By Dave Dunbar, Retired – National Sales Manager at General Pipe Cleaners Roots are your sewer pipes’ worst nightmare! Tree roots are constantly in a state of hunger and thirst, searching relentlessly for water and nutrients. Both are abundantly available inside the drainpipes that lead from our homes to the septic systems or municipal sewage Read more
Just the Tip
By Dave Dunbar, Retired – National Sales Manager at General Pipe Cleaners
Roots are your sewer pipes’ worst nightmare! Tree roots are constantly in a state of hunger and thirst, searching relentlessly for water and nutrients. Both are abundantly available inside the drainpipes that lead from our homes to the septic systems or municipal sewage treatment plants that process our waste.
Root hairs are tiny, sometimes only a few cells wide, but they grow quickly and can sense the vibration of running water. When they squeeze through a small crack or crevasse in a drainpipe and find what they are looking for, they begin to grow and expand. Over a period of months and years, this unrelenting pressure on the pipe expands the initial crack and begins to cause severe damage. Before you know it, you have a tree root blocking your drain and the pipe is leaking like a sieve. When a plumber or drain cleaner encounters a pipe in this condition, ignoring the problem is not an option. Depending on conditions and circumstances, there are several strategies that a professional can use to solve the problem.
Here are the top five ways of dealing with root incursions:
Replace or Reline the Infested Pipe
If a drainpipe has lost its structural integrity, obviously, the best solution would be to replace it. Modern plastic pipe, when properly installed, will be far more waterproof and durable than what is in the ground at the present moment. Or, if digging a trench through the customer’s property is not the most convenient solution, there are a multitude of pipe relining products and strategies that are almost as good. Because replacing or relining is a foolproof solution to the problem, a growing number of municipalities across North America mandate replacing leaking pipes whenever the property changes hands. If this is the case, the contractor and customer have no choice.
However, despite replacement/relining being the best engineering solution to the customer’s problem, it will certainly be the most expensive. So, if the contractor’s plans are not mandated by municipal statutes, there may be a number of factors to consider before recommending this course of action. For example, how old is the customer, and what is their financial situation? How long do they intend to keep the property? Are there geographic considerations that make other options more attractive? If none of these other considerations prevent it, then pipe replacement remains the best solution.
Cable Drain Cleaning Machine
Although replacing or relining the pipes is a foolproof solution, the most commonly used method of removing and cutting roots is a cable style drain cleaning machine like General Pipe Cleaners’ Speedrooter 92. Much of this has to do with cost and expediency. For a few hundred dollars and two hours’ time, the customer is usually rewarded with a functioning drainpipe. Contrast this with enduring several messy construction days and perhaps tens of thousands of dollars for a pipe replacement job. It is a small wonder that, after doing the math, customers continue to pick the drain cleaning option despite the fact that it does not fix the underlying problems that allowed the root incursion in the first place. Any cracks, crevices, or separations that existed in the pipe before using the snake are certainly still there. These openings act as inducements for more root incursion, as well as allowing inflow of rainwater, which contributes to sewage overflows into our rivers, lakes, and oceans. At best, snaking a drain to remove root incursions is a temporary solution. However, as we will see, there are things a contractor can do to increase the effectiveness of this option.
High-Pressure Water Jetters
Another tool that can perform many of the same functions as the drain snake already mentioned is a high-pressure water jetter, which has become the go-to tool for a lot of professionals for issues in any large drain. Like a cable-style drain cleaning machine, jetters have ways to mechanically remove roots from the inside of a pipe.
First, there are Chain Saw Nozzles that convert the kinetic energy of the high-pressure water generated by the pump to spin a chain saw nozzle at the end of the hose. These chain saws can rotate at speeds up to 30,000 RPM, more than enough to buzz through the toughest root incursions. If the pipe isn’t completely filled with wood, then a high-performance nozzle can often do the trick. These jetter nozzles are designed with the same technology used to make nuclear submarine propellers and convert almost 100% of the water’s energy to high-pressure streams that cut like razors.
