What is a plumbing code, and how does it relate to a licensing law?

A plumbing code is an officially adopted collection of standards, guides and methods that regulate practices in the plumbing industry. It specifies how plumbing systems and fixtures are to be designed, installed and maintained and provides guidelines for enforcement and consumer recourse.

A licensing law establishes how plumbers are to be trained and tested in order to become licensed. Licensing of plumbers helps ensure that these individuals are knowledgeable and skilled and will build, install and maintain plumbing in a manner that complies with the code.

How would the adoption of a uniform building code affect the Illinois Plumbing Code?

Some uniform building codes include a standardized plumbing code, which if not specified, could override the Illinois Plumbing Code. A standardized code may not begin to approach the quality to which the state of Illinois has become accustomed.

The existing Illinois Plumbing Code and Illinois Plumbing License Law reflect years of hard work by the people of Illinois to protect the health and safety of Illinois residents, and it serves the community far better than a general, nonspecific code.

What is a performance-based code vs. a prescriptive code?

A performance-based code, like many of the generalized codes, furnishes basic guidelines and provides goals rather than setting forth specific requirements. A prescriptive code, like the Illinois Plumbing Code, furnishes both specific requirements and the prescribed methods for reaching them.

A performance-based code is like having an address to which you are supposed to drive and a map of that city with the location marked. A prescriptive code is like having the address, a map of the entire area marked with your route and clearly written turn-by-turn directions.

What interest group categories are recognized in the Illinois Plumbing Code process?

The Illinois Plumbing Code recognizes and supports consumers in Illinois, licensed installers and maintainers, labor, research and testing laboratories, enforcing authorities and insurance companies. It is not driven by any special interest group.

Why is the Illinois Plumbing Code more stringent than other codes?

Behind the Illinois Plumbing Code is the Illinois Plumbing Code Advisory Council, a diverse collection of experts representing various areas, beholden to only one special interest—to protect the health and safety of the residents of Illinois. The council works year-round, and members take their job seriously. The council is open to input and carefully tests and evaluates new technology and processes using the highest public health and safety standards.

The Illinois Plumbing Code itself contains various requirements that are not in other codes—shut-off valves at the fixture, pressure regulators (for example, to prevent the shower from scalding someone when the toilet is flushed), temperature regulators (to prevent scalding of infants and the infirm), water heater requirements to protect against bacteria growth and many others. These requirements provide consumer benefits and protection.

To become a licensed plumber in Illinois, apprentices must pass a skills test in addition to a written knowledge test. Some other plumbing codes do not require applicants to pass hands-on tests, so a person who simply studied the written materials and had never actually installed plumbing could pass the test and receive a plumbing license. Also, the Illinois Plumbing License Law requires annual continuing education to renew a license.

How does the threat of terrorism relate to the Illinois Plumbing Code and Illinois Plumbing License Law?

It is extremely important to make certain that access to plumbing systems is confined to those who should have access. For example, drinking water in a public facility could be contaminated if proper procedures are not followed. A strong plumbing code and a demanding set of licensing requirements are definitely preferable to the alternative.

Are there other plumbing codes in Illinois?

The city of Chicago has had a plumbing code dating back to the 1880s. For more than 120 years the city health department, building department and water and sewer departments have amended and approved a code that protects the health of residents and visitors to the city. This code is also important to fire fighting and is needed to provide adequate water pressure to the business community. The large population of Chicago and number of businesses warrant a code that deals specifically with the needs and problems of keeping a city this size running and healthy

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