Seismic Strapping on Water Heaters is a BIG issue for appraisers, home inspectors and lenders.
When I meet with sellers about listing their home I always ask to see the hot water heater. I find most water heaters are strapped, but not to code or requirements of lenders. All water heaters have to have seismic strapping. There needs to be two wide seismic steps about 2 inches wide around the water heater and anchored into studs. The small narrow straps will not support a water heater in the even of an earthquake.
There are arguments over strapping of the water heater if it is located in a closet, and that is at the sole discretion of the appraiser. It the lender they are appraising the home for wants the water heater strapped the appraiser will call it out as a condition of the loan. If that happens, the appraiser had to make a 2nd trip to the property and re-inspect to insure the water heater has been strapped. The charge for that can vary between $150 – $200 and might also cause a delay in closing if the appraiser is not local.
One would think if it is in a closet it won’t fall over, but my advise is to strap it anyway! If the straps are called out on the home inspection they have to be installed by a licensed pluming company or contractor and the cost of strapping doubles because you now have to pay the plumber.
Save some time, save some grief, make it a non-issue and strap the water heater.