Your questions on codes (READ: or permits) is very important. Nearly all manufactures of water treatment equipment/valves state somewhere in their installation instructions to be sure and check with ‘local building codes”. They say that for a reason.
Actually, there are many codes (building, plumbing, commercial, industrial, etc.) on water softeners and other water treatment equipment and associated fixtures, structures and electrical connections in varying locations around the country. Some counties/states are very anal and have extremely detailed requirements and inspections. Others have no codes, whatsoever.
Some codes may include but not in all locations obviously and may not affect you:
-- The performance of water softeners shall comply with the provisions of WQA S-100
-- The nominal diameter of water supply piping to the softener must be at least ¾-inch
-- The minimum static water pressure at the building entrance must be at least xx psi
-- The inlet and outlet diameter of the water softener must match the diameter of the water supply piping at the location where the softener will be installed.
-- Plumbing fixtures must have a minimum available flow pressure of xx psi.
-- This location should be located near the service entrance but downstream from the main water supply shutoff valve.
-- All softeners must have a by pass.
-- All storage tanks must have a drain valve.
-- Water softener shall not be connected to sewer lines with or without air gaps.
-- Any alterations to existing equipment
-- Must be installed by a licensed plumber
-- Placement shall not interfere with accessibility and installation of other appliances such as water heaters.
-- Fire Sprinklers: If the house is equipped with a fire sprinkler system that draws water from a single connection point near the service entrance, the required water softener size can be reduced by installing the softener downstream from the branch supplying the sprinkler system. If the sprinkler system draws water from individual branches of the water supply system, this reduction is not possible and the sprinklers must be included in the water softener sizing calculations.
-- California created water softener efficiency standards in 1978.
-- You will need a standard 3-prong, 120V, grounded outlet that is not controlled by
-- Electrical outlets must be a certain height and distance from water equipment.
-- Some may have to be grounded and grounding must cross plastic connections.
Of course there are numerous others but these can serve as examples that professionals and homeowner should be aware of. In my area, there is a code for some homes that a softener has to be eight feet off the basement floor!
We have a local ‘plumber’ who installs on-the-cheap water (and electrical) equipment and ignores the local codes and convinces homeowners that his two decades of “doing this” qualifies him and there’s no need to “do this or that” because “its stupid” and will “cost extra” “it’s not needed” and so on.
Most homeowners just went along with him. Well, home inspectors put stop-work orders on some construction sites, maker the homeowner very angry. Great costs had to be paid for redoing things (shortcuts, violations and lack of permits)"and guess who DIDN’T have to pay for those? Another homeowner wanted to sell his house and the prospect’s home inspector found three violations and delays and additional costs were required before a sale could be closed; the seller had to foot the bills.
He knows all the short cuts now, like installing AFTER the inspection gets approved. But that doesn’t bide well for homeowners who often find out too late. He is still in business and we are still correcting his mistakes. There’s one in every location!!!
Now, some of these codes are antiquated and really redundant or pointless (IMO), but they are still on the books and bureaucrats don’t much care for ‘making sense’, right? Professional plumbers and service techs understand these codes and make every effort to explain them to owners. Sometimes code variances can be applied for but the obligation is often on the owners (and sometimes the installers) along with the risks and penalties for failure to comply.
Do your homework. Beware of the guy who says that isn't necessary or, "Gee, I don't know of any codes, but I wouldn't worry about that, I've been doing this a long time...!"
Andy Christensen, CWS-II