Are the horizontal plumbing lines in your Chicago multi-unit building clean and in good condition? If you can’t answer that question, there’s a good chance you have hidden blockages in your horizontal drain lines (sanitary piping) that could cause backups and floods of blackwater and greywater into your residential building. Cleaning your pipes with hydro jetting and installing pipeliners can help prevent costly drain clogs and avoid hazardous scenarios involving black and greywater spills.

Understanding Potable Water Pipes, Horizontal Drain Lines, and Sanitary Piping

When it comes to plumbing pipes, most of us don’t give them much thought unless they’re causing problems. However, it’s a good idea to know how the plumbing pipes in your building move water and what types of water flow through those pipes.

  • Potable Water Pipes – These are the pipes that funnel clean water into your building. When you turn on a tap, start the shower or run your washing machine, you are receiving clean water from the water treatment plant.
  • Horizontal Drain Lines – These pipes lay parallel to your floors and carry wastewater from sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and water-using appliances. Depending on how this water was used, it’s typically classified as black or greywater.
  • Sanitary Piping – This type of piping is designed to either prevent bacteria growth or prevent bacteria-contaminated water from coming into contact with the surfaces of your building and potable water supply. When we are talking about sanitary piping that prevents bacteria growth, we are typically talking about pipes used in the foodservice industry, like those used to feed a soda fountain. When we talk about sanitary pipes that are designed to funnel wastewater away from your building and prevent contaminated water from touching other services, we’re talking about all your drain lines, including vertical drain lines, and your sewer pipe.

Blackwater, Greywater, and White Water

The drain lines in your Chicago multi-unit building drain black and greywater from your toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, and other water-using appliances and send it to the water treatment plant for sanitation. When your horizontal drain lines are clogged it can send this filthy water onto the floors and down through the ceiling of your high-rise building, causing major damage and presenting a health hazard to your residents. The degree of hazard is dependent on whether the water is classified as black or grey.

  • White Water – White water is clean water. This is the water that flows from the city’s water treatment plant to your building. When you turn on a tap, take a shower, or wash dishes or clothes, the water that fills the tubs and glasses is treated and free of harmful bacteria and pathogens. If whitewater overflows from a sink, bathtub, or shower, it is safe to clean up with standard cleaning methods. However, it’s very important to clean up white water within 48 hours. After 48 hours, it can start to grow bacteria and mold, which turns it into greywater. If clean water is left on the surface for more than 48 hours, it may become blackwater.
  • Blackwater – Blackwater is highly hazardous to human health. This wastewater contains sewage, including human waste, mold, mildew, and potentially harmful chemicals, bacteria, and microbes. Common illnesses associated with blackwater include norovirus, cholera, and typhoid. Coming into contact with blackwater without the appropriate personal protective gear can result in serious illness. As a general rule, blackwater should only be cleaned up by licensed professionals.
  • Greywater – Greywater is slightly less hazardous than blackwater, but it can become blackwater if it is left to sit. Greywater is considered any water that backs up from a dishwasher, washing machine, bathtub, or sink drain. If cleaned up immediately, it poses little risk. However, if it’s left to sit for as little as two days, it can become blackwater, which must be professionally removed.

Common Problems with Horizontal Drain Lines and Plumbing Risers

With multiple floors of Chicago multi-unit buildings, you must keep the drains flowing smoothly. When clogs occur in horizontal drain lines, they can cause backups in multiple tenant units, creating a plumbing emergency and high repair bills. Not to mention, if the water that has spilled out of the drain lines is from the bathrooms, it may be blackwater and extremely dangerous to human health.

Corroded, Cracked, and Bellied Drain Lines

If a drain line becomes corroded, cracked, or bellied, it can create an area where solids stick. Solids that are prone to sticking to the interior walls of a drainpipe include toilet paper and food scraps, even if those food scraps have been run through a garbage disposal. Once a few solids have stopped flowing within the line, it leads to a quick build-up of additional solids and partial or complete clog.

Inappropriate Items Being Put Down Drain Lines by Your Residents

Residents may also inadvertently cause clogs in the drain lines by putting damaging items down their kitchen sinks. Those items include any type of wet wipes or sanitary products, other than toilet paper, as well as grease, fruit and vegetable rinds, and meat trimmings, like fat and gristle. These items may not readily flow down your drain pipes, or they may congeal as they cool, causing pipe blockages. If these items happen to reach a plumbing riser, the clog can affect multiple floors.

Benefits of Jetting Plumbing Lines and Plumbing Risers

To keep the drains flowing in your Chicago multi-unit building, our drain lining technicians recommend regularly jetting your plumbing lines. Hydro jetting completely removes clogs using high-pressure water, which rinses the clogs out of your lines and sends the debris into the city’s municipal wastewater management system without damaging your plumbing pipes. This is a cost-effective way to prevent emergency plumbing repairs and backup unsanitary wastewater in your building. It’s also an essential step when it comes to lining your pipes with epoxy pipeliners, which increase the durability and longevity of your drain lines.

Jetting Plumbing Lines and Pipelining Horizontal Plumbing Pipes and Risers with NuFlow

Here at Nu Flow, serving all of Chicago and the greater Chicago area, we hydro jet plumbing lines before we install our durable epoxy pipe liners. Hydro jetting horizontal drain lines and plumbing risers ensure that the inside diameter of the pipe is completely clean, smooth, and ready to take the epoxy pipeliner, which is a durable way to restore your plumbing pipes without ripping out expensive drywall and finishes. Pipeliners are also a great way to restore cracked drain and sewer lines and extend the useful life of those pipes.

To learn more about having your drain lines lined with an epoxy liner and to schedule a pipe assessment, call us at 815-790-9000.