What Are Plumbing Codes?


Reviewed by: Hady Makhmalbaf Ph.D., PE, Sr. Mechanical Engineer

As a professional plumber, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest plumbing codes. These codes ensure that all plumbing projects are completed safely and effectively. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of plumbing codes and how they impact your work. We’ll also discuss how to find and interpret these codes.

What are plumbing codes?

Plumbing codes are local rules that govern how plumbing projects are built. These code requirements help ensure that all new and renovated plumbing work is done correctly, effectively, and safely.

Code requirements vary depending on where you’re located. For instance, if you’re performing a commercial project in Chicago, the plumbing code will be different than the plumbing code if you’re working in Dallas.

Additionally, each state or region may have different requirements for plumbing codes. While the plumbing code requirements are generally similar across states, there are slight variations. Plumbing contractors must make sure they comply with their local area codes to avoid fines and other penalties.

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) is one of the leading organizations that set the standards for plumbing code requirements. They are responsible for publishing Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), Uniform Mechanical Code, and International Plumbing Code (IPC).

The IAPMO provides state and local government officials with guidelines regarding plumbing installation and maintenance methods.

Local officials in each state can choose whether to adopt the IPC and IAPMO code and add or revise the code sections based on their local needs. Then the newly adopted code should pass the in-state senate to become statewide law. These changes in governing codes are published in new versions every few years. This makes it essential for designers and plumbers to refer to the latest applicable version of code.

Cities and other smaller local jurisdictions might have more restricting codes with requirements that supersede state codes. So, it is necessary to know all applicable local, state, and regional codes and then follow them during design and construction.

How to find plumbing codes?

Many local governments provide a list of their plumbing code requirements online. If you’re in charge of a commercial project, be sure to ask the client where the property is located and what type of plumbing codes they follow. You can also contact your state’s department of public health for any information regarding local plumbing code rules.

Also, other jurisdictions like counties, cities, and townships could be contacted to get informed about their regulations.

Once you have this knowledge, you’ll be able to take the appropriate measures to ensure your plumbing projects meet requirements.

What are some common plumbing code issues?

One of the most prevalent code violations is using substandard parts, materials, and fixtures during the installation process. If you’re using faulty materials, your plumbing project will be more likely to experience water damage due to leaks or other problems.

Connecting water and sewer lines to the city network in many places have strict rules. They might also require the project contractors to obtain certificates or pass courses prior to construction commencing.

Additionally, you should always check local plumbing codes to see what type of permits are required for your project. Some areas require plumbers to obtain a permit before beginning any new plumbing installations, while other locations don’t need permitting at all.

Who enforces plumbing codes?

Your local code enforcement office can help if you have questions or concerns about plumbing code requirements. They are responsible for enforcing the rules and may be able to help resolve issues that arise when you’re in the process of completing a plumbing project.

Professional plumbers should also familiarize themselves with state and local laws, including any fees that are charged for violating code requirements. Most code violations are subject to fees or criminal charges, which can result in significant costs and major delays due to construction ceasing if you’re caught violating the rules.

Is there a national plumbing code?

The U.S. federal government does not have any general plumbing code requirements, but there are some laws that set forth guidelines for the installation of certain types of fixtures and appliances.

One example is the showers in hospitals, which must be equipped with anti-scalding devices to prevent hot water from reaching dangerous temperatures. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services is in charge of establishing these guidelines.

The U.S. government has separate plumbing code requirements for military housing and jails to prevent the spread of disease and provide sanitation standards in common areas. The Department of Defense publishes its own Uniform Military Justice System Manual that outlines this information.

How do plumbing codes affect the plumbing design?

The plumbing codes can affect the plumbing design in many ways including:

  • Water and Energy Efficiency: The plumbing codes emphasize how to design an efficient plumbing system that can help to save water and energy.
  • Health and Environmental Effects: The plumbing codes help to mitigate any serious health risks posed because of poor-quality plumbing.
  • Savings on Materials: You can save money spent on plumbing materials by ensuring that rooms requiring plumbing fixtures are put together.

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