Commercial Plumber FAQ’s – Everything you need to know discussed by CMS Ltd
If you are looking for a Commercial Plumber it’s important to know what they do, the qualifications they need and the skills you should look for. Our Commercial Plumbers FAQ’s will tell you everything you need to know and answer any questions you may have.
What is a Commercial Plumber?
A Commercial plumber is a specialised plumber who works in and on commercial businesses, properties and housing or retail developments. Their role is to maintain, repair, and install larger and more complex plumbing systems and services.
There are similarities in the scope of work that a residential or domestic and commercial plumber does, both working with plumbing systems including boilers, sewers, and pipes, although a commercial plumber will normally work on larger commercial systems and developments.
A commercial plumber works on large and usually complex water supply, waste, water pressure and boiler systems and infrastructures following blueprint designs and understands what is required for each job. Commercial plumbers may also design water supply, waste, water pressure and boiler systems and infrastructures for new construction projects.
What’s the difference between a Commercial Plumber and a Domestic Plumber?
There are some key differences between commercial and residential/domestic plumbing:
- The main difference is the size and complexity of a commercial plumbing system. A commercial plumbing system normally needs a lot more pipes, outlets and bigger plumbing systems compared to residential plumbing. Generally, businesses and commercial buildings need to provide toilets and sinks for both their customers and their employees which have a bigger usage and demand compared to a residential plumbing system
- Residential plumbing normally incorporates two-three floors of piping. An office building would normally have multiple stories, all of which require sinks, toilets, hot and cold water systems with the required water pressure in each one. A hotel would need public facilities and a bathroom in every room so the plumbing system and pipework would be even bigger compared to an office. Gravity plays a huge role in effective running water pipes, and water pressure is vital in multi-story buildings. A good commercial plumber understands this when taking on a commercial job and will have the skills and experience to plan and install effective plumbing and pipework systems
- A commercial plumber will have the skills and experience to work alongside a variety of trades on a development site and be able to work to strict plans and timescales
- A commercial plumber will have the skills and experience to install, maintain and repair large scale complex plumbing pipework and systems and be able to solve design problems and complex issues quickly and effectively
- The level of complexity can triple in commercial plumbing due to the pipes interconnecting from one floor to another, the different and larger plumbing systems and water pressure issues
- Commercial plumbers will work with plumbing systems including; industrial-grade boilers, sewers, and pipes
- Commercial plumbers need to be up to date on a larger number of plumbing codes and be prepared for problems that may never occur in residential properties
- A commercial plumber will work on systems, pipework and sewers that supply hot and cold pressured water to a large number of users and this results in an increased likelihood of problems and repairs that are needed
- Residential home plumbing systems can also be complicated but there is less demand on the plumbing systems they are less complex, compared to commercial systems. It is easier to identify and isolate a residential plumbing problem quickly and resolve it. A commercial business or property is unlikely to be able to shut their plumbing system down whilst a commercial plumber finds a problem, maintains or repairs so this creates more complexity for them to work with
What does a Commercial Plumber do?
- A commercial plumber works on large and usually complex water supply, waste, water pressure, boiler, water heating systems, fire sprinkling systems and infrastructures in commercial buildings, developments, retail centres and industrial facilities
- They design commercial plumbing infrastructures including pipework, boiler systems and waste sewage systems
- They work to complex plumbing designs and blueprints
- They install plumbing infrastructures, sinks, toilets, showers, baths, kitchens, waste systems, pipework and fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers in commercial properties including; hotels, retail outlets, commercial kitchens, restaurants, leisure centres, cinemas, factories, industrial units, churches, schools, universities, colleges, campsites and the list goes on
What does a Residential or Domestic Plumber do?
Residential, otherwise known as domestic plumbers have the qualifications, skills and experience to install, maintain and repair plumbing in the home.
A commercial plumber will have the qualifications, skills and experience to install, maintain and repair plumbing systems in commercial properties and be able to quickly and efficiently handle the size, scope and variety of issues that can occur in a commercial plumbing system.
What type of work does a Commercial Plumber do?
