Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Falcon Ridge Group
March 24, 2020

IAPMO Uniform Codes and Standards Update

by Hugo Aguilar, Senior Vice President of Codes and Standards Development, The IAPMO Group

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) continues to protect the public through its ANSI-approved development process where a third-party oversight assures a true consensus document. The Uniform Codes maintain the necessary balance between prescriptive requirements and allowable performance standards; it details exactly how a system needs to go together.

The provisions in the Uniform Codes are specifically written to protect the public and to aid jurisdictions throughout the United States. The Uniform Codes are the only codes that contain the latest technology with the appropriate safety requirements.

IAPMO published the 2021 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the 2021 Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) in March. The codes were improved with safety provisions for the protection from legionellosis, safe installation of alkaline water treatment devices, and protecting homes with the inclusion of requirements for leak detection, just to list a few.

These provisions are not found in other model codes.

Key Changes to the 2021 UPC:

New Legionella Provisions

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious issue across the United States that is affecting many citizens. This is an issue that IAPMO takes seriously. IAPMO’s effort to address this growing concern led to the formation of Appendix N (Impact of Water Temperature on The Potential for Scalding and Legionella Growth). The UPC Technical Committee saw the need to implement code language to understand the health and safety risks associated with legionella and scald risk exposure for single-family residential buildings. It is widely known that the higher the temperature, the lower the risk for legionella growth, but the higher the temperature, the higher the possibility for scalding. To tackle this issue, Appendix N was formed. It is the first national document to address this important issue.

Below is an example of the table that was added that gives jurisdictions the flexibility to implement a program depending on the risk. Along with the legionella risk exposure and scald potential table, the appendix contains specific provisions for disinfection, and it is written so that it can be implemented with legionella risk management systems such as ASHRAE 188, ASHRAE Guideline 12, in accordance with the adopting jurisdiction.

Water Dispenser Requirements

417.6 Low-Pressure Water Dispenser. Beverage faucets shall comply with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1. Low-pressure water dispensers that dispense electrically heated water and have a reservoir vented to the atmosphere shall comply with ASSE 1023. Electric devices that heat water shall comply with UL 499.

Section 417.6 adds provisions for low-pressure water dispensers, which the codes did not address. These dispensers are currently within the scope of ASME A112.18.1. However, dispensers that dispense electrical heated water and have an integral reservoir of hot water vented to atmosphere generally are already in compliance with ASSE 1023. Products covered by ASSE 1023 include, but are not limited to, under-counter-mounted water dispensing systems, freestanding plumbed systems, freestanding bottled systems, and countertop systems.

New product standards plumbing product fixtures such as lavatories and backflow preventers.

  • Lavatory assemblies with automatic soap dispensers, faucets, or hand dryers in accordance with IAPMO IGC 127.
  • Eyewash from water heaters to comply with ASSE 1085.
  • Backflow preventers with intermediate atmospheric vent and dual check backflow preventers to comply with ASSE 1024, ASSE 1012, ASSE 1035 or ASSE 1081.

Leak Detection Devices

606.9 Leak Detection Devices. Where leak detection devices for water supply and distribution are installed, they shall comply with IAPMO IGC 115 or IAPMO IGC 349.

Precious resources such as water are scarce. Such scarcity does not only apply to developing nations but well-established developed nations as well. There are areas in the United States where safe and sanitary water is not a basic commodity. From California to New York, and around the globe, water is a resource that must be cherished and protected. A drop of water the size of a grain of rice can be easily ignored or overlooked due to its local minimal effect. This miniscule drop multiplied numerous times throughout the United States now becomes a large body of water, something that cannot be overlooked.

IAPMO Codes and Standards is once again at the forefront of tackling this issue. IAPMO has long published standards that address water-leaking detection products. Those standards are IAPMO IGC 115 and IAPMO IGC 349. These standards are used for the listing and certification of products designed to detect water leaks. Jurisdictions nationwide are already looking for the IGC 115 and IGC 349 mark for these products.

