If you’re a homeowner, you know how expensive some plumbing repairs can be. And if you’re a handy homeowner, you might often make (or attempt to make) those repairs yourself to save money. While many repairs are simple enough to handle on your own, some require knowledge of building and plumbing codes that the average homeowner does not possess.
Here are five of the most common code violations that occur on DIY plumbing projects:
1. Incorrect venting.
The purpose of traps and vents is to create a sanitary barrier between your home’s living spaces and the sewer system. A trap seals off plumbing fixtures, keeping things like pests and methane gas out of the house. Proper venting insures that the trap’s water seal is protected and admits air that helps maintain neutral pressure in drain and waste pipes. Improper venting, like flat venting or horizontal venting below a flood rim, can be in violation of code.
2. Access to cleanouts.
The main purpose of the cleanout on your home is to allow for clearing a clog in the main sewer line. It isn’t meant to be used as a drain and should be kept sealed up unless the need arises to clear such a clog. If the cleanout isn’t easy to locate or doesn’t have adequate clearance around it, you may not be able to access it in an emergency. There are a number of codes that govern installation and access for cleanouts, and different states have their own codes. Additionally, codes require a specific number of cleanouts based on the size of the home’s plumbing system; not having an adequate supply can result in clogs and slow drainage.
3. Incorrect drain slope.
The keyword in drainpipes is “drain.” In order for drainpipes to do their job, they must be angled downward. The standard pitch for drainpipes is 1/8” per foot for a 3” pipe or larger. Drain pipes installed with an improper pitch can clog, cause slow drains and leaks and worse.
4. Incorrectly installed hot water tanks.
Your home’s water heater is controlled by a thermostat that maintains water temperature, but the combination temperature and pressure-relief valve in the drain line is what prevents disaster if the water gets too hot or the tank’s pressure gets too high. An incorrectly installed pressure valve could malfunction, allowing pressure to build and the tank to burst with explosive force. There are several water heater installation code requirements that need to be met when installing or replacing your water heater, such as drain pans, bottom boards, and dedicated water shut-offs, to name a few. So, it’s vital that the person installing a water heater know how to do it properly as well as inspect it on a regular basis
5. Insufficient space around toilets and sinks.
One of the most common plumbing code violations is not allowing enough space around a toilet and other bathroom fixtures. There should be sufficient clearance space around a toilet so that it can be used comfortably. While specific clearance minimums vary from area to area, code generally requires that finished walls be no less than 15” from a toilet. If you’re moving or installing a toilet yourself, you’ll need to do some research first to discover the regulations for your city. And remember, if drywall hasn’t yet been installed, you’ll need to account for its measurement in the finished wall.
Plumbing repairs and installations can be expensive projects. To ensure the work is done properly and will last for many years, consider calling in a licensed, local plumber.
Howell Services provides quality, trusted plumbing services to the Fort Bend area. All of our plumbers are fully licensed, insured and bonded, and they are knowledgeable about code requirements — which means they do the job right. Call us today to schedule a repair, installation or a comprehensive plumbing inspection of your home.