Commercial plumbing is an essential part of any business. With the unique demands placed on commercial systems, there are some notable differences between commercial and residential plumbing. While both require a professional plumber to install, maintain, and repair fixtures and pipes, there are a few key differences that need to be considered. This article will discuss the various distinctions between commercial and residential plumbing so that you can make informed

What is residential plumbing?

Residential plumbing is most commonly seen in homes, apartments, and small businesses. It relies on smaller fixtures and pipes designed to handle the needs of a typical household, such as using water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and flushing toilets. Residential plumbing usually serves a single family or unit and is typically made up of copper or galvanized steel pipes that are connected to an interior water supply line, a sewer line, and a drain system.

What is commercial plumbing?

Commercial plumbing is a specialized type of plumbing designed to meet the needs of businesses and large public buildings. It requires larger fixtures and pipes than residential plumbing, as they are expected to handle greater water flow and pressure. Commercial plumbing systems are usually made up of stainless steel or PVC pipes connected to an interior water supply system, as well as an exterior sewer system.

The major differences

The major differences between commercial and residential plumbing are in the size, type, and complexity of fixtures and pipes. Commercial plumbing systems require larger fixtures and pipes to meet the demands of businesses, while residential plumbing relies on smaller fixtures and pipes designed for households. Additionally, commercial plumbing systems must be able to handle greater water flow and pressure than residential systems.

Residential Plumbing Systems

  • Water heater to send hot water out to sinks and showers
  • Water lines out to appliances (refrigerators, washers, dishwashers, toilets)
  • Does not typically have water filtration system
  • Exterior water hooks for hoses
  • Exterior water system for landscaping purposes
  • Ventilation system to control pressure
  • Drainage lead to sewer or municipality system

Commercial Plumbing Systems

There isn’t a list for commercial plumbing systems as the plumbing systems can be vastly different depending on the needs of the business. Restaurants will need more more water lines and drainage hookups than an office building. Restaurants, salons, pet groomers, etc will also typically need to more filtration systems to control the quality of the water coming out of the sinks as opposed to an office that doesn’t have the need to control the mineral content of the water. Things to consider calling a plumber that specializes in commercial plumbing:

Drinking water

Will the water need to be consumed by a lot of people? Typically a small office can have a small water heater installed that will provide warm water from the sink and the water from the municipality is safe to drink so you won’t need a filtration system or large water heater.


A water filtration system can remove minerals from the water, which is important if you need to control the water quality. This could be important in labs where you need to have accurate results and minerals from the municipal water can change results. It would also be important in salons where the water may leave minerals on a person’s hair which is about to undergo chemical treatments.

Maintenance and Reliability

What would happen to your business if your plumbing system failed? If your business would be shut down, then it’s important to invest in a system built to handle an overestimated amount of work. Take care in getting larger or better quality pipes and appliances such as water heaters. You should also plan for maintenance, upgrades, and repairs. Planning for repairs can help not shut a business down if repairs are needed during business hours and won’t affect the public as the plumbing access is out of the way.


If you are a business that is thinking of just getting a simple plumbing system that is not much more than residential plumbing systems, you should think about future needs and how your business will be affected if the plumbing systems need maintenance or repairs. It is better to have a stronger than needed system that should handle the rare extreme situation than a system that could be damaged by atypical use. Find a plumber that is available 24/7 hours and handles custom commercial plumbing like Wittmaier Plumbing.