Just Because You?re Done with Plumbing School Doesn?t Mean Your Done Learning Plumbing
I have been a plumber for 30 plus years now. I started my career shortly after I graduated high school. Afterward, I spent the next 5 years as an apprentice. I was going to school and working in the field at the same time. My mentor was a trained craftsman that was doing his 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 learned how to install plumbing systems that were true, plumb, and up to the codes of the day while keeping up with tight deadlines. That single 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. However, theÿIllinois Plumbing Code showed me that life is a never-ending lesson.
However, I have found through the years that the learning part never stops. I have spent 34 years studying plumbing. Literally on a daily basis, there is something that requires study, whether it is a innovation or the introduction of new codes.
New technology drives the major portion of our studies today. I had to learn new things 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. Every day, there is something to be learned.
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 ever since.
Today in Illinois, our public health department that administers the state?s plumbing code revised and published our new state plumbing code, entitled the Illinois Plumbing Code. Gone are many of the conflicting statements and seemingly unnecessary codes. The release of the new code carries a great rider to the code.
It basically states that EVERYONE in the State will have to follow the new code. GONE are all the local city town and municipal ?amendments? to the old code. These made it not only difficult to keep track of what the town wanted, but they also made it those town?s wish lists more expensive than they would normally be.
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 while specific types of plastic pipe were allowed for potable water before as well.
However, the vast majority of towns passed amendments banning the use of this material. Behind all these amendments is the town?s plumbing inspector. He advises the town
board what materials he would like to see being used and how he intends to put them in place. Is the real picture starting to emerge? If the inspector had a ?dislike ? for plastic, the town passed an amendment to use copper only based on the inspector?s green light.
No More Local Plumbing Codes in Illinois Thanks to the NewÿIllinois Plumbing Code
For years, the inspectors were allowed to get away with their whims. That?s because no one had the time to write the state and obtain a determination from the Chief State Plumbing inspector to overturn the local inspectors? requirements.
Why? Because almost all of the construction tasks are tied to 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. This would imply that they have to pause their project for an undetermined amount of time.ÿ They would have to wait to pour concrete over an underground plumbing system until further notice.
There Used to Be Many Towns with Different Plumbing Codes
Let?s say you did take the time to work through the bureaucratic hoops and received a response that the local inspector wasn?t going to answer your demands. In this case, your endeavors would cause no repercussions to the inspector, deeming your efforts as a waste of time. He would continue on the same route enforcing his wishes on the next unlucky contractor.