Plumbing in an apartment is a simple system. There’s little to worry about except when there’s a clog or the pipes freeze. Then you need to know what to do so when it happens; everyone can laugh at the person who caused it and not you.

If there aren’t any clogs or a frozen pipe, life is simple. You take a shower in the morning and go to bed that night with your face still wet. If you have roommates, when you wake up, you’ll be able to roll over and see them still asleep on the other side of their beds. When they wake up, they too will shower and go to work or school with wet hair.

So How does plumbing work in apartment buildings?

It’s simple. Imagine a standpipe that extends from your floor to the ceiling of the level above you. It then branches into four pipes that extend to the ceiling of every other floor in your building, with one pipe leading into each apartment on that floor. Each pipe ends in a T-fitting, and there is a showerhead attached to each end of the T-fittings. We’ll follow one branch to see how it works in your apartment.

The Branching: The pipe comes into your bathroom and is attached to a T fitting. One side goes down the drain, and a showerhead caps the other. That water then comes back up through another T that branches off of the first. One goes to the kitchen sink, the other to the shower on your roommates’ side of the apartment.

The Outlet: When you turn on the hot water for a second or so, water will come down your shower head and fill up your bathtub until it’s full enough to overflow through the U-bend into the pipe that goes into the kitchen sink. It then drains out of the U-bend and into the pipe with a T on it to go back down to be heated up again.

The other branches work the same way. There is a T-fitting on every floor, with each apartment getting its pipe that leads down to the standpipe and backs up to their bathroom sink. In this fashion, no one has any idea who turned on the hot or cold last night because you never have to talk about it. No matter who it was, they’ll never know because there are four apartments on each floor that get their sink.

You can turn on the hot in the middle of the night, go back to sleep, and your roommates won’t know it was you who did it while they still think about how nice a cold glass of water would taste while they lie in bed.


That’s the basic flow of how it works. Now you have an idea of how plumbing works in an apartment building.


For more information, contact Vinny’s Jersey Plumbing, located in Wayne, New Jersey.  We also service other cities in new Jersey, such as Bergenfield, Cliffside Park and Cedar Grove.