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Material Breakdown for Storm and Waste Vent Piping in Multi-Story Mixed-Use Buildings



Multi-story mixed-use buildings typically comprise three or more floors, encompassing residential, commercial, and garage levels. In this article, we will discuss the comparison of materials, the California Plumbing Code's stance on material specification and selection and provide a breakdown of material choices for multi-story mixed-use buildings.


Material Comparison: When it comes to storm, waste, and vent piping in residential buildings, two common options are hubless cast iron pipe with neoprene sleeves and stainless couplings, and schedule 40 PVC/ABS plastic pipe with DWV (Drain-Waste-Vent) type fittings. Each option has its advantages and considerations, which are outlined below.


1. Hubless Cast Iron Pipe with Neoprene Sleeves and Stainless Couplings:

  • Durability: Cast iron pipes are renowned for their strength and ability to withstand high-pressure conditions, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications.

  • Soundproofing: Cast iron pipes naturally dampen sound, reducing noise produced by water flow and minimizing disturbances within the building.

  • Fire Resistance: Cast iron is non-combustible and offers excellent fire resistance, enhancing the safety of the building.

  • Longevity: Properly installed and maintained, cast iron pipes have a lifespan exceeding 50 years.

2. Schedule 40 PVC/ABS Plastic Pipe with DWV Type Fittings:

  • Cost: PVC/ABS pipes and fittings are generally more affordable compared to cast iron, providing a cost-effective option.

  • Lightweight: PVC/ABS pipes are significantly lighter than cast iron, making them easier to handle and install.

  • Corrosion Resistance: Unlike cast iron, PVC/ABS pipes do not rust or corrode, making them suitable for environments with high moisture or chemical exposure.

  • Smooth Interior: PVC/ABS pipes have a smooth interior surface that allows for efficient water flow and reduces the potential for clogs.

Considerations and Decision-making: When deciding between these options, several factors should be considered, such as local building codes, cost, noise considerations, and project requirements. It is recommended to consult with a plumbing professional or engineer to determine the most suitable choice for your residential building, taking into account specific needs and regulations in your area.


California Plumbing Code Specifications: The California Plumbing Code (CPC) provides specific requirements and specifications for storm, waste, and vent (SWV) piping systems. The following are general guidelines for hubless cast iron and ABS/PVC piping materials in SWV applications. It is important to refer to the most recent version of the code and consult with local authorities for specific requirements in your area. Here are some key considerations:


1. Hubless Cast Iron Piping:

  • The California Plumbing Code generally permits the use of hubless cast iron pipes for SWV applications.

  • The code may specify the appropriate standards and specifications, such as ASTM A888 or CISPI 301, for hubless cast iron pipes.

  • Installation requirements, including joint assembly methods, support, and slope, will be outlined in the code.

2. ABS/PVC Piping:

  • The California Plumbing Code typically allows the use of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) or PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) pipes for SWV systems, subject to approval by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

  • The code will provide specifications on the appropriate ASTM or CSA standards for ABS/PVC pipes, such as ASTM D2661 for ABS or ASTM D2665 for PVC.

  • Installation requirements, including joint methods (solvent cementing for PVC, solvent welding for ABS), support, slope, and sizing, will be detailed in the code.

Please note that plumbing codes may vary between jurisdictions, and local amendments may exist. Always consult the specific edition of the California Plumbing Code adopted by your local authority or AHJ to ensure compliance with current regulations. Additionally, involving a licensed plumber or plumbing engineer in your project is advisable as they will have the expertise and knowledge to ensure proper installation and compliance with code requirements.


Material Selection in Multi-Story Mixed-Use Buildings: In multi-story buildings with three or more floors, additional considerations arise regarding the selection of piping materials for SWV systems. Keeping in mind the general requirements of the California Plumbing Code, here are some important factors to consider:

  1. Vertical Load-Bearing Capacity: Piping materials in multi-story buildings must possess sufficient vertical load-bearing capacity to withstand the weight of the system and any additional loads. Hubless cast iron pipes, known for their strength and durability, are suitable for taller buildings where weight is a concern.

  2. Noise and Vibration Control: In multi-story buildings, it becomes crucial to address noise and vibration control to prevent sound transmission between floors. Hubless cast iron pipes excel in noise-dampening properties, potentially resulting in a quieter plumbing system.

  3. Expansion and Contraction: Changes in temperature can cause pipes to expand and contract, potentially stressing the system. Proper material selection and installation methods should account for thermal expansion and contraction to prevent issues like leaks or pipe damage.

  4. Fire Safety: Multi-story buildings often require enhanced fire safety measures. Hubless cast iron pipes possess inherent fire resistance properties, ensuring the integrity of the plumbing system during a fire event.

  5. Local Code Compliance: Local plumbing codes may have specific requirements for SWV systems in multi-story buildings, such as pipe sizes, venting provisions, or drainage designs. Consult the California Plumbing Code and local amendments to ensure compliance with regulations in your jurisdiction.

Please remember that the information provided here is general in nature. Refer to the current California Plumbing Code and consult with local authorities or a plumbing professional to understand the specific requirements and considerations for SWV systems in multi-story mixed-use buildings in your area.

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