Back To Board Minutes Listing Building Code Chapter 5 | Friday, May 1, 2009







Chapter 5 establishes the minimum criteria for the installation, maintenance and location of plumbing systems and facilities, including the water supply system, water-heating appliances, sewage disposal system and related plumbing fixtures.  Existing plumbing installations may present unique inspection problems for the Code Official.  Almost all installations are concealed by finished walls, ceilings and floors.  The Code Official must inspect the visible portions of the system and assess the acceptability of the whole installation.  To help the Code Official make suitable judgments, a foundation of basic principles may aid in the enforcement process.  The following is a listing of 23 basic principles of environmental sanitation and safety for the design, installation and maintenance of plumbing systems, which establish the fundamental concepts behind health and safety regulations for plumbing systems.  Knowing these principles aids in understanding the code requirements, which leads to more effective code enforcement.




          All buildings, structures and premises intended for human habitation, occupancy, use or employment, or the preparation or processing of food, drinks or other materials for human consumption shall be provided with an adequate, safe and potable water supply through a safe system of piping to all fixtures, appliances and appurtenances.  Such a water supply must not be connected to an unsafe water source, nor shall it be subjected to the hazards of backflow.




          Plumbing fixtures, devices and appurtenances shall be supplied with water in sufficient volume and at pressures adequate to enable them to function properly and without undue noise under normal conditions of use.



          Hot water shall be supplied to all plumbing fixtures that normally need or require hot water for their proper use and function.




          Plumbing shall be designed and adjusted to use the minimum quantity of water consistent with proper performance and cleaning.




          Devices for heating and storing water shall be designed and installed so as to guard against dangers from explosion or overheating.




          Every building with installed plumbing fixtures intended for human habitation, occupancy or use or located where there is a public water supply and sewer service shall have a connection with the water supply and sewer.




          Each family dwelling unit shall have at least one water closet, one lavatory, one kitchen-type sink and one bathtub or shower to meet the basic requirements of sanitation and personal hygiene.  All other structures for human occupancy or use shall be equipped with sufficient sanitary facilities as prescribed in the code, but with no less than one water closet and lavatory.




          Plumbing fixtures shall be made of durable, smooth, nonabsorbent and corrosion-resistant material and shall be free from concealed fouling surfaces.





          The drainage system shall be designed, constructed and maintained to guard against fouling, deposit of solids and clogging, and with adequate cleanouts arranged so that the pipes may be readily cleaned.




          The piping of the plumbing system shall be of durable material, free from defective workmanship and designed and constructed so as to give satisfactory service for its reasonably expected life.




          Each fixture directly connected to the drainage system shall be equipped with a liquid seal trap.




          The drainage system shall be designed to provide adequate circulation of air in all pipes without danger of siphon age, aspiration or forcing of trap seals under conditions of ordinary use.




          Each vent terminal shall be extended to the outdoors, and be installed so as to minimize the possibilities of clogging and the return of foul air to the building.




The plumbing system shall be subjected to tests that will effectively disclose all leaks and defects in the work or material.








          Storm, surface or ground water or any substance that will clog or accentuate clogging of pipes, produce explosive mixtures, destroy the pipes or their joints or interfere unduly with the sewage disposal process shall not be allowed to enter the building drainage system.




          Proper protection shall be provided to prevent contamination of food, water, sterile goods and similar materials from backflow of sewage.  When necessary, the fixture, device or appliance shall be connected indirectly with the building drainage system.




          A water closet, urinal, lavatory, bathtub or shower shall not be located in a room or compartment that is not properly lighted, heated and ventilated in accordance with accepted practice.




          If water closets or other plumbing fixtures are installed in buildings where there is not a public sewer, provisions shall be made for disposing of the building sewage by an approved method of treatment and disposal.




          Where a plumbing drainage system is subject to backflow of sewage from the public sewer, provisions shall be made to prevent its overflow into the building.




          Plumbing systems shall be maintained in a safe and serviceable condition from the standpoints of both mechanics and health.





          All plumbing fixtures shall be installed with regard to spacing so as to be accessible for their intended use and for cleansing.




