Proper Piping Materials for Commercial Building Applications

The plumbing system of a commercial building plays a crucial role in its functioning. Suppose an inappropriate piping material is chosen during construction. IIf such a situation arises, it could give rise to issues with the plumbing system, potentially causing delays in production or posing considerable risks to the health and safety of the individuals occupying the building. Therefore, regardless of the building’s size, design, or purpose, the commercial plumbing contractor must choose the most proper piping materials for commercial building applications.

Differences Between Residential and Commercial Plumbing Systems? Do They Affect The Piping Material?

Differences Between Residential and Commercial Plumbing Systems

Transferring skills from residential to commercial plumbing is a complex process for a contractor. Commercial plumbing projects are generally larger and more intricate, requiring specialized knowledge and expertise. Although a technician with residential plumbing experience can learn to service a commercial building relatively faster than a homeowner with limited plumbing skills, the complexities and scale of commercial projects necessitate additional training and understanding.

Construction contractors should be aware that commercial plumbing systems are significantly larger in scale compared to residential systems. 

Office buildings, retail establishments, and high-rise structures are designed to accommodate a larger number of individuals compared to a typical residential home.

Consequently, these commercial buildings require larger pipes that span multiple floors. Contractors may be responsible for installing branch lines extending as high as 40 or more floors to meet the plumbing needs of these structures.

Furthermore, technicians must know the distinctions between plumbing codes for residential and commercial buildings. For instance, using PVC piping for above-ground drains is typically prohibited in commercial settings, with copper or stainless steel pipes being the preferred alternatives.

Additionally, contractors should recognize that property owners are likely absent during repairs or maintenance work. Therefore, they need to communicate effectively with different individuals using various methods and be familiar with specific building policies and protocols.

Types of Piping Materials That Are Suitable for Commercial Buildings

Types of Piping Materials That Are Suitable for Commercial Buildings

A diverse range of piping materials is available in commercial facilities, and the choice of material depends on the specific application. Some of the commonly used types of pipes include:

Copper Piping Materials for Commercial Buildings

Copper pipes are an excellent choice for buildings that require durable, corrosion-resistant, and pressure-resistant piping. They are well-suited for various applications, including hot and cold water systems, underground service conduits, and refrigerant lines. Copper pipes offer exceptional performance and reliability. However, it is essential to note that copper pipes can be relatively expensive compared to other piping materials.

As a result, the suitability of copper pipes may depend on the specific budget constraints of the project.

Copper Piping Material for Commercial Buildings

PVC Piping for Commercial Plumbing System

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, a versatile material commonly used in various commercial applications. PVC pipes are particularly well-suited for indoor projects and drainage applications.

While they may not withstand extreme heat or UV light exposure, they offer several advantages. PVC pipes are durable, flexible, lightweight, and cost-effective. These qualities make them a popular choice for many commercial projects where durability and cost-efficiency are essential factors to consider.

PVC Piping for Commercial Plumbing System

CPVC Piping Materials for Commercial Buildings

CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipes are an alternative for plumbing systems. These pipes offer a lower-cost option while providing enhanced capabilities compared to standard PVC pipes. CPVC pipes can withstand higher temperatures and pressures, making them suitable for water and water supply applications.

However, it is crucial to be aware that both PVC and CPVC pipes are not ideal for freezing temperatures as they are susceptible to cracking when exposed to extreme cold conditions. Therefore, proper insulation or alternative materials should be used where freezing temperatures are a concern.

CPVC Piping Material for Commercial Buildings

Stainless Steel Piping 

Property owners often prioritize stainless steel pipes when corrosion resistance is a significant concern, and they seek the reliability of robust piping systems. Stainless steel is known for its exceptional corrosion resistance properties, making it an excellent choice in environments where corrosion is a potential issue.

It is important to mention that stainless steel is a piping material that tends to be relatively costly.

As a result, it is less commonly used in commercial plumbing projects, where cost considerations often play a significant role. Nonetheless, as budget constraints allow, stainless steel pipes can be preferred when durability and corrosion resistance are paramount.

Stainless Steel Piping 

Brass Piping Material

Due to their rust and corrosion resistance, Brass pipes are popular for hot and cold water supplies in commercial facilities. Brass is known for its durability and longevity, making it suitable for long-term use in plumbing systems. Additionally, brass pipes are easier to thread compared to stainless steel pipes, which can simplify the installation process. The combination of corrosion resistance, longevity, and ease of threading makes brass pipes one of the proper piping materials for commercial plumbing applications.

