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  • Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

    Whats the biggest mistake you've made while drain cleaning?


    Mine:
    Background: Still working as a pipe layer, bought some used equipment and a van. Did a few jobs for the construction Co I was working for under their insurance, I had none. Just starting out but not ready, just getting my eggs in a row.

    Story:
    Out of the blue I get a call to a restaurant for backed up main, no idea how this guy got my # as I haven't even started advertising yet. Same place I have done work at with a previous employer doing drain cleaning 3yrs ago. Owner then was told main needs to be replaced.

    I show up and tell the current owner the history. I snake and get the line open. I camera and show him all the problems. (many dig up spot repairs, 3 different types of pipe, roots, bellies, shared with an abandon line, offsets..just a mess.)

    So I stupidly decide to be a hero and remove more roots with an expanding cutter, and a cheap, used old one at that. Everything was going great and then all of a sudden I felt no tension on my cable. I pull it out and what do I see? right in front of the owner, Nothing! no expanding cutter. Just a female adapter, no blades the head fell apart, leaving 3 6"blades in the line. I put the camera back in and couldn't find a thing. So many bellies holding water. I never saw the blades again.

    I expected to be called back in the next few days to face the music and pay to dig up their main (and restaurant down time). They never called back. A friend said he saw the local sewer dept popping sewer man holes in that area 3 days later. I was expecting a call but never got it.

    I vowed that day to NEVER again use an expanding cutter, and to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER work with out insurance again.

    The expanding cutter I was using was a cheap POS. I have since found a much better rugged set that I am comfortable using.

    Anyway thats my DUMB A$$ move, whats yours?
    INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
    Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

  • #2
    Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

    I was just reminded today what one of my biggest mistakes was from an earlier post.

    Using a mytana m81 machine!

    While still an apprentice I arrived at a stopped up mainline to find 2 yes 2 other peoples cables broke off in the line.One was cut off and 2 ft hanging out of the clean out.I did get both cables out.I then ran my cable out and got it stuck.I refused to cut my brand new cable I pulled enough out of the machine to seperate the 50' section and neatly coiled my cable at the cleanout zip tied it and scheduled a return for the following day.I was all over the backhoe operater the following day to not destroy my new cable he was careful and I got my cable out in one piece but I should have never put the cable in there to begin with.I never did know exactly what was holding my cable but the line was broke down and had heavy roots all thru it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

      Unfortunately I've had the lost blade experience.

      Most of my mistakes have to do with not telling the people prices upfront only to find out after that they think Im just a dumb handyman who'll take $40. That rarely happens anymore though.

      Other times have to do with cables coming up commode bends when back to back when all I had to do to avoid it was pull both commodes.

      Here's an embarrassing one for you. When I first started I went to unstop a urinal that was full of urine. I thought it would be a good idea to use the general kinetic water ram. I tried to protect myself by using a plastic garbage bag. Not very well though. So I pumped it up, pulled the trigger, and up came the urine. I was wearing a cap at the time, and the urine was dripping from the bill of the cap. Luckily my mouth was closed.

      I stripped and took a shower in the nearby sink.

      Needless to say, I haven't used the water ram for a urinal since 1995.

      Lenny

      Pronounced A-Bear Drain Care

      I know, it doesn't make sense.


      http://www.hebertdraincare.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

        Lets see here,

        1. Running my K-750 in a plugged main, about 70' out it is bound up solid and won't break. The water went down but still coulden't get past the spot, moved the machine closer to help with the control . Snapped that cable on the next attempt, only good thing was it broke at the top of the cleanout pulled the cable back and told the owner it needed to be dug up. Near as I could tell the pipe had seperated and I was catching the edge.

        2. Went on a plugged kitchen sink, running my K-375 thru the cleanout under the sink popped out on the roof, no biggie I fill the sink full of hot water and head on up to the roof. Once on the roof I start the cable down thru the vent, after several minutes of working on the drain I hear the water drain .... and the tennant freaking out, cable went out thru the p-trap and flooded the kitchen with about 6 gallons of water . Next try went the right way and I was on my way.

        3. As an apprentice in Wisconsin I went on a plugged laundry sink in the basement, owners are gone to work so I move the washer, full of clothes and water, and proceed to clear the drain. I put the washer back in place and figured I'd be a nice guy and finish the load for them . I left about noon, they returned about 5pm and at 9pm I got the call, while changing cycles the washer hose popped out of the laundry sink and onto the floor of the basement. The water never shut off as the sensor did not detect the water level in the drum, 6" of water in the basement. Luckily the basement was not finished.
        sigpic
        www.uandiplumbing.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

          This is a quiet thread, huh? Only a couple responses in 5 hours.

