5 Tips to Pass Your Plumbing Inspection

January 2010

Develop a good reputation and keep your license by adhering to state codes and continuing education.

Failing your plumbing inspection can add a great deal of stress and time to a job. But there are common mistakes you can avoid and steps you can take to make sure you pass your inspection, which will not only save your business time and money, but also solidify your reputation with local inspectors and your customers.

Here are five tips from plumbing inspectors that can help you pass your next plumbing inspection:

1. Check with Your Local Government

Tom Pitcherello, code specialist with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, says unless you are the owner of a single-family dwelling, you must be licensed to do plumbing in New Jersey, and you also must obtain a permit from the municipality before any work is done. For emergency replacements, plumbers are allowed to do the appropriate work, so long as they apply for a permit or notify the municipality immediately afterward, Pitcherello says. Otherwise, the homeowner or plumber doing work without a permit is subject to a fine.

According to Richard Husar, plumbing supervisor with the City of Milwaukee, plumbers in his city need to be bonded and insured to do work in the city market, and they should always have the appropriate documentation on hand because an inspector will definitely ask for it. Check with your local government to ensure you have all the necessary licenses and documentation.

2. Complete the Job Before Inspection

Although it might seem obvious, Husar said it is surprising how many plumbers expect to pass inspection before a project is fully completed.

“It’s often that the pipes are disconnected, and they say, ‘All I gotta do is connect these pipes,’” he says. “But that’s not meeting inspection.”

Husar says many plumbers also neglect to have the approved plan on the job site, though it’s a requirement. Always make sure you have your plans on-site because failure to do so results in point deductions on your inspection report. And make sure that anything that needs to be tested is ready to be tested, such as the pressure of your pipes and the drain waste vent.

For rough-in inspections, Pitcherello says it’s important to keep piping within walls and below the slab exposed until they’ve been properly inspected.

3. Constantly Learn About Codes

Make sure you’re always checking codes, especially new ones concerning energy-saving requirements. It’s part of your job to stay updated, and it can be as easy as checking your local government’s website regularly. Husar says Wisconsin’s plumbing codes are easily downloadable online.

In New Jersey, new codes are adopted every three years, Pitcherello says. In addition, a state licensed master plumber’s license must be renewed every two years, which requires taking five hours of continued education. So check to see what the education requirements are in your state so that you can keep your license and stay on top of any changes.

4. Don’t Expect the Homeowner to Know the Proper Steps

“A plumber should never depend on the homeowner to make sure the final inspection is performed,” Pitcherello says. “Plumbers should always follow up to make sure the inspections are completed.”

Pitcherello says also to be aware that any parts homeowners have purchased might meet the code of one state but not necessarily another. He says ensuring the parts meet code can save headaches down the line from having to tear out installations.

5. Contact Your Plumbing Inspector

If you’re feeling even a hint of uncertainty about whether or not a job meets code, don’t hesitate to contact your local inspector to resolve any issues, Husar says. Keeping the inspector involved will give you a good reputation as a plumbing contractor because it shows you care about meeting codes and doing good work, he says. “They can always call us if they have a problem on the job,” he says. “I know what the code is, so let’s figure it out together.”