Senate Bill 407 (SB407) was signed in 2009, and this law will have a big impact on California home owners starting January 1, 2017. In short, this law requires the installation of water conserving plumbing fixtures in all single family homes built prior to 1994. This is not a time-of-sale requirement, it applies to all single family homes built before 1994, whether they are being sold or not. This law will apply to multi-family properties as of January 1, 2019.
In addition, this law requires an owner to disclose in writing, if the property includes any noncompliant plumbing fixtures at time of sale.
Noncompliant vs Water Conserving Plumbing Fixtures
So what is a noncompliant plumbing fixture? It depends on the fixture, but it’s based on the flow rate for each fixture, measured in GPF (gallons per flush) or GPM (gallons per minute). Here is a list of fixtures that are considered noncompliant:
Toilet that uses more than 1.6 GPF
Showerhead that uses more than 2.5 GPM
Faucet that uses more than 2.2 GPM
Urinal that uses more than 1 GPF
SB407 requires all noncompliant plumbing fixtures to be replaced with water conserving fixtures. When replacing outdated fixtures, the new fixture must meet current conservation standards. Here are the current standards for water conserving plumbing fixtures in California:
Toilet that uses no more than 1.28 GPF
Showerhead that uses no more than 2 GPM
Lavatory faucet that uses no more than 1.2 GPM
Kitchen faucet that uses no more than 1.8 GPM
Urinal that uses no more than .125 GPF
How to Tell
It can be tricky, but there are ways check out a fixture and estimate its flow rate. Sometimes, manufacturers are nice enough to print the flow rating on the fixture, sometimes they are not. Here are some helpful “inspector hints” for figuring out the flow rates for various fixtures.
Clues for Toilets
If you can’t find the GPF printed on the toilet or inside the tank, you can also go by the year of manufacture. Federal law mandated that all toilets sold on or after January 1, 1994 to have a flow rate of 1.6 GPF or less. A later California law mandated that all toilets sold on or after January 1, 2014 to have a flow rate of 1.28 GPF or less.
GPF info is sometimes printed on the toilet
Clues for Showerheads
If you can’t find the GPM printed on the showerhead, you can also use the date of the building or bathroom remodel as an estimate. Federal law mandated that all showerheads sold on or after January 1, 1994 to to have a flow rate of 2.5 GPM or less.
Clues for Faucets
The GPM will often be stamped on the faucet aerator, but this can hard to see, especially if the stamp is not facing the right direction. Better to unscrew the aerator so you can see the stamp. Just like the other fixtures, the same federal law mandated faucets to have a flow rate of 2.2 GPM or less as of January 1, 1994.
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