          Plumbing shall be installed with due regard to preservation of the strength of structural members and prevention of damage to walls and other surfaces through fixture usage.




          Sewage and other waste shall not be discharged into surface or subsurface water unless it has first been subjected to an approved form of treatment.




          Sanitary and clean conditions in occupied buildings are dependent upon certain basic plumbing principles, including providing potable water to a building, providing fixtures to utilize that water and removing waste from the building.  Chapter 5 establishes the minimum criteria to verify that these principles are maintained throughout the life of a building.






501.1  SCOPE.  The purpose of this chapter shall govern the minimum plumbing systems, facilities and plumbing fixtures to be provided.


          Buildings must comply with the minimum criteria for the provisions of plumbing systems, facilities and fixtures established by this chapter.  Any structure that does not conform to these criteria is in violation of the code and is subject to all penalties established by the jurisdiction as indicated in Section 109.



501.2 RESPONSIBILITY.  The owner of the structure shall provide and maintain such plumbing facilities and plumbing fixtures in compliance with these requirements.  A person shall not occupy as owner- occupant or permit another person to occupy any structure or premises which does not comply with the requirements of this chapter.


          The owner is responsible for complying with the requirements of this chapter.  A structure must not be occupied if the plumbing systems or facilities does not conform to the minimum code requirements. 





502.1  DWELLING UNITS.  Every dwelling unit shall contain its own bathtub or shower, lavatory, water closet and kitchen sink which shall be maintained in a sanitary, safe working condition.  The lavatory shall be placed in the same room as the water closet and located in close proximity to the door leading directly into the room in which such water closet is located.  A kitchen sink shall not be used as a substitute for the required lavatory.


          Every dwelling unit is to have at least one water closet, one lavatory, one kitchen-type sink and one bathtub or shower to meet the basic requirements for sanitation and personal hygiene.


          The lavatory must be located in the same room as or near the door that leads to the water closet.  This requirement makes it convenient for occupants to wash their hands after using the water closet, which is good practice for personal hygiene and greatly reduces the spread of germs and bacteria.


          The required kitchen sink is intended to provide separate facilities for food preparation and dishwashing and is not intended for hand cleansing after using the toilet facilities, thus reducing the likelihood of contamination of surfaces that are subject to contact with food.





502.2 ROOMING HOUSES.     At least one water closet, lavatory and bathtub and shower shall be supplied for each four rooming units.


          Rooming houses with shared bathroom and toilet facilities must conform to the following minimum number of fixtures; one water closet, one lavatory and one bathtub or shower (I.e., one bathroom group) for each four rooming units, or portion thereof. 


          For example, a house with 22 rooming units requires at least six bathroom groups of plumbing fixtures.


502.3  HOTELS.  Where private water closets, lavatories and baths are not provided, one water closet, one lavatory and one bathtub or shower having access from a public hallway shall be provided for each ten occupants.


          Hotels with guestrooms that share bathroom and toilet facilities must conform to the following minimum number of fixtures; one water closet, one lavatory and one bathtub or shower for each 10 occupants, or portion thereof.


          For example, a hotel with 22 occupants requires a minimum of three water closets, three lavatories, and three bathtubs or showers, or a combination of three bathtubs and showers.


502.4  EMPLOYEES' FACILITIES.  A minimum of one water closet, one lavatory and one drinking facility shall be available to employees.


To provide employees with sufficient sanitary facilities, every place of employment is to have at least one water closet, one lavatory and one drinking facility.


          This is a minimum requirement that provides the employees with at least one toilet room for their use.  Obviously, the number of employees working for a company will affect the adequacy of providing only one water closet and one hand sink.  When economically and physically practical, the Code Official should encourage a place of employment to install the minimum number of plumbing facilities established in the International Plumbing Code (IPC).


502.4.1.  DRINKING FACILITIES.  Drinking facilities shall be a drinking fountain, water cooler, bottled water cooler or disposable cups next to a sink or water dispenser.  Drinking facilities shall not be located in toilet rooms or bathrooms.


          To reduce the potential of contaminating the water, drinking facilities must be separate from toilet rooms or bathrooms.  Water shall be provided by a drinking fountain, water cooler, bottled water cooler or disposable cups located next to a sink or water dispenser.