Brass Piping Material - O Plus Plumbing Inc. | Leading Plumbing, Plumber & Drain Company in The Greater Toronto Area - Professional Plumbing & Drain In Toronto and GTA

Cast-Iron Piping Materials for Commercial Plumbing Systems

Cast-iron piping or ductile iron pipes are extremely well-suited for applications that involve high pressures and the transportation of large volumes of liquid. This makes them an excellent choice for sewer lines and water distribution systems in commercial facilities.

These pipes possess excellent strength and durability, allowing them to withstand the demands of such applications.

In addition to their pressure-bearing capabilities, ductile iron pipes offer other advantages. They are resistant to fire, providing an added level of safety in commercial settings. Furthermore, flexible iron pipes have sound-dampening properties, reducing noise transmission. This makes them particularly well-suited for use in apartment buildings and condominiums where noise control is essential.

Due to their strength, reliability, fire resistance, and noise reduction properties, ductile iron pipes are commonly chosen for water distribution and sewer systems in various commercial structures.

Cast-Iron Piping Materials for Commercial Plumbing Systems

Pex Plumbing Pipes

PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipes are predominantly used for water supply lines in residential and commercial plumbing applications. One of the notable advantages of PEX pipes is their flexibility. They can be easily bent around corners or other pipes, making installation more convenient and efficient.

However, it is essential to note that PEX pipes are not suitable for all commercial plumbing applications. Like PVC, PEX pipes should not be used in outdoor applications where they would be exposed to UV light. PEX pipes can adversely react to prolonged exposure to UV light, which can result in degradation and potential failure of the pipes.

Therefore, using alternative materials or appropriately protecting PEX pipes from UV exposure is essential when considering outdoor plumbing installations in commercial settings.

Nonetheless, PEX pipes offer flexibility, ease of installation, and reliable water supply within appropriate indoor applications, making them popular for water distribution in commercial facilities.

Pex Plumbing Pipes

What is The Best Piping Material for Each Commercial Setting?

Whether a new construction project or replacing the existing plumbing system, it presents an opportunity to select the best materials carefully. The choice of pipes will significantly impact the overall functionality and efficiency of the plumbing system in a commercial setting. Therefore, before finalizing the piping material, several crucial factors need to be considered:

Purpose of the Application

contractors should carefully consider the intended applications of the pipes when selecting the appropriate piping material for commercial projects. Different applications may require specific characteristics and performance from the lines. Here are a few examples:

  1. Irrigation: For irrigation systems, pipes resistant to UV light, weather conditions, and chemicals may be preferred. PVC or polyethylene (PE) pipes are commonly used for irrigation due to their durability and resistance to outdoor elements.
  2. Waste and Sewage: Waste and sewage systems necessitate pipes that can handle corrosive materials, high pressures, and airtight connections. Materials like PVC, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), or cast iron are commonly used for such applications.
  3. Freshwater Supply: For freshwater supply lines, pipes should be durable, corrosion-resistant, and suitable for potable water. Copper, PEX, or stainless steel pipes are often used for their reliability and compatibility with drinking water.

Temperature Tolerance

high-temperature fluids pose unique challenges when selecting piping materials for commercial applications. If the chosen material cannot withstand elevated temperatures, it can lead to pipe corrosion, resulting in severe damage and potential workplace hazards. In such cases, metal pipes are often preferred due to their strength and heat resistance.

Metal pipes like stainless steel or copper are well-suited for scalding liquids applications. These materials have excellent heat resistance and can maintain structural integrity even under high-temperature conditions.

They are less prone to corrosion and can safely and reliably transport hot fluids without compromising the overall system performance.

It is crucial to select the appropriate metal pipe material based on the specific temperature requirements of the application. By choosing suitable metal pipes, contractors can ensure the integrity, durability, and safety of the plumbing system when dealing with high-temperature fluids in commercial settings.

Best Piping Materials for Commercial Settings

Pressure Tolerance of Piping Material in Commercial Applications

It is crucial to select piping materials with thick walls and a high-pressure tolerance in commercial facility applications with high liquid pressure. The chosen pipes should be capable of withstanding extreme stress to ensure the integrity and safety of the plumbing system.

