May 10, 2021

The Perfect Commercial Plumbing Guide for a National Facilities Manager

Facility managers have numerous tasks on their plates, including taking care of the plumbing for the properties they manage. This guide outlines the most important advice that national facilities managers need to know about commercial plumbing. 

Facility Managers Face a Difficult Challenge Maintaining Multiple Property Locations

facility managers reviewing commercial property plans on monitorFacilities managers have to handle building maintenance, communications infrastructure, space management, property strategies, facility security, contract management, and more. Being a facilities manager is challenging enough, but it becomes even more complicated when you have to handle properties at various locations – particularly if those locations are far apart from each other. 

When there are multiple properties to manage, they will also have at least a handful of unique concerns. If they are in different locations, you cannot necessarily hire the same commercial plumbers or other contractors to work on different properties. This increases the time spent finding and communicating with plumbers and reduces the chances of getting a discount for bringing in multiple properties. 

You can overcome some of these challenges with careful planning. An established, experienced facilities maintenance company will be better able to spot any issues that arise, preventing them from getting worse. It also means that they will have a better idea of which plumbing systems and components are most likely to suffer the most wear and tear as well as the best way to handle issues in a given situation. 

Simply put, going with an established commercial plumber means that they will be better able to provide the exact maintenance services you need, spot potential problems, and suggest a solution that fits your needs as the facilities manager. 

As a bonus, you can typically assume that an established facilities maintenance company has the appropriate licensing and registration. That being said, you should still confirm this is the case. 

Find the Plumber as Soon as Possible

You do not want to wait to find a plumber until you need one; doing so will only add to your stress and means that you aren’t taking care of preventative maintenance. It also means that if an emergency occurs, you will have to find a plumber in a hurry

You may need your plumber to fix broken pipes, flooded bathrooms, corroded pipes, overflowing toilets, sewage leakage, or gas line leaks, any of which can be an emergency. 

Create a Commercial Plumbing Preventative Maintenance Program

One of the best courses of action you can take regarding your commercial plumbing is to find a plumber and then create a preventative maintenance program. You can then use this same plumber for any emergencies that arise. 

Why Do You Need to Create a Commercial Plumbing Preventative Maintenance Program?

The biggest reason you need preventative plumbing maintenance is to avoid potential problems. This type of program will keep your plumbing safe for your tenants and help reduce potential expenses in the future. 

You could just stay on top of regular maintenance and make it a point to track and book appointments. However, it is easier if you can find a commercial plumber that will set up a PM program. This allows you only have to interact with them and plan once. This tactic will get all of your appointments scheduled so you don’t forget. 

There are a lot of specific reasons to follow through with a commercial plumbing preventative maintenance program. 

  • Spot Issues Early – One of the biggest benefits of preventative maintenance is giving your commercial plumber the chance to spot any potential issues early. This is very important as it is usually more affordable and less labor-intensive to handle a minor problem than a major one. At the same time, if you leave a small issue alone, it can quickly get worse. 
  • Saves Money via Efficiency – It may seem counterintuitive at first, but spending a bit more on maintenance upfront will reduce your overall maintenance costs. One way in which this happens is by improving your plumbing system’s efficiency. If the system is well-maintained, it will operate as it is designed to, which will help it be more efficient. This will lower the energy costs.
  • Saves Money by Extending the System’s Lifespan – Another way that preventative plumbing maintenance saves money is by extending the various components’ lifespans. This will free up more space in your budget for other tasks. 
  • Saves Money by Preventing Major Issues – It also saves money via the previous point of spotting issues early. As mentioned, that prevents problems from getting worse and, therefore, more expensive. Without maintenance, your system may need an expensive overhaul. 
  • Improves Your Ability to Budget – A combination of all of the above factors means that using a preventative maintenance program will make it easier for you to plan your commercial plumbing budget. To start, you will know how much you have to pay each month or each visit and how often the visits are as soon as you set up the program. This can help with long-term planning. Additionally, the reduced likelihood of needing sudden, major repairs means that you are less likely to have a sudden large expense in your plumbing budget. Instead, your plumber can let you know which repairs can be delayed. Or, when you are approaching needing a new plumbing system replaced. This gives you more time to plan the appropriate budget. 

What Should You Include in a Commercial Plumbing Preventative Maintenance Program?

You will likely work closely with your commercial plumbing company to create a preventative maintenance program. Their familiarity with plumbing systems means that they know which tasks are the most important for preventative maintenance. At the same time, you can manage program components and inclusions based on your experience as a facilities manager. 

The following are just some of the tasks that will typically be part of a commercial plumbing preventative maintenance plan:

  • Priming floor drain traps
  • Checking valve seals on toilets and urinals
  • Inspecting manual toilet flush valves for proper functioning, leaks, or odd noises
  • Inspecting drains and confirming proper flow
  • Monitoring roof drains 
  • Confirming the ideal water pressure 
  • Any active leaks or signs of leaks, such as mold, mildew, puddles, or water spots 
  • Checking for corrosion or limescale 
  • Inspecting the water heater 
  • Testing the backflow device 

Demanding Facilities Should Have the Best Commercial Plumbers

commercial plumbers working facility pipesNo matter how demanding your facilities are, you want to make sure that you have the best commercial plumber in your area. This means making sure that you can rely on the quality of work they provide, as well as the quality of the parts they use. This will also ensure that they are prompt and show up for appointments when scheduled. 

The best plumbers will be reliable and available for you in emergency situations in addition to planned maintenance. 

Remember that by choosing the best plumbers, you are ensuring that they will make all repairs correctly the first time and deliver results you can count on. 

