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TMB - Plumbing Engineer - Columns: February 2009: Code Update

2009 Uniform Codes slated for release on March 1

By Ron George
President, Ron George Design & Consulting Services

The 2009 editions of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC), published by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), have been tentatively scheduled for release on March 1, completing a three-year consensus development cycle accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Significant changes to the Uniform Plumbing Code include the following.

  • New requirements for the installation of nonwater urinals
  • Specific prescriptive requirements for the installation of temperature limiting devices for various fixtures
  • New requirements for the distribution of hot water for bathing, washing, laundry, cooking, dishwashing, etc.
  • Updates and revises the identification of potable and nonpotable water systems
  • New requirements for sizing hydromechanical grease interceptors and gravity grease interceptors
  • Complete modification and new requirements for gray water and reclaimed water systems
  • Three new tables for ease of use, including approved materials, devices and their respective referenced standards for water supply and distribution piping and drain, waste and vent piping and backflow prevention devices, assemblies and methods.

Significant changes to the UMC include the following.

  • New requirements for outdoor air ventilation, updated in accordance with ASHRAE 62.1-2007
  • New requirements for the protection of mechanical equipment against flood damage
  • 69 new refrigerants added to Table 11-1, Refrigerants Groups, Properties and Allowable Quantities
  • For hydronics systems, three approved referenced standards for piping materials and installation
  • New joining method for fuel gas tubing utilizing press-connect fittings in accordance with CSA LC-4
  • New prescriptive and performance-based requirements for listed and unlisted open flame decorative appliances

The Uniform Codes are developed using ANSI's consensus development procedures. This process brings together volunteers representing a variety of viewpoints and interests to achieve consensus on plumbing and mechanical practices.


The codes are designed to provide consumers with safe and sanitary plumbing and mechanical systems while, at the same time, allowing latitude for innovation and new technologies. The public at large is encouraged and invited to participate in IAPMO's open consensus code development process. A code development timeline for the 2012 edition of the code and other relevant information are available at IAPMO's Website, www.iapmo.org.

For more information on code development, contact Lynne Simnick, director of code development for IAPMO, at 909/472-4110.

Plumbing industry groups to work together on water efficiency research

Five national organizations are joining forces in a historic partnership to do further research into water efficiency in plumbing. These organizations with expertise in water efficiency and plumbing will develop research programs to assist in the development and use of water efficient plumbing. The research will cover efficient and sustainable products, systems and practices. The five groups that are part of the agreement are:

  • Alliance for Water Efficiency
  • International Code Council (ICC)
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)
  • Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI)

"By joining forces, the organizations can better use their resources to advance water efficiency research in areas where there is a common interest and need," said Mary Ann Dickinson, executive director of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the organization leading the partnership. "Initial projects being considered for research are high efficiency toilet drainage, water re-use systems, nonwater consuming urinals and sizing of water efficient plumbing systems. We want to make sure that, as we move forward with changes in water efficiency requirements, those changes are based on solid research in the field." The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by all parties formalizes the agreement reached on conducting the research projects, and took more than a year to negotiate.

The historic MoU formed the Water Efficiency Research Coalition and was signed on Tuesday, January 6, in the offices of U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. Johnson pledged to partner with the coalition to coordinate water efficiency research. The coalition, conceived by the IAPMO Green Technical Group, initiates a spirit of cooperation between charter and future coalition members "to find common ground to share technical, scientific, legislative and regulatory information that will result in an organized and systematic approach towards the development of comprehensive research programs." The goal of such research would be the advancement of water efficient and sustainable plumbing products, systems and practices.

Sample projects that might be undertaken include: drainline carry research on high efficiency toilets, non-water using urinals, reduced pipe sizing for water efficient plumbing systems and safe applications for reuse of water. Funds for worthy projects will be sought from government agencies, foundations, and other interested parties. The MoU does not commit any funds at this time.

The non-binding memorandum of understanding will be reviewed at least once a year in order to determine whether it should be continued, modified or terminated. It is also hoped that other plumbing organizations will join in the alliance.

