Whoever said “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” never had to pay a plumber to fix a damaging and expensive problem that could have been avoided with a little preventive care and maintenance. If you own an office building, neglect its plumbing at your peril; that burst pipe that could flood a bathroom in a single-family home could cost you a lot more.
A plumbing disaster that prevents people from using the bathroom, wreaks havoc on the electrical system or requires a building closure (for fire safety reasons) leads to lost productivity, angry employees and, ultimately, fewer renters. So it behooves you to have your commercial building’s plumbing inspected regularly.
The importance of regular plumbing inspections
Hire a professional plumber for regular, annual inspections of your building’s plumbing system. Even if all the toilets, sinks and drinking fountains seem to be working fine, pipe gremlins could be gearing up for an attack.
Cracks, leaks, loose fittings and sediment build-up occur over time and can lead to low pressure, burst pipes and wasted water (that you have to pay for). And it isn’t just incoming city water that you and your plumber need to consider; wastewater pipes and controls that are blocked, cracked or leaking can turn a think tank into a stink tank, not to mention a health hazard.
Inspection of waste removal systems should include an examination of your main sewer line. Tree roots can cause cracks or misaligned joints, and sludge build-up and foreign objects can cause sewage to back up. Full repair of these problems is not cheap if they get worse.
If your business or one of your renters’ businesses rely on water in their daily dealings — a laundromat, for example — regular inspections become even more important. You should encourage (or even require) these types of renters to regularly have a plumber inspect their own pipes, valves and connector hoses for leaks, cracks and corrosion.
Don’t forget your fire suppression system
Don’t forget to include your fire suppression and sprinkler system in your inspection schedule. A professional inspection of your fire suppression system involves checking valves and sprinklers for corrosion or blockage, examining pipes for signs of obstruction, verifying that emergency fire hoses aren’t damaged and testing the system to make sure all is working as it should.
Tenant safety should be enough of an incentive to get your emergency systems inspected, but if it isn’t, this surely is: Imagine the fines and hassle if authorities find that your commercial building falls short of code regulations and local safety ordinances.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound — or, in this case, a gallon — of cure. Small fractures or loose fittings in your plumbing can turn into big, expensive problems if they’re left untreated. Paying a plumber to inspect your plumbing once a year is a small price to pay when you consider the possible catastrophes that could result from neglect.
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