Addding dental office in multi-story office building

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by digger2, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. digger2

    digger2 New Member


    My wife is a dentist and we are looking to set up a new office for her. One of the locations we are looking at is a mostly unfinished office on the second floor of a 3-story built in 2005. The floor is concrete and there is roughed-in plumbing for two bathrooms. Adding new supply or through-the-floor drain lines is likely not an option.

    To make a normal dental office, there would be 4-6 rooms, each with one or two sinks in them, a few more sinks in the lab area, and a small clothes washer, plus preferably two bathrooms.

    The question is, how is this type of thing done? Is it possible to do this, tapping into one of the bathroom supply and drain lines? Certainly we wouldn't be the first to put a dental or doctor's office into a pre-existing building, but haven't been able to find any references to how it is done. All we know of so far is one office which we were told the drains pumped up through the wall and over the ceiling tiles somewhere. The real estate agent brought up the code issues with drain line sizes per sink, but in this case everything would be very low volume.

    Any info greatly appreciated!
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Yakima WA
    There is little doubt that you will have to have this done professionally. The plumber will very likely need to have the building's plans to determine what can and what can not be done. Local building and plumbing codes will have to be strictly adhered to. Some of the pros may be able to give you some general ideas, but your best course of action is to consult with a local plumbing contractor.
  3. dental offices are fun

    pardon me for intrudeing...

    to do the job right, and the ony way to do it....
    you will have to core drill the floor and
    get into the ceiling of the tennant below you...

    pumping this stuff from buckets under sinks is a very half assed way to set up an office that you intend to be in for years. suction lines are also necessary and feeding them
    up and over could be a concern..

    of course this work might have to be done at night...
    which will cost more for the whole job... and can be a little messy...

    it all depends on how thick the floors are, some are
    only 2 inches thick with reinforceing metal base
    if the building is only a 2005 you should be ok...

    also it is a good idea to install an automatic shut off valve
    in your water system that would completely shut down
    everything in your unit when you leave...tied into the lights or alarm system.

    we were involved in a dental office on the 4 th floor of a building before, its not fun when they have a flood on a water heatr sometime down the road.

    PLEASE do the job right the first time or go
    find another office space on the first floor with a crawl space........
  4. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

    SW Florida
    We design systems like this all the time. As Mark stated this work will involve the tenants below and if venting is insufficient the tenants above. Usually the work involving the other tenants is done at night. A project like this needs to be engineered and cooridinated with other trades. The original shell building documents would also make things much easier (if they are correct and with the As-Builts). Another issue will also be any medical piping and vacuum system, some offices have self-contained systems (contained to the treatment rooms) and others have office-wide systems which are better for the long haul.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Almost everything has to be done in the ceiling of the lower office. Water, vacuum, air, drains, and sometimes medical gas, have to rise out of the floor if they are connected to the chair or its pedestal. The floor has to be core drilled, and if it is a pre/post stressed floor, it has to be x-rayed first to establish where the cables are located. It is expensive because it has to be done after hours, plus you have to work around their furniture, and if there is a leak during testing, it could cause extensive damage in the lower suite.
  6. I dont ever want to do another

    after reading the other posts , it reminded me of what
    pain in the ass that job really was a long time ago....

    and all that could go wrong with it at any time..

    stringing up suction lines, gas and I totally forgot about
    bolting down the dentist chairs and drilling the lines up through the bottom

    I suppose that work is considered light commercial and it nothing my insurance
    company would like me to tackle,

    you couldent get me to even bid it.....

    no thank you

    My best advice

    find a place on the first floor with a crawl space.
    it probably would be a lot cheaper...
  7. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    I am sure my dentist on the top floor does not have all that shenanigans but I'll certainly check next time I visit her on Thursday.

    She has one bathroom and sinks in each room. But aren't the chairs self-standing units, with their own plumbing and such i.e. put some water in here and empty that pot every now and again? Gas is clylinders on wheels etc.

    I can't wait for my root planing and scaling. And yes, your eyes do not deceive you. She is going to stick her one of those there.

    It is the most painful dental procedure I have ever had.

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  8. digger2

    digger2 New Member

    Thanks a bunch for the input. It helps a lot with discussions with the other parties. From what I have been told, it may be written in the bylaws that attic space is considered 'common area', and they might be required to provide access for adding drains. In our case, though, the building owner / rule maker is the owner of the unit below, so we'll see if this holds up.

    The other possibility I wonder about is whether a drain line (and supply lines, vacuum lines, etc.) could be run along the outer wall perimeter back around to the drain, and have the sink drains run through the partition walls and into it. I'm not sure if we could pull off enough height / drop to do it though. Total length from sink to main drain could be 80'+ at the farthest.

    The chairs are in fact free standing and essentially self contained. The suction drain systems can be attached to the chair and run through or above the floor, or be a flexible hose on a cart. Of course having everthing invisible under the floor is preferred, but I know I have seen drain lines going above the floor from the chair to somewhere and didn't think bad about it. While not the ideal way, this would likely be the only option in this space.

    Ian - my wife says 'floss!'. I have a bunch you could have - I don't use it... For me it isn't the procedure that is painful, but the ride home and the entire week after.
  9. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    My former dental clinic was in a building which was a former Wells Fargo Bank. Either for cost reasons, or the bank floor was too thick to mess with, they had a soffit running across the floor at the back wall, and out to the chair in each office. Wasn't beautiful, but what the hey.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    I am sure there are dentists in the outback of China which have coolies bringing pots of water to the chairs and carrying away the honeypot wastes, but I have not seen any in the civilized parts of the USA.
  11. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Columbus, OH
    When I was at the dentist once getting a procedure done they had to stop and replace the water tank. I had asked and I forgot what the supply was ... some sort of pressurized tank I think. She did say that it goes in to a holding tank that needs periodically emptied...ewww.

    Maybe raise the floor and run everything in a chase underneith? Sort of like those raised floors in computer rooms....
  12. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

    SW Florida
    I still say you need to get it engineered and built correctly, anything half assed will look half assed for along time. Very rarely does dressing up ugly work.
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