If we quizzed you right now about your condo plumbing, how much could you tell us?
Most condo dwellers—and condo corporation employees—know very little about how the condo plumbing system works within the building or how the system gets shared between units.
It’s not until a water line bursts and floods a unit or a toilet overflows or nasty wastewater backs up into the sink that people give their plumbing a second thought.
Check out our quick guide to your condo plumbing system. This information is valuable and could save you money and trouble!
Here’s How Your Condo Plumbing System Works
All plumbing systems utilize drain pipes and separate pressurized pipes that carry potable water from the municipal system. This water travels into your unit through fixtures like the sinks, showers, bathtubs, washing machine, dishwasher, and toilet.
Drainage systems are similar, funnelling wastewater from your unit through sewer pipes destined for a municipal wastewater treatment plant.
Drain Pipes and Potable Water Pipes Remain Completely Separate
It’s called potable water because it’s clean, and wastewater must be kept entirely separate from potable water lines.
That’s also why building codes require condominiums to install backflow valves in plumbing systems. These valves are a safety feature to keep wastewater or treated water (in swimming pools or hot tubs) from contaminating fresh potable water.
Plumbing Systems Are the Same, But Condo Plumbing Is More Complex
All unit holders share a condominium plumbing system, but when pipes burst, clogs occur, or leaks happen, someone has to pay for a repair, and it’s often difficult to trace where the problem begins and ends.
That’s why most condo plumbing systems feature “public” pipes and “tenant-owned” pipes like those directly behind the walls in your unit. All public pipes are maintained and serviced at cost by a condominium corporation.
While tenant-owned pipes are a unit holder’s responsibility, a condo plumbing system can get more complex. This is because most condo plumbing systems are designed so that several units share a section of the public pipes.
Pro tip: Make sure your condo has a detailed schematic of the plumbing system available to know who’s responsible for the pipes around your unit.
Most Common Plumbing Issues in a Condominium
In condo plumbing systems, some problems tend to be more common. Knowing who is responsible for what is your best defence when any issues arise.
Here are plumbing problems that happen most frequently in condo units:
Most Common Plumbing Issue in a Condo #1. Drains Get Clogged
A drain line usually clogs close to the surface of a plumbing fixture, but sometimes, a more serious clog happens in the waste stack or even the main sewer line in a condo plumbing system.
A clogged sink, toilet, or shower is the unit holder’s responsibility. Still, a more severe clog in the main sewer line or waste stack should be under the condo corporation’s jurisdiction.
Most Common Plumbing Issue in a Condo #2. Potable Water Pipes Get Corroded
Water pipes don’t last forever, and corrosion will eventually occur in older condo plumbing systems.
When problems arise in the condo’s potable water system, the pipes generally rust and may crack at the seams or joints, or the system may even experience a blowout.
Corroded pipes may become a problem within your unit, and they’re usually the unit holder’s responsibility. Still, corrosion within public bathrooms or the kitchen in the party room is generally the corporation’s problem.
Most Common Plumbing Issue in a Condo #3. Broken Pipes Get Leaky
Lines can eventually leak into a condominium’s potable water and drainage systems.
Broken pipes can be costly to repair, so watch out for signs of a problem before it gets worse. If your unit smells musty or foul, you see water spots on the walls or even find black mould, contact a pro plumber to troubleshoot.
The corporation should cover any leaky spots within the condo’s common areas. But if you notice low water pressure in your unit, it’s good to call in a plumber because shared pipes are generally the unit holders’ responsibility.
Sewers Get Backed Up
A backed-up sewer is the nastiest of problems experienced by any homeowner, and when a clogged waste stack or main sewer line happens in a condo, many units can get affected.
The corporation should cover a clog in the main sewer line or waste stack, but a pro plumber will evaluate clogs between shared units to determine who covers the cost.
Dr. Pipe Drain and Plumbing Services Cares About Your Condo Plumbing
We can diagnose and repair plumbing issues in your condo before a costlier problem happens. One of our techniques is pipelining, which lines your plumbing system with an epoxy coat to seal small leaks and prevent more serious corrosion.
Our troubleshooting and repair process is designed to extend the life of your condo plumbing system without damaging your fixtures or drywall.
For more information, contact one of our friendly and helpful plumbers at
416 663 4777!