Change in Plumbing Code? Not yet

Union plumbers and Philadelphia firefighters yesterday successfully deflected a change in the city’s plumbing code that would allow plastic PVC pipe to be widely used in construction, a cost-saving measure favored by developers and low-income housing advocates.

Council’s Committee on Licenses and Inspections on Wednesday continued a hearing on Darrell L. Clarke’s bill to allow the use of PVC pipe in all residential construction. Currently the pipe can only be used in structures of three stories or less with four units or less.

The Nutter administration backed the bill, saying Philadelphia’s construction costs are driven up by requiring metal pipes. But at least 150 plumbers filled Council Chambers to argue that the cast iron, brass or copper pipes were safer, and they were backed by the city’s firefighters, who said the chemicals emitted by the PVC pipes in a fire would pose a health threat to them.

Committee chair Maria Quiñones Sánchez adjourned the hearing with the understanding that all sides would work on a compromise. 

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