GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Code confusion on utility/mechanical room

bill328 | Posted in General Questions on

I am trying to find information in the 2015 building code that specifies the rules for utility/mechanical rooms. I am specifically looking for info on:
1. Type and thickness of drywall
2. Door ventilation requirements for electric hot water heater (if any)
3. Do I need to separate the laundry space from the utility/mechanical space (the washer/dryer and hot water heater are all planned to be in the same room)
4. Can I use a barn door on this utility room

If anyone can answer or direct me to the sections within the building code, that would be super helpful.

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. this_page_left_blank | | #1

    Not an expert, but I'll chime in if for no other reason than to keep it near the top a little longer. I'd be very surprised if the electrical code had anything to say on any of these concerns. A call to your electrical inspector could shed some light. There might be something in the residential building code, but I'd even be surprised at that. Never heard of any special requirements for drywall or doors on a utility room. An electric heater needs no ventilation. Laundry machines in the utility room are probably one of the most common places for them to be.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #3

      Electric code only really cares about two things in a residential mechanical room: clearances, which is 3 feet clear in front of the electrical panel from floor to ceiling, and keep the room under 104*F. You're not suppose to have plumbing cleanouts, valves, or other potentially leaky things above electrical panels, either. There are some other code issues that come up in commercial mechanical rooms, but you won't run into those in residential settings.

      I can't really speak to the mechanical code since I'm on the electrical side (I'm an EE), but if you have no combustion appliances, you probably won't have any special ventilation requirements.

      Code issues aside, I would recommend a few things for the longevity of your installation:
      1- Don't mount your electrical panel directly to a masonry wall. This is asking for the back of the panel to rust out over time. Mount a piece of 3/4" "noncom" (the red-colored plywood treated with fire retartdant) plywood to the wall, then mount the electrical panel to that. This will ensure your panel lasts a long, long time.
      2- Recessing the electrical panel into the wall may look nice, but it makes any future work a real pain in the butt. Try to mount the panel on the surface of the wall, otherwise put removeable access panels above and below the panel to make it easier to bring in new wires in the future if required.
      3- Don't mount your electric panel tight into a corner. Leave some clearance on both sides to make future work easier.

      Electric water heaters don't need any ventilation, since they make no fumes or exhaust. Even if you have no combustion appliances in the mechanical room, I'd use 5/8" type X drywall in there anyway -- you'll add maybe $20 in materials costs to the job, but you will have a much more solid room. I use 5/8" drywall everywhere exclusively regardless for that reason. I've seen plenty of laundry "rooms" in the same physical room as a furnace or electrical panel, so I'm guessing that's OK -- but check with your local building department if you're concerned. If you can put all that stuff together, keep some seperation between the electrical/mechanical equipment and the laundry machines for some extra safety -- don't pack things together, and don't be tempted to hang things from electrical wires or conduits.

      I would NOT NOT NOT use a barn door here. I do not understand the fascination with those things, they don't work well as doors, they don't block sound, and they're a hassle to install. Use a regular door here. I personally wouldn't use a barn door anywhere -- they're even a hassle when actually on a barn...


  2. walta100 | | #2

    Will there be any gas or oil burning appliances in this room?
    Will the HVAC equipment be in this room?


Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |