UPC Code question about water service sizing

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by mike mann, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    we just had a new house built in utah and the plumbing is terrible and i don't think to code. we have a 3/4" water main line(copper) but as soon as it enters the house it's reduced to take 3/4" pex and then about 2' from that there is a "t" with a id of .538. the line contues across the ceiling where 3 elbows are used that have a id of .460. how does this meet the upc code which says that the minumin water supply line shall be 3/4". we have 21 water fixtures, static line pressure of 55psi at the meter, static house pressure of 47psi (only because we had the regulator turned up) and a working pressure of 35psi with 1 facuret open. with 1 hose on it takes 1minute and 15 seconds to fill a 5 gallon can. with 7 fixtures on it takes 3 minutes @ 10 psi. contractor and plumber refuse to do anything so i want to go to the city code people and present my case that the plumbing is not to code. asking for opinions from the experts as i don't know plumbing and etc. thanks for your help and advice-mike mann
  2. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,944
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Welcome to Terry's Forum Mike.

    Sorry to hear your new house may not meet code.

    Maybe they did not know the correct code.


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  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ALL those parts are called 3/4", regardless of their actual size. Most plastic used inside homes is NOT the size that they call it. You got a fast and cheap installation based on the minimum code requirements. In the "real world" do you actually have seven fixtures running at the same time?
    1. WIth city pressure of 55 psi, you do NOT need a regulator
    2. Turn the regulator up to 55 psi if you keep it.
    3. The pressure should not drop that much when you open a faucet.
  4. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    the way the house is plumbed the hose facuet is a 1/2" pex line with a "t" fitting that reduces the flow to .315 and is on the same line as the kitchen sink and dishwasher so that if either is on the hose has very little. the sprinkler system that i paid $7700 for doest cover the lawn at all and usually about 1/3 of ot is brown. contractor said to water by hand but with no volume/pressure it's hard to do. i was in hopes that i could use the tables in the upc code to prove that they did not comply with the code. worked almost 40 years with mil specs and we had to follow them or else. isn't it the same with the ups code or why bother to have it? thanks again and trying to understand-mike mann
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You are confusing "nominal" measurements with "actual" ones. Everything you have is 3/4" nominal size, which is what the code is referring to. The code does not address the "real world" where 3/4" copper pipe and fittings ARE 3/4", but 3/4" plastic pipe and fittings are NEVER 3/4". This is a reality, that conscientious plumbers address by using larger plastic pipes than they would if they used copper piping. Plumbers who use plastic pipes in order to give a low price and get the job almost always follow the code with the results you are having. The piping you have is probably what the city required and approved so they would not accept any liability by telling you it is inadequate.
  6. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    thank you for the explanation. had a hard time understanding how a 5/8 dia pex tube could flow as much as a copper 3/4 line but when i learned that the iside is slicker and the raised the fps rate up from 5 to 8 it made sense. i'm still confused about the section of the code that says that nothing shall be inserted into the tube that restricts it's flow. the flow of pex is 12 gpm @8'ps while 1/2" is 5.8gpm @ 8'ps. not understanding very well but if that isn't a restriction then i don't know what is. thanks again as i'm stupid about this but after spending 350k to have a house built for us i'm not happy with the results and the contractor is walking away with my money leaving me with the results which aren't much to speak of. thank you for your help-mike mann
  7. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,135
    Location:
    Maine
    You want the truth Mike, I'll give you the truth. Your installation is typical and it is fast becoming the norm in most of the country because its fast, cheap and easy. It's also illegal for all the reasons you mention above and several others as well but, state plumbing boards and inspectors turn a blind eye to the whole mess because everyone wants things done fast cheap and easy these days. If you can find a plumbing engineer that is willing to come into your home and assess the installation (size it properly which is what the original plumber is SUPPOSED to do) you probably would have strong enough evidence to bring a lawsuit against the GC and the plumber responsible.
  8. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    thank you as thats the way i was reading the code also and comparing what i have to what the code says. from where i come from (mil specs and contracts) the word "shall" is a absolute requirement and unless you have written permission to deviate it stands as written. if the code meant it to mean that it wasn't required they would have used the word "will". on the run from the hot water heater is approxmatley 20' to the manablock manifold but with 6 elbows in line it is now 124.4' long and the house is only 55' long. it's this way thruout all of the plumbing-mike mann
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; but when i learned that the iside is slicker and the raised the fps rate up from 5 to 8 it made sense.