          The requirement for disposable cups should be monitored, as many diseases are transmitted through shared, unwashed or unsanitized eating and drinking utensils.





503.1  PRIVACY.  Toilet rooms and bathrooms shall provide privacy and shall not constitute the only passageway to a hall or other space, or to the exterior.  A door and interior locking device shall be provided for all common or shared bathrooms and toilet rooms in a multiple dwelling.


          To protect human dignity and modesty, all toilet rooms and bathrooms must afford privacy.  Where toilet rooms or bathrooms are shared by building occupants in dormitories or boarding houses, there is to be a door with a locking device either for each water closet compartment in a toilet room/bathroom or that controls access to the toilet room/bathroom.


          Passage through bathrooms and toilet rooms to get to other rooms, spaces, corridors or the exterior is inconvenient and could also jeopardize the means of egress because of locked doors, wet floors and obstructions.


503.2  LOCATION.  Toilet rooms and bathrooms serving hotel units, rooming units or dormitory units or housekeeping units, shall have access by traversing not more than one flight of stairs and shall have access from a common hall or passageway.


          Occupants of hotel units, rooming units, dormitory units or housekeeping units should not have to travel beyond the next adjacent story or pass through another occupant's unit to gain access to a bathroom or toilet facility.  Convenient access to facilities is a basic necessity for their use and maintenance.


503.3  LOCATION OF EMPLOYEE TOILET FACILITIES.  Toilet facilities shall have access from within the employees' working area.  The required toilet facilities shall be located not more then one story above or below the employees' working area and the path of travel to such facilities shall not exceed a distance of 500 feet (152m).  Employee facilities shall either be separate facilities or combined employee and public facilities.


EXCEPTION:  Facilities that are required for employees in storage structures or kiosks, which are located in adjacent structures under the same ownership, lease or control, shall not exceed a travel distance of 500 feet (152 m) from the employees regular working area to the facilities.


          Employers are required to provide toilet facilities for employees within the employees' regular work areas.  Employees should not have to travel more than 500 feet (152 m) or beyond the next adjacent story to reach the toilet room.


          Employee toilet facilities can be for employees' use only or they can share customer facilities.


          If toilet rooms are inconvenient or located too far from the work area, they create a physical hardship for employees.


          This section does not require storage buildings and kiosks to contain toilet facilities, as long as there are toilet facilities in an adjacent building such that the distance from the work area to the toilet facilities does not exceed 500 feet (152 m).  The building with the toilet facilities must be under the same ownership, lease or control as the storage area.  Employers cannot expect their employees to depend upon neighborhood gas stations, stores or other businesses to provide access to toilet facilities.


503.4  FLOOR SURFACES.  In other than dwelling units, every toilet room floor shall be maintained to be a smooth, hard, nonabsorbent surface to permit such floor to be easily kept in a clean and sanitary condition.


          A toilet room floor is much easier to maintain if the surface is smooth, hard and nonabsorbent.  In areas such as toilet rooms where the public is likely to enter a facility,  the primary concern remains keeping the floor area as clean as possible to safe guard against the spread of disease.





504.1  GENERAL.  All plumbing fixtures shall be properly installed and maintained in working order, and shall be kept free from obstructions, leaks and defects and be capable of performing the function for which such plumbing fixtures are designed.  All plumbing fixtures shall be maintained in a safe, sanitary and functional condition.


          All plumbing fixtures must operate adequately and perform their intended function.  Fixtures must drain quickly without permitting sewer gases to enter the structure.  Fixtures are not to leak from either the water supply piping or the waste discharge piping.


          Fixtures must not be worn or deteriorated so that they cannot be adequately cleaned.  Kitchen sinks and lavatories that have defects that prevent them from being kept clean increase the likelihood that disease-causing organisms can be spread to food sources or from person to person.  Fixtures with structural cracks can fail suddenly, possibly causing personal injury and further property damage.


504.2  FIXTURE CLEARANCES.  Plumbing fixtures shall have adequate clearances for usage and cleaning.


          Inadequate clearance between fixtures and adjacent surfaces can create confined spaces that allow disease and odor-causing bacteria to multiply.  For proper sanitation, the fixture must have sufficient clearances for proper use and cleaning.


