Finding Plumbing Issues Early

Is a Permit for Plumbing Work Necessary?

by Chris Bowman

The reason for plumbing codes is to ensure that water will be properly supplied to your home and that sewage will be disposed of properly as well. Incorrectly installing elements of your plumbing system can violate the law, which will result in fines and needing to have the plumbing issues repaired to proper plumbing code. That's why plumbing permits exist to ensure the work is done correctly. But are they always necessary? Here is what you need to know about plumbing permits.

When Permits Are Not Necessary

Every city will have different requirements for permits, with city and state codes superseding national standards. Keep this in mind when determining if you need a plumbing permit, though the rules and regulations share many similarities between states, and are great to use as a starting point.

Permits are not required if you are doing a minor repair to your plumbing. This includes replacing a part that is broken with a new one, such as an o-ring in a faucet. Minor repair also includes clearing a clogged drain with a sewer snake. Emergency services, like fixing a frozen pipe that burst in the winter, also do not require a permit as long as the section of pipe that broke is not very large.

When Permits Are Necessary

Any time you are altering the existing plumbing in your home, expect that you will need a permit. This includes altering the path that plumbing takes in your home, which may be necessary when remodeling a kitchen or bathroom. It is also needed when replacing your water heater. If you're replacing old galvanized plumbing and replacing it with copper, even if the existing lines maintain the same pipe paths, it will still require a permit.

Major sewer line repairs that occur on your properly will need a permit too, especially ones that require excavation. Even though trenchless sewer line repair methods don't require excavation, they still require a permit to do them.

The Inspection

Your city may require an inspection once the repair with a required permit is finished. If you are doing the plumbing repair on your own, you must remember to leave all of your plumbing work exposed until the inspection is complete. For example, it may be tempting to immediately close up a wall that the plumbing is behind, but if an inspector cannot verify your work, you will need to open the wall back up so they can verify it has all been done to the city's plumbing code.

If you have any doubt about if a permit is required, a local plumber, such as Bill Rhiner's Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, can look into it prior to performing the repair for you.