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plumbing vents (or lack there of)


jodil
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I reported on a house last week that had no plumbing vents that exited the roof. They terminated into the attic.

This house was completley remodeled and the roof line redone with new trusses.

Now the agents are pissed at me because the roofer, plumber and city inspector say that it is not code here to have plumbing vents exit out of the home, the attic is just fine.

My first question is where to look up local code? I read through ND building code and nothing was mentioned there. There has to be another source.

Even if it wasnt code (which I cannot believe would be true) why would someone be okay with flammable and toxic gas accumulating in their attic?

baffled~

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Originally posted by jodil

Now the agents are pissed at me because the roofer, plumber and city inspector say that it is not code here to have plumbing vents exit out of the home, the attic is just fine.

Bullshit!

Did the agents show documents written by the roofer, plumber and city inspector, or did they just "tell" you what they said? It sounds like typical used-house-sales-people tactics. They'll try and pull this crap until an inspector establishes him/herself as one that is not intimidated.

Citing sources and asking the agents to show you documentation to back-up their comment will shut them up for good. Find out what code is in effect in your area and get a copy of it. Don't be afraid to (accurately) quote from it.

After that, I would offer to extend the vents where it would cause the agents the most bodily pain.

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Check IRC: 3102.1 and the UPC: 906.1

That is the baseline and it goes from there. States that the vents must be through the roof and a minimum of 6" above the roof.

I should have added Bill's comment ..., but he beat me to it.

I'm not believing it, but then again doesn't surprise me. I was raised on a farm in NE Montana not terribly far from Minot, ND.

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I spoke to the roofer and plumber and they both said it was not code here. They were the ones who said the city inspector also backed their statements. The owner/agent is a friend of mine and I know she would not lie to me. She said she called the city and they inspector told her this as well. I am too new to know about code yet but I really really want to know about it so I CAN quote it. I'm personally tired of this "I cant quote code" bullshit... If its the source that backs up my findings then I'm all about knowing it verbatim.

So is it a city code, state code, national code? Where do I look and how do I know?

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Well, there's this from the North Dakota State Building Code:

CHAPTER 29

PLUMBING SYSTEMS

Section 2901 Plumbing Systems.

Revise as follows:

Section 2901 shall be amended to reference the North Dakota State Plumbing Code instead of the International Plumbing Code.

I suggest getting a copy of the North Dakota State Plumbing Code. Please let me know if ND has an exception that allows terminating plumbing vents in an attic. If it does, I'll refrain from painful extension of vents and offer an apology.

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Did the vents terminate into the attic or were there air admittance valves?

Open vents should not terminate in the attic, but air admittance valves are okay in most areas. There are a sort of vacuum breaker -- closed under normal circumstances, but open to allow air into the system when water is being drained. Like a studor valve, only for the entire system instead of an individual fixture.

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Originally posted by jon_ran

Did the vents terminate into the attic or were there air admittance valves?

Open vents should not terminate in the attic, but air admittance valves are okay in most areas. There are a sort of vacuum breaker -- closed under normal circumstances, but open to allow air into the system when water is being drained. Like a studor valve, only for the entire system instead of an individual fixture.

Except that in most (sensible) jurisdictions, at least one still needs to make outside.

Can't wait to see this ND plumbing code.

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Other possibilities include the muni guy simply not knowing anything. Just because the city guy says it doesn't mean it's correct.

I have a very hard time believing that something that is about as standard issue as it gets (at least one vent extending to exterior) is OK to ignore in North Dakota.

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Yes they were open vents. And yes my area is not sensible.. And as much as I want to change that, many people with big ideas have been ran out of town by the good ole boys.. We'll see what happens.

Originally posted by inspecthistoric

Originally posted by jon_ran

Did the vents terminate into the attic or were there air admittance valves?

Open vents should not terminate in the attic, but air admittance valves are okay in most areas. There are a sort of vacuum breaker -- closed under normal circumstances, but open to allow air into the system when water is being drained. Like a studor valve, only for the entire system instead of an individual fixture.