          Although The Code does not specify exact clearances between fixtures and adjacent surfaces, the Code Official must use good judgment and must review the required clearances for compliance with the IPC.


504.3  PLUMBING SYSTEM HAZARDS.  Where it is found that a plumbing system in a structure constitutes a hazard to the occupants or the structure by reason of inadequate service, inadequate venting, cross connection back siphonage, improper installation, deterioration or damage or for similar reason, the Code Official shall require the defects to be corrected to eliminate the hazard.


          Any plumbing system having a deficiency or condition that is deemed by the Code Official as hazardous to the occupants or to the structure must be repaired or altered to eliminate the hazard.  Hazards in a plumbing system include, but are not limited to, the following:


?             Undersized piping;

?             Inadequate venting;

?             Cross connections;

?             Lack of backflow prevention means;

?             Lack of sufficient fixtures;

?             Improperly installed piping, fixtures or fittings;

?             Deteriorated, damaged, worn or otherwise defective piping, fixtures      or fittings;

?             Inadequately supported fixtures or piping; and

?             Inadequate water pressure or volume.


          One of the most commonly encountered hazards is a submerged outlet in older-style fixtures in water closets, bathtubs, lavatories, laundry tubs and water softeners.  Cross Connections and improperly protected outlets greatly increase the likelihood that contaminated water will be introduced into the potable water supply.











505.1  GENERAL.  Every sink, lavatory, bathtub or shower, drinking fountain, water closet or other plumbing fixture shall be properly connected to either a public water system or to an approved private water system.  All kitchen sinks, lavatories, laundry facilities, bathtubs and showers shall be supplied with hot or tempered and cold running water in accordance with the International Plumbing Code.


          The water for all plumbing fixtures must be properly connected to either a public or an approved private water system.  If there is any question about the quality of the private water source, the Code Official should require that the water be tested and approved by either a private testing service or a local health department.  A plumbing system cannot be considered adequate if the water entering the system is contaminated or otherwise unfit for human consumption and use.


          The desired qualities for safe water are:


?             Free of pathogenic organisms;

?             Free of toxic chemicals;

?             Free of excessive minerals;

?             Relatively non corrosive; and

?             Adequate in quantity and pressure.


          All sinks, lavatories, bathtubs and showers must be supplied with cold and hot or tempered running water as regulated by the IPC.   Heated water is a basic necessity for all cleansing and bathing needs.  It should be noted that the IPC only allows tempered water [water that is eighty-five (85) degrees to one-hundred ten (110) degrees] to be used for bathing and washing nonresidential occupancies.  The IPC requires tempered water to be supplied to hand-washing fixtures provided for those having physical disabilities.


[P] 505.2  CONTAMINATION.  The water  supply shall be maintained free from contamination, and all water inlets for plumbing fixtures shall be located above the flood-level rim of the fixture.  Shampoo basin faucets, janitor sink faucets and other hose bibs or faucets to which hoses are attached and left in place, shall be protected by an approved atmospheric-type vacuum breaker or an approved permanently attached hose connection vacuum breaker.


          Cross connections and unprotected outlets are the most common sources of contamination in potable water systems.  The IPC defines a cross connection as any physical connection or arrangement between two otherwise separate piping systems, one of which contains potable water and the other water of either unknown or questionable safety or steam, gas or chemical, whereby there exists the possibility for flow from one system to the other, with the direction of flow depending on the pressure differential between the two systems.


          The Code Official might not always be able to discover all cross connections and unprotected outlets in a building, but should become familiar with the locations where such usually occur.  Many older-style plumbing fixtures were designed or installed with built-in submerged water supply outlets.  A few of the more common fixtures and appliances that might have unprotected outlets include:  water closets, bathtubs, lavatories, laundry tubs and hose bibs (sill cocks).  Water softener drains are often improperly connected to the drainage system, thereby creating cross connections [see Figure 505.2.1].


          There are two basic methods of preventing contamination of the potable water supply.  The first is to provide an air gap between the water outlet and the flood level rim of the fixture.  The second is to install backflow prevention devices in the water supply line.


