Smart Preventative Maintenance of Multi-Family Dwelling Drain Systems

Posted on Monday May 19, 2014 |

“Out of sight, out of mind” is a dangerous philosophy for handling complicated building drain, storm, sewer, and ventilation systems.
 
While many homeowners have probably had to deal with a clogged toilet, a backed up kitchen sink, or a slow draining shower at some point, there is another side to drain cleaning preventative maintenance that is extremely important to consider in multifamily dwellings.
 
If a drain plugs in a home, the usual course of action is to stop using it until it has cleared – but if a drain plugs in a 30-story high-rise, you can very quickly have a catastrophe on your hands. Most high rise buildings have risers which for the most part don’t cause too many problems, with the exception of kitchens. Garbage disposals, food waste, dishwashers, and grease work in tandem to form a thick black nasty slime that likes nothing more than to cling to the sides of riser pipes -- and eventually block them.

Preventative jetting of risers uses high pressure water jets to break down the sludge and flush it away with water, which is an especially risky but necessary process if it hasn’t been done in a long time.
 
Most risers, when they reach lower levels, bend and run horizontally to tie together and find the main sewer drain leaving the building. Because they are horizontal, this is where most accumulation occurs and therefore horizontal lines should be cleaned annually.
 
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
Many high-rise buildings hire outside companies to take preventive measures to keep their systems running smoothly and avoid large and costly problems. For example, Minnesota-based Gittleman Construction and Maintenance Corporation (GCM), a FirstService Residential company, offers specialty preventative services that include garage drains, sand traps, effluent separators, furnace condensate drains and storm water management plans. Some buildings, due to their locations and layouts, require vast underground rainwater storage vessels that can be 10 to 20 feet wide and up to 200 feet long. These vessels contain surface water collection and run-off during large rain events to act as a buffer allowing city storm drains to catch up.

Such systems require that comprehensive storm water management plans are in place to monitor, clean and maintain the systems to prevent catastrophic flooding and damage to infrastructure.
 
GCM pulls together available resources of highly experienced and trained drain cleaning operatives, master plumbers, and facilities maintenance and design experts to develop and implement comprehensive drain maintenance plans tailored to the unique requirements of each location. In addition to the ‘drain snakes’ that many think of as the drain cleaners tool kit, we carry a wide range of gas and electric high pressure water jetting equipment, sophisticated high definition self-leveling color investigation cameras, and underground drain locating equipment capable of emailing reports out directly from the job site.
 
Additionally, the company’s skilled trades people are trained and licensed to work in confined spaces with explosive and hazardous gas monitoring and safety retrieval equipment. This licensed plumbing division also handles complicated rainwater disconnect issues to ensure Minnesota pollution control compliance, design and install rainwater systems and solutions, and correct long term drain related issues arising from poor design, installation or venting.

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