9 Important Plumbing Codes All Homeowners Should Know

When carrying out DIY plumbing maintenance or fixes, skipping plumbing codes and regulations may seem like a good way to cut costs and save time. But the reality is that you have the potential to do a lot of damage and may run into serious issues while trying to sell your home. We’ve put together 9 must-know plumbing codes that every homeowner with a set of pipes should keep in mind.

Always Adhere to the National Uniform Plumbing Code

The National Uniform Plumbing Code is a set of guidelines covering the installation and maintenance of plumbing systems in commercial and residential properties. The code helps ensure the safe installation of plumbing, protecting you and your family.

You can find the National Uniform Plumbing Code online or ask your local building authority for a copy. It’s important to remember that this document represents best practice guidelines rather than mandatory regulations, so there may be variations between local codes and what’s outlined in them. However, if you’re unsure about something, it’s always worth checking with your local building authority before proceeding with any work.

Drainpipes Should Slope Correctly

The plumbing code requires that all drainpipes slope toward the street in residential areas. The appropriate slope is 1/4 inch per foot. A maximum of ten feet may be used to determine the required pitch.

The purpose of a sloped drain is to provide an open flow of water from the building and to allow for adequate drainage to the street or sewer. Sloping drains are also required by the plumbing code, where there is no curb, gutter, or other means to remove surface water from the area served by a building’s drain system.

Install Cleanouts

Cleanouts are an important part of your plumbing system. They allow you to easily access your pipes in case of a blockage or other problem. In addition, if you need to clean out your pipes, you can use the cleanout as a temporary valve to flush out whatever is clogging up the drain.

Your local plumbing code will inform you where to place your cleanouts.

Avoid Cutting Notches in Joists

When plumbing a house, it can be tempting to cut notches into the bottom of joists so that pipes and fixtures can fit through them. But this is a bad idea.

Image: exposed joists during home construction.

When we build a house, we use lumber rated for a certain amount of weight and stress. Cutting out pieces of this lumber can compromise its strength and make it susceptible to failure. It’s better to bore holes through joists or get a professional plumber to fit your pipes.

Make Sure You Have the Right Size of Fittings and Pipes

Drainage pipes are one of the most important parts of your plumbing system. They carry the water away from your home and stop it from flooding. This is why it’s essential to have the right size and fitting of drainage pipes for your home that also fit within the plumbing codes.

If unsure about pipe size, check with your local San Diego plumbing professionals. 

Use the Right Material for Your Pipes

The type of pipe you choose will depend on how much pressure and flow it needs to handle. For example, if you want water to flow through a pipe from one place to another, you should use copper or steel pipes. Building inspectors generally accept PVC pipes for drainage.

Water Pressure Must be Adequate

Plumbers measure water pressure in pounds per square inch (psi). The higher the psi, the more force is available to push water through pipes. According to the National Plumbing Code, any home with more than one plumbing fixture must have at least 40 psi of pressure where the water enters the house.

Image: low water pressure meme.

Be Sure to Vent Drainpipes Properly

Vented drains are pipes that allow air to enter and exit the plumbing system. Without adequate ventilation, pipes can fill with gasses from decomposing organic matter or chemical reactions. Gasses can build up and leak into your home, causing foul smells and even illness.

Proper Fixture Placement and Spacing

Remember not to install plumbing fixtures too close together. When you have too many fixtures installed in one area, it causes problems with your plumbing system. For example, having multiple sinks installed close together in a small space could lead to water pressure issues and flooding in other parts of your house.

Image: A residential bathroom built to proper plumbing code.

Don’t Forget to Maintain the Structure of the Building

The most important thing to remember when installing plumbing fixtures is that they should not weaken the house’s structure. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of drilling holes or driving screws into joists and beams to secure pipes and fixtures. While this may seem like a good idea, it can actually cause structural damage over time.

Image: a cute house who's structure shouldn't be compromised for a bad plumbing job.

Want to know more about plumbing codes? Contact the ASI plumbing professionals for more information.