          An air gap is the ideal solution because it does not rely on the performance of mechanical devices to prevent backflow into the water supply.  Typically, an air gap must be twice the diameter of the supply pipe to the fixture, but never less than 1 inch (25mm) above the flood level rim.  The requirements for air gap protection of fixtures are found in Table 608.15.1 of the IPC.






          An example of an unprotected outlet is identified in Figure 505.2(2) when the following conditions exist:


?             The third-floor water closet has the ball cock (fill valve) submerged in the water of the water closet tank.

?             The water pressure within the building is low because of corrosion buildup in the water pipes or simultaneous usage of fixtures.

?             The third floor water closet is flushed, thereby opening the ball cock.

?             Contaminated water can be drawn from the water closet tank in to the supply pipes.


          In such circumstances when the sink is filling, the pressure can be reduced to less than atmospheric at the water closet fill valve.  This creates a siphon action in the water closet tank.  A potentially hazardous event has occurred that could introduce contaminated water into the potable water supply.


          The solution to the problem is fairly simple.  The water closet fill valve (ball cock) needs to be replaced with an ant siphon fill valve that extends a minimum 1 inch (25mm) above the overfill tube in the water closet tank.  Additionally, the water pressure throughout the building should be increased by replacing or upsizing the water supply piping.


          Another common backflow hazard can result from hoses being attached to threaded outlets.  Backflow can occur when the open end of the hose is submerged in any liquid.  For example, the possibility of backflow exists when the homeowner uses a hose to spread chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides.  If negative pressure should occur supply piping, the water and chemicals from the house could be siphoned into the water supply.


          The solution to this problem is to install a hose-connection-type vacuum breaker on the water supply outlet fitting.  When a negative pressure occurs in the water supply, the vacuum breaker opens to the atmosphere allowing air to enter the piping system, thus "breaking" the vacuum.


          A type of cross connection occurs when a water supply is connected directly to an appliance or a piece of equipment.  Some examples are:  water supplies to hot water and steam boilers; lawn irrigation systems; fire suppression systems; carbonated beverage machines and equipment used for various industrial applications, such as manufacturing.  These items are typically not able to function with an air gap between the supply pipe and the appliance or fixture.  Consequently, some type of backflow preventer device must be installed in the water supply line to prevent the water flow from reversing direction.  Common types of protection are pressure-type vacuum breakers, barometric loops and reduced pressure principle backflow preventions.


          Any time there is not an obvious air gap or visible backflow prevention device in a water supply line, the Code Official should attempt to determine if a hazard exists.


          Cross connections between a private water supply (typically a well system) and a potable public water supply are not permitted under any circumstance.  If the ground water becomes contaminated, a cross connection could affect the entire public water supply system.


          The Code Official should work with local plumbing inspectors or water departments to identify and eliminate all cross connections and unprotected potable water outlets.


(NOTICE:  Reference SECTION 6.21 ADDED BY Ordinance adopted 9/13/91)


505.3  SUPPLY.  The water supply system shall be installed and maintained to provide a supply of water to plumbing fixtures, devices, and appurtenances in sufficient volume and at pressures adequate to enable the fixtures to function properly, safely, and free from defects and leaks.


          Inadequate water pressure or insufficient volume can cause plumbing fixtures, washing machines, dishwashers and other appliances to operate improperly.  Inadequate water pressure can restrict the flow of water into bathtubs, showers and sinks to the point that the fixtures are not usable.  The code requires enough pressure and volume so that all fixtures and appliance are functional and free of undue hazards.


          There are many causes of inadequate water pressure and lack of sufficient volume.  A few of the common causes include:


Private wells:

?                  Inadequate ground-water supply;

?                  Defective pump or a pump that has lost its prime;

?                  Storage tank that has lost its air cushion;

?                  Sand or silt plugging the well point.    


Municipal          systems:

?                  Inadequate pressure in the public water main; and

?                  Sudden loss of pressure in an area caused by the use of a           nearby fire hydrant, a broken main water line, etc.