Pete DeMarco, IAPMO director of special programs said, "We, like the other organizations represented here today, recognize that plumbing systems are complex. To keep these systems working properly, decisions on further reductions in the amounts of water that we currently use today must be based on good science if we are to avoid problems that could tarnish and jeopardize the entire water efficiency movement." DeMarco explained that there comes a point when plumbing systems will fail due to lack of water in the system and that the research conducted by the coalition "will be structured to ensure that we do not unintentionally create performance problems as we seek to improve efficiency."

Russ Chaney of IAPMO said "By pooling our resources, we believe that we can generate a much better, more beneficial research program. Aligning industry efforts for the first time gets everybody pulling in the same direction and that direction is the path to the most efficient, yet safe and healthy plumbing systems possible."

Coalition members will share technical, scientific, legislative and regulatory information to develop comprehensive research projects. The common goal of all programs will be to improve water efficiency, while always being mindful of public health and safety. Actionable outcomes from these programs will be shared with the entire plumbing industry to ensure water saving measures are properly implemented.

On Friday, January 9, IAPMO's Green Technical committee, headed by Pete Demarco held a conference call to begin the first in a series of meetings to look at revising Hunter's curve to allow for water pipe size reductions for low flow fixtures. Those wishing to assist in the effort, please contact Pete Demarco or Dave Viola at IAPMO.

Dwight Perkins and Don Swords named to IAPMO field services positions

Dwight Perkins has been named director of field operations and Don Swords Region 8 field manager for IAPMO, filling the two positions held concurrently by former director of field services Linden Raimer and vacated by his Dec. 31 retirement. Perkins will continue to serve as field manager of Region 1, comprised of the six westernmost United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, a post he's held since Jan. 1, 2002.

As director of field operations, Perkins will orchestrate the code adoption efforts of 11 other IAPMO field service regions. As field manager of Region 8, Swords will represent IAPMO's interests in seven southeastern states: Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The field managers will be working to promote the new IAPMO codes and to gain their adoption throughout the country to ensure a smooth transition from earlier editions or from other codes.

Linden Raimer's retirement culminated a 45-year career in the plumbing trades, the last eight of which were spent with IAPMO. Prior to that, Mr. Raimer served St. Tammany Parish, La., as chief plumbing inspector, building official and director of permits and regulatory from 1988 -2000.

Key changes to the 2009 International Residential Code

The 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), available in March, includes new requirements for sprinklers and energy efficiency. It also includes new standards for building homes in high wind regions and for constructing community and residential storm shelters.

Jurisdictions that adopt the 2009 IRC will apply the most modern, scientific and comprehensive building safety provisions available to save lives and protect property. The IRC, developed and published by the International Code Council, is adopted at the state or local level in 48 states and Washington, D.C. The IRC combines all building, plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas, energy and electrical provisions for one- and two-family residences and townhouses into one comprehensive code that is compatible with all International Codes.

New safety features in the 2009 IRC include:

  • Fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family residences, beginning Jan. 1, 2011
  • Fire sprinklers in all new townhomes
  • Carbon monoxide alarms in new construction dwelling units with fuel-fired appliances and in existing homes where interior alterations include fuel-fired appliance replacements or attached garages.
  • New guidelines for the design and construction of homes in high wind regions, based on the International Code Council's Standard for Residential Construction in High Wind Regions, ICC 600
  • New guidelines for the design and construction of storm shelters, based on the new International Code Council/National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters, ICC 500-2008

Energy-efficient upgrades in the 2009 IRC include:


  • Programmable thermostats in new homes and buildings with forced air furnaces
  • High-efficiency light bulbs in at least 50% of permanent lighting fixtures in new homes
  • Maximum fenestration U-factors are lowered in warmer climates to reduce the amount of heat loss or gain through windows and doors to lower energy costs during cooling periods
  • An increase in insulation R-values for walls, floors and basements in cold climates to achieve heating and cooling savings.
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