What do the Symbols Mean in the New 2015 Code?

The State of Michigan released new code for plumbers on April 20, 2017, meaning all plumbers must complete a 5-hour Code Update course before April 20, 2018.  Below are some of the common symbols used in the new code and how to read them.  Please note, Michigan skipped the ICC 2009 code changes so the single vertical lines will designate changes between the 2009 and 2015 code books rather than changes between your two most recent codes.



Double Vertical Lines - Designate a Michigan Rule. The rule number is listed at the bottom of the code section. An example being page 2, section 104.1 General. Michigan Rule R408.30717


Single Vertical Lines - Designates an ICC change for the 2015 code. An example can be found in Definitions "Drinking Fountain", Section 403.4 Signage.

Single Bullet - Marks code that has been relocated in the code.


Double Bullet - Marks the new location of codes.


Asterisks - Appear near sections of the code that Michigan has decided not to adopt.


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Tips for Working in Small Spaces

One of the biggest problems for many plumbers is how to get the necessary work done in a confined space. We've all found ourselves trying to maneuver in confined spaces which prohibit quick or efficient work. Here are a few tips gathered from contractors to help in even the tiniest of spaces.

  1. Plan  - Identify the best piping routes, if possible, remote locate manifolds, pumps, and zone valves. There's no need to stuff everything in the mechanical room plus this method will save you time and exasperation in the long run.
  2. Sketch the mechanical room on paper before attempting to install anything.
  3. If possible, be the first person in. Even if everyone on site tries their best to avoid inhibiting others, a small mechanical room leaves little room (literally) for everyone. Get in first and avoid having to work around others.
  4. Stay organized! One would think a small space would make it hard to lose anything but on the contrary, the smaller the space the harder it can be to locate the correct tool if you have allowed your tools to become disorganized.
  5. Look for multi-function products. A combination heating and hot water unit can save you a lot of time and space in a tiny mechanical room.


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What is Green Plumbing?

An increasing number of consumers are showing an interest in Green Plumbing. This term can be applied to a multitude of plumbing practices, a few are listed below.

  • Insulate Pipes - This standard procedure saves a significant amount of heat from being lost as water travels from water heaters to faucets.
  • Removing plumbing from exterior walls - Many new-builds and existing homes are running as much plumbing as possible through interior walls to avoid cold pipes altogether. 
  • Install on-demand hot water circulation pump - On-demand hot water pumps save energy costs two ways. Since hot water does not have to sit unused in pipes and homeowners don't have to run water while they wait for it to heat.
  • Install a new water heater - Hot water heating can use as much as 15% of total home energy use. Replace older units with new, high-efficiency ones to greatly impact home heating costs.
  • Recycle water - Water from showers, tubs, and laundry can be reused to flush toilets, saving an estimated 30% on water usage.

We all know the first question any customer will ask is "How much does it cost?" Most Green Plumbing measures will not add substantial/any costs to a plumbing project. Even the few measures which may add additional costs during installation will save the homeowner money in the long run.


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Frightful Plumbing Mishaps & Disasters

Here’s a collection of plumbing horror stories we’ve gleaned from various internet sources.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did! 

Female Plumber Has A Close Call
I went up into an attic space once and the bulb failed in my flashlight, leaving me in total darkness’’ she says. ‘’As I crawled carefully along a joist to the attic hatch, an eerie green face loomed out at me, almost causing me to fall through the hatch in fright. It turned out to be a big luminous statue of the Virgin Mary!”

Too Much Fiber
Steve Ferguson, owner of Mr. Rooter plumbing franchises in Oakland and Berkley, California recalls: “We once had a toilet stoppage that we cleared by shoveling and vacuuming out wheat that the customer had dumped into the toilet. Turns out she tried to stuff a full 10-pound bag down the pipes.”

Oh, Rats!
A master plumber was working in the Bronx, NY, in a dark, flooded basement where the sewer had backed up. He had no idea how deep the water was, so he took a seven-foot broom handle to help guide him and make sure he didn’t fall into any submerged holes. He also carried along his trusty flashlight to light the way. As he peered into the darkness with his flashlight, he saw hundreds of beady little eyes glowing back at him—sewer rats, averaging about a foot to 18 inches in length! His throat got dry and was scared like never before. He shined his trusty flashlight into their eyes.  The bright light must have scared them because the rodents took off into the water and went back down into the sewer. There were so many of them that the cleared the blockage and the water went back down the drain with them. All thanks to his trusty flashlight!

