Not all plumbers are the same. Despite what you might have thought, plumbing work is segmented into various specialisations. There are roof plumbers, water supply plumbers, sewerage plumbers and more.
The two specialisations that you’ll often hear are commercial plumbing and residential plumbing. Residential plumbing is a line of work that you’re likely familiar with. It involves fixing clogged drains and leaking pipes and generally installing and maintaining plumbing around the home. Commercial plumbing, on the other hand, is drastically different.
To help you understand commercial plumbing a bit better, we’re going to have an in-depth look at how it differs from residential plumbing.
- Operates on a larger scale
One big difference between commercial and residential plumbing is the scope of work. Since commercial plumbers work with larger establishments like office buildings, schools and shopping malls, they’re naturally going to work on larger, more complex projects. The amount of different plumbing systems a commercial plumber encounters on a regular workday is significantly more than your average residential plumber. A plumber that doesn’t have experience working in a larger setting might not be able to complete the job in an accurate and efficient manner.
Additionally, commercial plumbers also work in various industrial settings. This means they have to work with and navigate heavy-duty equipment. A good commercial plumber must be experienced in dealing with the dangers of these industrial machines. Failing to understand the safety hazards in an industrial setting can put people at the worksite at risk.
- Operates on multiple storeys
Commercial properties aren’t just bigger compared to residential homes, they can also be much taller. The height of a particular building can have a significant effect on how a plumber does their job.
Most residential homes have only one or two floors. Commercial buildings, however, can go up to 80 to 90 floors. This means a plumbing system must be able to carry water up this structure. The first obstacle that a commercial plumber has to overcome is gravity. Since the water has to travel upwards, plumbing systems in high-rise buildings need to overcome the downward gravitational force.
Additionally, water pressure increases as it reaches farther heights. This means the taller buildings will need to use high-pressure rated pipes to handle increasing levels of water pressure. Without the proper implementation of pressure zones and pressure reducing valves, a high-rise building’s water system won’t be able to function properly.
- Specialised tools and equipment
For durability reasons, plenty of office buildings and industrial worksites use heavy-duty piping. Commercial properties often use PEX, copper or stainless steel pipes.To repair such pipes, commercial plumbers will require the appropriate cutting and drilling tools. The average reciprocating saw, which can cut through PVC, might not be enough to cut through heavy-duty materials.
Other commercial plumbing tools include:
- Jetters – Used to remove excess grease from plumbing lines. There are corded jetters and gas-powered jetters which are used for indoor and outdoor establishments respectively.
- Inspection cameras – Used to inspect parts of the plumbing system that are too distant to physically check.
- Industrial drain cleaners – Used to clear large drains in commercial settings. It can be a drum or a sectional machine. Either way, a commercial plumber will likely need a vehicle to carry the drain cleaner between sites.
- Frequency of inspections
In commercial settings, you can expect more people to use the water system. Frequent usage means more wear and tear in a shorter period of time. Because of this, commercial plumbers will need to conduct frequent inspections and maintenance work.
Pen lights and pipe cameras will become very useful when conducting inspections. With these tools, commercial plumbers will be able to thoroughly check all parts of the plumbing system throughout the commercial property.
- Different regulations to follow
Commercial plumbing needs to comply with the relevant building codes. According to the Victorian Government, the most common breaches in plumbing regulations involve undersized drainage systems, inadequate overflow provision, unapproved appliances, cross connections and more.
With the aid of a commercial plumber, you can rest assured that your business isn’t cutting any corners when it comes to quality control and safety standards. Hopefully, this gave you a better understanding of what’s involved in commercial plumbing. To avoid expensive plumbing issues in the future, businesses should hire trustworthy and experienced commercial plumbers.