Condos have complicated plumbing systems. It’s not like your home or a stand-alone commercial property. Condo owners and the building’s manager are each responsible for a separate set of pipes. Also, with so many pipes crisscrossing each other, a plumbing issue in one unit can easily end up affecting several neighbors.
For this reason, many condo owners and managers prefer to work with one plumber for all repairs. Be sure to inquire about your condo building’s tenant rules and regulations before calling a professional to your unit.
Common Plumbing Challenges In Condos
When it comes to plumbing, there are many challenges unique to condo owners. Typically, condo plumbing systems rely on PVC, PEX, or copper piping to carry all clean water into the building from the municipal system. This water goes to all appliances and fixtures including taps, toilets, showers, dishwashers, and washing machines.
Every one of these appliances and fixtures sends dirty water back through a drain line, which connects to a waste stack, carrying everything out of the building. Each of these waste stacks is also connected to a vent, which ensures perfect pressure balance in the plumbing system. This helps all wastewater easily flow out to the main sewer line below the city streets.
It’s a complex system and that’s why it’s sometimes hard to determine who is responsible for fixing a problem: Is it the condo unit owner or the condo building manager? Here’s a look at some of the most common plumbing issues experienced by condo dwellers:
- Clogged Toilets – Every homeowner has experienced this issue at least once. Too much paper or other items being flushed down the toilet can lead to a backup or complete blockage.
- Clogged Drain Lines – Without proper maintenance, you can easily get a clogged drain as hair, soap, grease, and other hygiene products build up over time, restricting the outbound flow of wastewater.
- Frozen Pipes – In Canada’s winter climate, this is a serious and real issue. When the temperature goes below zero, water in your pipes will freeze and expand, causing the pipe to burst. This could result in flooding and thousands of dollars in damages to your condo unit.
- Dripping Taps And Pipework – This is a good time to enlist the service of a professional plumber. Not only does a dripping tap waste a lot of water and run up your utility bill, but if left unfixed, it could cost a lot in property damages.
- Low Water Pressure – Nobody likes low water pressure. This is a very common problem in condo buildings and is usually caused by blocked aerators in your shower.
- Sewage Backups – Sewage backups happen when there are clogs in the sewer line or waste stacks. This issue will often affect more than one unit at a time.
- Corroded Potable Water Pipes – The pipes in a condo endure heavy use. Water pressure and harsh chemicals in the supply can cause cracks, corrosion, leaks, and even blowouts at the joints and seams.
- Dirty Water – After many years, pipes will start to break down and this will lead to dirty water. This is especially common in older buildings. The best thing you can do for your plumbing system is to get regular inspections. It’s vital to ensure that it’s not a collapsed sewage line making your water dirty.
Avoiding Common Condo Plumbing Issues
Plumbing issues in a condo can be so disruptive because many people can be affected at the same time. Many repairs may require the plumber to shut off the water to your unit and several of your neighbors. It’s important to get permission from your property manager so everyone has time to prepare.
Practicing proper maintenance on your plumbing is the best way to avoid issues in the first place. Here are a few things you can do to keep everything in the best condition possible.
- Prevent Frozen and Burst Water Pipes – Condo owners should be very careful through the winter months with the risk of pipes freezing and bursting in the cold. The best form of prevention is to et hot water drip just a little bit. This should generate enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing. Consistent water flow will ensure no ice forms in the pipes. If the pipes freeze and burst in a condo, it should be the building owner/manager’s financial responsibility.
- Find and Fix Leaks In Water Appliances – Condo owners should regularly inspect their water appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. This includes observing the plumbing connections and drains hoses. If you discover any drips or signs of moisture, you should call a professional plumber right away.
- Clean Showerheads To Maintain Water Pressure – Many condo owners complain of low water pressure in their unit, specifically in the shower, but most of the time it’s an easy fix. People will own a showerhead for years without even thinking to clean it. One DIY solution is to put white vinegar in a sandwich bag and slip it over the showerhead, securing it there with a rubber band. Leave it overnight and some debris may be knocked loose by the vinegar’s acidic properties. If that doesn’t work, then of course there could be debris in the water pipe. In this case, it’s time to call a professional plumber.
- Inspect Hot Water Tank For Rust – Condo owners should regularly inspect their hot water tanks for any signs of leaking or appearance of rust. This should be done at least once a year along with a flushing of the system to blast out any built-up dirt and debris. A professional plumber can take care of this during an annual inspection and maintenance visit.
- Install Drain Screens – Many times drains get clogged because of hair and other debris that gets stuck in the trap. These kinds of clogs can even lead to a problem with drain flies! You can easily prevent this by buying a drain screen from any hardware store or dollar store.
Why Condo Systems Are More Complex Than Other Types of Plumbing Systems
Plumbing systems in condos are split into tenant-owned and public pipes. The general rule is that the building’s owner is responsible for the pipes in public areas, while any pipes inside or immediately surrounding the unit are the tenant’s responsibility. It can get messy though because sometimes pipes are shared by two or more units.
Condo plumbing problems can happen quickly and become very expensive to fix. It’s important to regularly inspect and maintain all of your condo unit’s plumbing. Plumbera has been serving GTA condo owners for years, offering unparalleled customer service and a wealth of experience to fix all condo plumbing matters. Call us today for a free consultation. We’re happy to help service all of your plumbing needs.