Plumbing Systems: Looking for Trouble
September 5, 2014 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
The least understood of step in keeping plumbing and piping systems flowing — as well as the most difficult to carry out — is troubleshooting. Much of this process is done with blinders on, since piping systems are often hidden from view or difficult to access, technicians need to visualize the whole infrastructure.
The first requirement for this phase is a good set of as-built prints showing drain layout, pipe diameters and materials, and lengths of laterals, risers, and collectors. Unreliable or out of date prints often hamper technicians trying to visualize the size and direction of piping, offsets, and fittings. Yet understanding the layout is essential to predicting the likely location of clogs.
Technicians can remedy this problem with a drain cleaning unit featuring a video camera, in addition to appropriate cable reel, cable length, video pickup, monitor screen, and data backup capability. This inspection equipment can save a great deal of money in the long run, and it can reveal the blockage more quickly, shortening repair time. If the piping system is complicated and hidden within walls and above ceilings, an inspection camera and accessories can shift easily from the nice-to-have category to must-have.
To save both time and money in cleaning drains, technicians often use must-have rodding and jetting units, possibly followed by running water through the plumbing to see if it is clear. Generally, this shortcut precedes numerous occurrences of the same or similar clogs in several locations, each of which has to be cleared, and costs mount.
But skipping the troubleshooting step leads to misunderstanding the causes and locations of clogs, as well as the conditions that create them. As a result, it sets up the conditions that result in simply moving blockages between locations, repeated blockages, and higher costs, as well as operational disruption and flooding that damages equipment and facilities.