Gravity works on everything around you, including the water in a plumbing system. Have you ever considered how water is able to travel upstream? Some of the water in our homes and in the buildings in our community can defy gravity, but of course, the water would need some help along the way. A plumbing system can be very complex, and a plumbing riser plays a big role in it.

The Definition of a Plumbing Riser

Risers are the vertical pipes that move water to higher floors. They’re sometimes called riser mains, and they deal with water supply lines. Any time you’ve used water in a hotel room, bedroom, or bathroom on a floor that’s not on the same level as the main water supply source, you’ve benefitted from a plumbing riser. People have to be very strategic when coming up with a riser diagram for a structure, as the pipes will all have to be properly connected to one another, to fixtures, and to the water source. Further, pipes need to be supported in some way, and it’s best if they don’t act as obstructions.

As you’d imagine, there can be quite a complex network of risers in a large building. If you think about a multi-story building, whether it’s a hotel, set of apartments, or office, you can get a better idea of how important risers are. Each sink, toilet, shower, or tub would need a constant supply of fresh water. Many of us turn on faucets without thinking about how the water is sent through the pipes, but it’s a pretty fascinating process.

Since water naturally flows downward, something needs to happen in order for it to travel upstream. Pressure is the reason why water can defy gravity. Pressure is created by the municipal water system or a well and pump system, and that’s why the water can move to higher floors. Large buildings may have booster pumps to send water all the way up to their highest floors. With these pumps, the water can move quickly through the system.

Plumbing Riser Materials

Industry professionals have used a variety of materials for risers. Some materials have been more popular during certain years than others. Each type of material comes with its own advantages. Plastic is a more affordable material for risers, but it might not last as long as the other options. That being said, it could still last for four decades or more, so it’s not as if you’ll have to frequently replace plastic risers. PEX and PVC are two materials that are commonly used, and they’ve proven to be practical choices. Many people, given various circumstances, will never have to replace plastic risers in the homes they’re living in. However, at some point, it could be necessary.

Galvanized steel, brass, and copper are other choices. Here, they’ve been listed in order of longevity, so copper is going to be the best choice if lifespan is the most important concern. The tradeoff is that these materials might be more expensive than plastic. As with anything, you usually get what you pay for.

Do You Need New Risers?

Plumbing risers could need repairs or might need to get replaced. If water is staining the walls, risers may have leaks. One isolated problem might be easily remedied, but multiple problems could be a sign that the entire system needs to get replaced.

Aside from looking for water stains, you can also pay attention to your water bills. If water usage hasn’t increased significantly but the water bill is much higher, then you likely have a leak somewhere, possibly in your risers. In this case, you’ll want to have a plumber come out and take a look. Plumbers have diagnostic tools to help them pinpoint leaks that could otherwise be difficult to spot.

Risers can sometimes be compromised from the inside. They may get clogged with mineral deposits or other materials. If this happens, you’d notice a drop in water pressure. Most likely, the higher floors would experience the lowest water pressure if this were to happen. To address the situation, riser replacement may be necessary.

Another reason why you might consider getting new plumbing risers has to do with water discoloration. Metal pipes can deteriorate and corrode over time. The corrosion can affect the quality of the water, which could potentially pick up an orange-brown color. It’s not pleasant to have discolored water coming through your pipes, so you’ll want to get this taken care of right away. Plus, corroded pipes are more prone to bursting or cracking, which could lead to a very unfortunate situation.

Restoration of Risers

Instead of having your entire set of risers taken out, you may be able to have riser restoration. During this process, a liner goes into the riser and restores its structural integrity. This might be a more affordable way to solve a problem with your system.

The Problem With Lead

We would like to highlight an important safety concern related to plumbing risers, and that has to do with lead. Lead pipes and lead solder were very prevalent in some areas. (The solder was used to connect pipes together.) Lead was easy to use and really durable, so it seemed to be a good choice for many years. After scientists found that lead can get into the water and negatively affect people’s health, the industry made moves to ban lead plumbing. In 1986, the Safe Drinking Water Act mandated that all plumbing materials be free of lead. You should be safe from lead in your water if your home was built after that point, but you might want to have your older home checked out. Given the age of the pipes and the potential hazards, it might be best to have your pipes and risers replaced in this case.

Septic Tank Risers

A different type of riser can be found on septic tanks. These risers can be made out of plastic, or they can be made out of fiberglass or concrete as well. They extend up from the septic tank to the ground surface so that a septic company can more easily access the tank. Getting a septic riser can be a smart move because it allows professionals to inspect the system and pump it out if necessary, without having to dig up the ground to access the tank.

Turn to Us for Help

If you live in the Nampa area and have any concerns with your wastewater, Express Septic & Drain Cleaning is ready to help you. We’ll listen carefully as you share what you’ve been noticing, and we’ll work carefully as we determine what’s going on. We can present you with a practical solution, keeping your best interests in mind. We’ve been in operation since 2006, and we offer septic pumping and grease trap service in addition to inspections, repairs, and septic riser installations. Plus, we can set you up with a de-compactor service to rejuvenate your drain field, and we can provide you with enzymes that can break down waste. We’re available 24 hours a day in case of emergency. Call Express Septic & Drain Cleaning to schedule an appointment!

company icon