If the selected plumbing material cannot handle the high-pressure conditions, it can lead to various issues. Leaks may occur, resulting in potential property damage, flooding, and disruption of operations. Moreover, there is a risk of injury to individuals working within the commercial facility.

To mitigate these risks, contractors should carefully evaluate the pressure requirements of the plumbing system and select piping materials specifically designed to handle high-pressure conditions. This typically involves using pipes with thicker walls and suitable pressure ratings to ensure they can safely contain the liquids being transported.

By choosing suitable piping materials for high-pressure applications, contractors can minimize the likelihood of leaks, property damage, and safety hazards within commercial facilities.

Corrosion Resistance

The corrosiveness of the liquid flowing through the piping system is a crucial factor to consider when selecting the appropriate piping materials for commercial buildings.

When dealing with highly corrosive fluids, it is crucial to select materials that have the ability to withstand the corrosive nature of the liquid. This ensures the longevity and reliability of the plumbing system in such applications.

Stainless steel and galvanized steel pipes are often preferred in such scenarios due to their excellent corrosion resistance properties:

  1. Stainless Steel Pipes: Stainless steel pipes are highly resistant to corrosion, making them suitable for applications involving highly corrosive fluids. They can withstand the effects of chemicals, acids, and other corrosive substances, ensuring the integrity of the plumbing system.
  2. Galvanized Steel Pipes: Galvanized steel pipes are equipped with a protective zinc coating that offers excellent corrosion resistance. They are commonly used in applications with moderate corrosive fluids, offering durability and protection against rust and corrosion.

UV Exposure

Contractors should carefully consider the amount of direct UV exposure the piping system will receive in commercial applications, especially when certain system parts will be exposed to natural sunlight throughout the year. Prolonged exposure to UV light can cause degradation and breakdown of certain piping materials, leading to frequent plumbing repairs and maintenance issues.

To avoid such complications, it is advisable to select piping materials that are specifically designed to withstand UV exposure or to implement protective measures to shield the pipes from direct sunlight. Materials like PVC or CPVC may not be suitable for outdoor applications or areas with significant UV exposure, as UV light can adversely affect them over time.

The Flexibility of the Piping Material

In specific commercial building applications, rigid piping materials may not be the most suitable choice, as they can lead to leaks and system inefficiencies. When flexibility is required to prevent cracks or accommodate movement within the plumbing system, PVC pipes often emerge as a preferred option due to their inherent flexibility, lightweight nature, and versatility.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes offer excellent flexibility, allowing them to be easily maneuvered and bent without the risk of breaking or cracking. This flexibility makes PVC pipes suitable for applications where some degree of movement or flexibility is necessary, such as in systems affected by ground settling, temperature fluctuations, or vibrations.

Moreover, PVC pipes are lightweight, simplifying handling and installation and reducing labour and transportation costs. They are also resistant to corrosion, providing long-term durability and reliability.

Plumbing contractors may choose PVC pipes in commercial building applications where flexibility is required to maintain the integrity of the plumbing system and prevent leaks or inefficiencies. However, it is essential to consider each application’s specific requirements and limitations to ensure PVC pipes suit the intended purpose and conditions.

Last Words

Access to safe and running water is paramount in residential homes and commercial facilities. 

The piping system plays a vital role in guaranteeing the functionality and dependability of the plumbing system in such environments.

This includes water lines, drain lines, emergency plumbing, and main sewer lines, all of which must be constructed using appropriate materials.

When selecting the proper piping materials for commercial building applications, contractors should carefully consider several factors. These include the specific plumbing application, the temperature and pressure tolerance required by the system, and the corrosive nature of the liquids being transported. With numerous piping materials available, finding the perfect fit for each application can be challenging. However, collaborating with a knowledgeable piping professional experienced in various commercial settings can simplify the selection process.

For instance, the choice between PVC piping and stainless steel piping depends on factors such as the intended application, the specific temperature and pressure demands, and the liquids’ corrosiveness. By evaluating these considerations and seeking expert advice, contractors can make informed decisions and ensure that the selected piping material aligns with the requirements of the commercial facility.

Ultimately, the goal is to establish a reliable and efficient plumbing system that meets the unique needs of the commercial setting, and working alongside a piping professional can be instrumental in achieving this objective.

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