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Incorporating PVC into your Current Project

2021 1101 Ideas Post
Nov 01, 2021
Ed Feibel

Chicago's Department of Buildings (DOB) issues guidance on the new plumbing code pertaining to both the scope and design of plumbing systems as well as the permitting method for the use of PVC in buildings.

Rated Assemblies and PVC for Residential and Mixed Occupancy

DOB issued guidance on the installation of PVC and established some requirements for the use of PVC beyond what has been added to the building code. One piece of guidance is that anywhere a pipe passes through a rated assembly, while the code notes a minimum 4” extension beyond the rated assembly, the testing agencies and the specific tests (ASTM E814 and UL 1479), actually test and require a minimum of a 36” extension beyond the rated assembly. What this means is that while the letter of the code only requires a 4” minimum extension, per the testing that all assemblies are required to meet, a 36” extension of the non-combustible pipe is required.

DOB has offered an option for the use of PVC within a mixed-use building, where the PVC pipe can start within the non-residential occupancy, however, it must be separated from the occupancy by a rated assembly. If the rated assembly is required to be a 1 or 2-hour rated separation, then a gypsum membrane consistent with GA-610-02: Fire Resistance Provided by Gypsum Board Membrane Protection is acceptable, where the finished side faces the nonresidential occupancy. It is also acceptable for the PVC to be encased in a wall assembly having a fire resistance rated for not less than twice the minimum hourly rating required for occupancy separation.

Diagrams and further explanation of these items are available in the official guidance for this issue, P7-2021-001.

PVC Permitting

To use PVC in a new project, the drawings should indicate on the cover sheet “2001 Chicago Plumbing Code with 2021 Amendments.” If the project is currently in review, you can request to make a change to the drawings to comply with the requirements of the new ordinance with the project manager for the project.

If a permit has been issued, but you would like to revise the project to use PVC, there are 2 processes. If the building is mixed-use, the standard revision permit, including drawings, will need to be applied for. If the project is entirely residential, an easy permit can be applied for, which will require an EPP DWV form (Change Drainage and Vent Pipe Material - Residential Building), completed by the licensed architect, structural engineer, or plumber for the project.

Other more specific changes, such as sewer pipe materials 60” outside of the foundation or the water service will need to be discussed with the relevant department staff.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about the new code changes or if you would like assistance with applying for the use of PVC in your project.