3 High-Rise Plumbing Design Challenges to Keep in Mind

Posted 07/13/2017

high rise plumbing design

Designers, developers, and project owners face a multitude of complex high-rise plumbing design challenges in both the planning and execution phases. Elements such as ceiling cavities, equipment space, riser locations and more are integral in preparing plumbing system designs. Plumbing engineers must work in partnership with fire protection engineers to coordinate the coverage density and outlet placement of sprinkler systems on each floor. However, as developments reach new heights, architects and plumbing engineers must address issues specific to high-rises in order to ensure occupants are safe and comfortable.

Challenges in High Rise Plumbing Design

Pipe Drainage

Vertical pipes generally drain easily -- thanks to gravity. However, horizontal pipes need to be considered carefully. Frequent drainage issues include compressing air and pipe stress should a drainage system not be developed in a collaborative manner between architects, builders, and engineers. Water needs to drain at a certain rate to avoid air getting trapped in the pipe system.

Lack of Water Pressure

Lack of water pressure is another major concern, as the higher the structure, the harder it is to maintain the same level of pressure. Supplying uniform pressure on stacked floors also proves difficult. Floors closer to the bottom a structure generally exceed the pressure levels of the floors above.

Zone specific pressure problems are one of the most common issues plumbing designers face when trying to stay within the pressure requirements of the plumbing system. The most efficient plumbing system in a high rise building uses separate booster pumps for each pressure zone rather than pressure reducing valves on lower floors.


A building’s ventilation system furnishes the flow of air in pipes after water has been raised and used. It is vital for flow and force consistency. Complex buildings like hospitals require even more design coordination due to higher density of plumbing fixtures and laboratories that may have to drain chemicals.

Wondering how to outfit your next project with plumbing products that will stand up to the challenge a high-rise can pose? Symmons products are built to last, designed to stand out, and backed by a customer-first culture. See how Symmons has provided plumbing solutions for architects, plumbing engineers and designers on properties on a global scale.

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