December, 2010

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors


What's New in Plumbing?

MICHAEL CASEY

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at InspectionWorld in Atlanta where my educational session will cover what’s new in plumbing. Here are some things we’ll go over that you might want to check on for yourself if you’re not going to be there:

 • Code changes. This includes the allowance of 1-1⁄2 inch drains for shower stalls, CSST bonding, the prohibition of air admittance valves as vents for sewage ejector sumps and more.  

• PEX.
Most of us are seeing Cross-Link Polyethylene (PEX) in new, remodel and re-pipes across the country.  It’s a great material, easy to install and withstands freeze well.  However, there are some installation guidelines such as fastening, bend restrictions and others.  Additionally, some of the systems have had some issues with corroding fittings.  

• Managing thermal expansion.
We know thermal expansion in the water distribution system is a condition that needs to be managed. Most of us have seen expansion tanks as a method to control this expansion from heating water.  Did you know there are several other approved methods? The plumbing codes specify there shall be thermal expansion control — not necessarily an expansion tank.

• Tankless water heaters.
Are you seeing more tankless water heaters lately? I know I am. Did you know there are new tankless heaters available that are designed “recirculation pump-capable”?  In the past, we’ve seen a small electric heater installed as the recirculation loop heater; with the right tankless heater, this extra component is no longer needed.  We’ll look at several case studies of installations where the installer ignored the label right in front of him/her.




Photo: Typical tankless water heater installations. Photo by Jennifer and Bob Davidson



• Backflow prevention.
Many jurisdictions are requiring homeowners to install reduced pressure zone backflow preventers. I know my water utility recently required us to install an RPZ at the meter.  It really makes the front yard look better. Not all preventers work the same way. It’s worth knowing a little about the most widely used ones.

• Numerous other newer components. During an inspection, you might see some of the other newer components on the market, such as auto water and gas shutoff (excess flow) flexible connectors, auto high-temperature shutoffs for showers, bidet temperature-mixing valves, H2GLOW faucets and, of course, the famous disappearing urinal.

There’s always something new to learn about plumbing. Of course, you can research new components and codes on your own, but if you’re coming to InspectionWorld, we’ve done the work for you. Hope to see you in Atlanta.