Except that in most (sensible) jurisdictions, at least one still needs to make outside.

Can't wait to see this ND plumbing code.

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Ah!

A pox on you Jodi for bringing this up. I read that post this afternoon about 4:30 or so and suddenly I have this image flash into my head of a 2-inch ABS vent terminating in an attic someplace and telling myself, "Whatever you do, when you climb down out of here, don't forget to note that." Well, guess what, I did just that; I forgot to note it ...........I think.

I sat there for the next 30 minutes turning that image over and over in my mind, trying to decide whether it's a real memory, false memory, or an old memory. Since it persists, I've concluded that it's a real memory, and I have the sense that it must have been fairly recently. However, I can't remember where it was. Aaaagh!

So; then I went through all of my reports for the past couple of weeks and used the process of elimination to cross off those where there were no attics, or where I had no access to attics, and I've just now finished calling each of those clients to tell them I might have left something out of their report and need to go back to reinspect those attics.

I suppose I could have just let it go and put it out of my mind, but right is right, I have to follow up on it and confirm whether there actually is an attic with a disconnected vent. Now that I've made myself look like a complete jackass, I sure hope I find an open vent or I'm going to feel a whole lot dumber than I do now.

Suddenly the idea of a little cigar-sized video cam headset transmitting to a recorder someplace is sure looking interesting right about now.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike [:-banghea[:-banghea[:-banghea[:-banghea[:-banghea

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Originally posted by kurt

Other possibilities include the muni guy simply not knowing anything. Just because the city guy says it doesn't mean it's correct.

What he said. The city AHJ's here allow a few things that are unquestionably against the code they claim to be working under, but there's no higher authority around to straighten them out.

Contractors will say anything.

I can't imagine any legitimate building code allowing plumbing vents to simply terminate open-ended in the attic. You may get the chance to show up a few people on this one.

Brian G.

Jodi's Turning Hammer on Us [:-thumbu]

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I want the results of this one too so I'll chime in here to bookmark.

jodil, who said you can't quote code? If you can find it and it's helpful, then do it. Having said that, I wouldn't make a point of listing that you rely on code alone. That can get you into trouble as there are so many different codes and whatnot.

Many times plain old common sense explanations can describe why something is a problem and citing code is not needed. If you really need it, cite it. If not, use common sense.

You can use knowledge of code to help establish your position without directly citing code. It's about you being confident that's really important. Don't let em push you around. You're going to piss them off soon enough, that's inevitable.

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Don't "quote the code". Use the code as a reference for your informed opinion.

You are being paid for your expert opinion. Experts use credible reference sources to support their opinion. I realize these are fine distinctions, but here's why I do it that way.

When you simply quote the code, the first thing out of the morons mouths (both contractors and the muni guy) is "you aren't the code inspector! Muck off!", or similar admonishments. Yes, this is evading the larger point, but that's what happens. It's defense by evasion.

When you say "There should be vents coming out the roof; sewer gas has to exit the house, etc., etc. If it doesn't, it's a major health hazard. The source for my opinion is code #1234", it leaves them w/no place to go. Explain you understand you're not the code inspector, you're just doing your homework and supporting your opinion w/the law. You then ask the local muni why they aren't enforcing the law they are being paid to enforce.

(I disagree w/AHI; cite/quote the specifics including the #'s. This isn't about appearing confident; it's about having your reference material in order. That means citing specifics.)

This approach usually leaves them just as pissed off, but w/no where to go. You're just a guy providing an informed opinion. After that, don't lose any sleep about it if they still don't fix it. You did your job professionally.

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Thank you Kurt,

Thats good advice and thats what this "gal" will do..

Originally posted by kurt

Don't "quote the code". Use the code as a reference for your informed opinion.

You are being paid for your expert opinion. Experts use credible reference sources to support their opinion. I realize these are fine distinctions, but here's why I do it that way.

When you simply quote the code, the first thing out of the morons mouths (both contractors and the muni guy) is "you aren't the code inspector! Muck off!", or similar admonishments. Yes, this is evading the larger point, but that's what happens. It's defense by evasion.

