When it comes to plumbing, apartments have a much more intricate system than single-family homes. This makes it more important for both apartment managers/owners and tenants to be familiar with common issues that may arise.
The basic apartment plumbing system includes vertical stacks, horizontal lines, and branch lines. These provide clean water to the building and waste water to the sewer system.
The Building’s Drain Pipes
Drain pipes are an important part of every plumbing system. They bring fresh water in and transport wastewater out of the building. They need to be sized carefully so they can handle the load.
They’re also designed to be easy to service and maintain. There are many different types of pipes that can be used, but the most common are made of copper and plastic.
A typical sanitary drainage system in a multi-story building consists of three main components. These are: vertical stacks, branch lines, and horizontal underground lines.
The vertical stacks, or soil stacks as they are sometimes called, are lines of pipe that run from the horizontal building drain under the slab or in the basement up to and through the roof of the building. These lines receive discharge from urinals and water closets that are connected to them.
Typically, they’re vented high above the roof to prevent unpleasant odors. They’re also commonly used to convey waste to a soil drain or sewer that runs under the property.
These pipes are typically sized for the amount of waste they may carry, which is usually measured in fixture units. This means that they’re sized so they can handle the load and have a main cleanout close to where they exit the foundation.
If the stacks are not sized correctly, they can cause clogs and other issues. For this reason, it’s important to have them inspected and cleaned on a regular basis.
It’s also a good idea to have them pumped out regularly, as this can help keep them clean and clear. In addition, it can prevent blockages from forming in the pipe.
When it comes to repairing these pipes, it’s important to be sure that the work is done by a professional. The best way to do this is by hiring a plumber who knows what they’re doing and can make sure the job is done right the first time. This can save you time and money down the road, as it can be expensive to have a repair done improperly.
The Building’s Sewer Pipes
The building’s sewer pipes transport wastewater from the inside of the building to the city’s sewer system. The waste flows from toilets, sinks, bathtubs and other fixtures into a network of vertical pipes called “stacks” that run from the roof of the building all the way down to the main waste line.
These pipes are usually 6-8 inches in diameter depending on the building’s size and have a slight pitch to allow gravity to carry the wastewater down. When a building is new, the stacks will be installed with an automatic sewage pump or an approved backup valve.
Regardless of the building’s age, there are certain things that can cause problems with the sewer pipes. Grease, coffee grounds, and other food items can build up in the sewer lines and eventually form clogs that prevent the wastewater from flowing out properly.
For this reason, it is important to check the sanitary piping in your apartment or condo regularly and to have them inspected by a plumber when necessary. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is best to call a plumber as soon as possible to schedule a service appointment.
Sewer piping should be laid on a firm bed throughout its length to protect it from damage caused by rocks, hard lumps of soil and debris. It should also be protected from freezing temperatures and expected traffic loads.
In older buildings, the piping is often very old and may need repair or replacement. This can lead to a variety of issues such as leaks, sagging, and blockages.
If a blockage is found, it should be removed immediately. This can help to avoid serious health and safety risks and the possibility of a basement backup.
A cleanout shall be installed at each change of horizontal direction greater than 45 degrees in a building sewer or drainage pipe. Where more than one change of direction occurs within 40 feet (12 192 mm) of developed length of piping, the cleanout installed for the first change of direction shall serve as the cleanout for all changes in direction within that length of piping.
The Building’s Water Pipes
Generally speaking, water pipes are installed in buildings to carry water from the main to various fixtures and appliances. They also carry waste and wastewater through the plumbing system of a building. They are made from a variety of materials, such as iron, steel, copper, and plastic.
The most common type of piping is copper, which is malleable and can be bent in many ways. It is also one of the most expensive materials, but can last up to 100 years or more if properly cared for.
Another popular choice is plastic pipe, which is rated for 50-80 years. It is less expensive than copper piping, but it can have a chlorine smell and can crack if it freezes.
Other piping options include ABS, which is a black plastic used for drain lines and vent stacks; CPVC, which can be used for both hot and cold water lines; and PEX pipe, which is an affordable alternative to copper. It is a good choice for new builds and can replace existing piping. It is very easy to install and should not require maintenance for a long time, but if the water in your building starts to smell of chlorine or if you notice a leak, it’s best to have it replaced. The water supply in a building’s plumbing system is very important and should be looked after properly, especially for multi-unit buildings. A single leak in this critical part of a building can result in severe damage and costly repairs.
The Building’s Waste Pipes
A building’s drainage system consists of pipes that convey waste from fixtures like toilets, sinks and showers. These pipes, called waste or drain-waste-vent (DWV) pipes, connect to an underground sewer system via a stack.
DWV systems have venting to maintain proper air pressure in the pipe. The air allows water to flow freely and prevents a vacuum from developing as the sewage runs down the pipe.
There are two main types of waste pipes in a building: soil stacks and drain stacks. Soil stacks receive waste from fixtures like urinals and toilets, while drain stacks transport waste from clean water fixtures such as sinks and showers.
Soil stacks run vertically from the bottom of a building’s basement to the roof gutter. Depending on the purpose of the stack, it may be called a soil pipe, a waste pipe or a vent stack. Stacks are often used in medical buildings due to the need to protect sensitive patients from toxic gases and fumes. They are also often used for refrigeration coils, walk-in freezers and ice boxes that have direct access to the building’s drainage system. The building’s plumbing team will be able to answer any questions about the building’s waste system.