Receiving calls from your facilities reporting blocked drains, flooding, disrupted operations, and crippling damages have become daily setbacks to many facilities managers across the nation.
The best way to minimize, and even prevent, such problems is to develop, implement, and carefully manage a preventive maintenance program for drain cleaning.
Identifying the locations with the most common drain blockage problems, and exploring drain-cleaning equipment options enables a facility manager to effectively coordinate the equipment, time and activities, and minimize disruptions to the daily routine.
Traps, turns and constrictions in plumbing systems are the most likely places for drain and pipe blockages to start. A building’s “as-built” drawings (usually on file with the building owner or the architect) will show the drain system from the fixture to the municipal sewer system and waste-treatment facility. These drawings provide an overview of the entire drainage system piping runs, both horizontal and vertical.
Front-line staff can also identify the locations of inspection and cleanout plugs. They can remove the plugs, usually threaded into a Y-fitting, to check the condition of a pipe’s inside walls or to insert cleanout tools, inspection equipment, and drain-cleaning tools.
The most frequent blockage problems in institutional and commercial buildings involve toilet and sink traps. These traps serve two purposes: to hold a quantity of water between the drain opening and the sewer and prevent sewer gases from backing up into the environment, and to stop objects from becoming lodged farther into the drain line, where they are very difficult to locate and remove.
Sinks, toilets, and floor drains all have traps. Commercial kitchens have grease traps to keep large quantities of grease out of the drains. If not collected and removed periodically, the grease eventually will solidify in large enough amounts to totally block the flow through the pipe.
Some blockages also occur from the permeation by tree roots into underground lines. The roots take advantage of pipe walls that have collapsed due to age, settling or that have been damaged by construction equipment inside or outside the building.
Newer low-flow toilet fixtures also can be a source of blockages, especially if the flush valves were added to the system as part of a water-conservation upgrade and if bowls were not matched to the valve’s flow rate. Some older toilet bowls were not designed for lower water flow. If installation of low-flow valves did not include replacement of the old bowl design, a clogging problem might result from an insufficient water flow.
Tackling problems before they happen by having detailed knowledge of your drains and your plumbing system will save you a great deal of time, and money, in the long run.