How to Avoid Common Plumbing Problems in Condos

28 Oct

The plumbing systems for condos are more complex compared to those of standalone homes and businesses because the pipework is designated as tenant and public-owned. While the plumbing pipes inside and around individual units are the responsibility of the resident or unit owner, the pipes positioned around public areas are the responsibility of the property owner or manager.

To ensure consistency in any plumbing work – including indoor and outdoor repairs and maintenance – many condos usually work with one professional plumber, though some property managers are willing to work with any licensed professional plumber in the area.

Common Plumbing Challenges in Condos

The condo lifestyle is preferable to some people over homeownership, but this also means that you need to be prepared for some challenges that are unique to condo owners. Condo plumbing systems use potable water lines to supply clean water into the building from the municipal water supply. These freshwater lines are typically made from PEX, PVC, CPVC, or copper, and carry water to all water-using appliances and fixtures in all the units.

Every water-using appliances and fixtures, including sinks, taps, toilets, washing machines, showerheads, bathtubs, and dishwasher, drains its waste-water through a drain line that connects to a waste and vent stack to remove dirty water from the building. The vent stacks provide ventilation in the drain lines to balance the system pressure and ensure that dirty water flows uninterrupted to the main sewer line.

Depending on where the plumbing issue arises, fixing it may be the responsibility of the unit owner or the property manager or owner. Common issues include:

  1. Clogged toilets

    This is a common problem in every house, especially condominium buildings because of papers and other materials blocking your drain pipes.

  2. Clogged drain lines

    Clogged drains in the sink or bathroom are caused by materials that get stuck in the pipe, including the buildup of grease, hair, soap residue, bathing products, and other items.

  3. Frozen pipes

    This is arguably the most challenging and damaging plumbing issue in colder climates. Extremely low temperatures can make the water in your pipe to expand and cause it to burst open. Depending on the severity of the problem, it can result in flooding and water damage in your unit.

  4. Dripping taps and pipework

    This problem can cause a lot of water wastage and high water bills if not fixed by a professional plumber.

  5. Low water pressure

    This is a common issue in condominium buildings due to clogged aerators.

  6. Sewage backups

    These can be caused by clogs in the main sewer line and/or waste stacks, affecting more than one unit. An evaluation should be done to determine who’s responsible for fixing the issue.

  7. Corroded portable water pipes

    The deterioration of potable water pipes is inevitable. The combination of water pressure and the chemical composition of water can lead to corrosion, pits, cracks, leaks, and even blowouts, particularly at the seams and joints.

Avoiding Common Condo Plumbing Issues

Plumbing issues in a condo can be problematic for many people, including the cost of hiring a professional plumber. Depending on the situation, you may need to shut off the main water supply for several or a dozen units to fix a problem in your unit. This requires you to get permission from the property manager and issue a notice to the units that will be affected. Any additional maintenance work that requires water to be turned off in multiple units may inconvenience the residents, causing delays in approval from the property manager.

It’s best to try and avoid plumbing problems whenever possible. Here are some plumbing maintenance strategies to help mitigate plumbing issues:

  1. Prevent frozen and burst water pipes

    As a condo owner, you can play your part in protecting yourself and other residents from the risk of frozen and burst pipes during the winter season by regularly running hot and cold water. You can choose to have the hot water drip slowly in the dead of winter to help generate enough heat within the plumbing system to prevent freezing. Keeping the water flowing also prevents it from being still and forming ice in the pipes. If the pipes freeze or burst, the property manager should be responsible for getting the problem fixed.

  2. Find and fix leaks in water appliances

    Poor maintenance of dishwashers and washing machines is one of the main causes of leaks within condo buildings. For condominium owners who have their own water-appliances, you should regularly check the plumbing connection to the appliance, as well as the drain hose. If you spot any moisture on the flooring area surrounding your water appliances, you should contact a professional plumber immediately. This could be a sign of a more serious structural problem in the building.

  3. Clean showerheads to maintain water pressure

    One of the most common water-related concerns for condo residents is low water pressure. But this problem can be prevented by cleaning the showerhead. Any debris in the water pipes, especially in older pipework or following some repair or maintenance work in the plumbing system, can clog the shower valves in your showers, resulting in low water pressure. In some cases, you can improve the water pressure by adding white distilled vinegar in a sandwich bag and tying it over the showerhead with a rubber band. Leave it overnight to remove the clogged contaminants in the showerhead. If this doesn’t work, you should ask a licensed plumber in Richmond Hills for professional assistance.

  4. Inspect hot water tanks for rust

    When your hot water equipment begins to rust, you risk not only reducing the quality of water entering your property, but also shortening the life of the heater. To prevent this, condo owners should be proactive about inspecting their hot water heaters every year for signs of leakage or rust within the system. This is also a good time to flush the hot water system to get rid of accumulated sediment. Ideally, this should be done by a professional plumber during your annual plumbing inspection.

  5. Plumbing issues in condominium buildings can be a costly problem for not only individual unit owners but also the entire building community. To prevent this and avoid the inconvenience of regular repairs, you should follow the tips above and schedule routine maintenance at least once a year. It’s also important to have in hand the contact details of a reliable, professional plumber in the event of any emergency plumbing problems.

    To learn more about how to avoid the common plumbing problems in condos, call Brothers Plumbing at (416) 656-6717 or contact us here.

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