Water & Plumbing

This is unofficial advice given neighbor to neighbor; accuracy is not guaranteed, and any work on a unit should be done by licensed professionals with proper permissions from the building management.

Water

There are no individual water meters.  Your water costs are paid for by your monthly condo fee.  Each unit has a shutoff valve(s), usually behind a door on the landing between the first and second floor of your unit.  Familiarize yourself with these valves; they are simple handle valves.  When the handle is perpendicular to the pipe, the valve is closed.  Verify water is off by testing a sink faucet, both hot and cold.  When you get any plumbing done on your unit, the plumber will need to know where these are.  The shut off valves for the units were an afterthought to construction so they didn’t exist when the building was first converted to apartments.  Recommend you choose a plumber who is familiar with the building.

—Bill J

Plumbing

There are a few peculiar plumbing situations to be aware of in your unit.

The bathroom toilets are not typical toilets.  They do not direct flow downward like most toilets but instead direct flow horizontally into the wall.  Typically these toilets are extremely expensive (i.e. on the order of over $1000 per unit).  You most likely have a Kohler toilet or a Niagara toilet.  Recommend when replacing a toilet to use someone familiar with the building.  Frank Potvin Plumbing still does work in the building and is very familiar with the building. (Admin note: you can check this old Bulletin Board discussion for more about plumbers.) Because of this peculiar plumbing, you may not be able to put in the flooring of your choice because there is little room for play up or down when aligning a toilet replacement.

The full bath’s shower surround (or bathtub) again is not plumbed like normal tubs.  There may be insufficient room to plumb a typical tub unless it is raised higher than normal.  Again, consult a plumber familiar with the building.  Recommend you reach out to residents who may have added a tub before you undertake a remodel.

All other plumbing can be fixed or modified or remodeled by any competent plumber.

—Bill J.

Because of the way the tub is plumbed, it’s virtually impossible to snake the drain; there is a sharp angle just below the surface and a trap some feet away within the wall. Some people never have a problem with clogs while others are repeatedly battling a plugged, or partially plugged tub drain.

The best way to deal with the weird tub plumbing is to be proactive. A “TubShroom” is effective at catching hair, and regularly adding enzymes by using a product such as Zep helps avoid a problem. Once the drain is clogged, chemical drain cleaners work to varying effect but the most effective solution is to find a plumber or maintenance person experienced with using pressurized air to clear drains. It’s worth checking with management to see if they have anyone available who might be able to help.

—Ruth E.

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