    That comes from a "spin doctor". The fps flow rate is a function of the faucet/valve using the water AND the reduced size of the piping, not the "slipperyness" of the tubing. If you use small enough pipe and a large enough faucet you can get the fps up to the "maximum" for that size pipe, but the pipe might not last very long. If you think the copper/brass "insertion fittings" reduce the opening you should see what the plastic ones do to the pipe's bore.
  10. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    thank you for the info and thats my whole point. the house plumbing has 3/4 brass fittings and 25/30 plastic ones which reduce the flow even more. when i asked the plumber what the fps flow rate and how many gpm would flow thru the plastic fittings all i got was "it's built to code" which doesn't tell me much. his supplier sent sheets from the "design guide residential pex water supply plumbing systems" showing how to install the fittings, crimp and test which did nothing to answer my questions. assuming that it is a manufactures specification which the code allows the plumbing is against everything outlined in the guide. our plumbing looks like it would if done in copper except that the fittings are on the inside of the tube rather than on the outside wher copper is used. at 74 this was suppose to be our "dream house" and instead all we got was a piece of junk while the gc laughs all the way to the bank. not blaming plumbers or even pex tubing but the code/guide says there is a right way and a wrong way to do it period! thanks again for everyones help to try and clarify things for me-mike mann
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    When the general contractor gets to do the specifications, he will ask for the "cheapest" installation, regardless of whether he reduces the final cost of the house to reflect the lesser quality used. The real problem is the most of the "cuts" are buried in the walls where they are not visible or fixable once the house is completed. Any "upgrades" are in the visible items such as lighting fixtures and faucets to make the building visually desirable. Your problem, is that copper tubing was not specified in the construction document. I always install copper tubing, and if that means someone else gets the plumbing job, so be it. At least my customers do not come back complaining about water flow rates.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  12. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    interesting that you should say that. when i asked reliance homes (gc) reps about the specs thay set for the plumbing thay said there wern't any and they relied upon the plumber. right now i'm in the process of trying to pull this all toghter and take it to the cities code enforcement people to see what they will do. whether it's real world or not the ups says i'm suppose to have a 3?4" supply of water. you cannot get .750 of water thru a fitting that measures .700 outside diameter and this is before any water is supplied to the house/sprinkler systems. it's their job to enforce the code as it's wtitten unless there is a written deviation to the requirement. in the mean time i'm also going to lodge a complaint with the better bussiness bureau, try to find a plumbing engineer to assess the situation and then find a lawyer. is it ok if i print these replies out to show the city what should have been done? thanks-mike mann
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You can do anything you want, but I think you will be jousting at windmills. You had better find a lawyer who will only charge you a fee if you win, otherwise you may spend a lot of money needlessly. The plumber's defense will be that he did use the proper "nominal" sized piping, and the manufacturers will back him up with the "PEX is slicker than copper so it carries more water" defense. Also, that when water goes through a short restriction, such as an insert fitting, its velocity increases to compensater for the reduction.
  14. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    thanks. deep down i think your right. i can take it to the city and bbb without it costing anything and the water is just the tip of the problems that we have had with this house. i hate getting shafted out of $7700 plus the money it will take to fix the sprinkler system ($3500) if it can be fixed. without water it won't work. thanks again for your help and i really appreciate it-mike mann
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; plus the money it will take to fix the sprinkler system ($3500) if it can be fixed.