          Quite frequently, an inadequate water supply is the result of problems within a building.  A few examples include clogged or corroded pipes, undersized piping, crimped or bent pipes and a system that is inadequately designed.  A change in occupancy of a building might create demands that exceed the original water piping capacity.


505.4 WATER HEATING  FACILITIES.  Water heating facilities shall be properly installed, maintained and capable of providing an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every required sink, lavatory, bathtub, shower and laundry facility at a temperature of not less than 110° F.  A gas-burning water heater shall not be located in any bathroom, toilet room, bedroom or other occupied room normally kept closed, unless adequate combustion air is provided.  An approved combination temperature and pressure-relief valve and relief valve discharge pipe shall be properly installed and maintained on water heaters.


          A water heater can be dangerous if it is not properly installed and maintained.  A water heater is a closed vessel that can be subjected to high temperature and pressure.  Under the right conditions, a water heater can explode violently and cause extensive structural damage to buildings and personal injury or death.  As such, water heaters should


be thoroughly inspected.  The following is a guide for the inspection of water heater systems.


1.  Electric water heaters:

?             Is the electric service for the house adequate to supply the normal demands of the house as well as the increased demands of a water heater?

?             Is the electric wiring for the water heater of adequate size and properly installed in accordance with the electrical code?

?             Are all conductors properly installed and protected against physical damage?


2.  Fuel-burning water heaters:

?             Which fuel is being used?  Commonly used fuels include natural gas, propane gas and fuel oil.

?             Is the fuel piping constructed from approved materials, properly connected and adequately supported?

?             Is there a readily accessible, properly installed shutoff valve to stop the fuel supply?


3.  Safety controls (electric and fuel-burning):

?             Do the safety controls and devices appear to be in good condition without evidence of tampering or modification?

?             Is the thermostat (temperature control) operational and in good condition?

?             Does the water heater have a temperature and a pressure relief valve or a combination temperature and pressure relief valve?  These safety valves are necessary to relieve excessive pressures, thereby preventing an explosion of the water heater.  The temperature and pressure relief valves or combination temperature and pressure relief valve  must be rated for a pressure not higher than the working pressure rating of the water heater, and in no case higher than 150 pounds per square inch (psi) (1034 kPa).

?             Is the temperature relief-valve-sensing element located in the top 6 inches (152m mm) of the water heater tank?  This is the hottest water in the tank.

?             Is the relief valve in good condition and free of corrosion or leakage?

?             Is the relief valve rating equal to or greater than the British thermal unit per hour (Btu/h) input rating of the water heater?  An undersized safety relief valve does not offer adequate protection.

?             Does the relief valve have a discharge pipe to divert heated water toward the floor and to a point where it will not cause damage to the structure?  The discharge pipe must be rigid piping of the same diameter as the relief valve outlet.  The lower end of the discharge pipe must not be closed or plugged and is not to have a threaded end that would invite closure.  The relief valve discharge pipe must not be located where it would be subject to freezing, as this could result in a complete blockage of the pipe.


4.          Venting:

?             Do all fuel-burning water heaters vent the combustion products to an approved chimney or venting system?

?             Does the vent have adequate clearance from combustible materials (wood, paper, cloth, etc.)?

?             Are the vent or chimney connectors constructed of approved materials?  They should be constructed from corrosion-resistant materials such as aluminum, galvanized steel and stainless steel.  The joints should be fastened with sheet metal screws, rivets, or other approved means.

?             Does the chimney, vent or connector show signs of deterioration, corrosion or condensation?

?             Is the vent/chimney connector properly supported and connected to the vent or chimney?


          If there is a doubt or question about a particular installation, plumbing inspectors or water department officials should be consulted.


          Fuel-burning water heaters must not be installed in bathrooms, toilet rooms, bedrooms or any other rooms that are normally kept closed when in use, unless combustion air is brought directly to the appliance from outside of the room.  Adequate combustion air must always be provided regardless of the appliance location.  The International Mechanical Code (IMC) prohibits the installation of fuel-fired water heaters in such rooms in all cases, except where the water heater is a direct-vent type or is placed in a dedicated enclosure completely isolated from the occupied room.  Asphyxiation of the room occupants could possibly result from inadequate combustion air, venting system failure or appliance malfunction (see Section 603.2).


