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Althoff Industries, Inc. Blog

Risers: What They Are, How to Know They Need Replacement


At Althoff, we offer extensive commercial plumbing services to all types of buildings and facilities. You’ll find we offer plumbing services many other local contractors don’t—it’s why our motto is “Challenges accepted!”

One major challenge in commercial plumbing is handling multi-story buildings. Moving freshwater against gravity from one floor to another requires specialized plumbing devices and structures. One of the essential parts of the plumbing of multi-story structures is the risers. Plumbing in buildings simply can’t work without them. We offer riser replacement services for customers who need the best in office building plumbing in Chicago, IL.

What are risers?

You may not know about the risers in your building because they are supposed to carry out their job without you noticing anything. Risers, which are also called riser mains, refer to the water supply lines that move from one floor to another. In other words, the vertical pipes in a building that allow fresh water to rise from lower floors to upper floors. Risers have features such as backflow preventers to stop water from moving in the wrong direction through the system.

Risers can be made from a variety of materials, and the types in your facility depend on the building’s age. The most common riser materials are plastic, copper, brass, and galvanized steel. Like any part of a plumbing system, risers have a limited lifespan and at some point will need to be replaced.

How can I tell if I need riser replacement?

You can make an estimate on riser replacement based on the age of the pipes. Depending on the material, risers can last from 40 to 100 years. Plastic pipes have the shortest average lifespan, about 40 years, although they often last longer. Galvanized steel can last for 50 years, brass for 70 years, and K-type copper for 100 years. (You can see why copper piping has become the most commonly used metal in commercial plumbing.) 

Age isn’t an absolute determining factor for riser replacement, however, since the amount of use the risers receive, their maintenance history, and the presence of chemicals in the water that causes corrosion can all lower their lifespans. If you have an older facility that may have outdated risers, we recommend calling our plumbers to inspect them to see if you need to have them replaced.

There are specific warning signs you can watch for that will tell you it’s time to have new risers put in:

  • Gradual water pressure decline: If water pressure in the building is starting to drop, with the upper floors having it the worst, it can mean decaying risers or risers with blockage in them.
  • Discoloration: Deteriorating metal pipes can cause discoloration to appear in fresh water.
  • Signs of leaks on the walls: When you see water staining appearing on walls, it probably means a riser behind the wall is leaking.
  • High water bills: Leaking risers will also send you a warning in the form of higher water bills.

Get in touch with us for an inspection of your commercial plumbing to find out if you need our riser replacement services.

Call Althoff Industries, Inc. in the Chicagoland area to handle all your commercial plumbing needs. Challenges accepted!

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