Plumbing & Cold Water
Plumbing & Cold Water FAQs
What is commercial plumbing?
Commercial plumbing is specialised plumbing work in a commercial business, or in commercial properties. The role of a commercial plumber is to maintain, repair and install larger and more complex systems and services. These can still include systems similar to domestic services, such as boilers, welfare facilities and pipework. However, more complex systems involve work with water supply, waste systems, water pressure and larger scale boiler systems. A commercial plumber will also look into legionella control and monitoring, water chlorination and carrying out water system risk assessments. They will also be able to assist with the design of and modifications to your plumbing and cold water systems.
How can I check for a leak at my commercial property?
Common sources of leaks in a commercial property are similar to the home, and can include welfare facilities such as toilets, dripping taps, showers and radiators, but also pipework from any water systems you have in place. You may also have overflows from water tanks. Most commercial businesses keep a close eye on their water usage, and therefore you can monitor your utility bills to detect signs of higher than normal usage. Your usage may be recorded by a water meter, and hence your readings may be a sign that you have a leak somewhere within your pipework, systems or appliances.
How do I know where my water meter is?
Your commercial water supplier will be able to tell you where this is, and it is important you know its location so you can monitor its readings. Inside a building, the meter is normally fitted close to your internal stop tap, which is likely to be close to basic welfare facilities, so look under any sinks or in the toilet areas.
Outside the property, your meter could be near the boundary of the property, so look around any car parks or any external yards. The meter may be under a grate, so you will need to lift an outer lid.
The meter may also be in a wall-mounted box on the side of your property.
How can I check my water meter?
In a commercial building you need to choose the right time to check your water meter. To make this as accurate as possible you will need to turn off all appliances and systems that are using water.
In a 24/7 industrial environment this may be difficult to time correctly.
You should allow a little time for any tanks to fill up and then make a note of the meter reading. If possible, you should then leave everything off and take a second reading maybe half an hour to one hour later. If no water has been knowingly used in the meantime, this will tell you if you have any leaks.
My commercial property is not on a meter, what could signs of a leak be?
If you don’t have a water meter it is still possible to identify signs that you have a leak, these could be:
- Loss of water pressure
- Signs of rust
- Damp patches on walls or floors
- Mould on ceilings and walls
- A constant noise of flowing water coming from pipework or in other water systems
A leak on the supply pipe outside the property may be the responsibility of your water supplier, so you should contact them. Otherwise, a rapid response commercial plumbing maintenance service, such as Robinsons Facilities Services, will be able to help.
What temperature should cold water be distributed at?
Where practicably possible, the temperature of water within cold water pipes should not be warmed above 25°C and ideally not above 20°C. The warmer water becomes – up to around 40°C – the more risk there is that legionella bacteria will form. A commercial plumbing maintenance service will be able to talk to you about control measures you can put in place to ensure that this temperature is not exceeded.
Why am I not getting any hot water?
Commercial plumbing systems and commercial boilers are much more complex than domestic versions. There could be one of several problems with your boiler, such as low water pressure or defective parts. Your water heater may be malfunctioning, or maybe a high temperature cut-off has been tripped and therefore a reset process needs to be undertaken. It is also possible that the problem is due to a defective thermostat. If you are on a planned preventive maintenance program with Robinsons Facilities Services, we can send out an engineer via our rapid response service and they will be able to detect and solve your problem as soon as possible.
Why is my toilet constantly running?
This could be due to several things:
- The ballcock and float cup in the overflow tube may need adjusting
- The refill tube on the toilet may have moved, this needs to be above the overflow tube
- The fill valve seal may be defective and needs replacing
In all cases your commercial plumbing maintenance service will be able to solve the problem.
Why is my toilet filling slowly?
Sometimes a toilet takes a long time to fill, usually this is because there is a build-up in the fill valve tube. This can be cleared using a wire or a small brush.
If this doesn’t solve the problem or you are not confident about tackling it, your commercial plumbing maintenance service will be able to come out and solve the problem.
I can hear banging noises coming from my water system pipework. What could it be?
Commercial premises often have office sections where the water systems and pipework are similar to that found in a domestic environment. And therefore, the causes of banging noises in pipework can also be the same:
- Faulty ball valves
- Pipes not clipped properly are now loose
- Pipes are vibrating because air is trapped at the stop tap
- The stop tap contains loose-fitting washers
If you are not confident about tackling this, your commercial plumbing maintenance service will be able to come out and solve the problem.
What can affect my water pressure?
Because a commercial property may have several other uses of water as well as a domestic system for offices, it is difficult to specifically state what the incoming water pressure should be.
There may be a number of complex systems installed which can all affect the water pressure. The water pressure can also vary according to the time of day. As a simple control measure you can always ensure your stop tap is fully open, but otherwise, the following can affect the water pressure:
- Obstructed valves
- Low power pumps – either because of a malfunction or it is not designed to be powerful enough for your needs
- Clogging or obstruction from dirt, gravel, sand or other substances
How much water and money does leaking pipework or systems waste?
Of course, this is impossible to accurately estimate without having an intimate knowledge of your building’s water systems. However, your Robinsons Facilities Services plumbing system maintenance engineer may be able to calculate this with you when you identify a leak in your system. As an indicator, a normal tap slowly leaking three drops per minute can add up to approximately 157 gallons of water wasted every year in a domestic setting, so you can use this to perhaps estimate your water wastage on a bigger scale.
Every commercial organisation needs to monitor and control their water usage and Robinsons Facilities Services have water system experts who can work with you to identify problems and design controls to reduce and/or solve them.
What can I do to conserve water in my commercial systems?
There are simple measures you can take to conserve water usage, such as installing a water monitoring system which will identify different rates of usage and allow you to design controls to reduce usage, where possible. You can also put timers on shower flow, restrict toilet flushing and put timers on urinals, you can also restrict the flow of water in showers by installing low-flow showerheads. Other controls really depend on your individual systems and how they are designed, but tankless water heaters are a common form of water conservation which most commercial premises may be able to adopt.
You can work with Robinsons Facilities Services to identify leaks and flaws in the system where excessive water is being used, and then design solutions and maintenance programmes to ensure those controls do their job. Of course you can then monitor your usage to see what affect it has both environmentally and financially for your business.
What qualifications does a Commercial Plumber have?
In the UK, to become fully qualified to be a commercial plumber, you are required to complete and pass a City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 and 3 in Mechanical Engineering Services for Plumbing.
Often, you would train to become a plumber through a plumbing apprenticeship which can be found through trade schools and community colleges. Plumbing apprenticeships provide you with on-the- job and classroom training. These give you the knowledge and skills of installing, maintaining and repairing piping types, systems, tool usage, mathematics, schematic layout reading, plumbing codes, and water distribution.
This training can take between four and five years to complete. And in addition to this, Robinsons Facilities Services plumbing engineers also have Gas Safe accreditation to ensure they are able to work with gas systems such as commercial boilers. Robinsons Facilities Services is also accredited with OFTEC as a registered heating business.
How often does my plumbing system need maintenance?
The key to planned preventive maintenance is making sure your plumbing system is running at optimum efficiency and is as reliable as possible. This guards against unplanned breakdowns and ensures, as far as possible, that your systems are operating to their design specifications and are operating economically in terms of water usage. To ensure all these things, your plumbing system will need maintenance throughout the year at regular intervals, sometimes quarterly. This can only be determined through discussion with a Robinsons Facilities Services plumbing and water systems engineer and agreement between all parties on what maintenance attention your individual system needs.
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