When it comes to your plumbing pipes, it is imperative that you know the details of your system before it starts failing. Water damage from leaking pipes can lead to mold, mildew and even fungus growth, which could negatively impact your residents’ health. It also wastes water and increases water bills. The EPA estimates that 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year as a direct result of leaking water fixtures and pipes. Thankfully, you can prevent these catastrophes.

1. Do you know the details of your plumbing system?

Every Chicago property manager should know the macro and micro-details of their residential building system before a plumbing problem occurs.

  • Booster Pumps. Booster pumps turn off and on in order to give all your residents consistent water pressure. Booster pump failures can lead to low water pressure and unhappy residents.
  • Drain Lines. Drain lines extend from every water fixture in your building. They funnel waste water out of your building and into the main sewer line. Drain line failures are often caused by grease being poured down drain lines and flushing toys, Kleenex or other items down toilets.
  • Fixtures. A plumbing fixture is anything that supplies and drains water, including showerheads, faucets, bathtubs and toilets. A malfunctioning fixture can waste thousands of gallons of water per year.
  • Hot Water Heating Systems. A hot water heating system is anything that is used to heat water, including boilers and hot water heaters. A blowout from a tanked hot water heating system can cause thousands of dollars in water damage not including the repair or replacement cost.
  • Plumbing Pipe Age. Plumbing pipes are designed to last anywhere from 20 to more than 100 years. It is up to you, as a Chicago property manager, to determine the ages and expected useful lives of all your plumbing pipes. If you are not sure how old your pipes are or their condition, you can schedule a building pipe assessment.
  • Plumbing Pipe Materials. Plumbing pipes can be constructed out of rigid or flexible plastic and various types of metals, including copper, iron and galvanized steel. Each material has its own pros and cons and expected useful life.
  • Potable Water Lines. Your potable water lines supply hot and cold water to sinks, dishwashers, showers and washing machines. Problems with your potable water lines can lead to low water pressure, leaks and discolored water.
  • Risers. Risers are vertical water supply lines that supply water to the various floors in a high-rise building. Leaks in your risers can result in low water pressure on the floor above the leak and water damage.
  • Roof Tanks. Roof tanks are used to increase the water pressure in high-rise buildings. While roof tanks are an older system, they are still in use on some high-rise buildings
  • Vertical Stacks. These pipes run from your roof to the sewer and storm drains beneath your building. When you see one vertical stack, you should see two. One stack is for sewage. The other is for ventilation. If one or both of these pipes are not functioning correctly or are blocked, you could experience a sewage backup.

2. Where are your plumbing pipes located? plumbing_pipe_problems.jpg

In multi-unit high-rise apartment buildings, condos and co-ops, the vast majority of the vertical vents and risers are located in the walls. You can determine where these pipes are located by going up to your roof and visually looking at the vent stacks. Once you know where they are located, determine if they are located behind drywall, brick, cinder-blocks or concrete blocks. The type of material that your pipes are located behind will determine how hard it will be to reach your pipes and part of the cost of replacing your plumbing pipes.

3. Have you explored all your pipe repairs and replacement options, including trenchless?

  • Traditional Total Pipe Replacement. Traditional pipe replacement involves physically removing all the plumbing pipes in your building and replacing them with new pipes. This method requires the plumbers to cut through walls, floor and ceiling, and it is the most expensive way to fix an aging plumbing system because you have to replace all the pipes then hire contractors to fix drywall, floors and ceilings and reinstall finishes.
  • Trenchless Pipe Replacement and/or Lining. Trenchless pipe replacement and/or pipe lining involves accessing the pipes at the beginning and end of the pipe to be lined or replaced. This is less invasive and less costly than traditional pipe replacement.
  • Patch Repairs. Patching and/or repairing a leaky pipe involves cutting out the failed section and replacing it with a new piece of pipe. This method is good for fixing immediate leaks, but it does not fix an aging or severely worn plumbing system.

Inspecting and Lining Your Plumbing Pipes with Nu Flow

Our pipe lining experts, here at Nu Flow, can inspect your building’s plumbing pipes via a building pipe assessment. A building pipe assessment includes a camera inspection of every plumbing pipe in your building, a comprehensive report of our findings, the best way to fix your plumbing pipe problems and the feasibility and estimated cost of installing pipe liners. To get started today, call us at 815-790-9000.