5 Most Common Commerical Plumbing Issues

Family Dog Dressed in Plumber Uniform

Commercial Plumbing Issues:

Making sure your facilities plumbing is running smoothly is often not at the top of a business owner’s priority list until something goes wrong. From Sewer smells to faucet leaks, here are our top 5 common commercial plumbing problems and tips to help you identify the problem early or help prevent them from happening.

Clogged Drains

Although clogged drains are not the most common service call, they are always a big headache for business owners. When drains are clogged, the drain contents will often back up from drains onto the floor.

This backup is most common in restaurant kitchens. There are no great DIY solutions to prevent FOG buildup. The best way to avoid these kinds of backups is with preventative maintenance (PM) Hydro-Jetting.

Food waste, rags, garbage bags, cups, straws, even cell phones; we have found every item imaginable down a floor sink. If the floor sink’s P-Trap is close enough, you may be able to use an extended grabber tool to pull some of these items out of the floor sink—however, the best way to prevent these clogs is floor sinks strainers. Floor sink strainers are placed inside of the floor sink and will collect any debris before they enter the line. If the trash has passed the P-Trap, a cable machine or hydro-jetter may be used to clear the line.

Cast Iron Pipes have been used in plumbing since the 17th century and are becoming obsolete – for good reasons. Cast iron pipe corrodes over time. Water constantly running through them will corrode a channel that eventually breaks through to the earth below. Oxidation will slowly cause the cast iron to chip away until nothing is left. If you have cast iron pipes, it’s best to address them immediately before they become a problem. It is only a matter of time before they cause an expensive emergency. Cast iron can be pipelined or completely repiped with PVC, and regular preventative maintenance can reduce the clogs they cause until proper repairs can be made.

Floor Sinks without strainer
Example of floor sink strainer

Foul Odors

Foul odors in your business can give a terrible impression to your guests. However, if there is an unpleasant odor in your facility, there are a few things that you can do yourself to help narrow down where these odors are coming from and likely eliminate them yourself.

Floor drains that do not have water running through them will start to smell as the p-trap empties due to the water evaporating. A p-trap holds a small amount of water to trap sewer gasses in the line; when it empties, the sewer smell will exit the drain. You can quickly fix this yourself, fill a bucket with water and pour it down the drain (it’s that easy).

The drain line may develop a crack or break, which can cause sewage smells to leak out either below the facility or inside. Smoke testing can identify this leak, and repairs can be made there.

Wax rings are used to seal the connection of the Toilet to the drain. If the wax ring is installed incorrectly or over time, the ring will wear down, and sewage can leak out underneath the Toilet.

Toilet Problems

From running toilets to continuous clogged toilets, this plumbing fixture can cause many headaches. To help prevent your Toilet from becoming an issue, here are a few of the leading causes of toilet plumbing problems.

Toilet clogs are one of the most common toilet issues, and typically you will be able to solve these yourself with a plunger. However, we find many of our clients have been suffering from constant toilet clogs and have resigned themselves to this issue before calling us. There are many solutions to constantly clogging toilets, ranging from Hydro-jetting to installing toilet tanks meant for higher volume use.
Pro Tip: Some clogs your business is experiencing may be caused by guests flushing paper towels meant to dry hands in the Toilet rather than the trash. Making sure garbage cans are easily accessible or upgrading to hand dryers can be great options to help reduce these clogs.

This issue is typically due to the inside assembly of the Toilet. Running toilets should take care of as soon as it’s noticed as this is typically the toilet tank constantly filling with water, leading to higher water usage and more costly water bills.

Our commercial client’s broken toilet handles are typically caused by guests using their feet to flush the Toilet. If this is a constant problem in your facility, the best solution is to upgrade the restrooms to sensor flush systems.

Water Issues

All plumbing fixtures, one way or another, rely on water to function correctly. The water temperatures being scolding hot or low water pressure can cause many problems in a business’s ability to function properly.

 If the water pressure is low at one faucet, but you find the water pressure to be fine at another, a clogged aerator may be the cause. A faucet aerator is a device that is placed on the end of the faucet spout. The aerator uses a mesh screen to break up the water flow. This reduces splashing by controlling the direction and flow of the water through the spout. Unfortunately, the mesh screens inside the aerator can become clogged with debris and need to be cleaned out. You may be able to remove and clean the aerators yourself by unscrewing them from the spout. (Note: Sometimes, the aerators require a key to unscrew.)
If the water pressure issues are throughout the building, this can be a sign of a more serious problem and will have to be inspected by a plumber to find the best solution.

There is a wide range of reasons your facility’s water may be too hot or too cold. You may find that cold water comes out when you first turn on the hot water tap in the morning or if the faucet hasn’t been used in a while. This is typically caused by the hot water running to the faucet has been in the line too long and has gone cold. Run the tap for a few minutes, and the hot water should return. If the water continues to pour out cold or, multiple faucets are experiencing this issue, this is a sign of water heater problems. This does not always mean the whole water heater has gone bad and needs replacement. The water heater settings can be adjusted, the wiring can be repaired, or other parts can be replaced to restore the water heater to proper working order.

Alexis Tompkins

Alexis Tompkins

Project Coordinator - At Versa Drain, we love to share our passion and expertise, which is why I enjoy finding time to write these articles to help you find "Your choice for the right fix."

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