Commercial plumbers are responsible for installing and maintaining various types of piping systems, waste systems, fire sprinkling systems, hot and cold water systems and fixtures. All commercial plumbers must be able to follow blueprints, work with complex plumbing tools, and know the materials needed for each job. Commercial plumbers may also design water supply, waste, water pressure and boiler systems and infrastructures for new construction projects. Working with pipework inside and out.
Some commercial plumbing jobs require a plumber to have basic carpentry skills to be able to access pipes inside walls or be able to brace pipes to keep them in place. They will also weld, solder, and attach fixtures and fittings together when needed.
A commercial plumber would offer the following types of services:
- The design of plumbing systems for commercial outlets
- Replacement of entire commercial property plumbing systems
- General maintenance (repair, piping and installation services)
- Plumbing maintenance contracts for businesses
- Clearing of blocked stormwater drains and sewers
- Water supply system (installation, maintenance, and repair)
- Drinking water lines (installation and maintenance)
- Backflow prevention systems (installation, maintenance, and repair)
- Fire systems (installation, maintenance, and repair)
- Internal and external pipework (installation, maintenance, and repair)
Are there any Plumbing Specialities?
There are specialities in plumbing and some plumbers choose to specialise in just one area after they have qualified, however, a commercial plumbing business would have all these specialised skills working for them.
Pipelayers set and install the piping needed for a variety of plumbing systems, including; water mains and storm drains. A pipelayer will dig and grade trenches where the pipework is laid, install the pipes into the trenches and secure them together using welding, cementing, or glueing techniques.
Pipefitters and Steamfitters
Pipefitters are generally involved with larger-scale industrial plumbing projects. They install, maintain and repair heating and cooling piping systems, as well as systems that generate electricity. Steamfitters will specialise in high-pressure systems that move gas or liquids, such as water, steam, or compressed air around a boiler and piping system.
What types of systems do Commercial Plumbers work on?
A commercial plumber will work on and fit internal and external pipework, fire sprinkler systems, boilers and water heating systems, sewer and waste pipework, water drinking services, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, fittings and equipment and dig trenches outside to fit the required pipework.
What hours does a Commercial Plumber work?
Some residential/domestic plumbers will offer 24/7 emergency services as you can experience a plumbing emergency in a home as well as a commercial property, however, not all offer these services. Most commercial plumbers will work outside of normal Monday to Friday 9-5 hours as there are some commercial plumbing jobs need to be done outside of businesses operating hours so it doesn’t affect the business’s operation or customers, they will normally also offer a 247, 365 days a year emergency service.
Why should you use a Commercial Plumber?
A commercial plumber will have the qualifications and experience of installing, maintaining and repairing larger commercial plumbing systems, pipework and waste services to ensure a business can operate efficiently with no risk of impacts to their customers or business. A commercial plumber will also have the experience of working on large scale blueprints for plumbing systems and pipework for new housing developments, retail parks, leisure centres, hotels, commercial kitchens, restaurants, leisure centres, cinemas, factories, industrial units, schools, universities, colleges, campsites and many more.
When would you call a Commercial Plumber?
Major Plumbing Installations
Installing major appliances, fixtures, pipework, drainage, waste pipes and water service mains connect all need the skills and qualifications of a commercial plumber. Trying to take on a plumbing job yourself or using an inexperienced and unqualified plumber can lead to immediate problems or problems further down the line that could be costly to your business as well as being dangerous. Plumbing without the proper knowledge and experience can result in expensive repairs and often entire re-installations. If you are completely renovating a commercial building to suit your businesses needs then engaging a commercial plumber at the start of your project will save you time and money throughout. Most renovations will include plumbing designs and layouts for different rooms to ensure you have the right appliances where you need them, hot and cold running water, heating, waste services and the correct water pressure. Moving bathrooms and kitchens need water supply lines to be planned to ensure they work effectively and the necessary drainage systems.
