Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Plumbing Issues in Condos and Co-ops: Unique Challenges in Repairs and Upgrades

We talk quite a bit in our blog posts about plumbing problems in New York City’s apartment buildings. But what about condos and cooperatives? It’s been our experience at Sanitary Plumbing that these residences have their own unique challenges when it comes to repairs and upgrades. Here’s what you need to consider about plumbing issues in condos and co-ops, whether you’re a property owner or management company.

Why Plumbing Improvements Shouldn’t Wait Too Long

Multiple unpleasant consequences

The temptation is often to do nothing when it comes to plumbing improvements in co-os and condos. No one wants to “poke the sleeping bear,” where you could uncover problems far worse than you imagined by probing inside the walls and looking at old pipes. But this strategy is nearly always destined to backfire.

Even though arranging plumbing updates in these buildings can be more complicated (see below), it’s imperative to stay on top of the situation, lest you run into even worse difficulties, such as:

  • Owners being unable to sell or rent their units due to perceived high likelihood of imminent plumbing catastrophes or inspection failures
  • Risk of tenant or neighbor lawsuits for negligence
  • Violation of city building codes or laws protecting tenants (“warranty of habitability”)
  • Rising insurance premiums
  • Increased calls to maintenance staff to temporarily fix plumbing issues
  • Cost of upgrades escalating as old plumbing components degrade, potentially causing worse problems
  • Water damage, mold, and other consequences that result in unit loss of use

How to Tell When Your Condo or Co-op Plumbing Is Ready for an Update

Common warning signs you shouldn’t ignore

At Sanitary Plumbing, we work on a large number of pre-war buildings in New York, and we tend to see the same warning signs popping up again and again, indicating a property’s plumbing system is ready for an overhaul:

  • Low water pressure, especially in upper stories
  • Rusty, brown, or discolored water
  • Water that tastes or smells unpleasant
  • Heavy accumulation of mineral scale or sediment on plumbing components
  • Appliances such as dishwashers or clothes washers not functioning properly
  • Noisy pipes or water heaters
  • Inadequate or inconsistent hot water or steam radiator heat
  • Frequent clogs or backups
  • Smell of mold or mildew
  • Water stains on walls, floors, and ceilings
  • Leaks, particularly from one unit into another
  • Burst pipes or history of frozen pipes
  • Increasingly high water bills not commensurate with utility price increases
  • Difficulty making in-unit upgrades due to plumbing infrastructure

Our plumbers often hear that maintenance is getting more calls about plumbing problems with each passing month, often overwhelming the staff. Service calls tend to get more frequent and more expensive as well.

How to Get the Plumbing Upgrade Process Started

Identifying problems and creating a plan

A key starting point is to consult with a licensed master plumber, like Sanitary Plumbing, that has experience dealing with these kinds of upgrades. We can perform a detailed evaluation of the building, so you have a better idea of the cost, timeframe, and amount of disruption involved.

To help us get a better handle on what needs to be addressed, we speak with building maintenance and property management staff, asking about typical calls, recent repairs, history of plumbing problems, and the like. It’s a good idea to also survey occupants, asking about water or plumbing problems, such as lack of pressure or rusty water.

Some of the considerations we examine include:

  • Do galvanized or other undesirable pipes need to be replaced with copper?
  • What other plumbing components are too old, worn, or encrusted to be useful anymore and must be replaced?
  • Would the building benefit from a water filtration system?
  • What is the status of the mains, risers (pipes that carry water vertically to upper floors), and branch lines (pipes going to individual units)?
  • Is there space in the chase (wall space) to simply run new pipes alongside the old ones without removing them, which is more efficient and protective of branch lines, which are usually replaced last?
  • Is there any asbestos that might be disturbed and will need to be removed?
  • Are new distributor or pressure booster pumps needed?
  • Are there water heaters that need replacing, or does the boiler provide hot water?
  • How much architectural detailing, like baseboards, needs to be removed to get the job done?
  • What is the expected timeframe for public spaces and for each unit?
  • How long and when will the water need to be shut off during work?
  • Which pipes require insulation?
  • Do tenants want to take advantage of the plumber’s presence to upgrade their own fixtures?
  • Is a backflow prevention device in place and working correctly (required by the city)?

We generally recommend doing all the work at once as quickly as possible to minimize the disruption to everyone, but sometimes this isn’t financially feasible. In that case, we work with clients to break the project into logical segments to be completed over time. Typically, plumbing in public spaces is tended to first, so mains and risers are fixed or replaced before branch lines or anything in occupant units.

Executing a major plumbing upgrade in a condo or co-op building can seem daunting at first, but the more you plan in advance and get everyone on the same page, the smoother it goes. We’re happy to come out and look at your property to help you start the process, so you can budget and schedule more easily. To set up an appointment or reach out with more questions, call Sanitary Plumbing at 212-734-5000 or use our easy online form to contact us.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with omniagroup.nyc).

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

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We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

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The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

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The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Omnia Mechanical Group, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

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The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Omnia Mechanical Group. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since omniagroup.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.