Various plumbing codes, including the IPC (International Plumbing Code), have developed over decades in Arizona and throughout the U.S. Most are mandatory requirements that will keep you from running into costly and possibly dangerous problems with your pipes and fixtures. However, just because these codes exist doesn’t guarantee that they will be heeded. In fact, plumbing code infractions are some of the most common violations you can find in homes today, principally because there are a lot of DIY plumbers out there who don’t have a lot of experience with the provisions. Becoming familiar with some of the most common plumbing code violations can be valuable for homeowners, home shoppers, and real estate professionals.
Drain Pipe With Wrong Slope
The most optimal slope for drain pipes is 1/4 inch per foot. In some jurisdictions, the slope may be as little as 1/16 inch per foot. Regardless, under-and over-sloped pipes are common problems that often result in severe blockages. If the slope of the drain pipe is inadequate, then the wastewater won’t have enough gravitational force to cause it to drain properly. If there is too much slope, then the wastewater will flow too quickly and likely leave solids behind.
Improper Spacing Around Bathroom Fixtures
To be properly up to code, each fixture in your bathroom must have a certain amount of space around it. This space requirement is essential for the safe and proper use of the fixtures. Keep in mind that when reviewing the space requirements, measurements start from the drain or the center of the fixture and not the fixture’s edge.
Most codes dictate there be at least 21 inches of space in front of your sink and toilet. As far as side to side is concerned, there must be at least 15 inches of space between the center of the toilet or sink and the wall and 30 inches between them and the drains of other fixtures.
Improperly Installed TPRV Pipe
The temperature pressure relief valve is an important safety device that prevents your water heater from turning into a bomb. Its job is to make sure the water heater tank doesn’t take on more pressure than it’s designed to handle. Without this valve, the tank’s pressure will continue to increase, and the water inside will become superheated past its normal boiling point until the tank explodes.
A discharge pipe should be connected to the TPRV. This pipe’s job is to take on the water released from the TPRV and route it to a proper discharge location. Most plumbing codes give specific instructions regarding the discharge pipe.
Most codes require that the pipe:
- Be constructed of approved metals and plastics, such as CPVC, copper and polyethylene
- Not be the same size or larger than the valve to which it’s connected
- Not be longer than necessary
- Be as straight as possible
- Be installed in such a way that gravity causes it to drain
- Not contain a trap
- Flows into a floor drain or outdoors
- Not connect directly to the drainage system
- Discharge through a visible air gap in the same room as the water-heating appliance
- Discharge to a termination point that is readily observable by occupants
- Not contain valves or tee fittings
- Not have a threaded connection at the end so as to avoid capping
There are even more requirements, which is why TPRV discharge pipes commonly have code issues.
Insufficient or Missing Air Gaps for Fixtures and Appliances
To prevent wastewater from making its way into the freshwater lines, there needs to be a minimum air gap between the tap or water outlet and the flood line of a sink or fixture. With this gap, there is no danger of the wastewater making its way into the tap or water outlet in case the sink overflows.
With dishwashers, air gaps operate a little differently. A dishwasher air gap is a small cylinder-shaped piece of equipment that is installed next to your kitchen faucet. They have been in existence for a long time but were not required in many states until recently.
Insufficient Number of or Missing Cleanouts
A cleanout is a location in your piping system that gives you access to your sewer pipe. Cleanouts are important because they make diagnosing and fixing pipe and sewer problems relatively easy and convenient. They are usually located outside somewhere, often in the lawn, and have a screw top opening.
According to code, cleanouts are necessary for horizontal pipe runs of 100 feet. They are also required within 10 feet of where the drain connects to the sewer. Additionally, cleanouts are required when there’s a change of direction with your pipes that is more than 45 degrees.
In order for a cleanout to be useful, it must be placed in an accessible location. However, this does not always happen. There should be 18 inches of clearance in front of each cleanout or 12 inches for pipes that are 2 inches or smaller. Cleanouts that are located in concealed piping with less than 24 inches of vertical clearance must be positioned above the flooring or placed outside of the structure.
Traps maintain a barrier between your fixture and the sewer system of your home. Generally, you’ll see two types of traps when dealing with bathroom and kitchen sinks — P-traps and S-traps. S-traps are essentially two P-traps that are connected and form the shape of an “S.” The problem with S-traps is they don’t allow for venting.
Venting allows for the entry of air into your plumbing system. This air will help the wastewater flow correctly while allowing for odors and gasses to escape. Vents normally run up through the roof. Without venting, you risk sewage backing up into your fixtures.
Call the Pros for Dependable Plumbing Work
There are a lot of DIY plumbers who do their own pipework for bathroom and kitchen remodel projects. In some cases, these DIYers are skilled and knowledgeable. They may even be plumbing professionals. However, in most cases, the work they do is not up to code and will need to be corrected. If you want your plumbing updates to be done properly, your best bet is to call in the pros.
At Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, we’ve got years of plumbing experience and hundreds of satisfied customers. If you’re in need of plumbing done right, then contact us. Our crew has corrected plenty of problems caused by DIY projects. No matter what may be wrong with your pipes, we’ll find a solution.
We also offer an array of heating and cooling services, including AC repair and maintenance, ductless mini-split repair and maintenance, and heating repair and maintenance. Additionally, we have licensed electricians who can provide you with a whole host of electrical services, from electrical repairs and installations to electrical inspections. Call Christian Brothers in Glendale, AZ, for more information today.