Are The Water Heaters At Your Rental Property Ready For The Big One?

are the water heaters are your rental property secured properly in event of an earthquake?

Are your water heaters in your rental housing properly and legally secured in the event of an earthquake, Keepe asks in the maintenance checkup this week.

Everyone has heard of the “big one,” the ultimate earthquake whose impending strike will decimate cities and regress civilizations but few think of the water heater in their rental property when this subject comes up..

There is a local version of this legend in almost every state from Washington, Oregon, Utah and California to Oklahoma and Tennessee. Some reside on major fault lines.

While the extreme versions of earthquake-driven disaster as depicted in Hollywood movies might be pure fiction, it is important for rental housing professionals and landlords to address this risk no matter how remote. Even though the construction industry has made tremendous progress in making homes earthquake-resistant, one major weakness remains, especially for homes constructed before 1995 – water heaters are either not strapped properly or at all.

Why are water heaters not properly secured?

Before the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California, water heaters were generally secured with one strap of plumbers’ tape.

This turned out to be insufficient to hold the tanks upright during the earthquake.

So, experts modified the recommendation to secure both the top and bottom rather than just the middle, and to use heavy-gauge metal strapping.

Seismic straps for water heaters recommended In some states

Seismic straps are a requirement for water heaters in areas that may be subject to earthquakes.

In a number of states, it is recommended that water heaters be strapped so that they do not shift about during a quake.

Naturally, legal requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from state to state. It is important to remember that you should always read the manufacturer’s installation recommendation if you’re setting up your own water heater.

So, do you need seismic straps on your water heater? It depends.

For example, they are required by law in California and Washington, which makes sense since the states are earthquake-prone.

The Uniform Plumbing Code requires that water heaters be strapped on both the lower one-third and the top one-third of the tank. However, numerous building jurisdictions, as well as the state’s architects office also require a third or even fourth strap for heaters up to 100 gallons in volume. A quick call to your local building department should provide you with enough information on the number of water heater straps required in your area of residence.


Bottom line, since a water heater system is crucial in today’s day and age, you should always make sure any and all installations and repairs are done by experienced and licensed professionals.

Depending on the area of residence, type and number of straps, strapping and bracing a water heater will typically cost between $100 and $150.

As we’ve seen, even though money is the first thing everyone thinks about when discussing the true cost of a failed water heater, there’s more to it than that. The time spent deciding what to do, as well as the stress of the problem itself are also important factors. Why? Because, ultimately, you won’t just be fixing a burning problem; you’ll be buying peace of mind and a sound sleep, as well.

About Keepe:

Keepe is an on-demand maintenance solution for property managers and independent landlords. Keepe makes hundreds of independent contractors and handymen available for maintenance projects at rental properties. Keepe is available in the Greater Seattle area, Greater Phoenix area, San Francisco Bay area, and is coming soon to an area near you. Learn more about Keepe at

Sign Up For Our Newsletter And Get Apartment News And Helpful, Useful Content Each Week.

* indicates required