“It’s all pipes and water, right? How much different can it be?”
If you’ve never taken part in the process of commercial construction, you may be a bit surprised by how much commercial plumbing setups differ from residential plumbing. Though many of the same functions exist (toilets, sinks, washing machines, etc.), that may be where the similarities stop. In this piece, we’re going to explore how commercial plumbing requirements differ from residential plumbing environments.

Building & Zoning Code Requirements

Perhaps the easiest place to begin describing the difference between commercial and residential plumbing is in the sphere of codes—specifically plumbing, building, and zoning codes. Many restroom facilities will have immensely different building codes associated with their type of structure—often requiring special commercial plumbing accommodations. Businesses with industrial cleaning machines—such as the laundry department of a hotel or the kitchen for a restaurant— water pressure, temperature, and drainage will have very specific plumbing requirements. Unlike residential plumbing scenarios, most localities require the use of licenced and certified commercial plumbers. This difference alone can dramatically impact the cost of a construction project but is in the best interest of the building owner and maintenance personnel. There are too many variables unique to commercial plumbing situations that are best left to the professionals.

Size of Projects

Unlike a residential plumbing job that may only require the coordination of two or three bathrooms, a kitchen, and washroom at the most, commercial plumbing situations are often vastly more elaborate. One bathroom can contain dozens of fixtures, drains, and an array of piping. Commercial application of said plumbing is also in much higher use than the average residential plumbing environment. When toilets, sinks, and machines are in constant use, this puts an immense amount of stress on a plumbing scenario. Also, many fire-sprinkler systems will have precise water demands for proper functioning. Other variables include several different stories or levels with commercial plumbing requirements. In addition to making sure that all plumbing environments are adequate for a said level of a store or building, commercial plumbing demands that said environment works in tandem with the various other levels above or below them. Gravity also often plays a considerable role in the proper functioning of multi-level commercial plumbing situations, making said knowledge base crucial among commercial plumbers.

Unique Issues for Commercial Plumbing

Commercial plumbing issues can differ greatly from residential plumbing concerns. Though a leaky faucet or a running toilet is no match for your average handyman, a commercial plumbing issue may require the closing of a place of business for a time or can also result in tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Approaching these situations appropriately can be the difference between a remedied plumbing issue and the collapse of a business.

For all of these reasons, it’s essential—often legally—to seek the assistance of a certified commercial plumbing professional when in need of such services.