Residential plumbing isn’t always just about homes: there are apartment buildings that require adequate plumbing and sometimes installing pipes in that situation can be very challenging. This situation presents issues surrounding how to ensure all floors have equal water pressure, how to make sure all floors have equal distribution of water, how to save water, how to most efficiently get the water to the upper floors when gravity is working against it and so on. Here are some things to consider when laying pipes in a high-rise building.
Pressure Reducing Valves
These are usually only installed on the first few floors because as water moves up the pressure will drop naturally thanks to gravity, but these might not actually be needed with a system that matches the needs of the building accurately. They come in different quality levels, like most products, however a lot of buildings don’t use the highest quality in an effort to save time and money. What this means is that they wear down quicker, they have a lot more leaks and will experience significant pressure differentials.
Pipes have different categories with regards to the amount of pressure they can withstand, and a high-rise building’s water system should take into account these various types of pipes and determine which are appropriate for this building. The system designed should be looking at the minimum pressure needed for the fixtures on the highest floor of the building and then ensure that at least the pressure is maintained, especially during peak hours like 7 – 9 am and 5 – 7 pm. However, they also need to consider the maximum pressure amount for the fixtures on the lower floors. The ultimate goal is to ensure the fixtures on the top floor have enough pressure and those on the bottom floors don’t have too much so that the water is distributed equally among all floors in the building.
Most high-rise buildings have full time, or at least part time, maintenance staff. It is really important that these staff have experience and training in the problems of plumbing with high-rise buildings. If the owner cannot hire full time staff with this experience it is strongly recommended to outsource the tasks to a company with experience who can monitor the water system and recommend maintenance before the issue becomes too big. If staff don’t have proper training and attempt to fix a problem they can actually make it worse and end up causing bigger problems.
While, in theory, it is water in and water out what some forget to account for is that with drainage comes a considerable amount of air in the pipes. What’s more is that not all pipes will drain vertically; some, due to design or even lack of space, will drain horizontally but when that happens the rate of drainage significantly decreases so design should take that into consideration when working on the architecture of the building and to make sure everything will drain properly and safely from the building.
It is a building code that all high-rises must have a working sprinkler system on all floors. These systems are effective in preventing damage and saving lives but the number of sprinklers needed, location and coverage are all dependent on building size. In addition to that, high-rise buildings often have a dedicated pump for just that system to ensure the right amount of pressure and flow is provided when the system is needed. It’s important when designing a water system for a high-rise to keep this system in mind when placing equipment and thinking about the required allotted space.
High-rise buildings are home to many people, and they are very common in large cities where living space is harder to find. High-rises come with their own unique set of challenges when it comes to designing a water system where all residents get equal water distribution both in temperature and amount, and one that meets all building code. When gravity is working against the design, accurate pressure and flow is pivotal to ensure all residents are happy and their fixtures work the same.