If you are a building or facilities manager in Chicago, odds are you have a pretty good understanding of how your building operates. You may not be an expert in all of your building’s plumbing system, electrical and HVAC systems, but it is helpful to have basic knowledge of these systems. The same may not be true of all of your building’s board members or members of your HOA.
A plumbing system for multi-unit residential building is a complex network of pipes, drains, sewers vents, tanks and pumps. Some board members may not fully appreciate the intricacies of plumbing in multi-story building. They may not understand that patchwork repairs will only provide relief, especially in an older facility, for so long. They may not recognize that plumbing has a lifespan.
Let’s take a quick look behind the walls at a plumbing system for multi-unit residential buildings.
Potable Water Supply Pipes
These are the pipes that deliver drinkable water to tenants. These pipes network off your building’s main water supply line, leading to individual units. It is important these pipes are properly maintained to prevent cross-contamination of a building’s water supply. These pipes are often made of copper which is susceptible to pinhole leaks, especially as they age and undergo more frequent repairs.
The more units your building has, the more control valves it will have. Control valves can isolate the water supply to a particular unit, and even specific water-based appliances like sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. A building can contain hundreds of these control valves which generally don’t get exercised frequently enough. This can cause them to build up corrosion inside and prevent them from working when needed. Each is a potential source of drips and leaks. The fact that they are generally located out-of-sight makes them even more problematic and susceptible to unnoticed leaks.
In multi-story buildings it is often necessary to increase water pressure especially to reach upper floors. This can be done in several ways including gravity-based roof tanks, booster pumps and hydro-pneumatic storage tanks. These keep potable water pressurized, meaning when even small leaks occur, they can create a large amount of damage quickly.
Drainage and Vent Pipes
Your buildings drainage systems allow human waste and wastewater to be carried away safely from your building into the municipal system. Large buildings in cold weather cities like Chicago generally use a one pipe system, where sewage and wastewater are drained from separate units into one large drain pipe. Each drain must be properly vented to keep air pressure maintained in the drainage system. Even though drain pipes are not generally not under pressure, they can corrode. Many times this corrosion takes place in unseen parts of a building and even underground or in concrete.
Elbows, Connectors, and Traps
When considering the overall complexity of a plumbing system and potential areas of failure, many boards and HOA members don’t realize the full magnitude of the role pipe elbows, connectors and traps play. Each trap and elbow is a potential source of clogging. Each connector is a possible leak. As the years go by, more and more connectors are likely to be added as pipe runs are replaced or repaired.
All of this points to the importance of proper plumbing maintenance. But even well-maintained systems can experience failures. If you have concerns about an aging plumbing system, contact Nu Flow Midwest about our complete plumbing assessment. We can demonstrate how our proven pipe-relining system can give new life to a building’s plumbing with a process that is much less invasive and less expensive compared to pipe replacement. It starts by filling out our simple online form. Nu Flow Midwest. Reline. Repair. Renew.