Plumbing Codes Tips

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Does the International Residential Code cover all types of residential dwellings, including apartment buildings?

Using The International Residential Code

The International Residential Code is a comprehensive set of regulations covering the building of one and two family residences. Construction issues addressed include building, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing areas of home building.

Available in a loose-leaf binder, you can also obtain the International Residential Code (IRC) in a CD-Rom format, get the paperback version, or download it instantly as a PDF. Because of the great number of changes to the recent 2006 edition, a companion book has come onto the market, the “2006 Significant Changes to the International Residential Code”, which helps users to interpret those codes frequently encountered and affected by the new IRC code changes. The authors of the companion book are part of the International Code Council, which produced the original 2006 IRC.

   
What code dimensions do I need to follow when remodeling my bathroom?

Some Minimum Bathroom Dimensions To Go By

If you're installing new fixtures or moving old fixtures in your bathroom, it's always good to know the minimum bathroom dimensions to follow. Use these guidelines based on code when planning your next bathroom remodel:

  • Planning to put a sink opposite your tub or toilet? Leave 30 inches clear between the fixtures.
  • When you place a sink in your bathroom, you should have minimum of 12 inches from the center of your sink to the wall.
  • Moving your toilet to make more space? Make sure you have at least 15 inches from the center of your new toilet to the closet wall or edge of your cabinet.
Note: These minimum bathroom dimensions are guidelines. Make sure you check with your local codes for specific minimum clearances when doing a bathroom remodel.

   
How will I know if I have to upgrade my plumbing to current building codes?

Meeting Current Plumbing Codes

If you've had a home inspector look over your home recently and some of your plumbing is not up to code, you don't have to worry about it – yet. You only have to deal with current plumbing codes if you are making any alterations or additions to your home affecting the plumbing. For instance, if you decide to add a new bathroom to your home and your existing kitchen sink doesn't meet current plumbing codes for venting, you wouldn't have to worry about updating your kitchen sink if it doesn't affect the new construction or if the new construction doesn't affect the kitchen sink. You would, however, need to make sure the new bathroom meets all current plumbing codes.

   
Who has the final say on building codes when I remodel my home?

The Final Say On Plumbing Codes In Your Home

If you're remodeling your home and you're doing any work which might affect the plumbing, you'll have to adhere to your local plumbing codes. Remodeling work which would fall under the guidelines of local plumbing codes could include something as simple as installing a new toilet fixture in your bathroom to a more complicated project like adding a new bathroom to your home. Depending on the complexity of the project, you may have to draw up plans and have your local building department approve those plans. For those areas governed by plumbing, the plumbing inspector at your local building department has the authority to interpret the code and decide whether a change meets current plumbing codes or not.

   
Is there a codebook specifically geared toward residential remodels?

International Residential Code – A Guide For Home Building

Residential codes vary by local municipality to local municipality. However, one comprehensive codebook is becoming the adopted regulatory source by building departments across the United States – the International Residential Code.

The International Residential Code (IRC) first came out in 2000 as the all-inclusive codebook covering each type of climate and hazard as well as regulations to keep residential construction safe from those hazards. New for 2006, the IRC has much of its content updated in response to the damage caused by the hurricane season in 2005. Eighty percent of changes have to do with increased safety considerations and more stringent response to the impact of the elements on housing. Twenty percent of the changes have to do with making complex text and tables easier to read.

   
Do I have to bring the plumbing in a house for sale up to code?

Bring A House For Sale Up To Code

If you're selling your home, you may have wondered whether or not you need to bring the old plumbing up to code. Maybe you even got something like the sink vent from your kitchen written up by the potential buyer's home inspector and he's asking you to make the house up to date before you sell it. Do you have to do it?

If you're not doing any renovations on your home, you likely don't have to bring your house up to code just for the sale. There are a few exceptions to the rule, so check with your local municipality for their list of requirements if you're not sure. However, it is a negotiation point, so in that respect, consider whether or not it's a point worth arguing over if you're interested in selling your home.

   
Can I vent my bathroom to an interior part of the house?

Code Change Requires Venting Outside

If you're doing a remodel, you probably figured it's no smart move to vent your bathroom fan into the attic or any other interior part of your home. Venting your bathroom fan is not only a bad idea, it's something you can't do anymore due to a building code change. This recent code change requires you to route exhaust from your bathroom outside of the house only. Venting outside will save damage to your home in the long run. You'll prevent moisture from accumulating in your attics, crawlspaces, soffit vents, and ridge vents.

   
Are there any new codes related to fixture installation in my home?

New Fixture Related Codes

Are you planning on installing any new fixtures in your home in the near future? If you're putting in a bidet or a new showerhead, check out the new fixture related codes which could affect your remodel. New fixture related codes require a temperature-sensing device for bidets to keep the water from going over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This new code will ensure you keep your backside from scalding from the hot water. For low flow showerhead users, there's good news. Now you can use a 1-1/2” diameter trap in your shower stall instead of the old 2” diameter trap required in the old code.

   
What reference can I use for plumbing codes?

Plumbing Code Reference

If you're doing renovations that will affect the plumbing in a new or existing non-residential structure, you should refer to the Uniform Plumbing Code as your guide to requirements the department of building and safety will uphold you to in order to approve the construction you're doing. This comprehensive plumbing code reference comes out every three years and is available in a loose-leaf binder version as well as on CD Rom. The most recent version is the 2006 Uniform Plumbing Code. As the building industry standard for plumbing related construction, contractors, architects, and mechanical and plumbing engineers refer to this plumbing code reference for much of their work.

   
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