Burst pipes normally occur in the winter when water freezes in the pipes, expands and causes them to crack or break. If this happens it can cause major flooding which will damage your building and its contents, it can also be dangerous if it is near any electricity or power supplies. Water damage can impact building foundations and leave trapped water in-between walls which can cause damp issues further down the line. A commercial plumber will quickly establish where the pipes have burst and repair or replace them reducing the amount of time your business is out of action. Always turn off your mains electricity and water immediately and call an emergency commercial plumber. Even by doing this the water still may have had time to seep into places you don’t want it to so always have a Commercial Maintenance Company on hand who will support you in all aspects of pipework repair and replacement, as well as helping you with any damaged electrics, damaged flooring, walls or foundations. Having your plumbing system regularly maintained will reduce the likelihood of costly damage from burst pipes.
Blocked Pipes or Drains
Blocked pipes, drains or sewage pipes can also cause a lot of damage to your commercial property and regular maintenance service will keep on top of the likelihood of this happening. Blocked pipes and drains can be caused by tree roots, sediment buildup or non-flushable items affecting your sewage pipes and drainage system. Trying to clear blockages using chemicals or rodding machines can damage your plumbing pipework and can cost you thousands to repair so its always best to use a qualified commercial plumber who will ensure the blockage is cleared without any further issues or damage. They will quickly identify where the problem is and provide a safe and effective solution.
Low Water Pressure
It is really difficult to identify why you have low water pressure in a complex commercial plumbing system. It can be caused by pipe obstructions, supply issues and poor pipework design. A commercial plumber will be able to carry out tests on the different parts of your system to quickly establish the source of the problem and provide an appropriate solution in the short and long term. Attempting to identify and resolve a low-pressure water problem can damage your pipes, appliances, fixtures and sewage drainage systems so it is important to call a qualified and experienced commercial plumber in this instance.
No Hot Water
If you don’t have hot running water in your business it can cause chaos to staff, customers or systems that you use. Having no hot water is is usually a fault in a boiler or water heating system, however, it can be other issues that you wouldn’t be aware of. Boiler or water heater faults can stem from a variety of things and can be total breakdowns where a new commercial system needs to be installed or minor component defects that are easily replaced or repaired. Boilers and water heaters work using electrical and gas systems so it is really important that you use a trusted commercial plumber to find these faults and rectify them.
What qualifications does a Commercial Plumber have?
In the UK you are required to complete and pass a City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 and 3 in Mechanical Engineering Services for Plumbing.
You would normally train to become a plumber through a plumbing apprenticeship which can be found through trade schools and community colleges. Plumbing apprenticeships provide you with on-the-job and classroom training which give you the knowledge and skills of installing, maintaining and repairing piping types, systems, tool usage, mathematics, blueprint reading, plumbing codes, and water distribution.
Certification is through the City and Guilds of London Institute. According to the Institute, those seeking to pass certification must demonstrate the following skills:
- Practical systems installation, commissioning & maintenance skills – the material and tool skills required to measure – cut – bend – join – prefabricate – install the systems materials and components, commission and maintain systems within the range of the qualification units
- Underpinning or supporting knowledge – the essential knowledge required to work safely in plumbing activities – work with and install systems materials and components – install systems in compliance with current legislation and the industry standards for good practice
- The Technical Certificates also covers the knowledge and skills required to work with people, customers and other trades
- NVQ training facilities are required to provide installation facilities that have realistic plumbing working conditions and they must also ensure that each student can carry out the practical task assessments that they will encounter with the Level 2 and 3 qualification exams.
Full plumbing training courses typically take four to five years to complete.
How long does it take to become a Commercial Plumber?
Full plumbing training courses normally take four to five years to complete whilst you are on an apprenticeship. The benefit of an apprenticeship is the on the job training which gives you live experiences of plumbing jobs as well as the interaction with customers, the classroom training gives you the practical and technical skills and knowledge that are needed as well. Apprenticeship programmes are structured schemes which are required to have the following elements: a knowledge-based element, a competency-based element, transferable or ‘key skills’, a module on employment rights and responsibilities, communication, numeracy, problem-solving and teamwork skills.
If you are on an apprenticeship you would spend anything from two to three days a week at college or you may go for one week once a month, it is dependent on your college and the business you are working for. Some employers prefer the ‘block training’ approach, which concentrates the required college classroom training into weekly or fortnightly slots across the year.
