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A Primer on Texas Building Code

A Primer on Texas Building Code

If you’re constructing a new building, there are many regulations to consider to ensure its sound construction and the safety of everyone inside.

Implemented in 2001, the Texas Building Code was created to outline the safety standards for structures and construction specifications, including regulations for mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.

Read on to learn more about the building codes that you need to be aware of for your project.

Before you begin construction, it’s important to look over the building codes in your area. There are state-wide regulations in Texas, but each municipality is also allowed to adopt additional regulations and updates.

So, make sure you check both the state of Texas building codes and local regulations before any shovels hit dirt. Here’s a quick summary of some of the Texas building code requirements.

1. Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC)

The Texas plumbing code is based on the 2012 editions of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the International Plumbing Code (IPC).

The UPC dictates how various plumbing, piping, and water systems must be designed during building construction. It also details other local requirements that contractors may need to be aware of.

For example, Uniform Plumbing Code chapter one, notes that all designs for buildings must be approved by the county in which the construction is taking place. Additionally, all major plumbing work must be completed by a master plumber licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing.

Other requirements detailed in the UPC include the following:

  • The number of bathrooms required in a structure (found in section 403 minimum plumbing facilities);
  • Distance between bathrooms in multi-story buildings (they must not be more than one floor apart);
  • Required diameter of water pipes, as determined by building demand for both cold and hot potable water;
  • Pipe diameter for other types of appliances.

Texas building code adoption rules state that municipalities may adopt updates to the code if necessary.

2. National Electrical Code (NEC)

All Texas electrical codes are based on the National Electrical Code (NEC). It’s used to determine:

  • Wiring regulations
  • Outlet and switch locations
  • Power specifications to ensure that all new and existing construction has enough power to operate all necessary appliances and ensure the safety of those inside.

According to the NEC, some appliances are required to have dedicated circuits to handle their power output:

  • Electric range/oven: 120- or 240-volt circuit.
  • Dishwasher: 120-volt with 15- or 20-amp circuit.
  • Garbage disposal: 120-volt with 15- or 20-amp circuit.
  • Refrigerator: 120-volt 20-amp circuit.
  • Microwave: 120-volt 20-amp circuit.
  • HVAC: Must have dedicated circuits with correct amperage according to the system’s installed capacity. If you have multiple units, less than the installed capacity may be used per the National Electrical Code 2014.

It also lists other dedicated circuit requirements by room:

  • Bathrooms: Dedicated 20-amp circuit with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. If there’s a heat vent, it needs a separate dedicated 20-amp circuit.
  • Kitchens: Must have at least two dedicated 20-amp, 120-volt circuits for receptacles (not counting additional dedicated circuits for major appliances).
  • Living spaces, hallways, and bedrooms: 120-volt, 15- or 20-amp circuits. One circuit may power more than one room.
  • Garage: Dedicated 20-amp, 120-volt circuit with GFCI protected receptacles.
  • Laundry: Regulations depend on your type of dryer. If you use a gas-powered dryer, a single 20-amp circuit is required for both washer and dryer. If you use an electric dryer, it needs a dedicated 240-volt, 30-amp circuit to handle the energy load.

Like the UPC, municipalities may choose to adopt additional electrical regulations as they see fit.

3. Uniform Mechanical Code

Building codes in Texas follow the Uniform Mechanical Code. The Uniform Mechanical Code outlays the requirements for mechanical equipment in new and existing constructions such as HVAC systems and exhaust vents. Any new construction must use the 2018 edition (most recent edition) of these codes.

According to the Uniform Mechanical Code, heating and cooling systems must be capable of maintaining adequate interior temperatures depending on the climate zone. Texas has several climate zones, but most homes fall into zones two, three, or four:

  • Zones 2 and 3 require cooling equipment to have a 14.5 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) or 12 energy efficiency ratio (EER). Heating systems must have at least 80% annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for gas furnaces or 14.5 SEER.
  • Zone 4 homes need a cooling system with at least 13 SEER and a heating system with at least 90% AFUE (for gas furnaces) or 14.5 SEER for electric heat systems.

Any HVAC systems need to be installed to be easily accessible for maintenance and repair according to the International Residential Code 2015.

Understanding the Building Code in Texas

The Texas Building Code is made of many different plumbing, electrical, and mechanical codes used in many states throughout the U.S. Before starting any project - either a new build or a restoration of an existing structure - be sure to consult all Texas building code requirements.

Not only will it ensure the safety and soundness of your structure, but it’ll also help you avoid costly fines as well.

Install UFAD Systems For Superior Accessibility, Air Quality and Energy Efficiency

As noted in the Texas building code requirements above, HVAC systems need to be easily accessible for regular maintenance and repairs. When it comes to HVAC accessibility, there is no better solution than underfloor air distribution (UFAD) systems.

Unlike traditional overhead HVAC systems that supply air through the ceiling and require large amounts of ductwork, a UFAD supplies conditioned air through tiny diffusers that can easily fit beneath raised floors - making it both easier for builders to install and access.

Along with enhanced accessibility, UFAD systems comes with a list of additional benefits including:

  • LEED & WELL certification
  • Increased energy efficiency - using 30% less energy than an overhead HVAC due to proper air circulation
  • Improved air quality, due to less cross-contamination of air between building occupants
  • Decreased installation costs as a result of fewer materials used for installation
  • Efficient diffusers that reduce installation time by 10-15%.
  • And much more.

Safety is a top priority for our experts at AirFixture, which is why our skilled team of designers, engineers, and project managers ensure that our UFAD solutions meet all building code requirements and the highest quality standards. Contact the specialists at AirFixture today and learn about the many benefits of UFAD systems for your building or next project.

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