Differences Between Residential and Commercial Plumbing

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Common sense tells us that everything can happen anytime and anywhere. Therefore, it is vital to be proactive and to prevent as many issues as you can, primarily if it depends on you.

During the building process, the design includes information about plumbing, which is the essential system each building should have. Even though we do not think about it, the differences between commercial and residential plumbing are significant.

In both your office and home, you require running water, but let us understand the differences between residential and commercial plumbing services, which will help us get into it.  

The Biggest Differences

In both cases, plumbing is plumbing, and we cannot say that there are differences between them. However, installing them in the commercial building compared with households tends to fulfill the same primary function and uses the same material.

Even though technicians tend to specialize in both residential and commercial plumbing, generally, it requires more experience and knowledge to handle commercial plumbing projects.

Commercial plumbing is much more complicated than residential because installations come from a project design phase. Since both piping and fixtures need to be embedded in floors and doors, that is the only option left.

We can state the three essential differences each technician should consider when differentiating residential from commercial plumbing projects. 

Let us start from the most obvious one:


  • Size


The collective knowledge tells us that commercial buildings are more substantial and more significant than residential. From apartment complexes to office buildings and retail buildings, all these structures require a proper plumbing system.

Since numerous people tend to use and occupy them, they require more outlets and pipes for toilets and sinks. Generally, it means that increased demand by customers and employees can result in more emergencies and repairs.

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At the same time, commercial buildings require larger pipes since they need more water for more occupants than a household with five family members does.


  • Floors


Having multiple floors causes another difference between residential and commercial plumbing because each level requires it. Generally, in commercial buildings, all smaller water lines or branch lines tend to go from one broad mainline.

Besides, branch lines can reach up to twelve and to forty floors, which is why it is vital to consider gravity as the factor. Water pressure has to be keen to push the water one hundred meters high so that the entire system could operate properly.

The pipes are different from the ones used in residential plumbing because commercial buildings require large industrial piping to accommodate more people.

At the same time, plastic pipe is prohibited in commercial construction because it does not react appropriately to high temperatures.

Commercial buildings instead use stainless steel, copper, and PEX materials due to their resistance to corrosion and durability. 


  • Repairs and Maintenance


Since most buildings operate during the business hours, the services and repairs are limited only in particular moments during the night or day. 

Most of them come with managers that are handling the repairs and not everything else, which means that the owner, will be around for each repair and problem.

That is the main reason why plumbers must communicate with other managers to determine the issues and handle the problems during the repairs. At the same time, these buildings come with significant insurance policies, which is something plumbers should consider.

When it comes to the design of plumbing systems, high-rise construction and design come with a wide array of challenges, especially for the waterline. The high-rise or multi-story buildings that are too tall require a proper water supply and pressure similar to other parts.

That is the main reason why their venting systems and sanitary drainage designs have to meet particular requirements. The biggest problems and issues that happen to high buildings is the inability to handle pressure and drainage.


  • Water Pressure


In both residential and commercial plumbing systems, pressure can be both foe and friend depending on the situation. Generally, firm pressure is required to push the water to higher floors, but it can cause excessive pressure at the bottom.

The best way to solve this particular problem is by implementing pressure reducing valves and creating pressure zones that will branch from the upper floors and go down. 

As you can see, the commercial buildings tend to be highly complex and require a skilled plumber that needs to think about a wide array of issues that may happen.

In residential buildings, if the single toilet is not working, you can use the one. However, that is not the case with commercial buildings in which a single problem can affect numerous people.

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  • Venting


The common misconception is the idea that the plumbing system requires air venting and drainage process so that things could run smoothly. 

Generally, the air is vital for the overall drainage process because the flow is going through slopped pipes, and it uses gravity as the main force.

Therefore, without proper airflow, you will have to deal with slow drain performance, which will cause sound in the piping and fixtures. It is essential to create a proper ventilation system, which is connected with the water system, especially in 20+ story buildings.

While handling high-rises, both vent and drainage stack should allow the equalization of pressure as well as relief on the other parts. Apart from relieving the pressure, the vent system will let the air circulate next to fluctuating flow

In numerous vent designs, you have to place stacks horizontally on each flow, which is why you need to implement a relief vent as well. Only proper venting will ensure that you avoid letting anything toxic and hazardous within the sewer line and drain.


  • Drainage


Finally, drainage issues tend to happen in commercial buildings because it is challenging to create proper and long-standing water pressure on a big scale. As a result, negative pressure can enter the venting system.

Of course, at both residential and commercial plumbing, every fixture should have its drain line, which will intersect with the main one. Water has to travel a lot before reaching the removing process at high buildings.

That could lead to drainage issues and clogs, which means that plumber should create a perfect design beforehand.