4 FM quick reads on plumbing
1. Plumbing: Keeping Drains Clear and Flowing
The most common drain trouble spots with plumbing systems that require the attention of technicians with drain-cleaning equipment are those areas where solids build up — sink, shower, and toilet drains.
Kitchen-sink drains dispose of grease and garbage, which can build up in traps. Shower drain traps can get clogged with soap residue and hair. Toilet bowls can get blocked with waste, paper products, and foreign objects. These solids might partially dissolve, but they are known to accumulate in piping over time and cause complete blockages, backups and overflows.
Blockages often occur in the lower end of a vertical riser that collects wastewater from several fixtures. The place to access the problems is at the cleanout where the drains collect. Opening the horizontal and vertical cleanouts and attacking the clog at that point generally solves the problem.
More complicated blockages occur when the common sewer drain that collects sink, shower and toilet waste becomes blocked. The tipoff to trouble is backups occurring at several points at the same time.
For example, if the common sewer drain is blocked, a backup can occur at a toilet and a sink drain at the same time. When the toilet is flushed, it backs up into the sink drain. The cause of the problem can be buildup on pipe walls, a solid object lodged in the drain, a tree root growing into the drain, or a combination of these problems. In addition to the inconvenience, this type of blockage is a serious potential health problem, and workers must deal with it right away.
Floor drains can present unique challenges, depending on the facility type and location. Garage drains are quite different from drains in basements or restrooms, and each requires specialized cleaning equipment.
Plumbing Systems: Setting Retrofit Goals
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, setting plumbing upgrade goals.
When maintenance and engineering managers make the decision to upgrade restrooms in institutional and commercial facilities, they typically are motivated by one or more common goals.
They might want to reduce water use in restrooms in an effort to curtail utility costs. They might want to implement a design that reduces maintenance costs by making it easier to keep the restrooms clean. In some cases, user complaints might motivate them to seek a new restroom with improved hygiene. Or they simply might want to bring the image of the restroom projects in line with the rest of the facility.
How well managers achieve their desired goals depends on the care with which they approach the process of planning upgrades. Managers should start the restroom upgrade process by clearly identifying the goals of the project. Forget cookie-cutter approaches. Most likely, they are the cause of the restroom's current problems. Instead, managers should approach every decision with a clear understanding of the way it will affect the desired goals of the upgrade.
For example, if one of the primary goals is to reduce cleaning costs, managers will need to evaluate the impact of every element in the new restroom design — including ceilings, floors, fixtures, surfaces and finishes — in terms of its relative cost to maintain its cleanliness.
Perhaps the most common error managers make when planning restroom upgrades is focusing on first costs. Over the life of a restroom, first costs in most applications are small, relative to operating and maintenance costs.
Focusing too heavily on an upgrade project's first costs also can result in a restroom design that does not allow managers to achieve long-term savings and hygiene goals. In many cases, even slight increases in first costs can result in very significant decreases in long-term operating and maintenance costs.