Although high-pressure water jetters are also a temporary solution to the problem of root incursion, they have the advantage of preparing the pipe for more thorough inspections or pipe relining. When a professional gets done jetting a drain line, it will look like a new pipe again!
Flexible-Shaft machines utilize a swiftly rotating wire coil inside a flexible hollow tube or hose that is connected to a cutting device on the front end. Because these cutters rotate at approximately 2,000 RPM, Flex-Shaft machines are adept at milling, pipe prep and root removal. For this reason, they are used extensively in the pipe relining industry, and have also become popular with plumbers and drain cleaners whose only goal is to cut and remove root incursions.
Flexible-Shaft machines tend to be used in tandem with pipe inspection systems, giving the contractor pinpoint control over the root cutting process. Like the snake style machines and high-pressure water jetters previously described, using a Flexible-Shaft machine to cut roots is a temporary solution to the customer’s problem. However, as already mentioned, they are often used for milling and pipe prep in the relining process. When utilizing the proper cutting tool, they leave the pipe in perfect condition to adhere to the material used in the pipe relining procedure. Testing has shown that pipe relining is often just as effective as pipe replacement at repairing the damage done to sewer pipes by root incursions.
Root Killing Solutions
Root Killing Solutions are chemical or biological products that the contractor introduces into the affected pipe to kill existing roots and inhibit further growth. While there are quite a few products available to the professional, most recommend that they be used either within one hour after cutting the roots with one of the methods already described, or after 8 weeks. Many contractors will recommend a thorough drain cleaning session with their snakes, jetters or Flexible-Shaft machines coupled with a root killing product. They will then attempt to lock the customer into a bi-yearly or annual preventative maintenance contract to reintroduce root killer to keep the problem at bay. This strategy can be a highly effective alternative for customers who do not wish to spend the money for a pipe replacement or pipe relining job, or do not plan to own the property indefinitely.
Most contractors do not lock themselves into using just one of these strategies when dealing with root incursions. More and more professional drain cleaners seem to have snakes, high-pressure water jetters, Flexible-Shaft devices, root killing products and sewer inspection cameras on every truck. As technology progresses in the field of plumbing and drain cleaning, contractors have more and more options available to them.
Remember, staying abreast of all the developments in our industry will give you the flexibility to successfully address the unique features of every job and every customer!
A holiday gift for his childhood home renovation Just in time for the holiday season, Don Kuhl, a Phoenix native, Air Force Veteran, and civil servant, received a fantastic gift: a brand-new air conditioning unit installed at his childhood home, currently undergoing renovation. This past November, the public voted and selected Kuhl as the winner Read more
A holiday gift for his childhood home renovation
Just in time for the holiday season, Don Kuhl, a Phoenix native, Air Force Veteran, and civil servant, received a fantastic gift: a brand-new air conditioning unit installed at his childhood home, currently undergoing renovation. This past November, the public voted and selected Kuhl as the winner of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning‘s 8th Annual Military Hero Giveaway.
“This installation couldn’t have come at a better time, especially as we prepare to celebrate the holidays. The memories within these walls make this gesture from Forrest Anderson even more meaningful,” said Kuhl.
With a background as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force, Kuhl is now serving as a civil servant at Luke Air Force Base. Kuhl’s commitment to service extends beyond duty hours, and despite being injured during his military service, he remains steadfast in his commitment to serving his country and community. He is currently renovating his childhood home with his partner Shauna.
“Our team is grateful to help recognize Don’s courage with an extra special gift this year to ensure comfort during the holiday season and beyond,” said Audrey Monell, President of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning. “As a third-generation family-owned company, we strive to treat our customers like family, always doing business with humility and utmost appreciation for our customers.”
Forrest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning is committed to honoring Veterans for their service and sacrifice. This new A/C unit ensures Kuhl’s renovated childhood home will be comfortable for gatherings with loved ones this holiday season and beyond. This act of gratitude and support emphasizes the significance of giving back to those who have dedicated their lives to serving the country.
