Stop chasing leaks. It’s a race you can’t win. | SageWater

Stop chasing leaks. It’s a race you can’t win.


Had a plumbing leak recently? You’re not alone. As U.S. multifamily infrastructure continues to age, many apartment and condominium communities find themselves facing an increasing number of leaks in their piping systems. With estimated useful lifespans for indoor piping systems ranging from 30-50 years (depending on the piping system and material), many communities are now living on borrowed time. Their piping systems are already starting to fail or soon will. This includes both traditional plumbing systems as well as mechanical HVAC systems.

Let the “chase” begin

Even when facing repeated piping leaks — a tell-tale sign of failure — many community owners and their property managers prefer to “chase leaks”, treating each incident as an isolated event instead of committing to a systemic solution. The simple fact is that it’s easier to call a plumber or HVAC service technician for a quick repair than to think about a large-scale capital improvement project.

By hitting the proverbial “easy button”, communities may think they are being frugal and fiscally responsible, sparing their community the disruptions and expense of a community-wide pipe replacement. The problem is, once leaks start, they aren’t going to stop; they are only going to get worse. It’s an unfortunate inevitability of all aging infrastructure: the aging process doesn’t stop, and the problems won’t go away, slow down, or fix themselves.

It’s an unfortunate inevitability of all aging infrastructure: the aging process doesn’t stop, and the problems won’t go away, slow down, or fix themselves.

How leaks take the lead

While chasing leaks may seem prudent at the start, it can quickly spiral out of control. Handling one-off individual repairs not only drains maintenance and operations budgets, but also makes it necessary to increase those budgets year-over-year as the number of piping system failures increases. Worse yet, each time you send in your maintenance staff or a service plumber to replace a piece of the failing system, you are multiplying the number of points of failure. That’s because continually connecting new pipe to old creates a patchwork of connections throughout the building that are more prone to failure and accelerate the aging process.

Certainly, continuing to chase leaks and triage piping problems in the near term may be your only option. After all, planning for a systemic piping replacement project takes time. But the longer you chase those leaks, the faster they’ll catch up to you. Wait too long — until there is a major catastrophic leak, for example — and you limit your ability to thoughtfully plan for a major capital improvement project. Then, all your decisions will be about how to solve an emergency.

Take back control

In our experience, it can take several months, and even more than a year, to start a pipe replacement project once apartment community owners and condominium boards decide to proceed. So, if you are having routine leaks in your community, stop chasing them, and start planning for an alternative solution, one that will solve the problem once and for all.

For a free consultation on how you can stop chasing leaks at your community, please contact us and we are happy to help explain your options, timing, and the costs associated with a system-wide solution to your recurring piping problems.

Resources to stop chasing leaks

Pipe-Smart Checklist. Sure, your community has had a few leaks, but is one of your piping systems really failing? Download the SageWater Pipe-Smart Checklist of tell-tale signs that a community piping system is failing. It includes guidance on when to add piping assessment and replacement costs to your capital expense and capital improvement planning.

Pointers for Selecting the Right Contracting Model. Repiping a community is a significant capital improvement project. Which professionals do you need to hire and when? Select the contracting model that best meets your budget and the needs of your community. The Design-Build model is often overlooked. Compare it with other models.

Top 7 reasons to use a specialty contractor for your repipe project. You want every advantage when setting out to replace a piping system in your community. See the top seven advantages of choosing a specialty pipe replacement contractor instead of a service plumber.

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Thanks for reading our blog! Contact us any time with questions about Simply Smarter Pipe Replacement for multifamily apartment and condominium communities.