What is the Industry of Commercial Plumbing About?
Commercial plumbing services is all about repairing, maintaining, and inspecting commercial plumbing systems. These systems are all different depending on the needs of the business, whether it’s a retail or manufacturing space.
A commercial plumber must be vigilant in identifying parts of the plumbing system and diagnosing the issue, even if they are not familiar with the exact system or layout, as commercial buildings come in many shapes and sizes, whereas a residential home has many standard rooms and uses no matter its size.
How is Commercial Plumbing Different?
Commercial plumbing is different from residential because it deals with a larger volume of water, stricter timelines and often strict building codes and maintenance needs.
A plumbing problem in a commercial building will affect a greater number of people than a residential home as well, so it is important that the problem is dealt with quickly.
While residential plumbing is subject to standard business hours, many commercial plumbers need to be able to handle plumbing problems any time of day so that businesses have minimal downtime.
This means that commercial plumbers often work on the opposite schedule of a typical business, providing maintenance and repairs when normal business operations are not ongoing.
For example, a plumber who is called out to a mall to fix a clog in a bathroom may instruct the staff to close the affected bathroom stalls so that they are inaccessible to customers and the water is shut off, but the actual repair is made after-hours once customers have left the building.
In emergencies, such as a leak that cannot be shut off without affecting business, the plumber may still arrive during operating hours to fix the problem as soon as possible.
A residential plumber, however, may charge extra for emergency plumbing services that are outside of business hours, and will typically schedule appointments for repair or maintenance out based on the severity of the problem.
Types of Buildings That Need Commercial Plumbing
Every modern building needs some form of plumbing to be considered habitable. A functional bathroom requires plumbing, just like a kitchen will. Just because a building is commercially zoned does not make it any different.
Many notably commercial spaces that require commercial plumbing are multi-purpose buildings, medical offices, malls, hospitals, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and retail stores. It is a commercial plumber’s job identify where the plumbing problems are, and what other areas may be affected by the reported damage based on the layout of the building and type of business.
The size of the building does not always mean it needs more plumbing, but it may affect where the plumbing system is located and whether it comes from a single source.
For example, department stores may have a larger interior, but plumbing may be mostly limited to a deli kitchen, the public restrooms, and employee facilities. Likewise, a manufacturing plant may be large and require plumbing throughout the building to operate large or demanding machinery.
Factors that Separate Commercial Plumbing Issues from Residential Plumbing
One of the main factors that separate commercial plumbing from residential plumbing is the amount of water that must be pumped into the facility, as well as sewage and wastewater pumped out of the building. Commercial buildings typically see a lot more foot traffic than the average residential home or apartment, which means that it must be able to withstand greater demands on the plumbing without cause for concern.
In commercial buildings, pipes are typically larger and made of thicker and more durable materials than residential pipes. This requires more space than residential walls have to accommodate the piping.
In many cases, commercial plumbing also spans a much greater area, requiring higher water pressure and a higher capacity water heater. This means that the pipes will often be more durable than residential plumbing, but when leaks do happen, it can be more difficult or expensive to repair, making preventative maintenance essential.
The plumbing system may also vary in design based on what it needs to do in the commercial building. For example, an office may have different needs for a plumbing system than a factory will. Furthermore, commercial buildings are subject to more regulations and specifications that a commercial plumber will need to know.
What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Plumber?
Commercial plumbers have many of the same duties that a residential plumber has on paper, such as installing new piping or repairing damaged piping. They may be required to install new fixtures and faucets or connect new appliances to water lines.
A plumber will also be called on to provide preventative maintenance, on-site surveys of the plumbing system, as well as annual inspections.
Inspections help ensure that all the plumbing is up-to-code with local and state regulations based on the business’ industry, location, and layout. These reports will also help identify any weaknesses in the plumbing system that may require repairs later so that it can be addressed with minimal downtime.
Overall, a commercial plumber must have additional flexibility on the job and never fall into a false sense of knowledge when inspecting a new system, as every business has different requirements and layouts for their plumbing system.
What it Takes to Become a Commercial Plumber
Not just anyone can take on commercial plumbing work from the start. All plumbers require years of on-the-job experience and require a journeyman’s license to take on work alone.
Becoming a plumber takes years of dedicated training and expertise and is a respectable trade to enter that is often appealing to people who enjoy doing hands-on repair work. For many people, the experience of working with such complex physical systems is a rewarding and fulfilling job that provides a deep sense of satisfaction.
Depending on the state of operation, a plumber may also need to apply for a specific commercial plumbing license or meet certain requirements in addition to standard plumbing training to work in commercial environments.
This training may be above and beyond any work experience that they have acquired as commercial buildings are held to different standards than residential, and a commercial plumber must be prepared to deal with industries that place a greater demand on the system.
Common Plumbing Issues for Businesses
For many businesses, many of the common issues that arise are similar to residential buildings. Clogged drains, running toilets, leaky pipes, and water pressure problems are all a part of the symptoms that a commercial plumber must diagnose.
For areas that receive freezing weather during the colder months, many businesses also experience frozen pipes, which can be costly. (1)
In addition to being frustrating and causing unnecessary downtime for a business, fixing frozen pipes is also expensive. In fact, the average claim for water damage because of frozen pipes is currently about $10,800.
The primary exception to common plumbing issues is in an industrial setting, where water is used throughout the building for processing or manufacturing goods. Leaks, water pressure issues, maintenance, and inspections are the most common jobs for a commercial plumber in this type of setting. Larger manufacturing companies may also hire a plumber to retain on staff in case of a plumbing emergency.
Commercial Plumbing Maintenance Tips
In a commercial setting, it can be difficult to keep the plumbing system maintained properly if it is misused. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t have oversight into the small details of operation the business – like plumbing – and this winds up costing the company a lot of money in plumbing repairs over time.
Providing the right receptacles for proper disposal of waste in bathrooms, for example, is a great way to prevent the plumbing from being misused and clogged. Diaper disposals and tampon disposals are the most common receptacles for commercial spaces depending on the intended use.
Posting reminders of what cannot be disposed of in sink drains is a good way to remind kitchen staff not to pour grease into the garbage disposal; instead, provide a grease receptacle that can be easily disposed of in the trash once it has cooled.
Ensuring that the water pH is balanced is another great way to keep the plumbing maintained, as acidic or hard mineral water can clog or corrode pipes over time, leading to leaks or weakened water pressure.
Need Commercial Plumbing Services? We Can Help
Commercial plumbing requires a vastly different set of expertise than residential plumbing. While there might be similarities in how the plumbing systems work, commercial plumbing requires a hookup to a city sewer line and comes with a wide range of different codes and regulations that are frequently updated.
When you’re in need of commercial plumbing services, you can turn to Same Day Pros to find local professionals that you can trust.
We help you find the right fit for the services you need right away, without waiting weeks for call backs or searching by word-of-mouth. The Same Day Pros directory spans all 50 states, allowing you to reliably select professionals right from your city.
- Forbes, How to Prepare Your Commercial Building for Winter, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/11/13/how-to-prepare-your-commercial-building-for-winter/?sh=551c6007a56e