Do your tenants know how to take care of their plumbing systems in order to reduce downtime due to maintenance? Since plumbing pipes are hidden behind walls, under floors, and inside basements, people rarely tend to think about them until there’s a problem, and once there is, they tend to get upset when their water is turned off so that the plumbing company can perform the repair. The good news is that you can educate your tenants about property plumbing system stewardship to reduce plumbing problems and the need for plumbing maintenance.

The Importance of Proper Plumbing Maintenance for Your Chicago Building

Whether your building is a condo, co-op, or apartment complex, maintaining the plumbing system is everyone’s responsibility. This means that your tenants or unit owners need to treat their systems with respect and report plumbing problems right away, and you, as the owner, need to perform timely repairs, system upgrades, and preventative maintenance. When everyone in your Chicago building is proactive, it can prevent water damage, ensure the potable water is safe and healthy for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning, and it can reduce everyone’s utility bills. Not to mention, when you keep your plumbing system in good repair, you’ll maintain your property value and ensure your plumbing system is up to code.

What Happens if No One Pays Attention to the Plumbing System?

Just because your plumbing system is working fine now, doesn’t mean it will in the future, and if your building’s management team likes to practice reactive maintenance and deferred maintenance, you could be in for an expensive surprise.

  • Reactive Maintenance – You only fix things after they break rather than performing preventative and proactive maintenance that seeks to catch small problems before they become big, expensive problems.
  • Deferred Maintenance – Since the item in question is still functional, albeit worn out, you defer the maintenance until a later date, presumably due to budget constraints or lack of time.

The truth of the matter is that there have been some extreme examples of deferred maintenance in the news over the last few years. In Florida, an entire condo had to be demolished after half of it collapsed. One of the suspected reasons it collapsed was due to long-term water damage from a leaking pool that corroded the structural components in the parking garage. That collapse killed 98 people in 2021.

More recently, we have had large groups of renters going on rent strikes and forming renters’ unions due to poor building maintenance and hazardous living conditions. As a building owner or property manager, these are nightmare scenarios. After all, no one wants to believe that a leaking or burst pipe could cause so much water damage that it results in excessive mold and mildew damage, structural damage, and collapsed ceilings, but it happens.

As the problems with your plumbing system get worse, the property value of your building will plummet. Your utility bills will skyrocket, and you could be subjected to legal liabilities, including fines and numerous lawsuits.

How to Communicate Good Plumbing Stewardship to Your Chicago Building’s Occupants

When communicating with your tenants or unit owners, it’s best to use clear and concise language that’s easy to read and understand. Remember to be consistent and regular in your messaging, and use visual aides, like pictures in your pamphlets and notices, and posters in your building’s common areas. Lastly, remember to be polite and avoid any language that could be construed as accusatory.

Ways to Communicate

  • Emails and Text Messages
  • Posted Notices in Common Areas
  • Posters and Infographics in Common Areas
  • Your Community’s Social Media Accounts
  • Your Monthly Newsletter

How to Teach Your Tenants About Good Plumbing Stewardship

Many people didn’t grow up learning about how to use their plumbing systems properly. After all, if you’ve ever seen someone dump an entire plate of food down a garbage disposal, flush kitty litter down a toilet, or seen a sign at a public restroom that asked guests not to flush feminine hygiene products, you know that far too many people haven’t been taught proper drain usage. The good news is that you can bridge the gap between knowing about good plumbing stewardship and not knowing.