When you say "There should be vents coming out the roof; sewer gas has to exit the house, etc., etc. If it doesn't, it's a major health hazard. The source for my opinion is code #1234", it leaves them w/no place to go. Explain you understand you're not the code inspector, you're just doing your homework and supporting your opinion w/the law. You then ask the local muni why they aren't enforcing the law they are being paid to enforce.

(I disagree w/AHI; cite/quote the specifics including the #'s. This isn't about appearing confident; it's about having your reference material in order. That means citing specifics.)

This approach usually leaves them just as pissed off, but w/no where to go. You're just a guy providing an informed opinion. After that, don't lose any sleep about it if they still don't fix it. You did your job professionally.

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I accept the disagreement Kurt has with what I said. There's mixed opinion on whether an inspector should make direct references to code. It is best if you can get by without doing it but there is no "rule" that says you can't. The best thing is to have knowledge of code so that it can help you make decisions. Apply the common sense aspect of why code was written and use it to support your decisions without actually citing the code itself.

I actually had an agent try to use code on me to dispute what I said. I just told him that we will have to disagree for now and that I will take my information, do my research and then finalize in the written report. You do need to be confident though. Confident that in the end you will have the right answer.

You can always say, "I'm not totally positive about this, but I will find the correct answer" or "we'll have to agree to disagree for now and I'll research and finalize..."

Just because you don't have the answer at the exact moment does not mean you cannot be confident that you will in the end. None of us have the answer to everything on the spot. Decide how you will remain in control of the situation when this happens.

I could have done a better job of suggesting than I did in my above post. I admit in my above post I look like a dog chasing its tail. I posted in haste on the way out the door. My bad.

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Kurt's is one of the wiser voices on this forum. But in Kentucky, we're prohibited from citing code, or even using the word, in our written reports. I've been told that we're about to be prohibited from even using the word orally when discussing a house with our clients.

I suppose I'm subconsciously training myself to handle things differently. I dunno. Maybe it'll wind up liberating me.

"Code? I'm not a code inspector. I'm just here to tell you that the roof is f**ked up."

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Originally posted by Bain

Kurt's is one of the wiser voices on this forum. But in Kentucky, we're prohibited from citing code, or even using the word, in our written reports. I've been told that we're about to be prohibited from even using the word orally when discussing a house with our clients.

I suppose I'm subconsciously training myself to handle things differently. I dunno. Maybe it'll wind up liberating me.

"Code? I'm not a code inspector. I'm just here to tell you that the roof is f**ked up."

Thanks much. It's a mutual admiration situation.

If I was in Kentucky, I might have to simply behave illegally. I'd probably still reference the code, and in effect, dare them to do something about it. I might say it like......

"The State of Kentucky prohibits me from telling you about the body of law that governs construction. Here's what I think is wrong, and this is what it means. The body of law that applies to this is available at ....... You might want to suggest to your lawmaker that it would be beneficial if I didn't have a gag order about informing you of all the public information pertaining to your new home." Or, some variation of that theme. Hell, why not just do it anyway?

What they are telling you in essence is you are not allowed to be informed, use publicly available reference material, or perform your SOP and COE required job of educating your customer. I have to believe there would be a muckraking reporter who would love that story.

Wasn't there some other goofy story from Kentucky about a similar law, and when it became public, the governor hizzelf stepped in and said "wait a minute; this is detrimental to the consumer"? Maybe it wasn't Kentucky, but some other state(?).

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moral~ Dont EVER trust the Realtors, Contractors or even the City Inspector. If you know its wrong and feel it in your gut, keep searching till you find it.

Yep, I go to school with these guys (wannebe munis). I wouldn't trust them as far as I can throw em. You hear them talk once in while out in the hallway how excited they are that they got a job offer in Alaska for 30K a year. Whoopee!

They are a mess of inconsistencies and faulty logic. What would you expect, so is the building code.

Chris, Oregon

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