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What is Commercial Plumbing?
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Plumbing 10/3/18

What is Commercial Plumbing?

When speaking about the plumbing industry, there are two major differences in types of plumbing: new construction and service & repair. Both new construction and service & repair plumbing can be applied to different types of properties, typically commercial or residential.

Commercial plumbing relates to buildings such as hospitals, hotels, small and large businesses, multi-family units, high-rise office, and residential spaces. While plumbing typically functions the same in commercial, business, and residential spaces, there are vast differences in plumbing use, potential problems, as well as the types of plumbing fixtures and piping involved.

Commercial Plumbing Use

Perhaps the biggest difference between residential plumbing and commercial plumbing is the amount of demand for plumbing systems. Commercial spaces such as high-rise office buildings and medical facilities are in constant use. Drains and fresh water plumbing systems are in high use and require much more maintenance and care. Where residential homes should invest in annual maintenance and plumbing check-ups commercial spaces rely on a daily overview of what is happening.


In multi-story buildings and medical facilities, drain use, flushing toilets, and water use see thousands of people each day. While the buildings would be built with more industrial grade and heavy-duty materials, common drain clogs are still an issue, especially when it is more challenging to control what building tenants and visitors may flush. With multiple story building, it is also important to tackle drain repairs with more caution. For example, snaking a lavatory sink on the tenth floor of a building can potentially cause damage down the line or “stack.” Many companies, including Bill Howe, have strict policies on snaking common lines in a multiple story building. The policy requires checking down the line for every snaking. It is important to ensure that the plumber is not pushing a clog down into another line. This could lead to flooding, and if it is not checked could end up in costly damages.

If leaks or overflows happen, it is also more likely they will go unnoticed longer than in-home use. After all, tenants and our customers are not responsible nor looking for possible plumbing problems when using facilities. Most commercial spaces have facilities managers on site to routinely check on possible plumbing problems.

Water Lines

In a home, if a water line is leaking, homeowners will most likely notice signs of change in water pressure or a leak, even if it is a slow one. Hearing water running or seeing signs of moisture are two big signs. In a heavily trafficked commercial space, it is harder to pinpoint possible water leaks inside of the walls. By the time a leak is noticed, it may have caused damage, not only to the area around the leaking pipe but possible to units or spaces below.

Water Heaters

Residential water heating can be achieved with a standard storage tank style heater and tankless or on-demand style water heaters. These can be used in both natural and/propane gas, as well as electrical applications. What differs greatly from commercial building spaces is the size, placement and most often, commercial spaces have many water heaters servicing different applications.

Most office buildings do not require water heating for purposes such as showering, and may not have a traditional water heater. Rather, they use instant-hot water heaters in office kitchens and bathrooms for hot water.

Large condominiums, hotels, and multi-use spaces have large boilers or Ray-Pak systems that require specialized knowledge and experience. And in the hospital and medical facilities, it is especially important to have the right water heating equipment for patient safety and sterilization purposes.

When a water heating problem occurs in a commercial space, it may not be as simple as repairing a water line or replacing a single 40-gallon storage tank heater and requires the commercial plumber to keep services for the occupants of the commercial building while repairing the plumbing problem.

Service & Repair Professionals

It is important when choosing plumbers for commercial space, that facilities managers and owners ensure the commercial plumbing company they choose is experienced in Uniform Plumbing code and the unique needs of all commercial spaces including hospitals and medical facilities, multiple story condominium units, and business use buildings.

Commercial plumbers should be fully licensed and insured and will offer solutions to the many challenges commercial spaces face when dealing with major plumbing.

Building Maintenance

Bill Howe Plumbing recommends to homeowners that an annual maintenance and overall plumbing checkup should be performed by a licensed professional. During residential maintenance, items to check include water pressure, active and past leaks, plumbing fixtures, and testing drain lines.

Commercial spaces should also have routine plumbing maintenance, but depending on the building use, maintenance should occur more frequently. Most commercial facilities managers have in-house maintenance teams to check on daily problems and oversee the general health of the building. In these cases, a professional commercial plumbing maintenance visit twice a year is a good timeline to follow. For buildings that do not have the on-site personnel, owners should consider scheduling a quarterly maintenance visit. Because commercial properties plumbing sees a more excessive use on a regular basis, the potential for plumbing problems increases. Also, commercial spaces may not be 24 hours, and if a plumbing problem, such as a burst shut off valve, or even a slow water leak occurs, it could go unnoticed for days. An unattended leak not only increases the cost and time to make a plumbing repair, but it can also lead to major water damage that will require extensive remediation and incur higher costs than if it were either prevented or caught before the damage becomes major.

Bill Howe has been an expert commercial plumbing repair company since beginning in 1980. Starting as the premier plumbing company for local property management teams, Bill Howe Plumbing has the expertise to handle any commercial plumbing repair and service, no matter how small or how large. Plus, Bill Howe offers expert water damage remediation with Bill Howe Restoration & Flood.

With one phone call to Bill Howe at 1-800-245-5469, commercial owners, facilities managers, and maintenance teams can rely on the highest quality service and repair form a team of certified and trained commercial plumbers.


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What David says about us

Service for new garbage disposal. My ancient garbage disposal quit working, went online to get Bill Howe’s number, immediately received and accepted chat to describe my needs. Prompt call back to schedule an appointment, service tech Allen was out same morning, which was important to fit my work schedule. Job estimate was clear, work done fully to my expectations, area left clean, and price was very fair.
I was not surprised — I have used Bill Howe plumbers for several other tasks in the past. I have always found their staff to be helpful, attentive, and the plumbers very courteous and capable.

January 2020


What Michelle says about us

I have been using Bill Howe since the late 1980’s, their service has always been excellent, plumbing, heating and restoration. I am most impressed by the integrity of their employees, not only do they know their work/skill, they do not waste time, they are so efficient, they are so helpful and they are a true “service”!

February 2020


What Mira says about us

Bill Howe never fails us! We had a drain overflow, and Scott came (on a Saturday) to look at it and offer solution. He was punctual, professional, and extremely helpful. I should also praise the main office for always being helpful and always finding solutions. Very grateful to have you in San Diego!

February 2020

Restoration & Flood

What Ed Gohlich says about us

Cory was our technician on this job. We had a time sensitive repair issue and Bill Howe understood and assisted with getting the job done quickly.
Cory was on time to start the job and finished it quickly. Upon his leaving our home he’s was courteous, very knowledgeable, explaining what the problem was and how he fixed it. Very good communication and this is the way it’s has always been when we use Bill Howe plumbing.
Great company to work with.
Thanks Cory.

August 2019

Heating & Cooling

What Eric says about us

I had a shower that would not drain. The employee arrived on time and fixed the problem quickly and effectively at a very fair price. I was very happy with everything. Thank you and I highly recommend your plumbing service.

January 2019


What Bridgett says about us

I am extremely happy with the service we received from Bill Howe Plumbing. We were given an incorrect diagnosis of our main sewer line from another vendor, but Bill Howe’s servicemen came out for a second opinion, correctly diagnosed our problem and resolved our back up issues. We will continue to use Bill Howe for all our future plumbing needs!

Thank you Bill Howe Plumbing.

July 2019