    Unless you have an "estate". $3,500 will pay for an entire sprinkler system AND the water to run it for a few years. Rereading your original posting, I saw a significant statement. You said the pressure dropped to 37psi with one faucet running, but IF the pressure problem were all in the piping, it would drop AT the faucet, NOT by the regulator. This implies that at least part of the problem occurs outside the house. And the sprinkler/irrigation system should not go through the regulator in the first place.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  16. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    it's a approx 13,000sqft lot but with the detached 3 car garage (hobby shop) and pavement it's down to less than 1/2 of that in grass. if the $3500 would be enough to fix it then why wasn"t $7700 that i paid in the first place enough to get it done right? you mention "nominal" size of pipe. in your mind what is the actual id for 3/4 and 1/2 pipe/tubing using "nominal" pipe? i realize that it may seem like i'm beating a dead horse but i think we got the shaft and am trying to find areas in the code which i can force the city to do something to the gc as he has refused to make any significant corrections. other houses in our area that were built by him and plumbed by the same plumber have the same problems that we do. thanks again for your help-mike mann
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    Supply pipe is often spec'ed by the OD. For example, 1/2" copper is actually 5/8" OD and 1/2" ID. Now, if you were to get 1/2" pex, the OD would be the same allowing you to use the same compression fittings (as long as you used the required internal stiffening bushing), so it gets called 1/2" even though the wall thickness is much thicker and the internally fitted connectors make it even less. That's what's meant by nominal size in this case...the OD is the same.
  18. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,944
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Mike,

    How much area are you trying to water at 1 time. Does your system have zones ?

    I know a lot of systems have flow restriction built into the fixtures. It does suck when you want some big flow. It may not be your pipe size, but your incoming water feed. Adding a storage tank and booster pump may be something that you could do.

    I think you may be correct.


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  19. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; in your mind what is the actual id for 3/4 and 1/2 pipe/tubing using "nominal" pipe?

    There is no "one" actual i.d. for "nominal piping". It varies according the the material. 1" sch. 40 PVC has a larger opening than 1" sch. 80 PVC, and both of them are smaller than 1" Class 100 PVC. The reason for the problem, is that in order for fittings to be compatible with ALL similar piping, the o.d. has to conform to the standard, but since the wall thickness varies according to the material and pressure rating, the i.d. has to fluctuate. My lot is 54,000 feet, with an extensive irrigation system and it cost nowhere near $3,000.00. Did the $7,500 include the landscaping? Often, whether it is "done right or not", depends on the designer and installer, NOT how much you pay for it.
  20. mike mann

    mike mann New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    utah
    talk about a estate(VBG). sprinkler syatem was design/installed by reliance homes employee/subcontractor who use 3/4" schedule 40 pvc. he assumed he had 11 gpm and wasn't concerned about pressure and this was suppose to be a expert. like plumbing i didn't know anything about sprinkler systems so took their word for it. he placed the sprinklers at their max operating distances and being as how he never had 11 gpm due to the plumbing we ended up with about 1/3 of the lawn going brown. even though the owners handbook says that "reliance homes is responsible for faulity workmenship or materials or bad coverage" the owner refused to allow any significant repairs to be done. the 3/4" copper line from the water meter (approx 20' from the house) enters thru a concrete wall in the basement wher fittings have been solder into the elbow to take the .640 id pex tubing. it goes up about 2/3' where a brass "t" is located that seperates the sprinkler water from the house. the house water goes thru a regulator and the across a 5'4" wide room using 3 plastic elbows which reduces the volume to .460 (per astm f2159-11) and has increased the length by (17.4x3=52.2') or about 60' total. this is before a drop of useable water even gets to the house and the whole house is plumbed in this fashion. being as how you can use a higher velocity to make up for the smaller diameter the volume of water available is controlled by it's smallest opening. the upc calls for certain standards to be met "at peak demand" which is a way to make sure that sufficient volume of water exists to run the water fixtures. using a flow test and using section 605.17.2 our house will not meet those requirements with just 1/3 of the total fixtures turned on let alone all of them. i know it's not the "real world" but the spec says "shall" which is a mandatory requirement. thank you for putting up with my ranting but i don't know plumbing/ sprinkler systems and etc and expected a turn key system that worked correctly when i paid my money and not what i got-mike mann
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