          The Code Official must also be sure that the water heater is able to provide water of at least 110° F (43° C) to every fixture requiring hot water (see Section 505.1).


          Temperature and pressure relief valves are absolutely necessary to prevent the possibility of water heater explosion resulting from overheating. 





506.1  GENERAL.  All plumbing fixtures shall be properly connected to either a public sewer system or to an approved private sewage disposal system.


          Plumbing fixtures must be connected to an approved public or private sewer system.  Private systems that should not be approved would include pit privies, cesspools or any system that discharges to storm drains, ponds, lakes, streams or rivers.


506.2  MAINTENANCE.  Every plumbing stack, vent, waste and sewer line shall function properly and be kept from obstructions, leaks, and defects.


          All waste, soil, sewer and vent piping must be installed and maintained so as to function properly.  Obstructions or defects that present health hazards must be corrected.  Leaking pipes or joints must be replace or repaired.  All repairs and new installations must be in accordance with the IPC.


          A thorough and accurate inspection of the plumbing system requires knowledge of plumbing systems; however, with training and experience, the Code Official can identify typical problems and improper installations.  In broad terms, he or she should be inspecting the following elements of a plumbing system:  fixtures; sanitary drainage systems; vents and venting; traps; drainage cleanouts; and hangers and supports.


1.           Sanitary drainage system:  The system must be free of leaks.  Leaking drain pipes can cause structural damage and spread illness from the pathogenic organisms in the waste water.


          The Code Official should inspect all visible drainpipes for any improper connections or installations.  A few frequently encountered problems include the following:


          A.  Improperly installed materials:  Materials not designed or approved for plumbing applications are often used for repairs and modifications in plumbing systems.  The improper use of fittings, joining means and connectors is common in existing structures.  Drainage piping with no slope or reverse slope can promote blockages.


          B.  Joints and pipes that have been "patched" with tape, putty, caulking or tar thus indicating past and current leakage in the drainage system.


          C.  Unworkmanlike installation:  This often indicates that an untrained handyman has made repairs.


          The Code Official should check the entire system for any indications of unvented fixtures, improper materials or other typical violations.  Additionally, it should be determined whether permits were obtained to install the work.


2.  Vents and venting:  Plumbing systems are designed with an integral venting system to prevent loss of the water seals in fixture traps.  Fixture vents must be provided and maintained where necessary to protect traps from pressure fluctuations and siphon action that cause loss of the water seal.


3.  Traps:  Each plumbing fixture must have a trap at the connection to the sanitary drainage system.  A trap creates a water seal that prevents sewer gas from entering the structure.  Sewer gases can be toxic and carry bacteria-laden aerosols.  Some types of sewer gases are even explosive.


4.  Hangers and supports:  Improperly or inadequately supported waste and vent piping frequently indicates a nonprofessional installation.  All piping is required to be adequately supported to maintain pitch and alignment and prevent strain on connections and joints.


          In general, the Code Official should inspect the entire visible plumbing system for:  leakage; the presence of fixture, standpipe and floor drain traps; approved materials (with approved connections) and an acceptable venting system.





507.1  General.  Drainage of roofs and paved areas, yards, and courts, and other open areas on the premises shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance.


          Drainage of roofs, paved areas, yards, courts and other open areas on the premises shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance.


          Storm water must be discharged so that it does not pond in paved areas, yards, courts or open areas.  Standing water can freeze in cold climates, thereby causing a slip hazard.  In warm weather, standing water can create an insect breeding ground.


          Roof gutters and downspouts are not required, provided that storm water is discharged in such a manner that it does not create a public nuisance.


          The Code Official should also check local ordinances to determine if run-off storm drainage water and sump pumps can be allowed to enter the sanitary sewer system.  Most communities are not requiring all storm drainage water to be separated from the sanitary sewer system.  Disconnecting the storm water from the sanitary sewer system can reduce the costs of sewage treatment and eliminate an overload of the treatment facility.



          The emphasis in storm drainage is to remove the water quickly without creating hazards to pedestrians or causing damage to any structures on the same or neighboring property.

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