Someone Finally Woke Up During the Writing of the Illinois Plumbing Code
I have been a plumber for 30 plus years now. I started my career shortly after I graduated high school and spent the next 5 years as an apprentice
both going to school and working in the field being mentored by other trained craftsman that were doing their part to pass on the trade. I was very fortunate to have worked with some very fine craftsman, who insisted on the highest level of quality work performed in a timely fashion. I was taught how to install plumbing systems that were true, plumb and up to the codes of the day in a very rapid fashion. The one day a week that was spent in school learning the intense math, geometry, plan reading, and codes of the trade made me a competent journeyman when I graduated from my apprenticeship.
Just Because You’re Done With Plumbing School Doesn’t Mean Your Done Learning Plumbing
I thought I was done with school, Good Riddance to the books and scratch papers solving offsets and square roots…. Boy was I wrong! I used all those skills on a daily basis in the field, many of the intricate mathematical formulas performed from memory on a daily basis. But, I have found through the years that the learning never stops. I have spent 34 years studying plumbing. Literally on a daily basis there is something that requires study, whether it is a new innovation or the introduction of new codes. New technology drives the major portion of our studies today, learning about everything from underground pipelining technologies down to something as simple as a new connection fitting between the toilet and the collar that anchors your toilet at home. Everyday there is something to be learned.
No More Local Plumbing Codes in Illinois
Preparing to write this article it became apparent to me that plumbing has become the study of my life. I started after high school and have not stopped. Today in Illinois, our public health department that administers the state’s plumbing code revised and published our new state plumbing code. Gone are many of the conflicting statements and seemingly unnecessary codes. The release of the new code carries a great one paragraph rider to the code. It basically states that EVERYONE in the State will follow the new code. GONE are all the local city town and municipal “amendments” to the old code that made it not only difficult to keep track what town wanted what, but more importantly the cost associated with those towns wish lists.
Many Towns Many Plumbing Codes
One of the more onerous amendments was the requirement to use cast iron and copper for drainage systems and specific types of copper for the potable water pipe system. Plastic pipe for drains and vents and specific types of plastic pipe were allowed for potable water, but the vast majority of towns passed amendments banning the use of the material. The amendments are driven by the towns plumbing inspector. He advises the town
board what materials he would like to see being used and how he wants it to be put in…..is the picture starting to emerge? If the inspector has a “dislike “ for plastic, the town passed an amendment to use only copper based on the “Like” of the inspector. Most times no other viable reason was required to enact an amendment in a town. It rapidly became a problem trying to perform work in neighboring towns as many inspectors just required you to do what their likes were, without even having amendments to the code. For years the Inspectors were allowed to get away with this because no one had the time to write the state and obtain a determination from the Chief State Plumbing inspector to over turn the local inspectors requirements. Why? Because most all of construction is performed on a “fast track” schedule. Neither the plumbing contractor nor the builder could afford to wait 4 or 5 weeks to receive a response from the State Inspector all the while holding up dry walling the building or waiting to pour concrete over and underground plumbing system. And if you did take the time to work through the bureaucratic hoops and received a response that the local inspector could not demand whatever it was he “wanted”, there were no ramifications to the inspector. He continued on his way enforcing his wants and wishes on the next poor contractor.
Local Plumbing Codes are Unenforceable
Well today that is all over. The new Illinois State Plumbing Code states that all existing amendments are unenforceable as of the date of release of the new code. If a town , village or city wants to enact a new “amendment” to the code, the now have to show that their amendment is being proposed due to a Life or Health issue, NOT a personal preference for material type or a specific fitting configuration. AND….if the inspector is caught enforcing codes that are made up of his desires, he is PERSONALLY fine $5000.00 dollars by the State…NOT the municipality he works for. If that isn’t incentive to enforce a uniform, standardized state code I don’t know what is. The long and the short of it is that this will ultimately make it easier on the contractor to perform his work AND save the homeowner money! WOW! Imagine a government agency that enacted a law that didn’t cost the taxpayers money!!!!!! Good on the Illinois Department of Public Health!
EXCEPTION TO THE PLUMBING CODE
EXCEPT…The Great State of Chicago! They retain their code…. Why not??? They live in a different world, right???? What works in the suburbs will
never work in the city ….right????
So…. I learn again. Expert Plumbing Service has begun our own weekly code review classes to teach our plumbers all about the new Illinois code and the changes between the old and the new….The study of my life….34, 35……
May your pipes run freely and the sewer gas always be at your back!
Expert Plumbing Service, Inc.
You can find Kevin @