Ask the Experts: Top 7 High-Rise Plumbing Mistakes
It’s almost impossible to keep your tenants honest when it comes to repairs in their units. If it’s not something that’s directly affecting them, they may not make it a priority to fix it. However, the things that your tenants are doing within their own units could be damaging the reliability of your entire high-rise plumbing system, whether it’s the kitchen drain stack or wastewater systems.
With 1 in 8 households living in condominiums throughout Canada, (for a total of 62,869 units at the end of 2014) it’s important to clearly communicate the importance of how your tenants units affect other units in the building.
According to the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation, there are 13,779 condominium units in Toronto, and while changes to plumbing and electrical require a trained professional, maintenance does not. It’s important to stress the importance of regular maintenance of your tenants plumbing systems, especially considering the insurance risks of a burst pipe on adjacent units.
At CPL Technologies, we’ve seen a lot of haphazard fixes that have lead to bigger problems. Below are the top 7 plumbing mistakes that could affect the integrity of your entire plumbing system.
- Hurried fixes & DIYs
It’s a scene that’s probably played out over a hundred times in households throughout Canada. Guests are over, or on their way over, and you notice a leaking pipe. In your haste to make your home presentable, temporary fixes are put into place and forgotten about.
If left, a household leak could end up wasting an average of 10,000 gallons of water in a year. Your utility bill won’t thank you, and if your tenants are paying utilities included in their maintenance fees, you won’t see the additional cash to cover their leaky pipes.
- Leaving water on during repairs
This one is way too easy to forget, but could cause an actual flood in the unit. If your tenants try to fix something themselves, one of the most common things we’ve heard is that in their rush to get it fixed, the water was left on.
Newer buildings will likely have a water shutoff valve at the fixture, whether it’s a faucet, toilet, or fixture. Educate your tenants on where this shutoff is and when to use it — including when a toilet overflows — and you can ensure the least amount of damage during an emergency or plumbing maintenance situation.
- Drain Cleaners
If your tenants are experiencing slower than usual draining, it’s usually caused by a clog of something stuck in the pipe. The overuse of drain cleaners can actually deteriorate metal plumbing pipes or melted PVC pipes, resulting in weakened systems which could lead to broken pipes.
Rotted pipes, plumbing leaks, health hazards, and solidified chemicals are causes of the improper use of chemical drain cleaners.
Your tenants should follow the instructions on the cleaner, avoid overuse, and contact a professional plumber to snake the drains to identify pesky clogs. Snaking pipes are a safer and a more thorough way of clearing the drain than cleaner that eats away at clogs.
- Poor installation
One of the easiest DIY mistakes that could be made includes the installation of a new pipe that’s a different metal than the pipes already installed. The corrosion between two metals, or galvanic action, could deteriorate the integrity of the pipes. Instead of replacing one pipe, there are now three pipes that have been damaged and need replacing — or else your tenant experience pinhole leaks.
- Flushing objects down toilet
Toilet drain leads to another drain pipe that is the wastewater drain to your entire building — if that pipe clogs, your entire water system is affected. It’s integral to regularly update your tenants on your wastewater regulations.
From toys to paper towels, toilet drain pipes can only handle so much. Just because your tenants toilet doesn’t back up immediately doesn’t mean that the object doesn’t get stuck further down.
- Grease down sinkNot only does grease disposed into the wastewater system react with other chemicals and form a reaction that can cause sewage backup, and the buildup of grease deposits in your pipes.
- A study in the Journal of OLEO Science reported that of the 36,000 sewer backups that happen throughout the United States, 47% of those are caused by fat and oil buildups.
Frequent kitchen stack cleaning can clear out these buildups, but it’s recommended that you instill clear regulations about removing grease from pans and throwing into the garbage.
- Washing machine hoses
In units with washing machines, it’s incredibly important to check the connection between the washing machine and your tenants plumbing. The Institute for Insurance reports that 73% of household floods are caused by the hoses behind the washing machine because they can corrode and deteriorate over time.
A typical washing machine can use approximately 50 litres per wash. If the hose isn’t connected securely, that could equal a lot of water all over that specific unit as well as adjacent units.
There are a number of reasons that it’s important to have tenant regulations, but requiring the hiring of a professional plumber to oversee high-rise plumbing changes and maintenance is one step to ensure that your building doesn’t fall victim to poor plumbing practices. While the onus is on your tenants to make sure that their unit is properly updated and maintained, it’s the responsibility of the board or property manager to ensure that the integrity of the overall system is as sturdy as possible.
At CPL Tech, we recommend yearly kitchen drain stack cleaning, backflow prevention, and catch basin cleaning for high-rise buildings. Through our comprehensive consultations and inspections, we can understand the complex needs of your specific building to ensure that your high-rise plumbing works as efficiently as possible. Give us a call today to understand what preventative measures you can employ to reduce pinhole leaks and keep your system flowing.