The purpose of combustion analysis is to help HVAC technicians ensure fuel-fired heating appliances are running safely and efficiently. Long gone are the days of checking efficiency by the color and shape of the flame. Combustion analyzers measure and calculate a range of variables such as flue temperature, draft pressure, and the byproducts of combustion Read more
The purpose of combustion analysis is to help HVAC technicians ensure fuel-fired heating appliances are running safely and efficiently. Long gone are the days of checking efficiency by the color and shape of the flame. Combustion analyzers measure and calculate a range of variables such as flue temperature, draft pressure, and the byproducts of combustion like oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). To tap into the full power of your combustion analyzer, here are a few tips and best practices to keep in mind this heating season.
Location, Location, Location
Combustion analysis is all about location. Key measurements are taken in the flue gas after the heat exchanger and prior to any dilution air entering the flue. Typically, the ideal location to measure combustion byproducts, such as CO, is about a foot above the furnace box and at least a foot away from any elbow. Using an existing combustion test access fitting is preferred over drilling into the flue. If an access location must be drilled, reseal the hole following testing with a silicone plug for example, to ensure exhaust gases are not vented into the surrounding space. Silicone is resistant to heat and moisture in the flue, providing a sure seal. When you insert the probe, use a cone lock to hold the sampling tip in the center of flue, at the hottest point.
The best practice is to warm up and insert the combustion analyzer probe prior to firing up the furnace. All measurements should be monitored at start-up, after a system has stabilized and after light out (unit turned off). The analyzer should be turned on and allowed to warm up in fresh air, in order to zero the ambient CO sensor. Avoid starting the analyzer near the exhaust pipe of a service van, or in the furnace room. After the start-up tests, it’s also important to let the furnace run for a few minutes to stabilize before measuring combustion performance.
Monitoring Carbon Monoxide (CO)
During the installation or service of a heating appliance, the fuel and airflow are adjusted to maximize combustion efficiency and safety. If the adjustments allow too much fuel or too much oxygen into the reaction, the imbalance will lead to incomplete combustion. When this happens, it can create a dangerous amount of CO. While you should always defer to the furnace manufacturer’s recommendations and local regulations, what follows are a few key tips when monitoring CO levels.
After the burners light, the CO should rise and fall and the O2 should slowly fall, and both should stabilize within a few minutes. If the CO or O2 levels spike suddenly after the blower starts on a warm air furnace, it is a sign the heat exchanger is compromised in some way. If the CO sensor oversaturates, immediately bring the probe into fresh air, and let the analyzer pump run until the CO displayed level is at or near zero.
Combustion Analyzer Maintenance
To keep your combustion analyzer ready for every heating season job, there are a few recommended maintenance tips. Always drain the analyzer water trap (if applicable) and check the dust filter regularly. When testing is complete, run the pump until CO, O2 and temperature readings return to ambient, removing any residuals from the sensors and analyzer. Also, when you’re powering the combustion analyzer down, ensure the probe has cooled to ambient temperature before inserting it into the carrying case. And finally, it is recommended that sensors be calibrated annually or as required by local regulations.
Let Your Combustion Analyzer Do the Work
A combustion analyzer is a powerful tool to help you keep fuel-fired heating appliances running efficiently and safely. Therefore, the biggest tip is that combustion analysis should be the first and last thing completed during any heating appliance repair. The outlined tips not only help ensure peak performance, but they help you prioritize safety and the use of best practices in your analysis procedures.
Tony Gonzalez is the Technical Training Manager for Fieldpiece Instruments.
According to Lowe’s proprietary research, 66% of Pros say they’re excited about the potential of technology to improve their efficiency, with retailer-specific mobile apps and built-in tools ranking highly among innovations they see as having the greatest potential to improve their day-to-day. Purchase Authorization, a new feature from Lowe’s within the MVPs Business Tools suite Read more
According to Lowe’s proprietary research, 66% of Pros say they’re excited about the potential of technology to improve their efficiency, with retailer-specific mobile apps and built-in tools ranking highly among innovations they see as having the greatest potential to improve their day-to-day. Purchase Authorization, a new feature from Lowe’s within the MVPs Business Tools suite of offerings, enables account holders to provide a QR code to a designated runner for in-store purchases and pick-ups, with set time and spending limits. This creates a fast and seamless in-store checkout process, with no more credit card handoffs or confirmation phone calls needed. The tool is now available online and via the Lowe’s app, exclusively for MVPs Pro Rewards and Partnership Program members. Learn more here.