Morning Constitutional
"We were replacing a toilet at a customer's home," says the office manager of a local plumbing company.  "We removed the old toilet and set it next to the newly installed one. One of our new contractors arrived on the job after us and had to use the bathroom. I can't say this tastefully — he did his 'daily constitution' in the old toilet, so there was no way to flush it! I'm not sure who had to clean up the mess."


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A Michigan Homeowner Lost $20,000 After an Unlicensed Contractor Does Shoddy Work

A family from Wyoming Michigan has lost $20,000 in supplies, labor, and unfinished work after an unlicensed contractor, Jay Vivoda, remodeled their bathroom. The family was told the renovation would cost approximately $4,900 and take about 3 weeks to complete. Instead, they spent over $20,000 on supplies over the span of several months. 

Vivoda left exposed wires under tile, failed to install a sink, and left the toilet flushing into a basement wall. It should come as no surprise that there were no permits pulled and the job was never finished. 

Home inspector, Harold Vandyke, looked at the family's bathroom and determined they would have to remove all of Vivoda's work and start over. He estimates it will cost the family another $20,000 to get the bathroom up to code.

The Wyoming, Michigan family is now encouraging others to research their contractors before signing any agreement and never provide money up-front.


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Online 5-Hour Code Update for Michigan Plumbers

Michigan Plumbing Code Update Requirements
Michigan plumbers must complete a 5-hour code update course by April 20, 2018. The course must correspond to the 2015 Michigan Plumbing Code Rules set forth by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on April 20, 2017.
NOTE: For the first time, Michigan is allowing plumbers to complete their code update course online.

What is included in the Michigan plumbing code update course?
The Michigan plumbing code will cover code changes pertaining to both commercial and residential plumbers.

Where do I find a Michigan Plumbing Code Update Course?
Plumbers Training Institute offers an online, Michigan approved 5-hour Code Update course. This course is available 24/7 at your convenience for 6 months after the date of purchase.

Who submits my 5-hour code update certificate of completion to the state?
The state of Michigan does not require certificates be submitted unless they are audited. Plumbers Training Institute provides printable certificates immediately after course completion, we are also happy to mail certificates to plumbers without access to a printer.


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Michigan’s Capitol Building to Receive Geothermal Heating & Cooling

Michigan's capitol building is about to receive the largest state government geothermal system in the United States. Drilling for the geothermal field is scheduled to start later this year as part of a $70 million infrastructure upgrade. The geothermal system will cost around $4-million upfront but save the state $300,000 a year on heating and cooling costs. The system will pay for itself in about a decade.

This project calls for 224 individual bores that reach 500 feet below the surface. These holes will house a vertical loop that will carry vegetable-grade glycol transfer fluid underground, where it will be heated and cooled naturally for the building. To ensure safety if there is a leak, the liquid is the same food-safe glycol used in McDonald's milkshakes.


All Michigan plumbers must complete a 5-Hour Code Update class by April 20, 2018.
Plumbers Training Institute offers this class in an easy to use, HD video, and mobile-friendly format. 



Plumbers Face Health Threats Daily

Plumbers face obvious dangers from dust, lead, chemicals, asbestos, silicosis, biting vermin, steam burns, poison ivy, sharps carrying blood-borne diseases, and animal diseases such as Leptospirosis or Parvovirus. Many of these ailments can be passed on to family and pets through exposure to infected clothes, vehicles, or skin.

Plumbers can also be exposed to lesser-known dangers such as Giardia Lamblia, Cryptosporidium, or Legionella. Giardia Lamblia is contracted through contaminated food, soil, or water, and can be carried without the infected individual showing symptoms. Cryptosporidium is spread through water and can live outside a body for extended periods of time. This disease can be deadly to those with a compromised immune system. Spas, cooling towers, and decorative fountains can be hotbeds of Legionella, a disease that causes headaches, chills, muscle pain, and pneumonia. 

