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Give Contractors Credit
On Code Battles

I strongly disagree with Julius Ballanco's view of today's plumbing contractors, tradesmen and inspectors. Today's craftsmen are much more code savvy than he gives them credit for in his column "2001 - A Code Odyssey" (February 2001).

Contractors are busy with hot issues like consolidation and deregulation. Many of them trust the codes to those who are passionate about them such as their local and national trade association. PHCC, ASHRAE, ACCA, ASPE, MCAA, ASSE, UA and many more are represented on code committees or have developed their own committees to address this important issue.

Julius beats up those "groups" mentioning the words "more restrictive." Restrictive is a very relative term. Julius's view, as an engineer, is going to differ a great deal from the view of the installer. IAPMO's UPC is far too restrictive to Julius because a contractor can still perform design. In the so-called less restrictive code, there are requirements for engineering practices to design systems. I'll be the first to tell you that it is never quite as simple on the job as it is on the engineer's print.

Julius beats up the National Standard Plumbing Code, and then stresses how the UPC is "even more restrictive" than that. Is restrictive a bad thing? Julius asks, "Has anyone been sick yet?" I ask, "Do they need to be?" Restrictive codes are created to prevent sickness and disease from ever occurring.

It is quite simple to see in this column that subtlety is not his strong point. Julius, just tell everyone whom you are mad at. Your words, "I have never seen so much rhetoric and trash written by self-proclaimed experts" are pretty harsh. I'll say it for you: You are mad at IAPMO and their UPC. You can say it. At first I couldn't tell if your bone was with anyone in particular or everyone in general. I can tell you one thing, you didn't make many new friends in Maryland, New Jersey and California.

I know, I know. We've all heard it for so long - how wonderful it would be to have one great complete set of codes to help everyone in the world all the time. Sounds great, but so does WD-40 piped to the house and a Duct Tape Tree in the backyard.

The reality is that both codes are going to be here for a long time. Let's get used to it and realize that competition brings out the best in people and creates synergy. People are just as divided as they were in the presidential election. Thank goodness! That is what makes us a great country.

I might disagree with some of Julius's points but I do respect and appreciate his passion for the code wars. I've seen Julius at code hearings from D.C. to Anchorage. He is definitely dedicated to stirring debate and bringing this important subject to the forefront of many people.

Jay Peters
Construction Data
Los Lunas, N.M.

Julius Ballanco Responds

Jay, my article wasn't about engineer vs. contractor. It was about the stupidity of having two codes rather than one. There are only one set of engineering principles that guide a code, so what justifies the difference between codes? Somebody's agenda!

And don't tell plumbing contractors using the IPC that they need engineers to design their systems, they'll laugh at you. A plumbing contractor easily can figure out how to design a system without some engineer drawing up plans every time.

For example, I have seen many contractors design a horizontal wet vent terminating to an air admittance valve under the IPC. You cannot use a horizontal wet vent nor an air admittance valve under the UPC. As I said in the article, nobody is getting sick when these systems are installed. So why are they restricted?

We are better off with a single code based on engineering principles, rather than competing documents based on politics.

By the way, the UPC is used in more places than California. Check out Indiana's Plumbing Code - UPC!

Where Are The Contractors Of Color?

I love your magazine and articles. But where are the minority contractors, plumbers and helpers in your ads? Were they left out like they have been for the last 400 years? Does not one minority contractor have the qualifications for your magazine? You have no minorities at all in your magazine.

Was this an oversight or a message to all that read your magazine that all but minorities are welcome? Do minorities not deserve to be in your ads or articles also?

Please start including some people of color in your magazine. We are people also. Do the millions of dollars we spend on plumbing and related items not count?

Julius Voss
Julius Voss Plumbing & Construction Inc.
Cleveland, Miss.

Who's Who?

My mission was to purchase items for two upcoming jobs that consisted of installing an instant hot water dispenser and an under-the-counter recirculating pump for the domestic hot water. While shopping I thought I'd pick up assorted copper fittings in quantities of 25 to stock on the truck. Here are my results:
    Supplier No. 1
    Hot water Dispenser - $199
    Circulating pump - $199
    3/4 elbows - $9.20
    3/4 Tee - $17.30
    3/4 Male Adapt - $23.25
    3/4 Female Adapt - $25.25
    Total - $473

    Supplier No. 2
    Hot water Dispenser - $298
    Circulating pump - $308
    3/4 elbows - $15
    3/4 Tee - $27.75
    3/4 Male Adapt - $23.50
    3/4 Female Adapt - $30.50
    Total - $702.75

    (5% tax not included)

Supplier No. 1 is open Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m-10 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Supplier No. 2 is open Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. All parts are identical. So from whom do I purchase?

Guess what? Supplier No. 1 is Home Depot. Supplier No. 2 is Apex Plumbing Supply, which is owned by Home Depot. Now doesn't that just give you a warm, fuzzy feeling each time you are reminded to be loyal to your plumbing supply house?

Steve Sawtelle
New England Plumbing Inc.
Marietta, Ga

One More For Missy

I was getting caught up on some old issues of PM this past week. I came across Dan Holohan's column, "The World According to Missy"(December 2000). This was the most wonderful article I have read by anyone in a long time. I had to stop several times to clear my eyes and just think of what he wrote. He really made me think.

I loved how he pointed out our misfortune to not be able to see and appreciate the things that Missy can. I took this article and ran to every one close to me at work and said, "You have to read this." I took it home for my children and wife to read.

If only we could all appreciate and love in the same way that these blessed people can. Thank you, Dan, for the wonderful article. I will keep this posted in my office.

Don Ehlenfeldt
Lab Safety Supply
Janesville, Wis.

Apology From Ellen

Egads, the title of my column "The Right Hand - Two examples of a right-hand man,"(February 2001) makes me look sexist. I try hard not to be! Especially in light of Paul Ridilla's fine piece regarding women in the industry, we must do what we can to break down sexist barriers.

I assure our readers that in the near future I'll report on women right-handers. There are plenty of them, with great stories to tell.

Ellen Rohr
Rogersville, Mo.