What Happens If You Install a Water Heater Without a Permit?

The Michigan Plumbing Code includes requirements for the design and installation of building water supplies and systems for furnishing potable water. The Michigan Residential Code includes provisions for one- and two-family dwellings. Both require you to pull a permit before installing a water heater. You can fix a faucet or clear a blocked drain without a permit, but what happens if you install a water heater without a permit? . 

An enforcing agency oversees the requirements for and acquisition of permits. Contrary to popular belief, a permit isn’t only needed for construction, a remodel, or a renovation project. It’s a key requirement when installing any major electric or gas appliance.

What If I Don’t Have a Permit?

If somehow you manage to avoid pulling a permit for your water heater installation:

It Won’t Pass an Inspection

Mechanical inspectors look for permits on recently installed appliances. The inspector can’t approve the inspection if the water heater doesn’t have an approved permit. Even if the unit is working fine, changes in codes can impact compliance. For example, updated ventilation requirements can mean your unit is no longer up to code. 

You Could Be Fined

A local agency could fine you for installing a water heater without a permit. Permit laws are often quite strict. Depending on your city, county, or local municipality, you may be fined hundreds of dollars per day for a violation of a permit law. Not paying a fine can lead to a municipality putting a lien on your home. Failing an inspection can also affect your property rental certification.

You Could Lose Your Homeowner’s Insurance

Many homeowners’ insurance policies forbid unpermitted work. Your policy won’t pay for damages or injuries caused by a job done without a permit. You could also void your insurance entirely. The consequences can include paying out-of-pocket for any equipment repairs or replacements. Your lender will also be notified and can force you to buy new insurance. Mortgage providers require homeowners to be insured, or else may consider you in default on your loan.

Selling Your Home Can Be Challenging

A home improvement project can increase the selling price of your property. That is unless you don’t have a permit. The law requires you to disclose any changes to your home, including renovations, remodels, or installations of appliances such as water heaters. You may have to retroactively pay for a permit you didn’t pull in the first place. The unpermitted appliance will need to be inspected; if it doesn’t pass, you’ll have to pay for any updates, repairs, or replacements needed before the process can move forward.

Your Safety Will Be at Risk

Your water heater must meet specific requirements before being approved for a permit. For example, it must include a temperature and pressure relief valve to prevent a possible explosion. Any mistakes in making gas line connections for a gas-powered water heater can lead to a dangerous gas leak or a fire. Electrical water heaters require a dedicated circuit, specialized wiring, and a circuit breaker; a permit ensures these are the right specifications and installed correctly.

A Plumber Must Obtain the Permit

The plumbing permit applicant must be a licensed contractor. A homeowner installing their own plumbing can also apply but must demonstrate their credentials. The contractor’s license number must be included in the permit application. If the applicant isn’t a contractor, they must designate a licensed master plumber who will supervise the project, along with their license number and proof of certification.

How to Get a Permit

Generally, a plumbing permit application is submitted to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Construction Codes. Your plumbing contractor should obtain the permit for you. They are best equipped and skilled to assess your existing water heater, determine the requirements for installing a new one, and make any necessary modifications. Pulling a permit is usually a quick process, so you don’t have to wonder what happens if you install a water heater without a permit.

Call Hoover: We Won’t Install a Water Heater Without a Permit

Our plumbers have years of experience installing, repairing, and replacing water heaters.  We install traditional and tankless water heaters in Clinton Township and Southeast Michigan. From permitting to final installation, we handle the entire process to ensure your water heater is worth the investment. Every project has  an accurate estimate, 100% guaranteed satisfaction, and financing options. For professional water heater installation, call (586) 800-4946 today.

What to read next