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Things to Know About Plumbing in Your Condominium, Part 1

Posted by Mayra Martinez on January 30, 2023

Gurgling or other types of sounds coming from your kitchen or bathroom
sink is one of the most telling signs of a looming plumbing problem.
The sound most likely indicates water backing up in your buildings grey
water drain system (which is separate from the black water/sewer
drain). Generally speaking, sinks above and below your unit feed into the
same drainage pipe, most often referred to as a plumbing stack.
As people cook in their kitchens and wash pots and pans in the sink, a little
cooking grease is often washed down the drain, where it cools, congeals, and
solidifies… Add in other food items such as pieces of rice, pasta, coffee grinds,
and chunks of undissolved toothpaste, and then over time it all builds up on
the inner surface of a pipe, reducing its drainage capacity as it effectively
narrows on the inside. This results in a more constricted flow that moves
much slower and produces a tell-tale gurgling type sound…. Eventually,
water will back up into your sink if the pipe restriction/blockage gets bad
enough and there’s too much debris in the pipes.
Thankfully Asset West doesn’t encounter this problem very often, as most
condominium buildings have cleaned out/flushed their stacks over the past
several years. However, if left unchecked, water will back up into the kitchen
bathroom sinks from unmaintained stacks and can then lead to significant
flood damage.
Newer condominiums with larger and cleaner pipes may not incur these
concerns earlier on, but as the building and piping age, stack or sewer line
cleaning is a strongly recommended preventative maintenance task.


As condominium managers, we work in an ever evolving industry and with
buildings where no two are ever the same… additionally as technology
changes and more information is known about how the various systems
react to new or ongoing substances/debris we are in better positions to
provide feedback and recommendations. We are now recommending having
a preventative plumbing stack inspection with a camera system completed
on 1 or 2 year cycles; and will be discussing this preventative measure with all
our condominium Boards over the next 2 to 3 months during the Board
Meetings. (Almost any professional plumbing & mechanical contractor can
do this work, but hiring the company that has a contract with your building
has its benefits. Their technicians work in your building regularly and are far
better equipped to assess the state of your pipes and fittings.)
While plumbing problems may not be inevitable, we can do plenty of things
to manage these minor occurrences before they turn into a crises. With a bit
of knowledge about preventing plumbing problems from arising, help from
Asset West and your buildings plumbing & mechanical contractor, and
knowing what to do in an emergency, we can all rest a little easier knowing
we’re ready whenever a problem arises.

NOTE: while this is article is directed mostly to apartment style
condominiums, it is also important to remember that townhomes and
stacked townhomes also have plumbing/sewer stacks. In a townhome or
stacked townhome design, the cleaning and maintenance of the stack may
reside with the unit/unit owner for that portion within the unit boundaries.
To ascertain this, please check your condominiums Bylaws.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please submit
your query by opening a Service Ticket in your condominiums online portal,
or feel free to call us in the office

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