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Your Wet Basement and the Law

Not too long ago the Minnesota Plumbing Board discussed the issue of whether they would require a plumbing license for the installation of sump pump discharge piping. The Board’s interpretation of the State Plumbing Code holds that this work constitutes “plumbing” that would require a plumbers license to install.

It is our position that this interpretation of the State Plumbing Code does not serve the public interest. First and foremost, draintile installation does not connect in any way with potable water or the public sewer system, so there are no health or safety concerns. Furthermore, the State does not require a full plumbers license for contractors who dig wells for drinking water. Well drillers have a specialized limited license that allows them to continue offering their services at a fair price. We feel that the Plumbing Board’s interpretation of the Plumbing Code will only raise the cost of installation to the homeowner by forcing draintile installers to obtain and maintain a plumbing license or subcontract a licensed plumber, without providing any benefit whatsoever.

On Wednesday, December 21, 2011 the Basement Health Association held a meeting at the Maple Grove City Hall to discuss Plumbing Code legislation regarding sump pump installation, Limited Licensing, how to deal with inspectors and more. Speakers at the event included Mike Hogenson, President of Standard Water Control; Victor Barke, President of Complete Basement Systems; Noah Rouen, Lobbyist and Steve Andras, President of the Basement Health Association.

Attendees were treated to coffee, donuts and a lively discussion of the matters at hand. The speakers outlined the issues and suggested possible solutions. A note from Charlie Durenberger, Manager, CCLD Enforcement Services Unit of the Minn. Dept. of Labor and Industry was passed out. In the note Mr. Durenberger noted, after meeting with the Commissioner it was decided, that while the code did require a plumbers license, the Department would not take enforcement action against installers who are not licensed plumbers or registered apprentices and would not object to the issuance of building permits to draintile contractors who intend to install sump pumps.

However, Mr. Durengerger stated that when the Commissioner is replaced at the Department the new appointee could change that policy at any time. So it is important for both contractors and consumers that action be taken now to ensure the best wet basement solutions at the best prices.

In an effort spearheaded by the Basement Health Association, a national non profit organization, legislation is being drawn up to support a limited license for sump pump and draintile installers similar to the license for well drillers. In this way the basement waterproofing industry in Minnesota can be responsive to the health and safety concerns addressed in the Plumbing Code and the cost sensitivity felt by homeowners statewide.

Standard Water is proud to be a part of this effort and is throwing its shoulder to the wheel along with the Basement Health Association to find a solution that creates a win for the State of Minnesota, contractors and — most importantly — homeowners.