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Codes & Standards: RWC Advocates Safer Plumbing Practices


Codes and standards are integral to building safety and sanitation practices all over the world. At RWC, we understand that as we develop new technologies, it’s imperative to stay updated on how codes and standards are evolving. We also play a proactive role in the advancement of codes and standards, while continuously providing sustainable solutions to the plumbing industry.

A Brief History of Codes & Standards

During the 1920’s, the need for plumbing standards became apparent when a group of California inspectors noticed that there were no installation or maintenance requirements for plumbing systems. This was especially concerning, because disease was spreading rapidly at this time, and unsanitary plumbing practices only worsened the situation. Additionally, no regulations on plumbing processes in the US meant there was no assurance that new or existing plumbing systems were functioning safely. To address this dilemma, the inspectors decided to collaborate with plumbers, engineers, sanitation workers, utility companies and others in the plumbing industry to come up with a code that could be used everywhere.

In 1945, the Universal Plumbing Code was developed by the Western Plumbing Officials Association. Due to a quickly growing global influence, the organization changed its name to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), in 1966. Since its inception, IAPMO has been a trusted authority on plumbing codes and standards, backed by the expertise of installers, plumbing and mechanical officials, engineers, manufacturers and others in the construction industry.

Why They Matter

Everyone from builders and contractors, to engineers, inspectors, plumbers and their customers, benefit from adherence to codes and standards. Following building codes and standards can protect against property damage, personal injury, and help to keep projects on schedule. Although ensuring that a building is up to code may be slightly more expensive on the front end, the finished product pays for itself in quality and overall structural safety down the line. For example, fittings that have been certified to comply with code requirements have been rigorously tested, in order to meet the appropriate standard. These standards include test requirements that have been proven to provide long term performance in applications covered by the codes.

In contrast, code noncompliance can result in major ramifications. For example, if you install a product that has not been tested to the standards adopted by the code, then it has not undergone the necessary testing to ensure that it is fit for the intended application. This can lead to premature product failure and costly repairs. Additionally, using a product that does not meet with code requirements can lead to your installation failing inspection, causing projects to be delayed or “red-tagged.” And as a result, you may end up expensive changes to the installation in order to bring it into compliance with the code.

RWC Involvement & Accomplishments

Codes are updated every three years, to promote the advancement and implementation of high quality building practices. Organizations such as ANSI (American National Standards Institute), IAPMO, ICC, PPI (Plastics Pipe Institute) and PPFA (Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association) participate in ongoing initiatives that support environmental responsibility, safety, educational opportunities and more, that impact the entire construction industry. ASTM, ASSE, ASME, NSF, CSA standards are constantly updated to reflect new product development, and to ensure that they meet the ever-changing requirements of installations.

Rich Houle, Director of Codes and Standards at RWC, immerses himself in raising awareness of codes and standards in today’s industry landscape. Just in the year 2018, his participation in various committees and initiatives led to the following accomplishments:

  • Granted approval from the State of Wisconsin for an alternate sizing table for use on SharkBite PEX tubing and EvoPEX™ fittings, allowing for more fixture units with the same sized tubing than in the generic PEX sizing table.
  • Behind-the-wall IAPMO listing
  • Addressed UMC (Uniform Mechanical Codes) issue that did not allow the use of SharkBite fittings on EVOH Layer tubing. In 2021, UMC will have this restriction removed.
  • Appointed to IAPMO WE Stand Committee to develop new code language for proper plumbing system design and sizing, and water conservation technologies.
  • Appointed as Chairman of PPI - Building Construction Division
  • Appointed to Board of Directors of PPI & PPFA
  • Fire Resistive Construction listings for SharkBite PEX, Universal, EvoPEX and crimp fittings.

“When it comes to plumbing systems, we want everyone in the field to look at RWC as the industry expert,” said Houle. “We want people to come to us for honest answers, facts, timeliness and solutions. How do we do that? By being front and center of what’s going on in the industry.”