  • Educate Your Tenants – Hand out and make available brochures, pamphlets, and small booklets about proper plumbing safety and usage.
  • Host Training Sessions – Offer training sessions once a month or quarter to inform tenants on proper water conservation techniques, signs of plumbing trouble, and what’s acceptable to put down toilets and garbage disposals. Some people do better when they can see and hear the information rather than just reading it.
  • Keep Good Plumbing Stewardship in the Front of Everyone’s Minds – Send out regular reminders about good water, drain, and plumbing stewardship. You can also post signs and infographics in common areas and public bathrooms.
  • Teach People How to Report Plumbing Problems – Teach your tenants how to report plumbing issues. This could be by sending an email or text message or by calling the office.
  • Offer Incentives – Consider offering incentives, like gift cards or rent discounts, for tenants who practice proper water conservation, good drain usage, and report potential plumbing or safety issues in your building.
  • Lead by Example – Finally, lead by example. Your tenants won’t care about plumbing and building safety if you don’t. Show them you care by installing low-flow water-using appliances, taking care of plumbing issues in a timely manner, and practicing proactive and preventative maintenance.

Consider Providing Your Tenants with Tools and Instructions in Order to Take Care of Their Own Small Plumbing Issues

Most people are capable of using a plunger, drain strainer, and hair remover drain snake. If you have a group utility closet on each floor of your building, consider putting wet-dry vacs, drain strainers for sinks, bathtubs, showers, and drain cleaning tools in it. Also, encourage your tenants to buy and keep a toilet plunger and sink plunger in their units to take care of small clogs.

Don’t forget to provide instructions for the use of these common plumbing tools and hold workshops or instructional seminars to teach your tenants how to use them. Additionally, you’ll want to teach your tenants where the water shutoff valves are located in their units in case they have a leak and need to turn off the water to a sink, shower, bathtub, or toilet.

Let Your Tenants Know When It’s Time to Call Maintenance

While small plumbing problems, like clogs in the toilet, sink, or shower, can usually be handled by your tenants, it’s important to let them know when it’s time to call your maintenance team so that they can call a qualified plumber. Some examples of this might be:

  • When your tenant has one or more drains that are backing up – This could indicate a problem with the floor’s main drain line.
  • There’s a strange water spot or stain on the ceiling or on a wall – This could indicate that a pipe has burst.
  • There’s low water pressure in the unit – This could indicate a leak in the building or a failed water pump.
  • They’ve tried to unclog a toiler, sink, or shower, and it hasn’t worked – It could be a serious clog or indicate that a pipe has cracked or broken.
  • The water is stinky or discolored – This could indicate a serious problem with the potable water pipes.
  • The drains stink – This could indicate a serious problem with the building’s drain lines.

Remember to Take the Lead When It Comes to the Health of Your Building’s Plumbing System

In order to keep your potable water pipes, drain lines, and sewer lines in good working order, you must take the lead when it comes to plumbing maintenance. This means that you must schedule regular preventative plumbing maintenance that includes inspections and drain cleaning services. You must handle small plumbing problems in a timely manner, and you must communicate all plumbing issues, including maintenance and upgrades to your tenants so that they know what to expect.

Staying Ahead of the Plumbing Maintenance Curve With NuFlow, Serving Chicago

If you’ve noticed that you’ve spent more time and money on plumbing issues over the last year or two, it could be your aging plumbing system. As pipes age, they develop corrosion and wear and tear from usage. While proper plumbing maintenance can keep them operational, eventually, you’ll want a long-term solution. The good news is that epoxy pipe lining can extend the useful lives of your pipes.

When it comes to drain pipes, we can create a pipe-within-a-pipe, known as PIPP. This is where an epoxy-soaked liner is inserted into your existing drain lines and left to cure or harden. Once the liner has cured, it becomes the new plumbing pipe.

For potable water pipes, we use epoxy coatings that are blown through the pipes. These epoxy coatings cover every square inch of the internal diameter of the pipe, which seals small pinhole leaks and extends their useful life.

Both of these methods can be less costly than replacing your building’s plumbing pipes when everything is factored into consideration, like the need to repair drywall, flooring, and ceilings once the plumbing pipes have been replaced. This is because epoxy pipelining doesn’t create holes in your building. Instead, once the work is done, it’s all done. All you have to do is enjoy your newly lined plumbing pipes.

To learn more about epoxy pipelining and how it can be used to rehabilitate your Chicago building’s plumbing pipes, contact us at 815-790-9000.