How to Install Double Strap Hot Water Heater Restraint

In certain areas of the U.S., national and state building codes require water heater restraint straps be installed for earthquake, tornado or hurricane protection. The straps secure the water heater to the adjacent building structure to ensure there is no electrical or gas hazard created by an accidental dislocation of the water heater. Installation of these safety straps ensures the water heater meets the typical code requirements.

Step 1

Make two marks on the side of the water heater approximately 9 inches down from the top of the tank and 6 inches above the top of the water heater control assembly. Transfer these two marks to the walls on either side of the water heater using a level. These will mark the wall ledger heights.

Step 2

Locate the center lines of the two wall studs just beyond each side of the water heater on both sides of the tank.

Step 3

Extend the two center lines marked in Step 2 vertically using a level to where they cross the two marks on the wall placed in Step 1.

Step 4

Measure the dimension between the two vertical wall stud center lines, then cut two lengths of 2 x 4 framing lumber to this measurement plus 4 inches. These two pieces will be the top and bottom horizontal ledgers attached to the wall to which the water heater braces will be secured.

Step 5

Drill a 1/4-inch hole through each end of both ledger boards cut in Step 4, centered at 1 3/4-inch from each edge and 2-inches from the end, using an electric drill.

Step 6

Position one of the 2 x 4 ledger boards horizontally against the wall, aligned below the top two points marked in Step 1, with the end holes drilled in Step 5 centered over the wall stud center lines. Through the 1/4-inch drilled holes, mark both hole locations on the wall, then remove the ledger board and drill a 3/16-inch horizontal pilot hole approximately 3 inches deep into the studs at each mark.

Step 7

Install the upper 2 x 4 ledger board on the wall by inserting 1/4-by-5-inch lag screws through each end hole in the ledger and into the 3/16-inch pilot holes drilled in the wall studs in Step 6, then tighten the lag screws using an adjustable wrench until the ledger is held firmly against the wall.

Step 8

Measure a point on the top surface of the ledger that is 1-inch toward the middle from the center line of the lag bolts installed in Step 7. Drill a 3/16-inch vertical pilot hole into the top of the ledger at each mark. Keep the hole approximately centered and drilled to about 2 inches deep.

Step 9

Measure the distance from each pilot hole drilled in Step 8, horizontally around the circumference of the water heater tank and back to the same hole. Cut a length of 24-gauge perforated plumbers tape to this dimension plus 2 inches for each side.

Step 10

Attach one cut length of plumbers tape tightly around the water heater and attach both ends of the strap to the left-hand hole in the top of the 2 x 4 ledger with a 1/4-inch by 2-inch lag screw. Repeat for the second strap to the other hole at the top of the 2 x 4 ledger.

Step 11

Repeat Steps 6 through 10 for the lower 2 x 4 ledger and plumber's tape straps.


  • Consult your local building department to verify code requirements for your area and that the straps and means of attachment you plan to install comply with these regulations.