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Is my plumbing legal? Staying out of hot water.


As consumers many of us assume that all the important aspects of building our houses are  covered by strict laws that make sure that the biggest purchase we ever make is built right.

Not all the time.

In the past 2 weeks I have been asked by several new home buyers if it is possible to install a soft water loop in their garage so they can install a water softener.

My first assumption is that it must be a 25 or 30 year old house that was built before this very important plumbing application was put in the plumbing code.

I was shocked to learn that these houses were both less than 3 years old. I thought all houses built since the year 2000 had to have soft water loops installed during the rough plumbing phase. These customers were even more shocked and dismayed to learn that it can’t, financially speaking, be done after the fact.

All water filtration/ softening systems create waste, or brine, that must be dumped into the sewer system usually by running a 1/2 inch line to the laundry box. This is very difficult to do after the walls have been finished. Before we even get to that part of this operation we determine where the main water line comes into the garage, cut into the wall at that point to install the loop and then patch the wall.  If this sounds like a great deal of work and expense for something that should be required by code, it is.

The Las Vegas valley has some of the worst quality water in the country. It is loaded with lime, calcium, and other minerals. All one needs to do is add sand and one could make a pretty good quality cement. This is what gets into your plumbing system and plugs it up. Water conditioners of some kind should be part of the plumbing code.

It is also shocking to me that pans under water heaters are not a code requirement. The powers that be are very strict about earthquake straps and gas line drip legs on water heaters however.

I have never seen a water heater fall over because of an earthquake but, every week, I see homes destroyed by water heaters without $25 pans under them to catch the water and divert it to the garage floor when they leak. All water heaters leak eventually. I have even seen water heaters situated in the middle of upper floor condos and apartments with no pan or any way of containing the water when the heater leaks.

I struggle to comprehend the logic behind this thinking.

It seems like the Building and Safety Dept. needs to put its priorities in order.

And I’m just talking about plumbing here.

What about all the other trades?

Food for thought.

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