What other skills should you look for in a Commercial Plumber in addition to their industry qualification?
- Excellent communication and customer service skills
- Ability to work within a team
- Ability to work effectively with other tradespeople also including architects and engineers
- Ability to plan work and complete it within agreed timescales
- Ability to work under pressure and with changing plans and timescales
- Ability to read blueprints and install systems to their design
- Excellent problem-solving skills
- Ability to diagnose and repair plumbing problems
- Ability to respond to issues and find workable solutions safely
- Ability to find ways to fix problems and critical plumbing infrastructures safely and efficiently
I need the pipework outside of my commercial property repaired or replaced, what should I do?
You should look for the best commercial plumbing business who can offer you external plumbing repairs and installation service. Ask them to come to your property and complete a full assessment of the work required and provide you with a written quote which breaks each part of the service down. They should be able to talk to you about the previous projects, developments work and businesses they have and do work for and be able to offer you a full range of plumbing services with guarantees. It is a good idea to find a Commercial Maintenance Service company who can offer you a wide range of services and trades for all of your businesses needs, this way whatever you need doing in your business you can work with one company that can oversee and project manage any of the work you need doing. It is also a good idea to think about a maintenance contract for your commercial business and one that can offer you plumbing, electrical, heating and gas services as they will spend time understanding your business, your property and its maintenance needs.
How do you find the best Commercial Plumber?
Ask for recommendations from other local businesses. Do your research and look for businesses that offer installation, repair, maintenance, maintenance contracts and emergency call-out services. Look for customer reviews, good and bad. Look at their website to see if it looks professional.
Check the following:
- WaterSafe approved plumbing business
- Have a minimum of an NVQ Level 2 in a plumbing related discipline, preferably Level 3 (Be aware that before the introduction of NVQ qualifications, City and Guilds qualifications were the main certificates and exams which plumbers sat. Older plumbers may be City and Guilds qualified whereas younger plumbers will probably have studied NVQs or SVQs in Scotland)
- They hold a water industry-recognised Water Fittings Regulations qualification to ensure they are competent and have the relevant knowledge
- If Gas Work is also needed for a plumbing job, that they are on the Gas Safe Register
- They are authorised to self-certify that their work is compliant with current Building Regulations
- They have their work regularly assessed to ensure ongoing competence and by who
- They have valid insurance including public liability insurance and to what amount
Choose a commercial plumber that offer services from checkups, inspections, diagnostics, installations, upgrades, system maintenance, repairs, maintenance contracts and clean-ups following work they do for you. This will save you money and time from coordinating to different contractors.
Choose a commercial plumber who knows and applies the latest plumbing codes and requirements needed for each job (both national and local codes).
Choose a commercial plumber who always prioritises safety measures.
What does a Commercial Plumber do on larger sites and developments?
A commercial plumber installs and maintains large-scale waste removal and water supply systems for commercial businesses, sites and developments. They work internally and externally to the blueprints and the Health & Safety procedures of the site. They work alongside other trades, working to strict timelines to ensure the work is completed without hindering other jobs and, or, the overall build completion date.
A commercial plumber’s work can include fitting internal pipework, bathrooms and kitchen fixtures, drinking fountains, fire sprinkler systems and water and boiler systems, as well as laying water and sewer lines. Commercial plumbers will also carry out maintenance and repair work if any drains are blocked, repair burst pipes or broken water or sewer pipe systems. They will dig trenches and lay pipelines that connect to the local water mains and sewage systems.
A commercial plumber will maintain and repair all of the above as well as unblock drains and pipework.
A commercial plumber will repair plumbing systems, pipework and waste systems on an ad hoc basis and if there is a plumbing emergency. In very cold weather, pipes and water mains can occasionally freeze and burst and if not repaired quickly it can cause a lot of damage to a building, its contents and there can be a fire risk if close to any electrics.
They will repair or replace broken pipes and ensure the water supply is properly pressurized and safe for consumption.
Are there any laws around Commercial Plumbing?
The UK requires that anyone working on plumbing system must complete a City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 and 3 in Mechanical Engineering Services for Plumbing.
