Plumbing Riser Pipe Repair & Service
Buildings are made to last a very long time with regular maintenance. Problems do arise, and sometimes they can prove difficult and costly to fix. Maintenance and repair costs can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not on the ball. Problems with your building’s plumbing riser pipes can cause massive water damage and make the replacement/repair job much more significant than it could have been if proper maintenance and repairs had been done.
What is a riser pipe?
A riser pipe is a durable metal or plastic pipe which extends from the water supply line to the water heater and up through the walls to deliver water, steam, or gas to the lavatories, kitchens, and plumbing fixtures on the upper floors of a building and branch to up to two higher levels. The system also has backflow preventers act as stop valves to prevent wastewater from contaminating clean water sources.
Sometimes referred to as a riser main, these pipes have an expected lifetime of approximately 40-70 years, depending on their material.
- Galvanized stainless steel pipes last about 50 years
- Brass lasts about 70 years
- Copper K-type piping has an expected lifetime of at least 100 years. (Other types of copper pipes may have a shorter lifespan)
- Plastic pipes (PVC) tend to last 30-40 years (but can last much longer)
High levels of use can lower the life expectancy, so regular maintenance is essential to ensure longevity and avoid costly repairs or replacements.
Metal risers usually have a significantly longer lifespan than plastic, and this is reflected in the cost. Riser replacement or repair can be complicated depending on size, location, and material type. You should consult with your plumbing professional to get pricing. When getting an estimate, make sure you include repairing and replacing any flooring, wall coverings, ceiling, or other aesthetic finishings damaged by the replacement process. You should also consider the downtime the replacement or repair may take, resulting in lost revenue or relocation costs.
When replacing risers, most engineers recommend doing all of them at once. Attaching new risers to old can cause breaks in the line, which end up being even more costly to go back and re-fix. But this can take a lot of time, and the expense in a larger building can be extreme.
Doing what you can to maintain and extend the life of your current risers makes a lot of sense then. Repairing a small riser fault in a commercial building is much quicker, far less disruptive, and can save you a lot of hassle – financial and otherwise.
Using our patented non-invasive ePIPE process to prevent leaks and extend your plumbing system’s life before a leak happens could save you a ton of money. Advantages of using our non-invasive system: pipe size doesn’t matter. It’s quick, comparatively less expensive, and tenants won’t have to be displaced in most cases. Want to know more?
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How to repair a riser pipe
The cost of fully replacing the riser pipes in an entire building can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the building size and how many levels there are. As far as maintenance goes, it can be a considerable investment to make in anticipation of problems. But when those problems can result in major acute flooding cases or -perhaps worse – slow leaks causing damp and rot within walls and ceilings and floors, a wise preventative investment is far more cost-effective.
Ripping out the floors, ceilings, and walls and the loss of revenue in a multi-story building is not something that fills the heart with glee, especially if the building is older and has unique elements such as custom wainscoting and decorative moldings.
How to repair a riser pipe
One way of lessening the upheaval and stress of riser pipe replacement is to replace the more easily accessible sections, leaving the less available lines for relining/repair. Repairing only faulty areas is a cost effective way of elongating the life of your risers. Here’s what to expect:
A full professional inspection will tell you which particular pipes need to be replaced and which would be suitable to be repaired. Plumbing riser diagrams will map the plumbing system to help identify pipe configuration and location.
Determine the location of leaks and the extent of corrosion
Obvious sections with holes, cracks, or severe internal corrosion will likely need to be replaced.
Completely dry the risers
The plumber will use the shutoff valve to turn the building water supply off at the source. The risers need to be drained and completely dried before repairing the riser.
Repair the riser
Our commercial plumbing experts will fix the leak to have your water back in no time.
5 signs of needing a riser replacement
There are several subtle signs that your risers are nearing the end of their life and will need to be replaced. Here’s what to look for:
- Low water pressure,
If your building has gradual water pressure drops, that’s a sign the water supply lines in your plumbing system are beginning to fail. Caused by blockages, cracks, holes, and general age-related thinning of the pipes, a water pressure drop tells you it’s getting harder to get the water through the system. Annual water pressure checks are advisable to detect even the smallest water pressure drop.
- Discolored water
Corrosion and contamination caused by cracks and holes can cause discoloration of the water from plumbing fixtures. This is an urgent sign that there’s a problem with the waterline.
Leaking water can cause damage over time. Even the smallest of drips can ruin entire walls and floors. Discolored ceilings or walls may be signs that a water supply pipe needs repair. If you see visual signs of water staining, it’s time to call in the professional plumbers for help.
- Scalding hot showers
Suppose your lavatory hot water is ample, but the cold water is only running at a dribble, causing water from faucets to be uncomfortably hot. In that case, this could be caused by a leak in your plumbing system.
- Increased water bills
If your water bills have increased for no apparent reason, you should be looking at your riser pipes for an explanation. Leaks will mean water comes in – so you’re getting charged for it – but it’s not getting to where it ought to be. Instead, it’s maybe causing damage somewhere within your property – and you’re paying for it.!
Potential Damage of Not Repairing Riser Pipes
Leaving your damaged water supply pipes to continue to go unrepaired can be catastrophic for your building.
The devastation that can be done by water may involve expensive remodeling to help a building recover. The cost of replacing rotten or water damaged ceilings, floors, walls, and any decorative installations can quickly spiral out of control following an emergency. Add to that, and there is a potential for a loss of revenue and business interruption.
Older riser pipes are a ticking time bomb. When an issue arises, it often affects more than just one small section. If your building is large – and even if it’s not – the cost of repairing water damage can be overwhelming. Having both running water and electricity within a building means that any water pipe issues could affect the power supply. Leaks may mean power to the building may have to be cut for safety reasons until the water issue is isolated and contained, the damage repaired, and the area completely dried.
The pipes in old buildings may be made of lead or have lead fittings, which poses a health hazard to tenants. Our ePipe LeadSmart Lead Protection Plan keeps your building water supply clean and free of toxic heavy metals. Preparing in advance for the upheaval involved with replacing and repairing riser pipes is so much better than having to react to an emergency where significant water damage is done throughout your property.
Call ePIPE now at 800-359-6369 to find out how we can help you with riser pipe replacement and protect your pipes from lead leaching.
Also, our estimates are Free