As a plumber, you should use all the tools available to you - masks, goggles, face shields, shoe covers, bodysuits, and insecticides to protect you and your family. Avoid bringing contaminated items home with you and wash your work clothes separately to further avoid any contamination.


All Michigan plumbers must complete a 5-Hour Code Update class by April 20, 2018.
Plumbers Training Institute offers this class in an easy to use, HD video, and mobile-friendly format. 



Drones for Plumbers

Commercial drone use has been rapidly increasing in the construction for years now but somehow the plumbing sector has been slow to catch on. Drones can be used to detect plumbing problems without damaging walls, ground, or crawl spaces. Drone cameras can be utilized to survey areas that are hard for humans to navigate but easy for small drones such as between walls or small basements/crawl spaces. Or infrared technology can be utilized to detect the slight change in temperature that occurs when leaking water evaporates behind walls or even underground. 

The benefits of using drones to detect leaks are obvious. Less guesswork for plumbers means less destruction while looking for a problem and a quicker turnaround time for fixing the issue. If you're considering using a drone to enhance your business make sure you are following FAA guidelines for commercial drones. All commercial drone pilots must possess a Remote Pilot in Command Certificate which can be obtained by passing the FAA Remote Pilot in Command Exam.

Step 1: Pay the $5 fee and register any aircraft that weighs more than 0.55lbs.
Step 2:  Pass the $150 Small UAS Remote Pilot Exam – exam prep is available here.
Step 3: Pass a TSA background check
Step 4: File FAA Form 8710-13

Check out our Complete Guide to Commercial Drone Use for more information.


All Michigan plumbers must complete a 5-Hour Code Update class by April 20, 2018.
Plumbers Training Institute offers this class in an easy to use, HD video, and mobile friendly format. 






Modern Plumbing – An Unsung Hero

Modern plumbing has helped humanity to eradicate a wide variety of diseases including polio, cholera, and typhoid fever. Before plumbing was widely available, it was a common belief in Europe that getting wet would cause illness. This thought process carried over to the America and persisted into the mid-1800s. In fact, Boston outlawed bathing without a medical directive in 1845.

Worse than this aversion to bathing, human waste was often thrown into the street or yard. This lack of sanitation caused urban areas to fill with rats and other vermin, making a perfect breeding ground for disease. The Black Plague killed between 75 million to 200 million people- amounting to 1/3 of Europe's population.

Polio's natural home is in fecal matter. While vaccines are often given most of the credit for today's lack of polio, plumbing also played a huge role. Many look to India for a comparison of plumbing v. vaccination. There have been several large campaigns to vaccinate Indians against Polio which has greatly lowered outbreaks of the disease. However, sanitation is still a large problem in the country, with a huge portion of the population unable to afford modern plumbing and the disease persists to a greater degree than other vaccinated countries with modern plumbing.

Throughout the 1800s London had very poor water infrastructure. Most people used town pumps or communal wells for drinking water and waste was disposed of in open pits also known as "cesspools" or in the Thames River. Unfortunately, the Thames River was also the main source for town pumps and communal wells. Cholera works quickly on infected individuals, causing vomiting or diarrhea and proving fatal within a few hours of the first symptoms. In a small suburb of London, there were more than 500 fatal cases of cholera in just 10 days.

The Cholera problem persisted for years because doctors believed it was carried in the air until Dr. John Snow hypothesized that it came from water. Dr. Snow traced the cholera outbreaks to a particular pump and he had the handle removed. The Cholera outbreaks stopped immediately after this. The outbreak was later traced back to a mother cleaning a dirty diaper in the well.

Typhoid Fever
Chicago’s problems with typhoid fever began as the population grew from 350 to 60,000 between 1835 and 1850. The city's water infrastructure could not handle this huge increase in population. Most of the city's sewage was being dumped into the Chicago River which flowed into Lake Michigan where the city drew its drinking water. The problem was not fixed until the early 1900s when Chicago modernized their water infrastructure.


All Michigan plumbers must complete a 5-Hour Code Update class by April 20, 2018.
Plumbers Training Institute offers this class in an easy to use, HD video, and mobile friendly format.