Alkaline Water Treatment Devices

611.0 Drinking Water Treatment Units.

611.1 Application. Drinking water treatment units shall comply with the applicable referenced standards in Table 611.1.

611.1.1 Alkaline Water Treatment. Alkaline water treatment devices shall comply with IAPMO IGC 322.

611.1.2 Scale Reduction Devices. Scale reduction devices shall comply with IAPMO Z601.

There is a health trend in the market for drinking alkaline water, water with a pH above 7.0. There are many claimed health benefits, including neutralizing stomach acid and increasing oxygen levels in the blood. These water treatment products have not had any formal procedures in order to ensure their claims of effectiveness with regards to the level of alkalinity. Note that the goal is not to make health claims regarding positive health benefits, only that the products dispense alkaline water for safe consumption resulting in nondetrimental effects to health. IAPMO IGC 322 gives the output performance requirements for flow rate and oxidation reduction potential at given pH levels.

The IAPMO Z601 standard gives the performance criteria for any scale reduction device intended for tank-type and tankless water heaters as well as ion exchangers. It covers material safety, structural integrity, and various safety requirements. Products are being installed today in plumbing systems that have not been tested for scale reduction performance or safety. IAPMO Z601 fills that gap, ensuring products being installed will perform as marketed and meet minimum standard requirements for health and safety.

Table 611.1 is a new table that was added to provide the necessary standards for drinking water treatment units.

Cleanout Material Requirements

The UPC Technical Committee is always looking for ways to assist the public and jurisdictions. The new Table 707.2 is a perfect example of how the UPC has all the proper listings for all products used in the field. It is an all- inclusive table where a thorough review was done to identify the appropriate listing for cleanouts.

Key Changes to the 2021 UMC:

New Geothermal Energy System Appendix. There are many safety concerns that must be addressed when installing a geothermal system. Due to a high demand by the public, a new appendix was added to the UMC for jurisdictions to adopt for the safe installation of geothermal systems. The UMC is the only mechanical code that provides an in-depth and up-to-date code requirement to assure the safe installation of geothermal systems for the protection of the public. The appendix is separated into three parts for the ease of use, Part I (general), Part II (closed-loop systems), Part III (open-loop systems) and Part IV (direct exchange DX systems).

F 101.1 Applicability. Part I of this appendix shall apply to geothermal energy systems such as, but not limited to, building systems coupled with a ground-heat exchanger using water-based fluid as a heat transfer medium, submerged heat exchanger or groundwater (well). The regulations of this appendix shall govern the construction, location and installation of geothermal energy systems.

Indoor piping, fittings, and accessories that are part of the groundwater system shall be in accordance with Section F 104.4 and Chapter 12.

F 201.1 Applicability. Part II of this chapter shall apply to geothermal energy systems such as, but not limited to, building systems coupled with a closed-loop system using water-based fluid as a heat transfer medium.

F 301.1 Applicability. Part III of this appendix shall apply to geothermal energy systems such as, but not limited to, building systems coupled with a groundwater (well) or surface water open-loop using water-based fluid as a heat transfer medium. The regulations of this appendix shall govern the construction, location and installation of geothermal energy systems.

Indoor piping, fittings, and accessories that are part of the groundwater system shall be in accordance with Section F 104.4 and Chapter 12.

F 401.0 Direct Exchange (DX) Systems.

F 401.1 General. The installation and use of Direct Exchange (DX) wells shall be in accordance with the Authority Having Jurisdiction. The DX well records shall include well logs, pressure tests, and aquifer information.

To properly design a geothermal system, it is important to know the seasonal variation in the soil temperature, as well as the soil’s inherent capability to store and transmit heat, namely its heat capacity and thermal conductivity. These soil thermal properties depend on soil porosity and moisture content. Therefore, any preliminary assessment of a potential geothermal heat pump system will require knowing the soil texture and average groundwater level at the site.

