14 Common Plumbing Code Violations

Family Handyman|June 2020

14 Common Plumbing Code Violations
A plumbing inspector helps you keep it legal
By Jay Cork

It’s tempting to think of plumbing code as a collection of irritating rules that make projects more complicated. I’m guilty of this sometimes, but I also know that the code is a guide to good results, developed by thousands of experts over the course of more than a century. Ignoring it can result in leaks, damage, clogs, delays when you sell your home, or even an explosion. When DIYers violate code, it’s usually because they don’t know the code. To help with that, we brought in plumbing inspector Eldon Rameaux to help us better understand the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and to identify some common plumbing code violations. Here’s what we learned.

WHAT IS CODE ANYWAY?

The UPC, or Uniform Plumbing Code, is basically a rule book for creating safe, reliable plumbing systems. It’s updated every three years with input from the public, manufacturers and industry experts. State and local building departments then use it as a guide to write their own plumbing codes. Some simply accept the entire UPC as is, while others pick and choose which rules to adopt. These local codes—not the UPC—determine what you can and can’t do on your next project.

Don’t cap your TPR valve

The temperature pressure relief (TPR) valve is one of the most important safety devices in your home. It releases excess pressure and prevents the water heater from exploding. But here’s what sometimes happens: The valve releases some water because of high pressure, or it just leaks as it ages. To “fix” the drip, a homeowner then plugs or caps the TPR. And BOOM!

Beware the S-Trap

An S-trap is formed when the waste line curves down after the trap. That can create a siphon effect that sucks water out of the trap and allows sewer gas to flow up into the home. S-traps were commonplace in older homes. Today, they’re sometimes created by accident, usually by using a wye fitting after the trap.

A CLEANOUT CANNOT BE USED AS A DRAIN

Some homeowners will use the cleanout as a drain for a basement toilet. This eliminates the only access to the main sewer line and becomes a major problem should a blockage occur. Keep the sewer cleanout properly capped, and only open it if you need to clear an obstruction.

A SUMP PUMP CANNOT DRAIN TO THE SEWER LINE

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June 2020