October, 2015

Kerr-Greulich Engineers, Inc. has been instrumental in supporting change for the Kentucky Plumbing Code. Kentucky is one of a few states that uses its own plumbing code. Most states have adopted a model code, such as the International Plumbing Code. Kentucky’s plumbing code is written with the safety and welfare of the public in mind, as are all building codes.

One facet of the Kentucky Plumbing Code that is inconsistent with model codes and the codes enforced by the majority of US States and all the states surrounding Kentucky is the requirement for waste and vent piping in buildings above 45 feet in height to be cast iron piping. Many other states, municipalities, and jurisdictions allow the unrestricted use of PVC piping.

Requiring cast iron in buildings above 45 feet adds significant cost to these buildings while providing no appreciable benefit to the building owner, tenants, or the general public. Supporters of the cast iron pipe requirement believe cast iron pipe provides better fire safety at floor and wall penetrations than PVC piping. Supporters of unrestricted PVC piping use counter this belief with products designed to protect PVC floor and wall penetrations (intumescent collars) and the fact that all the states surrounding Kentucky allow PVC piping in all buildings, even buildings taller than 45 feet.

Kerr-Greulich Engineers, Inc. teamed with developers, architects, and Louisville Metro Government to promote a change to the Kentucky Plumbing Code to allow the use of PVC pipe in buildings taller than 45 feet. In several meetings of Kentucky’s Department of Housing, Building, and Construction Committee, we proposed the change to the Kentucky Plumbing Code. Our efforts resulted in the formation of a task force to investigate the use of PVC piping in buildings and has culminated in a compromise. The task force has recommended to the Department of Housing, Building and Construction that the Kentucky Building Code be revised to allow the use of PVC in buildings taller than 45 feet with a few caveats. We are awaiting the formal approval of the plumbing code amendment and the incorporation in to the Kentucky Plumbing Code.

By Ben Gries, PE