When it comes to plumbing, there are many ins and outs you need to know about residential and commercial solutions. No matter which direction you plan to take your plumbing career, this resource will talk through everything you need to know, including trends and new developments for both residential and commercial plumbing.

Residential Plumbing Definition

Residential plumbing typically covers all kinds of plumbing related to homes and personal residences. This includes the water system, the pipes, sinks, appliances inside the house, and the drain and sewer lines. Residential plumbers also typically work with water heaters and other water-dependent fixtures.

Commercial Plumbing Definition

Commercial plumbers work with plumbing systems for business premises, large housing complexes, and other commercial properties. These typically include more complex faucets, pipes, and appliances, not to mention industrial and commercial water supply and waste removal systems.

What are the differences between residential and commercial plumbing?

Size of the plumbing system

Typically, residential buildings have smaller plumbing systems because fewer people use them throughout the day. Commercial buildings usually have many more people and significantly more plumbing throughout. As a result, commercial plumbing tends to be more durable to deal with the extra usage.

Usage requirements

As mentioned, commercial plumbing tends to get used by significantly more people than residential plumbing since there tend to be more people going through commercial properties. For residential setups, the plumbing, including pipe fitting and outlets, typically needs to fit the requirements of one family only.

The complexity of the plumbing system

While individual plumbing setups can differ from building to building, residential properties tend to have more straightforward arrangements for their plumbing systems, which are relatively simple and easier to navigate, given their smaller building scope. Commercial plumbing setups can be spread across multiple floors, with faucets, urinals, and toilets in various locations, leading to more complex arrangements.

System efficiency

Every plumbing system will be prone to wear, tear, and degradation over time. While residential clients require efficient services, commercial clients typically have a higher demand for their time. As such, plumbers working with either type of client must understand those clients’ needs. When their plumbing isn’t working, more people are waiting to be able to use the bathroom again, so prompt and efficient service becomes even more critical.

Plumbing equipment used

Commercial properties have different plumbing demands from the home, so different types of equipment are likely to be used. This can include the size of pipes and sewer lines, different types of boilers, and other fixtures. Knowledge of the types of plumbing equipment used in each situation is vital. You wouldn’t want to use residential equipment in most commercial buildings, and vice versa.

Water heater differences

One key example of the above difference is the water heaters used in each property type. The storage tanks and gas input levels tend to be higher for heaters designed for commercial settings, providing a lot more hot water than would be necessary for the home.

Plumbing code requirements

Plumbers must ensure that any work they carry out is to the letter of the building codes of the property they are working in. Residential properties typically share the same building codes, even if this differs from area to area. Commercial properties are much more likely to come with special requirements, and plumbers who work with commercial buildings must be more aware of them.

Health and hygiene differences

Just as commercial buildings tend to have more specific building code requirements, they also typically have higher and stricter demands for health care laws. As such, plumbers may have to consider the hygiene of the plumbing systems and how easy they are to clean and drain off to help manage the property’s health.

Likelihood and rate of damage

Commercial plumbing fixtures tend to be built to handle more demand than the typical residential setup, but they are also much more complex, ultimately making them more prone to damage. As such, commercial plumbers often return to the same clients more frequently since new problems are more likely to pop up with the same systems.

Scope of plumbing work

While commercial plumbing setups are more complex, the work that has to be done in them also tends to be more repetitive because of the complexity and size of the plumbing systems required. Residential plumbing can be a little more varied, with different applications used on various sections of the plumbing setup.

Work hours

Many plumbers have plenty of control over their hours, but there are still trends when they work. Residential plumbers often work weekends or evenings to help with emergencies. They do typically stick to standard 9-to-5 weekday hours otherwise. Commercial plumbers typically work more often on weekends, too, as they are called out more routinely when there are no clients to bother.

Nature of professional relationships

Plumbers should strive to form reliable and professional relationships with their clients. However, there is a greater emphasis on personal interactions in residential plumbing. Not only is it essential to manage a good rapport and positive attitude with clients, but many plumbers would also rate it as one of the advantages of being a residential plumber.

Residential vs. commercial plumbing

With the examples above, you should have a much better idea of what makes residential and commercial plumbing different. Many plumbers prefer one or the other as a career focus, but many plumbing services also provide both kinds of plumbing. There are many routes your career can take, even within each of these categories.

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