Building Codes and Inspections/Electric Water replacement in Florida
I live in Florida. I have a electric hot water heater in the garage. I do not currently have a drain and now I am being told that to meet code I need a pan if the new one leaks. Where is the water supposed to go if I do not have a drain. The one I do have which recentltly leaked, leaked out of the garage door. Do I really need a pan?
Although I began as a plumber in 1958, I do very little plumbing installation or design today.
A pan is required where the leaking water "will cause damage to the structure or surrounding property" (2003 IPC Commentary, para.504.7). Typically, we're concerned about damage to the 1st floor when the water heater is installed on the 2nd floor. I've never heard of a pan being required in a garage, and I can think of a lot of new installations in garages here where there are no pans.
In 2003, the pan drain was permitted to terminate outdoors, 6" to 24" above grade (para. 504.7.2), so a water heater in a garage would have to be elevated to allow that. But I'm with you: What's the difference between that and the water running out under the door?
Having said all that, the final interpretation is left up to the Authority Having Jurisdiction ("AHJ"), typically a state, county or local Plumbing Inspector. You might want to determine who that is and call them. It may be they do require that there.