Commercial Plumbing Tips

In providing commercial plumbing services throughout Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding communities in the East Bay, our team has grown accustomed to solving many unique plumbing challenges associated with commercial properties. This includes complying with regulations, recognizing when unexpected regulations may come into effect, and providing guidance to customers dealing with confusing jargon.


Today we would like to share the following commercial plumbing tips so local property owners can benefit from some of the lessons we’ve learned throughout our experiences.

Top Plumbing Tips for Commercial Property Owners

1. Commercial properties are often required to comply with private sewer regulations.

A commercial building’s sewer systems may be connected to a private sewer main (PSM), which could trigger compliance requirements. A private sewer main is a “city main” sewer line installed by a private contractor on private property. This is key to note as maintenance, repair and compliance for these lines and those connected to it are handled a bit differently.

The above photo is one example of a commercial property connected to a private sewer main.  In this example, the businesses on commercial private property are responsible for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Sewer Compliance program requirements. Learn more about EBMUD compliance here.

2. Commercial properties may be required to test (or abandon) connected sewer laterals.

Larger commercial properties can often have more than one sewer lateral. Owners are required to comply with testing of each connected sewer line. This can be common in industrial spaces and or empty lots. (See photo below.)


The sewer camera inspection is the preferred diagnosis method, whereby a technician will run a camera through the laterals to identify branch connections, any defects or issues before testing.

PSL pressure test will be performed to verify that a line is watertight. This is required in order to obtain a Sewer Lateral Compliance Certificate, which is mandated when buying or selling a property, building or remodeling in excess of $100,000. Changing the size of the property water meter will also trigger sewer compliance.

In lieu of testing, unused lines may also be abandoned. In this case, the abandonment must comply with the city’s requirements. This may involve filling and or capping any unused lines, which is meant to prevent sinkholes and other damage underground.

3. Floor drains are not cleanouts.


Older commercial properties can sometimes have no cleanouts available to access the sewer lines on the property. Owners may be tempted to utilize floor drains as access points for ease of investigating of the sewer’s condition. Unfortunately, floor drain lines are typically too small in diameter to get the inspection camera into. For this reason, owners may need to install new cleanouts in order to provide better access to sewer lines for future maintenance and surveys.

Requests for camera inspections via floor drains are often discouraged because the diameter of the drain pipes are typically too small and/or have too many angles for cameras to traverse. (See diagram above.)

4. Install EBMUD-approved parts.

Only certain sewer parts are approved by the EBMUD compliance inspectors. For example, our team often installs approved grease-interceptors for restaurants and other commercial kitchen properties.

Be sure your replacement parts are approved before purchasing, and especially before installation.

What to Expect from a Commercial Sewer Service Provider

When choosing a commercial plumber, it’s important to find a company that will accommodate your business’s unique needs, whether you require after-hours work or a custom-bypass setup to accommodate 24/7 operations.

Pipe Spy has been solving complex plumbing problems for our customers since 1998. We not only accommodate the needs of our commercial clients, but we have a specialized knowledge from which property owners in our service area routinely benefit. If you’re preparing for a property sale or need testing or repairs in order to comply with EBMUD regulations, explore our commercial plumbing services.

For individual assistance, get in touch with the experts at Pipe Spy.