Being well-prepared is very important in the field of plumbing. A plumber’s reputation might take a hit if they show up to a project without the proper tools, which increases the likelihood that the job will be mishandled. Every professional plumber must have several essential pieces of equipment on hand at all times, despite the Read more
Being well-prepared is very important in the field of plumbing. A plumber’s reputation might take a hit if they show up to a project without the proper tools, which increases the likelihood that the job will be mishandled. Every professional plumber must have several essential pieces of equipment on hand at all times, despite the fact that some tasks can call for specialized instruments. The following are the top five items a plumber must always have.
1. Comprehensive Tool Kit
For a plumber, much like any other tradesperson, the caliber of their work is often reflected in the tools they wield. Their toolbox extends beyond just an assortment of wrenches; it’s a curated collection encompassing pipe cutters, pliers, tape measures, and various specialized tools. The efficiency is amplified when the plumber’s arsenal is complemented by truck tool box accessories. These enhancements not only keep tools organized but also prevent them from becoming hazards during transportation. With the right tools in their arsenal, plumbers can execute tasks with precision and efficiency, ensuring the job is done right the first time, minimizing the risk of inadvertent damage.
2. Plumbing Snake and Drain Auger
In the world of plumbing, clogs are an all-too-familiar foe that often shows resistance to even the most fundamental of treatments, such as using a plunger. When a situation arises, the plumbing snake, sometimes referred to as a drain auger, steps up to the plate as the unsung hero. Can battling even the most tenacious clogs are moving them because of its design, which allows them to get deep into drains. Plumbers can arm themselves with the adaptability necessary to deal with a wide variety of clog conditions if they have an armory that includes manually operated and power-powered variations of the same tool. Because of this flexibility, no obstacle cannot be overcome, regardless of the kind or level of the obstacle.
3. Waterproof Work Gear
Regarding plumbing, water can be both a friend and an enemy. Even though it is the same medium they operate, the pervasive presence of water in leaking pipes or blocked drains can make the working environment dangerous. It is impossible to emphasize the necessity of waterproof work gear, which includes items like boots, gloves, and protective eyewear. Such equipment allows plumbers to easily maneuver their wet environment while maintaining their ability to remain dry and comfortable. This gear is more than just convenient; it also serves as a protective barrier, preventing the wearer from slipping, falling, and being exposed to any pollutants hiding in the water.
4. Advanced Diagnostic Equipment
The plumbing industry has also adapted to the modern technology age. It used to be a guessing game when determining what was wrong with a plumbing system. Still, modern instruments like inspection cameras have eliminated that element of uncertainty. Also, leak detection kits have changed the game by making it possible to find concealed leaks without tearing up walls or crawling around on the floor. Modern plumbing inspections are now easier and more accurate thanks to advances in cutting-edge diagnostic tools. This not only saves precious time but also makes better use of available resources, which in turn leads to better outcomes.
5. Pipe and Drain Inspection Cameras
Pipe and drain inspection cameras represent a remarkable technological advancement in the plumbing industry. These ingenious devices provide plumbers with a direct visual assessment of the inner workings of pipes and drains. By offering a clear, real-time view of the interior, these cameras eliminate the need for conjecture and uncertain diagnoses. This not only expedites the troubleshooting process but also facilitates the precise identification of problems, from blockages to corrosion. As a result, plumbers can formulate targeted repair strategies, minimizing the disruption to the plumbing system and maximizing efficiency. These cameras are a testament to the industry’s commitment to innovation, significantly enhancing the accuracy and effectiveness of plumbing repairs and maintenance.
In the vast field of plumbing, readiness is pivotal for success. If plumbers make it a habit to carry these five critical supplies at all times, they may confidently take on almost any job. It is not enough to just eliminate an issue; rather, it is necessary to do it in a way that is both productive and dependable at all times. And in a line of work where credibility is absolutely essential, having the appropriate resources at your disposal may make all the difference.