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  1. #1
    Joshua Hardesty's Avatar
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    Default A matter of code

    How often do you guys fail an inspection because the plumber put a test on pex water lines with air pressure instead of hydraulic pressure?

    I ask because, under the section of testing, it says that a water pressure of at least 100psi is required for testing, or, on non-plastic pipes, air pressure may be used. When you look under the table that lists the different types of pipe, it's worded PEX plastic tubing.

    I was failed recently only because of this.

    So I called around, and was told as long as the manufacturer says it's okay, then it's okay. So I went to the manufacturer's website, checked in the literature about installation and testing, and printed out the page that said water OR air may be used, and put it in the inspection box underlining the relevant lines. (I also put hydraulic pressure in the pipes.)

    I was wondering if anybody else requires water in pex like this. (It's in the code book, so really I can't moan about it too much, BUT -- in the same neighborhood, about three blocks away, the same inspector passed another house I did that used air to pressurize the water pipes, and it was on the same day.)

    On a related note, what is the purpose of this code? Is it because the other plastic pipes, such as PVC, present an explosion hazard when filled with air?

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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Hardesty View Post
    How often do you guys fail an inspection because the plumber put a test on pex water lines with air pressure instead of hydraulic pressure?
    .
    .
    Welcome to the Board Joshua,

    We don't give a Passing of Failed on our Home Inspections.

    We are Residential Home Inspectors not Code Inspectors.

    But we could use a Plumbers input.

    Hope you stick around.

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  3. #3
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Joshua,

    On PEX jobs, in fact all plastic jobs, where I am doing code inspections, hydrostatic pressure is used.

    In fact, even for copper the plumbers here apply hydrostatic pressure.

    And, yes, even if the manufacturer says you can test plastic with air, the code says - "under a water pressure".

    Also, don't forget to read that entire section ... the test must be "of not less than the working pressure of the system".

    Unless "or, for piping systems other than plastic, by an air test of not less than 50 psi (345 kPa).", there is that "other than plastic" again.

    If the PEX or CPVC system is going to be at 80 psi, then the test is at 80 psi. I had one in two towers I was inspection where I went up to inspect that section of the system and the plumber said 'No need to bother with the inspection, they pumped the system up and had a fitting blow off and spray water all over, that fitting was never glued on, in fact we checked all the fittings here and NONE were glued on.' Yep, an apprentice had done the work, measured everything, cut everything, marked everything so he could take it apart and align the marks when he glued it back together, but apparently had gone to lunch, come back and said 'oh, guess I did finish there'. Nope, he had not.

    On a related note, what is the purpose of this code? Is it because the other plastic pipes, such as PVC, present an explosion hazard when filled with air?
    Actually, it is the opposite, same with the increased pressure. 'They know' that 'other than plastic' piping is going to hold, that the piping itself is not going to crack, break, etc., and, using water instead of air, and at full pressure, will leave gushers (if you see them in time) and water all over if you miss the gushers. With air, if you are not there to hear it, once the pressure is gone, there is no evidence of the leak.

    Of course, as a plumber, I am sure that you are well aware that cast iron DWV pipes are prone to cracks and pin hole leaks which only show up after that 5 foot of head (now 10 feet of head) is applied. - so it is not just 'plastic' but cast iron, of course, though, cast iron is not pressurized and plastic piping it.


    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 02-08-2008 at 08:24 PM.
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .

    We are not Code Inspectors.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    --where I am doing code inspections,


    Oh and then there is Mr. Peck, who does do Code Inspections.


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  5. #5
    Joshua Hardesty's Avatar
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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post


    If the PEX or CPVC system is going to be at 80 psi, then the test is at 80 psi. I had one in two towers I was inspection where I went up to inspect that section of the system and the plumber said 'No need to bother with the inspection, they pumped the system up and had a fitting blow off and spray water all over, that fitting was never glued on, in fact we checked all the fittings here and NONE were glued on.' Yep, an apprentice had done the work, measured everything, cut everything, marked everything so he could take it apart and align the marks when he glued it back together, but apparently had gone to lunch, come back and said 'oh, guess I did finish there'. Nope, he had not.
    Yeah, I've got a guy like that working under me. He's notorious for forgetting to crimp a ring or two on a job. No big deal when it's during the rough-in, after all, that's what the test is for. Not so insignificant when it's on a trim-out and he forgets to crimp a valvestop. >

    On another day he nearly put a hole in his head. I test my systems at about 175psi typically. I use those blue dummyplugs for the showerhead stub-outs and one of the showerheads was a little off-center, so I asked him to adjust it a bit. So he stands right in front of the plug at eye level and begins to unscrew it. Part of me wanted to see what was going to happen, but.. I had to stop him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Actually, it is the opposite, same with the increased pressure. 'They know' that 'other than plastic' piping is going to hold, that the piping itself is not going to crack, break, etc., and, using water instead of air, and at full pressure, will leave gushers (if you see them in time) and water all over if you miss the gushers. With air, if you are not there to hear it, once the pressure is gone, there is no evidence of the leak.

    Of course, as a plumber, I am sure that you are well aware that cast iron DWV pipes are prone to cracks and pin hole leaks which only show up after that 5 foot of head (now 10 feet of head) is applied. - so it is not just 'plastic' but cast iron, of course, though, cast iron is not pressurized and plastic piping it.
    Hm, so they want you to use water instead of air, because if the pipe has cracks in it it will be easier to find? I can't argue with that, but most of the leaks I've had are not so obvious, typically pinhole leaks in a nicked pipe, or a threaded fitting not tight enough that's got a drip. In situations like these, if you're expecting water to come out, it might take a while for the air to be purged from the lines before the water can get to that leak. I typically just hang around long enough to be sure the pressure hasn't dropped any, in which case air or water wouldn't make much of a difference.


    Oh well, I suppose it's time to invest in a hydrostatic pump. In the past 3 years I've never been called out on this.


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    John Arnold's Avatar
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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .Welcome to the Board Joshua,
    Billy - Nice of you to welcome Joshua, but he's been with us for almost a year, don't ya know.


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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Billy - Nice of you to welcome Joshua, but he's been with us for almost a year, don't ya know.

    Ooops,

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    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: A matter of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Hardesty View Post
    Hm, so they want you to use water instead of air, because if the pipe has cracks in it it will be easier to find? I can't argue with that, but most of the leaks I've had are not so obvious, typically pinhole leaks in a nicked pipe, or a threaded fitting not tight enough that's got a drip. In situations like these, if you're expecting water to come out, it might take a while for the air to be purged from the lines before the water can get to that leak.
    Nope, the uppermost/furthest valve should be opened and left to bleed off the air until water come out, THEN pump it up for the test.

    I've seen many a single drop or wet spot indicating a pin hole or leak at a thread. Usually, though, there is enough of a leak to see the water on the floor before even beginning to look at the pipe or fittings.

    In those towers it was not uncommon to have the system pumped up and then another trade worker 'open a valve to get some water', yeah, at 150 psi (which is what that plumber pumper theirs up to) that can injure someone. Once I walked up just as a worker was getting ready to open a valve with his mouth over the opening, to take 'just a drink' ... can you imagine what 150 psi would have done to his mouth and head? I'm not a blood and guts guy, so I stopped him - I puke too easily to have waited to see what was going to happen.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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