The most important step of every DIY project is getting the design right. No amount of craftsmanship will make a poorly design system work. I purchased "Code Check Plumbing and Mechanical" to help me with all my plumbing projects. It promises to present the most important rules in the Universal Plumbing Code (UPC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) in a readable format. Let's take a look, if this book can hold my attention long enough to teach me something.
Code Check Plumbing and Mechanical (4th Edition)
Code check is not a traditional book. It is a spiral bound booklet that opens up along the top edge like a calendar. The pages are laminated to resist liquids and dirt, all of which are abundant on the jobsite. Each page of the booklet presents a single topic in full text along with excellent images. Tabs along the bottom edge of each page make it easy to find the topic you are looking for.
This entry in the Code Check series focuses on plumbing and mechanical systems (heating and cooling). The information presented for each topic is organized in a checklist format. The book presents the most important rules from the two codes along with reference number. A large image or diagram adjacent to the checklist illustrates how each requirement translates into the real world. The section for plumbing traps, for example, has a diagram that shows the proper installation of one along with the required clearances. If applicable the book also present any tabular data from the codes for quick reference. For example, the water supply section contains a "pipe size/flow rate" table.
As the name suggests, the book is meant to be used as a code check tool. If you stand in front of a system with this book in hand, you can verify the system's code compliance by checking each point on the checklist. There is no guarantee that the system will pass inspection, since the book does not contain all rules. Code Check does, however, contain the most important rules applicable in most situations. If your installation is generic, chances are this book will make your work pass inspection.
A side effect of providing code information in a structured way is the book's uncanny ability to teach. Engineering focused minds will quickly piece together the information in the code and derive the rules that built the system. The book gives the reader a high level understanding of the topic just deep enough to get a basic installation up and running.
For the Professional
For the professional Code Check is a quick reference more than anything else. If you have worked in the trades for any amount of time, you should know everything in this book. Once in a while you might forget something, or you want to make sure the inspector is not going to get you. That's where Code Check comes in.
This book is an excellent reference to have on hand. It is much easier to find information in this booklet than it is in the IRC or UPC. Off course the Code Check booklet does not have all the information contained in the codes. Every section references the applicable paragraphs by number so you can look them up quickly.
General contractors, home inspectors, and other professionals who do not work with plumbing regularly will also find this book useful. It enables the layman to catch gross errors in plumbing installations without having to read and understand the code. The intuitive check list approach spells out the most important requirements for each type of installation.
For the Home Owner
Code Check is solid gold for adventurous homeowners thinking about working on their plumbing system. This booklet is jam packed with answers to all the common question a beginner has. With some patience it is possible to design and evaluate a whole-house plumbing system with this book. There is even a section on how to properly cut notches into joists.
Off course the reader has to understand that a book intended to be a reference cannot provide all the details. There will be situations where this book does not present the entire picture. The value of this booklet comes from its ability to present a condensed view of a complex topic. It'll get you started properly, and tell you where to look for more answers. This is exactly what a beginner needs to know.
Code Check Plumbing and Mechanical (4th Edition) is an reference and learning tool. It has been written to present a complex topic as efficiently and tersely as possible. If you do not know anything about plumbing or mechanical systems, this book will teach you what to look for in paragraph or two. The professional plumber will find this book useful as a handy reference that is much easier to use and carry than the code books.
Off course a simple reference manual cannot present all the issues. Code Check is the first book you should consult. It'll organize your thoughts, tell you what to look out for, and set you on a path to completing your project. That alone is worth the price of this book. It is highly recommended.
Code Check Plumbing and Mechanical (4th Edition)
by Douglas Hansen, Redwood Kardon, Paddy Morrissey