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Why do we need plumbing codes and permits? To establish standards to protect the health and safety of the community, and to see that those standards are followed. Faulty plumbing can cause serious health and safety hazards, such as toxic gas backups, bursting pipes, floods, and electrical shorts.
There are six model plumbing codes in print, but regulations regarding methods, materials, and design differ from one state, county, or municipality to the next. Local codes supersede the model codes.
Materials and methods specified in local codes are constantly being updated. The most controversial material in plumbing today is plastic pipe. It’s prohibited entirely in some areas of the country; in others it’s permitted for drain-waste and vent pipes only.
Just like a contractor, a do-it-yourself plumber must abide by all the rules and regulations of the codes. If your work violates a code, you run the risk of having to rip it all out.
Before you begin any work, be sure your plumbing plans conform to local codes and ordinances. Discuss your plans in detail with a local building inspector, and be sure the methods and materials you’re planning to use are acceptable. The inspector will tell you whether or not you need a plumbing or building permit.
Projects that involve changes or additions to your plumbing system— specifically, to the pipes—usually re quire permits. You won’t need a permit, though, for replacements—a new fixture or appliance—or for emergency repairs, as long as the work doesn’t alter the plumbing system. When in doubt, be sure to check.
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