heater is fastened to.

Weight: Last, but not least, there are different earthquake zone laws depending on the overall size and weight of your water heater. If it holds 66-100 gallons, you are required to use at least two straps; if it holds more than 100 gallons, you will need an “approved design” that meets state regulations. By bringing in a plumber, Portland homeowners can avoid problems with larger installations.

Before you embark on your next home plumbing project, be sure to check with a local Portland plumbing service about state regulations. In the case of an earthquake, you will be glad that your home was up to par. Call 3 Mountains Plumbing today.

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