When is the last time you had the plumbing system in your Chicago building inspected for water leaks? For most commercial and large residential buildings the answer may be months or years ago minus a few repairs for obvious water leaks. The truth is that large buildings in Chicago should have their plumbing systems inspected for leaks and partial or full clogs at least once a year and preferably twice a year for buildings that have heavy water usage. Having your Chicago building’s plumbing system inspected twice a year can catch common problems, including, pinhole leaks, running toilets, leaking faucets and problems with drain and sewer lines before they cause a catastrophe. Here are some of the common water problems we diagnose and repair in the commercial and multi-story residential buildings in the greater Chicago area.
1. Leaking and/or Running Toilets
In large commercial buildings and multi-unit tenant buildings leaking and running toilets can be a huge problem. According to the EPA, a single leak that drips once per second can waste as much as 3,000 gallons a year. When toilets leak or run continuously due to a problem with the handle or flapper, they can waste much more, and it may not be obvious because once the towel bowl fills with a certain amount of water, it releases the water down the drain. For this reason, it’s very important to check toilets in large buildings regularly and if they are running or leaking, they should be repaired by a licensed plumber in Chicago.
2. Pinhole Leaks in Water Lines
Most plumbing pipes are designed to last between 40 and 70 years with a few exceptions. If the plumbing pipes in your building are several decades old, you may have many pinhole leaks in your water supply system, especially if you have copper, galvanized steel or brass pipes and fittings. Since modern buildings and most older buildings have been built or renovated to hide plumbing pipes inside the walls, these leaks may not be obvious until you start seeing water spots on ceilings, floors and walls. For this reason, it’s important to be vigilant. If you notice a dramatic increase in your water bill or low pressure in some or all of your building, you could have hidden water leaks. If you do suspect that your plumbing system has water leaks that are affecting the pressure and your water bills, you should have your plumbing system inspected by one of our licensed plumbers in Chicago so that leaks can be located and repaired.
3. Low Water Pressure
There are many causes of low water pressure. The most common reason is having numerous leaks in the plumbing system. When a leak occurs, water leaves the system, which reduces the water pressure, and for each leak in the system, the water pressure is further reduced. This means that the apartments, condos or co-op units closest to the beginning of the water supply may not see any pressure drop, but units further down the system may notice a dramatic decrease in water pressure.
High rise buildings can also have water pressure problems on the upper floors. This is because the water is fighting gravity while it climbs the building’s pipes. If your Chicago building is only experiencing low water pressure on the upper floors, it could be due to failed water pumps or a failure in the water tank on the roof. Thankfully, our professional, licensed plumbers in Chicago can diagnose low water pressure and implement the correct repairs.
4. Faucet Leaks
Over time faucets wear out and start to drip. Most commonly, this is caused by the rubber gaskets wearing out due to lime or calcium buildup or rot. Since a single faucet dripping one drip per minute can waste 34 gallons of water per year, it’s important to visually inspect all the faucets in your building regularly and have any dripping faucets repaired or replaced.
5. Hot Water Heater Temperature Problems
Water heaters, like the other parts of your plumbing system, wear out over time. This can be due to failures with the thermostat or sediment that is causing hot spots in the water heater and a degradation of the heating elements. If you start getting complaints about hot water that isn't as hot as it should be or hot water that runs out faster than normal and takes a long time to replenish, it’s time to call one of our professional plumbers in Chicago. In many instances, the entire water heater does not need to be replaced. Instead, certain components, like the thermostat and heating elements can be replaced, which restores the water heater’s function for less cost than replacing the entire water heater.
6. Clogged Drain Lines
Clogged drain lines occur because of improper items being rinsed down the lines or flushed down toilets. For large commercial, office and residential buildings, it’s important to inform everyone on which items can be safely put down drains and which items should be put in the trash. Forbidden items that should never be poured down drains or flushed down toilets include grease, oil, lard, eggshells, coffee grounds, wet wipes, facial tissues, cat litter and pet waste and meat trimmings, and this is true even for sinks that have garbage disposals. When forbidden items are put down the drain lines, especially grease, oil and paper products that aren’t toilet paper, they tend to get stuck in the pipes inside the building. Once items get stuck to the pipe walls, those items collect more garbage, which results in a partial or full clog of the drain line.
In order to avoid drain line clogs, it’s a good idea to send a pamphlet around to every employee and/or resident to remind them about proper drain usage. For businesses that want to be even more vigilant, they can have preventative maintenance performed on their drain lines that involves hydrojetting them at least once a year. Hydrojetting drain lines on a predetermined schedule helps remove full and partial clogs and cleans the lines of any debris that could result in future clogs.
7. Frequently Clogging Sewer Lines
The sewer lines that run from your building to the street are prone to clogging with various types of waste and even tree roots. While there may not be much you can do about tree and plant roots, other than remove the offending greenery, there is something you can do about waste clogging the lines. Like drain lines, sewer lines are prone to becoming clogged due to improper items being poured down drains and flushed down toilets. This is because even if the items clear the lines in the building, they can stop moving in the drain line, which can result in full and partial clogs as well as sewer back-ups. Keeping your residents informed of drain-friendly practices and having your sewer lines hydrojetted once or twice a year can help prevent sewer line clogs and sewage back-ups in your building.
8. Clogged Parking Lot Drains
Do your parking lot drains frequently backup during heavy storms? If they do, they could be clogged with leaves, twigs and trash. Your building’s parking lot drains are connected to the city’s stormwater system, which means stormwater should flow easily down the drains and into the stormwater system. If it’s not, then there’s a good chance your parking lot drains are clogged with debris. Here at Althoff, we recommend having your storm drains hydrojetted in the spring and at the end of the fall season after all the leaves have fallen. This preventative maintenance will help prevent backed up parking lot drains and flooding on your property.
Chicago Plumbing Pipe Repairs and Preventative Maintenance with Althoff
At Althoff, we have professional licensed plumbers that can perform all your plumbing pipe maintenance and repair tasks, including repairing and replacing faucets, toilets, showerheads and hot water heaters. We can also repair plumbing pipe leaks, replace pipes and hydrojet drain and sewer lines in order to prevent and clear clogs.
For more information on our plumbing services in Chicago and to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 800-225-2443.