Differentiate between a commercial or residential plumber

December 11, 2020 4:18 am

How do you differentiate between a commercial or residential plumber?


Commercial plumbing encompasses different businesses from, shops, restaurants, hotels, offices or office blocks with multiple floors. The work carried out by both is similar, except a commercial plumber tends to deal with larger buildings compared with a residential plumber. With commercial premises such as an office, the headcount will be significantly higher and certain regulations must be adhered to and understood. There has to be enough WC’s, washing facilities and heating to accommodate all personnel. The extent of the work would be on a larger scale as would be the piping runs, sanitary ware, sinks, radiators, and isolation valves, as the layout will be over a greater area. Commercial plumbers are usually conversant with office design and layout and can read and understand technical building drawings (blueprints) when planning maintenance work.

Residential Plumbing

A residential plumber will tend to focus mainly on a single or two-story property. Their role is to assist customers with plumbing issues related to their existing plumbing. They are just as capable (and qualified) as a commercial plumber and can re-plumb an entire property but on a different scale. The work is usually a ‘one-off’ i.e. change a basin, tap, install a shower or pump, hang radiators, remove airlocks, run piping, unblocking drains, etc.

Distinguishing facts?


Unlike a single- or two-story residential building, commercial structures usually are more than 2, 3 or 5 stories. Each story has its own plumbing system and potential problems with water pressure? A commercial plumber would be conversant with this.

Water Pressure

High rise buildings demand more sophisticated methods to maintain the correct water pressure/s. Which can be more challenging and complex a task for a residential plumber, like maintaining the correct pressures for each floor in the building. Water pressure control systems aren’t used in residential buildings, and so a residential plumber, with no track record of multi-level buildings, will be of little help.

Plumbing System

The amount of sanitary ware and the demands placed upon them in a commercial building is significantly higher due to the headcount. Plumbers work in teams rather than individually (in some cases) as some installation projects require extra manpower.

Health & Safety

Is important regardless, whether it’s residential or commercial! People’s health is of paramount importance, as both are hubs of human interactions. Equal care and attention should be applied to both to ensure the highest health and safety standards are met! Both plumber’s should be aware of this?

Efficiency and Productivity (Commercial)

This can be key especially if the business is production-oriented. Any interruption to production can seriously affect production quotas and revenue streams? Therefore, commercial plumbers must work efficiently to maintain production and be mindful of production targets. Pressure from senior management is also present when production targets are at stake? These sorts of pressures are not normal for a residential plumber.

Maintenance and Repairs

A residential plumbing repair is usually planned within usual office hours 8am – 6pm. However, maintenance work and repairs within commercial buildings often happen after business hours, or at weekends to prevent any disruption to productivity.


Drainage and venting problems. In a residential property, drainage is fairly straight forward unless it’s one of those obstinate rock-solid blocks that a residential plumber cannot fix going deep into underground pipework! Drains interconnected in an office block could be a problem when one drain becomes blocked, resulting in a knock-on effect in other parts of the building. Only a commercial plumber, well versed in block drainage systems layout would be best placed to cope with the challenge compared to a residential plumber?

Inspection frequency

A sign of a decent commercial plumber is their ability to conduct regular maintenance checks on the plumbing within the building they work out of. Unlike residential buildings, commercial buildings require a crystal-clear functioning system only possible with regular inspections possibly on a daily basis? So, the next time you decide to hire a plumber, don’t forget to check their track record on the various feedback platforms. You will soon discover if you’re hiring the right person or company. There are lots of ‘have a go’ DIY plumbers out there who may ‘wing’ it, so choose carefully? Another sign of a decent plumber is the extent of their equipment. Professionals have all the necessary tools to tackle a wide variety of plumbing tasks. They will look and sound the part!

What plumber do I need?

It’s ‘horses for courses’, when selecting a plumber. A residential plumber will be limited in terms of the work they can complete within a commercial setting. However, a fully qualified time served commercial plumber could easily turn their hand to all things residential. Also, rates of pay will differ considerably, the highest favouring the commercial plumber.
It is believed that residential and commercial plumbing are much of the same, that’s not quite true? Some of the problems they both face are similar but the magnitude of projects in commercial businesses is on a much larger scale. That’s why plumbers tend to specialise in the different sectors.

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