Are Apartment Toilets Connected?

The answer is yes, to some extent. There are three types of plumbing in an apartment: vertical stacks, horizontal pipes, and branch lines. 

In some cases, vertical pipes from different units may be connected further down the line for the drainage system.

Are you concerned about the plumbing in your apartment and can’t figure out how it’s all connected?

Fret not! We will explain everything you need to understand how apartment plumbing works.

Purpose of the Different Pipes

The three different pipes serve a purpose. The vertical pipes are the plumbing vents of the building. 

They ensure that the air pressure in the pipes is maintained so sewage gases don’t get trapped in the plumbing lines. 

These vertical stacks are further divided into other types. 

Rainwater collected on the roof is carried through the vertical stacks called leaders. They bring the water to the drainage system below.

On the other hand, the pipes connected to the water closet and the urinal are called soil stacks. Lastly, the waste stacks are connected to the plumbing fixtures that are not meant for human waste.

You will notice that there are other pipes around your apartment unit. However, these pipes only deal with your home. 

That said, these pipes are also shared between apartments, but that is not always the case.

Also, the waste line from some units is usually connected further down the path to join the common line for all the apartments. The shared part may just be a small section. 

All that said, the structure of the plumbing system also depends on when the building was constructed. Older buildings may have connected pipes. 

However, newer buildings are built with a different sanitation system and have separate pipes for separate apartment units that go directly down to the waste lines. 

How Plumbing Lines in an Apartment Work

Apartments are divided into two categories, which are multi-story dwellings and multiple dwellings. 

Multi-story dwellings are buildings that are very tall. 

The municipal water supply does not have the water pressure required to supply water to the entire building. High-rise buildings need intense water pressure that can easily reach every apartment in the building. 

Similar to a multi-story dwelling, multiple dwellings also have a number of apartment units. However, the buildings are not as tall. Hence, they do not require the same water pressure. In fact, their plumbing system is similar to that of a house.  

Multiple Dwelling System 

As mentioned, the plumbing system of a multiple-dwelling system matches the one for a house. The only difference is that the pipes are extended, so the water reaches other apartments as well.

Water from the municipal supply reaches every unit through a system of pipes, faucets, and valves.

Every unit receives the water it needs. The drain waste vent system (DWS) is responsible for taking all the waste from the apartment to the waste line.   

Multi-Story System

The multi-story system has a very different plumbing system that especially caters to high-rise buildings. 

Here are some parts of the plumbing systems in tall buildings that will help you understand how the plumbing works.

Water Pressure

It is important to ensure that the water reaches each apartment efficiently in a high-story building. Otherwise, people will complain about low pressure and lack of water resources.

Some complexes use booster pumps to add pressure to the water coming through the storage tanks. The booster pumps help by giving extra pressure to the building’s existing one.

Drainage System

Vertical stacks, branch lines, and horizontal underground lines are all a part of the drainage system of a tall building.

 The vertical stack moves up the building from the basement or the ground floor to the roof. Soil stacks, waste stacks, and drainage stacks are all components of vertical stacks. 

The waste stack helps keep water away from showers and sinks because they are clean water fixtures. 

Soil stacks are responsible for keeping water away from toilets and urinals. 

On the other hand, vent slacks do not deal with water and only focus on the air pressure. 

While each apartment has separate stacks, they are joined with branch lines as extensions for each apartment. 

Once the water enters the branch, it moves ahead to the horizontal lines, which are underground. No special pump is required since gravity does all of the work. 

The horizontal lines move the wastewater from the building to the local waste system. It is essential to note that only some buildings have the same drainage system. 

There are two types of drainage systems that are used for apartments, which are one-pipe and two-pipe systems. 

One-pipe system moves the wastewater and solid waste through one pipe. However, a two-pipe system ensures that both wastes move separately. 

Control Valves

Apartments require many plumbing lines that go through all of the units. With such an extensive system, it is essential to ensure that cross-contamination does not take place. 

That is where the control valves come in. Each apartment unit gets a control valve, which plays a big role in preventing cross-contamination. 

If all apartment plumbing is connected, it would be challenging to work on repairs or blockages.

The entire water supply system of the building would have to be shut off to work on fixes and repairs for a single unit.

Through control valves, the water supply can be shut off for individual apartments when a particular unit needs repair, or if it is empty. 

Common Plumbing Problems in Apartments

Since some portions of the plumbing system are connected in the case of apartments, you may sometimes have to suffer because of other people in the building. 

  • Clogged Toilets: The most common problem faced by apartment residents is a clogged toilet. Sometimes people throw things in the toilet that do not belong there. These items block the pipes and cause hindrance for the water from running smoothly in the system.
  • Clogged Drains: This happens for a similar reason. When drain pipes get something stuck in there, it causes them to get blocked. Hair from the shower or other such material may clog the drains. 
  • Leaking Fixtures: Wall or floor damage can mean leaking fixtures. It is essential to identify the source to find a solution to this problem. 

The Final Word

The apartment plumbing system can be quite complex, depending on how tall the building is. Some parts of the plumbing lines are connected. 

On the other hand, some branch out and connect with the drainage systems. 

A common line for the toilet may cause more clogged toilets. This may cause your toilet to backflow if another apartment unit connected to yours has a clogged toilet.

It is essential to have a building sanitation code that everyone must adhere to. This will help avoid shared problems in the plumbing system.  

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