Can you call a Commercial Plumber if you have an emergency?
Yes, always use a commercial plumber that offers a 24/7, 365 days a year emergency service as plumbing emergencies can cause a huge amount of damage to a building and its contents, as well as damaging electrics and if not repaired quickly they can be dangerous and put your business out of action for a very long time. Clients with a “Planned Maintenance and Emergency Service” from CMS receive 24-hour commercial plumbing services.
- We have dedicated engineers on call 24/7/365.
- Emergency call-out 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Our engineers routinely fix 90% of breakdowns on the first visit.
Can you call a Commercial Plumber if you have an emergency in the middle of the night?
Yes, if you have a broken pipe or are concerned about a plumbing system then always call a commercial plumber and don’t leave it until the morning as it can cause significant damage and put your businesses operation at risk. The first thing you should do before calling an emergency plumber is turn off your water and electrics from the mains and always familiarise yourself and your team where the main turn off points are before an emergency happens.
What is a Plumbing Emergency?
A plumbing emergency could be a burst pipe inside or outside, a burst leaking pipe if it is near electrics, a boiler that is not firing as it should. If you have this then you should turn off your electrics at the main immediately, then turn off your water at the mains and call a commercial emergency plumber.
Which Commercial Plumber you should choose?
- A company whose employees hold the required NVQ Level 2, preferably Level 3 or City and Guilds qualification in a plumbing discipline you require
- A company that is WaterSafe approved
- A company that holds a Water Fittings Regulations qualification to ensure they are competent and have the relevant knowledge
- A company that is GasSafe Registered
- A company that is authorised to self-certify that their work is compliant with current Building Regulations
- A company that has their work regularly assessed to ensure ongoing competence and by who
- A company that has valid insurance including public liability insurance and to what amount
- A company that offers installation, repair, maintenance, maintenance contracts and emergency plumbing services
- A company that can tell you who and what projects they have worked for and on in the past
- A company that has good customer reviews
- A company that has been recommended by another business
- A company that has a good website normally shows they are professional and have the resources to always ensure your plumbing systems are safe, well maintained and effective
About CMS Commercial Maintenance Services
- We have more than 30 years of experience in the building and facilities services and offer a full spectrum of trade services with our own in-house team
- We are a 24/7 operation so if you have an emergency in your commercial business or property then we can help you quickly
- We carry the highest industry best practice accreditation including OFTEC
- We have £10,000,000 public liability insurance
- We have a team of over 100 qualified trade people who are based at our engineering hubs across the UK, so wherever you are we can get to you quickly
- Our client base is commercial and we offer services to both small, medium and blue-chip companies including some of the UK’s leading and best-loved brands
- We offer the highest quality reactive, planned and preventive maintenance support through our team of highly skilled and accredited trades and engineers making sure your business is safe and compliant
- We design, supply, install, service and maintain commercial building services and systems
- We work directly for building owners and third party operators
- We offer inspection and certification services making sure that your business installations are compliant, fit for purpose, and operating correctly within current Health & Safety legislation
- We offer planned plumbing maintenance and maintenance contracts ensuring that your building systems are functioning correctly and operational when you need them most, reducing faults which can impact your business and running costs
About CMS Commercial Plumbing
As part of any commercial service installation having in-house plumbers to install any fluid related pipework is essential and we ensure that all of our plumbers have all of the relevant qualifications and accreditations needed.
Whether it’s a burst water pipe or the design and complete installation of site-wide fluid drainage systems, we can manage and maintain all elements of your commercial plumbing systems which, in turn, ensures the smooth operation of your commercial property.
Along with our other engineers, our plumbers are mobile and we can have someone to your site in under 4 hours when you report a fault to our 24/7 call centre. All of our jobs are prioritised to ensure the correct and qualified team is dispatched to you. All of our plumbers are highly experienced professionals who have the qualifications, skills and experience for any plumbing job. They come wearing our full CMS uniform and drive our liveried vans.
If you are looking for a local Commercial Plumber for your business or commercial property, anywhere in the UK, then please contact us on 0191 4950741 and one of our team will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.