Initially, the drain cleaning was a success. The seven girls sharing the two shower bathroom on the freshman floor of the small Louisiana college were relieved. They again had two showers to use as they raced to get ready for classes in the morning. Within a few weeks, however, the drain was beginning to show signs again of clogging. Worse yet, the problem of little pressure for the hot water was getting worse. While the campus maintenance staff had made small progress that lasted for a short time, it was clear the problem was bigger than something that could be handled without bringing in professionals.
As Scholars Weekend approached, the rush to get the drain cleaning and the water pressure fixed became frantic. A professional drain inspection indicated that some serious work was needed. Using traditional methods, this would not be an easy task with a dorm full of students who were still three months from the end of the school year. Luckily, a sewer camera inspection indicated the drain cleaning was not not working because the real problem was occurring below the building, not just on this one third floor bathroom. The professional drain cleaning team, working with a trenchless sewer repair group, anticipated they could complete the project in a 48 hour period. A time frame that seemed manageable to the girls on the third floor, the campus maintenance staff, and the college residential director.
Clogged Drains Can Indicate Bigger Problems
While the problems at this small college in Louisiana in no way compare to the “horrific” conditions that have recently been in the news about prison conditions in Nunavik, located in Quebec, they are still a major issue for the students and their families who are paying nearly $18,000 in room and board fees. The “not far” from Third World conditions in the Quebec prison, as reported by the February 18, 2016 Montreal Gazette, include reports of blocked drains and no access to fresh water.
Whether you are down south in a Louisianan college or up north in Canada, slow drains are an issue. As institutions across the U.S. and beyond attempt to deal with failing and deteriorating plumbing and sewer issues, many are looking for faster, more effective methods than traditional drain and sewer repair. While both the Louisiana college and Canadian prison are dealing with buildings and systems in aging institutions, even newer buildings, and even residential homes, can find their new plumbing attached to old sewer lines that are failing. While only 3% of Angie’s List customers who responded to a poll say that they have already paid for major home sewer repair, another 25% expect to do so in the very near future. The fact is, any home — or commercial building for that matter — that is older than 40 years should have a sewer inspection to avoid costly emergency sewer problems.
Basic Steps to Determining Drain Cleaning Problems
- Do Not force more water into the system! Suspected drain blockage in the main drain line often indicates a much bigger problem. Home owners should not use the plumbing system in their home until the clog has been cleared. Putting more water into the line can cause waste water backup emergencies in the home.
- Locate the clean out plug. Often located on a large drain pipe in a basement, crawl space, garage, or near the foundation of the house, use an adjustable wrench to remove the plug. Be careful as waste water may drain out when the clean out is opened. The best advice is to stand clear as the plug is removed. Place a bucket under the drain line if it is vertical.
- Time for tools It may now be safe to use an auger or sewer rod from either end. As a warning, standard, hand-powered drain cleaning and clearing tools are not effective against a clog caused by tree roots. When these have entered an underground pipe, it is best to contact a professional plumber.
Like many major home repair projects, drain cleaning and sewer inspection and repair can be difficult tasks. Not completed correctly, problems can get worse, not better. Trenchless methods have been available for residential use for the last 15 years. These larger commercial tools make small jobs of large problems.