The top 4 commercial plumbing problems
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
This area of facility management and home ownership is unfortunately something that no one can escape from. Whether you are in the blistering heat of the Nevada desert, or the soaked wetlands of southern Florida, you can be impacted by commercial plumbing problems. In this article we take a look at the most common plumbing problems in both commercial and residential settings. Studies conducted in a variety of facilities, including schools, office buildings, retail facilities, warehouses and sports and convention centers, have revealed similar maintenance challenges. In fact, these facilities all shared five common plumbing problems.
Leaky Faucets A leaky faucet can typically be repaired by replacing the washer. However, if left unrepaired, it can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. There are more efficient options that are available and can help with this, especially in SMART buildings and those that are LEED certified. And if a hot-water faucet is leaking, it can increase utility bills significantly.
Clogged Drains In commercial facilities, the most commonly clogged drains are kitchen sinks. To prevent clogs in kitchen sinks, avoid pouring greasy substances down the drain and install a garbage disposal. Usually a clogged drain can be cleared with a plunger, but if not, a sewer snake will be needed to break the clog. We were once called to a retail store in the mall and found a pair of women's underwear had been flushed down the toilet. These problems are obviously a huge inconvenience, but can also cause further damage to nearby flooring, and can even filter throughout to damage the space below. We recently had a store flood due to a sprinkler issue in the unit above. A simple solution isn't very frequent in the world of commercial plumbing...
"Silent" Toilet Leaks Silent toilet leaks occur when water does not appear to be running but is being released. To find a silent leak, apply coloring to the toilet's tank. If the color is noticed in the bowl within 15 minutes, then a leak is present. In most cases, a plumber will need to be called. Silent toilet leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water each year. There are also audible toilet leaks where the system is slightly off what it should be. Every so often you will hear the tank filling up with extra water to replace what was lost. These are obviously much easier to detect than the "silent" ones. A sure sign that this is a problem that you are faced with is a spike in your water usage. Keep an eye on your utility bills and investigate anything that is not in line with your average usage. Clogged Toilets "Clogged toilets can usually be fixed with a plunger. However, when plunging the toilet is not enough, a drain auger or sewer snake will be necessary. A frequent problem here is that kids are frequently left to their own devices while mum and dad shop, and they can't resist stuffing things down the toilet. We have seen entire rolls of toilet paper, stacks of paper towels, and food packaging on previous jobs that we have completed. If Royal were to produce Forest Gump 2, we would tweak the famous line to "Life is like a clogged toilet. You never know what you're going to get".
Sewer Odors Below a floor drain is a U-shaped pipe. As long as it is filled with water, it blocks sewer odors from being released into the restroom. However, these often dry up, releasing sewer odors. This can be prevented by pouring small amounts of specially made liquid odor block down floor drains every few months. Frequent cleanings and maintenance services can also minimize the chance of experiencing these issues. As with most things, prevention is better than cure, so definitely do your homework and look into what commercial plumbing solutions are available to you.
JD Bishop, project manager for Royal Services, listed the following 4 items as the most frequent plumbing problems he is faced with when working with clients. Across our entire portfolio of properties that we manage across the country, these are the issues that we most frequently have to deal with.
1) Blockages - as expected, this was top of the list for many reasons. These events occur so frequently, and are also extremely difficult to deal with because so much is unknown. With a broken handle, the whole piece of equipment is easy to see, and can be easily replaced. With blockages, lines often need to be unblocked, cameras sent out, and this can impact neighboring stores, especially if the incident happens in a mall location. Frequently in stores you have the parents shopping and the kids are left to entertain themselves, and we know how that ends. You also have customers caught doing things that they shouldn't be such as shoplifting, and need to quickly dispose of evidence. Then there are the pranksters, who typically fall into the teenager category, who are just looking to cause problems.
2) Failed internal toilet parts - can be due to installation problems, faulty equipment or people interfering with things that they don't understand.
3) Broken handles - can occur due to cheap parts, over-aggressive use, general wear and tear, and children messing around.
4) Leaks - poor workmanship in the first place can cause this, but issues here are often due to changing climatic conditions.
Numbers 2-4 typically occur due to use, faulty equipment, unqualified tradesmen trying to solve problems, or over-aggressive use by customers who don't care what happens because it's not their responsibility.
Keep an eye on this blog for future articles that will address solutions to your common plumbing problems, as well as similar themed pieces for electrical and HVAC work.
Contact Royal Services today to discover how our commercial plumbing services can help put your mind at rest.