IAPMO held its Technical Committee meetings this May in Ontario, California. The Technical Committee meetings were taking place at the same time as the Emerging Water Technology Symposium, the Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition meeting and the World Plumbing Council meeting. The hotel was filled with plumbing and mechanical gurus.

These technical committees are responsible for reviewing all the code changes and deciding whether to accept, modify or reject a proposed code change. This was the first meeting of the committees since they were reformed. IAPMO dismissed the old technical committees with a thanks for their service.

Many of the members from the old technical committees applied for the new versions. I personally served on the Plumbing Technical Committee, representing ASPE, for the previous 17 years. I applied and was accepted as a special expert on the new Plumbing Technical Committee. So, I had a vote on all the plumbing code changes. ASPE’s new representative on the Plumbing Technical Committee is the organization’s Executive Director and CEO Billy Smith, FASPE.

Looking at the new technical committees, there were a few new faces, but many were faces from previous versions. There were some missing representations that were surprising. Neither UL nor NAHB had a representative on the Plumbing or Mechanical Technical Committee.


A lighter load

The number of code changes was fewer compared to previous cycles. There were 247 code changes to the Plumbing Code and 191 changes to the Mechanical Code. For the first time in many cycles, the Plumbing Code changes did not include any controversial items. There were no significant changes to air-admittance valves, non-water urinals, drainage pipe sizes or venting methods.

The only change impacting non-water urinals was a name change for the hybrid urinal. This is the non-water urinal that periodically discharges a quantity of water to clean the internal components of the urinal. The new name will be a urinal with drain-cleansing action. This still is considered a non-water urinal.

As promised during the last cycle, labor interests submitted a change to lower the shower drain from 2 inches to 1 1/2 inches when existing bathtubs are replaced with showers. The limitation placed on the requirement is a maximum shower size of 36 inches by 60 inches. The committee voted to approve the change.

During the first meeting of the Technical Committee, the procedures allowed the group to develop a new code change. One of the interesting committee code changes was to increase the number of water closets permitted on a horizontal drainage branch. Basically, the limitation becomes the fixture unit value for the drain. This change prompted a lot of discussion and received overwhelming support by the committee.

A change that would require all connections to a building drain to be on the vertical was soundly rejected by the Technical Committee. The technical justification did not support eliminating horizontal connections to a building drain.

Under the venting provisions, there were a few changes to clarify the circuit-vent requirements. The one extensive change was recommended for acceptance, however, the end result was merely a rewrite to better understand the requirements and limitations.

Another venting change would have extended the distances from trap to vent. The problem with the code change is that it also reduced the distance on crown venting. The proposal would lower the minimum distance from trap to vent from two pipe diameters to one pipe diameter. The change was recommended for rejection.


More Legionella discussion

There were many code changes related to Legionnaires’ disease. Some changes proposed allowing cold water to be used for hand washing while others were related to the temperature of hot water. ASHRAE 188, the standard on Legionellos is risk management, was proposed as a mandatory standard for the design and installation of water-piping systems. There also was an appendix proposed that jurisdictions could adopt for Legionnaires’ disease prevention.

Almost all the code changes were recommended for rejection. ASHRAE 188 was recommended for rejection. The only change accepted was a proposal to eliminate dead legs in water-piping systems. However, the committee modified the definition of dead leg to read that flow through would be required for all water-piping systems.

At the end of the meeting, the chair decided to create a Legionnaires’ disease prevention task group. IAPMO currently is soliciting people to serve on the task group, which is charged with evaluating all the proposals based on Legionnaires’ disease prevention. The group has until January 2019 to decide if any public comments should be submitted on any of the code-change proposals.

I had submitted a change that would allow the sizing of storm-drainage systems based on the ASPE Research Foundation Report. The proposal would allow the methodology under the engineered storm-drainage design section. As was pointed out by a plumbing contractor colleague, the design methodology should not be restricted to engineers. He asked why a contractor can’t use the design method.

His point was well-taken. There actually is no reason for restricting the design method to engineers. The committee voted to reject the code change.

There were a number of updates related to the extraction of NFPA 54 (gas piping standard) and NFPA 99 (medical gas standard). All the extraction references were accepted, some with minor modifications.

The WE•Stand Committee of IAPMO proposed a number of code changes to the green sections in the appendix of the Plumbing Code. The changes basically were extractions from the WE•Stand standard, which formerly was known as the Green Supplement. Most of the code changes were recommended for rejection. It seemed arbitrary as to which green changes were accepted and which ones were rejected.

None of the green code changes impact the content of the WE•Stand document. The WE•Stand remains a viable standalone green document for jurisdictions to use and adopt.

The changes currently are being electronically balloted by the technical committees. During the electronic balloting, a two-thirds majority is required. IAPMO will publish the results in a Report of Proposals or ROP. The ROP will be available for downloading on the IAPMO website. The next step in the process is the comment phase. Comments on the ROP are due Jan. 3, 2019. The comments will be discussed next year before the technical committees at its meetings in Denver.