Due to the aftermath and devastation caused by Winter Storm Uri, the City of Houston will now require protection on all water, soil or waste pipes that are subject to freezing temperatures and are located in exterior walls, attics, crawl spaces or any other place subject to freezing temperatures as stated in the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) Section P2603.5.
This change is effective October 1, 2021, and will apply to all new residential buildings, remodels and repairs for one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses).
While this provision was adopted in the current code, the City of Houston’s Building Code Enforcement (BCE) division has not enforced the requirements. As a result of the overwhelming number of issues with frozen pipes during the winter storm, they have chosen to implement strict enforcement of this section moving forward.
Using the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) provisions for hot water piping (R403.5.3) as a guideline, they will now require piping located in exterior walls, attics, crawl spaces or any other place subject to freezing temperatures to be insulated with a minimum R-3 insulation, in addition to any other insulation requirements.