How to Find the Best Commercial Plumber 

When looking for the best commercial plumber, try not to keep the interactions to just the phone: You will want to interact with them at least once to see their skills with your issues. Because of this, it is typically best to give a plumber a trial run before you sign a long-term contract, especially for something as important as commercial plumbing. 

You should also confirm that the plumber in question has all of the necessary licensing, insurance, or any other requirements in your state. 

Overall, you want to keep the following in mind as you look for the best commercial plumbers. We have already touched on some of these: 

  • Licensed and Insured – The very first thing to confirm is that your chosen plumber is licensed and insured. This protects your properties from potential damage and legal consequences. Even if you just need a small project completed, always ask to confirm that the plumber or company is licensed and insured. 
  • Experience – Always confirm that your chosen commercial plumber has experience. That experience should ideally include working on the type of building(s) that you manage. Plus, working with facilities managers or others in similar roles is a benefit. Experience allows for more efficient and better-quality work. So, if you are the facilities manager for a residential building, look for plumbers with experience in residential buildings. If you manage buildings with stores or restaurants, look for experience in those types of buildings. 
  • Can Work on Your System – This is particularly important for buildings with older systems. If you have a modern plumbing system, then it should not be hard to find a plumber that can work on it. However, if your system is a bit older, you may need to confirm that your chosen plumber still has the tools and skills needed to work on it. 
  • Qualifications – Experience and qualifications frequently go hand-in-hand, but you can find one without the other. Confirm that your chosen plumber is qualified to work on all of the systems they will care for. They should have passed any necessary tests and training to receive the relevant certification. 
  • Warranty – Pay attention to whether your chosen plumbing company offers a warranty of some sort. Many will offer guarantees on their services for a set amount of time. This can deliver financial savings. 
  • Services Offered – Ideally, you will find a single commercial plumbing company that offers all of the services you need. You do not want to have to work with several companies, with one for emergency repairs and one for preventative maintenance. By working with just a single company, you save yourself time and hassle. You may also get financial savings this way. 
  • Communication and Customer Service – Once you find a plumber, you hope to work with them for years to come. As such, you want to be able to reach them, even in emergencies, and not dread calling. The best commercial plumbers will be available 24/7 for emergencies and be at least professional, if not friendly, on the phone. 
  • Recommendations and References – Talk to other facility managers that you know to get recommendations or look online to find plumber recommendations. You don’t necessarily need to hire a plumber that other facility managers have recommended. However, you need to pay attention to reviews from others. It is simpler to stick to recommendations. That is particularly true if the person making the recommendation had similar services done to what you need. 
  • Reputation – Do not just rely on references and recommendations to confirm that a commercial plumber is reputable: Pay attention to their overall reputation. Look for online reviews even if you already have a glowing recommendation. This will help you confirm that your friend did not have a one-off positive experience. You want to find consistency in the reviews. An occasional issue is not a concern, as long as the plumber quickly resolves it. 
  • Location – You will need to pay attention to the location of the plumber as well. Just because they serve your area doesn’t necessarily mean that they are close. If the plumbing company is closer to you, then this should result in quicker response times in the case of emergencies. 

Develop a Plumbing Repair & Replacement Program for Outdated Systems

commercial plumbing - branded groupAs you plan the commercial plumbing maintenance for your properties, make sure to consider how you will decide whether to repair or replace the system. Plumbing technology advances, so at some point, your current system will become outdated. When that happens, you will have to budget for a large expense. Creating a program or plan for this situation will reduce the hassle and stress later. 

Allows for Budgeting 

Most importantly, having a plan in place prevents large, unexpected expenses if the system suddenly stops working or needs massive emergency repairs. The plan will let you see when you will need to replace the system. This will also let you start planning the budget months ahead of time or even longer. 

Recognize When to Replace vs Repair

The most important part of your repair and replacement program is knowing when you will have to replace your plumbing system and when you can keep making repairs. You will likely want to consult with your commercial plumber when you create your plan. Plus, when you make the final decision to replace the system. 

Your decision to replace instead of continue with repairs will depend on the following factors: 

  • Water Volume – When the water volume starts to get low in sinks and toilets, this can indicate that it is time for a replacement system. Specifically, it indicates corroded pipes, which will need to be replaced. 
  • Extensive Leaks – If you start to notice that there are a lot of leaks in the plumbing system, then this is likely due to it starting to get too old. If a single component fails, then it may just be chance or a simple repair. But, if multiple components start to fail at the same time, the system is probably getting old. 
  • Too Many Repairs – On a related note, if you start having to make a lot of repairs on the system, then this is a very good indication that it is time to get a new system. 

The best way to tell if your system needs to be replaced is to consult your plumber. Their experience lets them easily tell whether it is a smart idea to replace the system. This is yet another reason it is important to choose the right plumber. Having one that you can trust will ensure you get unbiased advice; your plumber will be honest based on your property’s needs instead of their potential profits. 

Negotiate a Fair Maintenance & Repair Commercial Plumbing Service Agreement

To make the most of the maintenance and repair plan and your success in finding the right commercial plumber for your properties, you will want to make sure that you negotiate a fair service agreement. The agreement should outline which services are included in the cost and what will cost extra. This clarity will prevent unexpected expenses in the future and help you better plan your budget. 

To help negotiate a fair agreement, do some research ahead of time. You will have a stronger argument during negotiations if you can show that other companies offer similar prices. 

The Takeaway

With all of the above information, you should be ready to handle the commercial plumbing aspects of your facilities management role. To further streamline the process, find a commercial plumber you can trust and create a maintenance plan with them. In addition, a general plan for future replacements if your system is older. 

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