Have you completed fall building maintenance for your plumbing system? When it comes to keeping your Chicago building potable water pipes and drain lines running reliably and efficiently all winter, you can’t go wrong with a comprehensive plumbing maintenance checklist that includes preparing all your interior and exterior pipes for the frigid temperatures of winter. Here at NuFlow, serving Chicago, we’ve put together a comprehensive list to help you get your plumbing system ready for winter while the temperatures are still mild.

1. Check, Test and Inspect the Plumbing Pipes Inside Your Chicago Building

When getting ready for winter with your fall inspection and maintenance routine, it often makes sense to start inside your building. Of course, when most superintendents, maintenance staff members and property managers think about the plumbing pipes inside their buildings, they often think about the potable water pipes, meaning those that lead to faucets, showers and water-using appliances. It’s imperative that you do not forget about the additional water-carrying pipes that may be inside your building, like the plumbing pipes leading to and from your commercial HVAC system, boiler and radiators.

  • Clean Your Chiller and HVAC System – Commercial chillers and HVAC systems often use water as the heat transfer device. Unfortunately, HVAC water can grow bacteria, mold and viruses, including Legionaries disease, because these pathogens love warm, moist environments. In order to prevent illness in your building from a dirty chiller, you’ll want to have it cleaned and disinfected at least once a year, and you’ll want to check all the pipes for leaks and corrosion.
  • Clean Your Drain Lines – Many building owners, property managers and maintenance staff members don’t think much about the Chicago building drain lines until they start backing-up, leaking and producing foul odors. The good news is that you can be proactive when it comes to maintaining your drain lines, by having them professionally inspected and cleaned prior to the cold winter temperatures and holiday season. If any pipes need repairing, make plans to have that work completed before the end of fall. This will ensure that the added traffic caused by visitors to your building for holiday parties won’t negatively affect your building’s drain lines.
  • Inform Your Tenants – Prepare a checklist of safe drain habits and distribute the list to all of your tenants before the start of the holiday season. Extra visitors and relatives visiting from out of town can put extra strain on your Chicago plumbing system with more frequent toilet flushing and an increased demand for clean water for cooking, bathing and cleaning. Your pamphlet should include improper items to rinse down drains, like oil, grease, lard, eggshells, meat scraps and vegetable rinds as well as acceptable items to flush down toilets and items to never flush, like wet wipes or baby wipes, cat litter, paper towels, facial tissues and napkins.
  • Inspect and Clean Your Boiler Pipes – Boilers operate with either hot water or steam that travels through a pipe network in your building. Since hot water and steam can accelerate the corrosion process and lead to scale buildup on the insides of the plumbing pipes, it’s important to have your boiler pipes inspected and cleaned before the end of fall.
  • Insulate and Install Heat Tape – If you have visible pipes in your Chicago building’s basement, maintenance and utility rooms or along exterior walls, it’s important to insulate those pipes with pipe insulation and add heat tape in order to prevent those pipes from freezing and bursting.
  • Test for Leaks – An air pressure test by a qualified plumber can help detect leaks in the potable water side of your plumbing system before they become large enough to cause major damage and raise your monthly water bills.

2. Check, Test and Inspect the Plumbing Pipes Outside Your Chicago Building

Once you have completed the inspections and repairs on your interior plumbing pipes, it’s time to look outside. This means checking exterior hose spigots, preparing your sprinkler system for winter and inspecting and cleaning out your parking lot and garage drains.

  • Walk Your Property – Take the time to walk your property, especially over areas that contain potable water pipes and drain lines. This is best performed during a dry period where there’s been no rain for several days. If you notice odd puddles, sunken or extremely soft soil or foul odors, you may have a plumbing problem in the pipes running under your soil. The good news is that a qualified Chicago plumber can inspect those pipes and recommend the correct repairs.
  • Check Your Outdoor Water Faucets – The outdoor water faucets or hose spigots allow your maintained crew to operate hoses, sprinklers and pressure washers so that you can keep the exterior of your building and the sidewalks clean and keep your lawn watered. Make sure there are no leaking outdoor spigots and take the time to winterize hose spigots prior to the first frost.
  • Winterize Your Outdoor Sprinkler System – During the cold nights and cold days ahead, you won’t need to water your grass. To prevent winter damage to your irrigation system, make sure to winterize it during the fall by following the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines on winterizing your sprinkler system. In general, you’ll want to turn off the system and drain the lines.
  • Make Sure the Drains in Your Parking Lots and Parking Garages Are Clean – Have your parking lot and parking garage drains inspected and cleaned of all debris, including dirt, twigs, trash and leaves. Items left in your parking lot and garage drains can cause clogs and floods in your parking lot and contribute to corrosion, especially when the ice melt mixtures are placed on the roads. Clogs combined with standing water and debris can rust or corrode the drain systems on your property. By having your outdoor drains hydro-jetted, you are helping to ensure they operate properly all winter long.

3. Proactively Prevent Leaks with Epoxy Pipe Lining

If you are worried about leaks from aging or extremely corroded plumbing pipes, consider proactively preventing leaks with an epoxy coating or pipe liner. These methods of pipe restoration help prevent future corrosion while sealing small pinhole leaks, and in some instances, the service can be performed without shutting off the water to your entire building. This is because we can utilize your existing shutoff valves to turn off the water in the sections of your building where work is being performed. Our pipe lining process is also faster than traditional pipe replacement, which means your residents will experience a faster water service restoration.

To schedule a building pipe assessment for your Chicago multi-unit residential building to learn if epoxy pipe lining would benefit you this winter, give us a call at 815-790-9000.