Piping installed within or under a footing or foundation wall must be structurally protected from any transferred loading from the footing or foundation wall. A trench must be wide enough to allow for proper alignment of the piping system. Piping is best supported when it rests directly on the bottom of a solid, continuous trench for its entire length. Piping must not be supported intermittently by hard surfaces, such as rock or concrete as this creates “point loads” on the pipe wall.

Ventilation Air Supply and Exhaust Systems. Chapter 4 of the UMC has been revised to be up to date with the latest ASHRAE 62.1 and to provide ventilation requirements that are enforceable by any jurisdiction. It includes enforceable language for indoor air quality for residential occupancies. The UMC is committed to not only be consistent with the industry but is committed to making sure that the public is always protected.

Chapter 5 was also revised to be consistent with NFPA 96 for commercial exhaust systems.

Hydronics. Chapter 12 was improved with the inclusion of safety provisions for hydronic systems such as simultaneous operation, temperature reading, and tube fasteners.

The 2024 Editions are Underway:

The Standards Council has approved the development of a Committee for the 2024 UPC/UMC development cycle. The deadline to apply to the committees was Jan. 31, 2020. The deadline for submitting changes for the 2024 edition is Jan. 4, 2021. A tentative timeline can be viewed in the IAPMO Codes website.  

The 2024 Codes are well on their way to including provisions that will continue to protect the public and enhance the codes even further. Jurisdictions throughout the United States already adopt the Uniform Codes, with others already considering adoption. The public stands behind the Uniform Codes process and is encouraged to approach local legislators for adoption.  

IAPMO Codes Mobile App:

The IAPMO Codes app will provide the public with an additional tool to use. This added service benefits inspectors, contractors, installers and homeowners, as they will be getting direct access to the IAPMO technical team for any code questions and be engaged in the code development process. The app allows users to view their purchased codes in offline mode while traveling in an airplane or in rural areas with poor connection.

The free IAPMO Codes mobile app is available for iOS and Android and will give anyone direct access (by phone and email) to the appropriate IAPMO technical staff for codes interpretation, a huge time and cost savings for jurisdictions and the industry alike.

Inspectors, contractors, and tradespeople frequently need assistance in code interpretation and application on the job site. IAPMO provides a free formal code interpretation service that is answered by qualified professionals so users may receive immediate opinions on the code provisions in question, thus avoiding job shutdowns.

With other plumbing and mechanical codes, any interpretation requests — verbal or written — require a membership, limiting who can receive assistance. With IAPMO, however, the public writes the Uniform Codes, making it possible to get code questions answered without going through hurdles or an additional cost.

Standards Development:

Non-Sewered Sanitation Systems. The IAPMO/ISO 30500 standard helps develop new toilet technology that will save millions of lives. IAPMO is privileged in bringing this standard to the U.S. and Canada, as the lack of safe sanitation is not only an issue in developing countries; there are areas in the U.S. and Canada that can benefit from the use of this standard. States like Hawaii or other areas where the use of cesspools is of concern, or California where droughts are common, can benefit from this technology, not to mention rural areas in the U.S. and Canada that lack safe sanitation.

IGC 353. Using fittings covered by IGC 353, the installer can save significant time and money when a retrofit is necessary. Instead of cutting into a fire sprinkler main and coupling in a T-connection to branch the supply, this system allows an installer to make a quick branch connection point by drilling directly into the pipe at the desired location.

IGC 360. This standard cover compression fittings for water supply and gas piping applications. The method of effecting the compression fit is new, and it protects against corrosion between dissimilar metals.

Whether through our codes or standards development, IAPMO is committed to protecting the public. The Uniform Codes are published utilizing IAPMO’s proven turn-key philosophy, placing as much of the necessary information concerning installations as possible in one codebook. This philosophy eliminates the problems and confusion caused by using multiple codes to install or inspect the plumbing or mechanical provisions of a single installation or system.


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