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The one thing you can be assured of at an IAPMO Plumbing Technical Committee meeting is that it will be exciting. After two very long days, the Plumbing Technical Committee completed its review of the public comments to the proposed changes to the 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code.

One of the biggest changes to the code will be the direct reference of the consensus standards. Currently, the code basically says, go to Chapter 14 and figure out which standard is appropriate. The new text will specifically reference the standard. For example, it will require all cast-iron pipe to comply with ASTM A74, ASTM A888 or CISPI 301. There will be no more guessing.

For the most part, all the standard changes were accepted. There were a handful of proposals that were not accepted. One proposed change was to reference ICC A117.1 for the handicapped plumbing fixture requirements. You might think that the presence of “ICC” would result in the immediate opposition to the standard, but that was not the case.

The concern expressed by some TC members was that various states don’t reference ICC A117.1, therefore the code should leave it to the jurisdiction to decide. The opposition to this was that the state or local jurisdiction can already modify the code during the adoption process, but as a model code the standard should be directly referenced. That change was not accepted and the text will remain unchanged with a reference to the state’s requirements.

Other standards that were not accepted had more to do with not wanting to accept a given product vs. a concern regarding the direct reference of the standard. For example, the standard for plastic pipe using recycled material was not accepted. The idea expressed was the lack of history regarding the longevity of the piping material. This was a valid issue since plastic pipe has traditionally been produced using virgin material.


Hot topics

A subject related to plastic pipe dealt with protection from direct sunlight. A new section will require ABS and PVC plastic pipe to be protected from direct exposure to sunlight. The pipe can be painted with a latex paint or wrapped with a material that prevents UV degradation.

Urinals were a key issue at the meeting, both water-fed and nonwatered models. Normally, only nonwater urinals receive a lot of discussion, but this time there was a proposal to require a cleanout for every urinal. The justification was that eventually the urinal will have a stoppage and it is easier to access the line with a cleanout than to remove the urinal from the wall. There were some chuckles when it was stated the chrome-plated cleanout covers are attractive. I don’t think you would find an architect to agree with that statement.

The plumbing engineering community opposed the cleanout requirement, but it did not prevail as the TC voted in favor of requiring cleanouts for every urinal. What is most interesting is that the same group claiming nonwater urinals stop up now are claiming the same thing about water-supplied urinals. They have simply lumped the two types of urinals together.

There also were additional requirements proposed to nonwater urinals. One suggestion would require one water supply fixture unit to be located upstream of any nonwater urinal. Another proposal would remove the requirement for a water supply to nonwater urinals. The final nonwater plan would be to add a fixture unit value of 0.5 drainage fixture unit and a minimum trap size of 1 1/2 in. to the sizing table. The latter two proposals were submitted by ASPE.

The results seem to make life more miserable for nonwater urinals. The proposal to require an upstream fixture was approved. As one individual pointed out, one merely has to add a standpipe with a hose bibb to meet the requirement.

The water supply requirement for nonwater urinals was not removed. Finally, the fixture unit value and trap size was not added to the code. The reason given was that the trap size was not consistent with the product standard. However, that technical justification actually was incorrect. The fixture standard does allow a 1 1/2-in. trap for a nonwater urinal.

Oh well, such is life at code meetings.


Precious metals

There were a series of proposed changes to lower the flush volume for water closets and urinals, as well as changing the flow rates for kitchen sinks and lavatories. All these changes were rejected. They were considered more appropriate for the Green Code Supplement.

Lead content and dezincification were the subjects of a few suggestions as well. The federal requirements were added to the code, however there needed to be clarification as to when the lead-free requirements do not apply. After tinkering with the language, the proposal properly states what is required and what is not required. This will help the engineer in the future when specifying products for water-supply systems.

The dezincification issue seemed superfluous since the proposals would require plastic fittings to comply with NSF 14, which already is required. But to some, it appeared there should be text highlighting the requirement. That is equivalent to highlighting specific standard requirements in the code for every product.

The TC turned down most of these changes. However, it did approve one change — including a requirement for valves used in plastic piping systems to comply with NSF 14. However, that change should have been rejected since it will do nothing but confuse the plumbing inspector as to when a valve must be listed to NSF 14. Many threaded valves are used on plastic, copper and galvanized-steel piping systems. Hence, why would such a valve have to be listed to a plastic standard if it may never be used in that capacity? Furthermore, why would a valve that is allowed on a copper system not be acceptable on a plastic pipe system?

Next month, I’ll continue with the results of the remaining code-change proposals that are of interest to the plumbing and mechanical engineering community.