          I guess Gene, U&I, slink and I are the only ones who make mistakes?



          I remembered another mistake I made, I'm sure there are many more that I just cant think of right now.

          I ran a sewer from a 4" cleanout behind the house, line would not unstop. The company that I worked for at the time didnt supply everyone with water jets, so I figured I would try a rubber pressure bag.

          I could hear the bag vibrating at first, but then I couldnt hear it anymore. I pull the hose back and only half of the bag came back. The front half of the bag broke off in the line.

          "Did it break off in the pipe?" Asked the parrot, I mean the customer who was on my shoulder the whole time.

          So I went to pick up a jet from another serviceman. Not an efficient company at the time.

          I found the parish (county) cleanout, stuck the handle end of a shovel down the cleanout, and ran the jet upstream. Pulled out heavy toilet paper muck from a belly in the line. As it started to clear out the other half of the bag came tumbling out and stopped at the shovel handle. I reached in with my channel locks, thankfully it was not deep, and pulled out the bag. I wanted the bag out, not in the parish line, so I could set this customers mind at ease.

          I went to get the customer, who by this time was off of my shoulder and inside, no doubt regretting his decision to call my company. He was relieved when I showed him the bag, and ecstatic when I showed him his commode flushing.

          Needless to say, I havent used pressure bags since about 1997-98 when that happened. After that I just called for the jet.

          Lenny

          Pronounced A-Bear Drain Care

          I know, it doesn't make sense.


          http://www.hebertdraincare.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

            Not knowing the location of the septic tank, and getting stuck because your cable doubled up and won't return.

            My last mistake like this took a trac-hoe to fix. Whoops!


            Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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            • #7
              Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

              Originally posted by DUNBAR View Post
              Not knowing the location of the septic tank, and getting stuck because your cable doubled up and won't return.

              My last mistake like this took a trac-hoe to fix. Whoops!


              I thought I was the only one to lose cables and cutters thank God you do as well it makes me feel we have something in common.

              Tony

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                [QUOTE=DUNBAR;212760]Not knowing the location of the septic tank, /QUOTE]


                and that is why i run the camera/locator on every job that the exact location of the tank is not known.

                saved my butt more than once and the client now knows the location of their tank

                steve
                In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                  Ruined 125' of cable not knowing I was going into a septic.

                  Opened an over head C/O to clear the blockage when it was a full septic. Man a lot of sewage comes back at you it just don't stop. I dig them all up now and usually it's a full tank. I just pulled a huge root out of a floor drain after saying I'll never go through a trap again . 2 hours and 15' of ruined cable I pulled back a monster. the the drain takes no water now it was just slow before. The pics are on my profile it was quite a haul with roots as thick as pencils. Thats just a few

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                  • #10
                    Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                    I thought I was going up into a building but the cable actually was going into the grease trap. Broke my finger when the cable wrapped my hand. Kinked the cable too.
                    Last edited by EasyEman; 03-02-2009, 06:45 PM. Reason: spelling

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                      OK, I'll share

                      Kitchen sink stoppage in a 4 unit apt. building on 2nd floor. Ran the k-50 about 5 times before it would drain. Had a hell of a time getting the cable back out on the last run. Pulled out a small washcloth. What confused me was it was partially dry While lecturing the tenant about the importance of keeping objects from going down the drain I'm filling and emptying the sink like 4 times. She totally denies the washcloth is hers. I'm practically calling her a liar right to her face because it came out of her pipe. She says it's never drained that good in all the years she has lived there

                      As I'm leaving, I hear a lot of commotion in the downstairs apt.

                      The next day I learned that back to back kitchen sinks were piped using a double sanitary tees. Who knew?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                        We made up 3/4 universal joint to drop down tees the only trouble was the pin sheared off while under a concrete slab leaving the auger and uni in line.
                        I thought I was buggered so put my retrievel auger on and had a go to try and grab it and you wouldnt believe it it hooked it and brought it back first go.
                        Another time cable broke in my hand so I was able to pull it out.
                        Had numerous jetter heads get caught in pipes usually large gap in pipe joins and we have to dig up line any way.
                        Touch wood so far.
                        Regards
                        Greg

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                          bill had almost an identical situation.

                          went to an apartment for a buddy of mine. never been there before.
                          lav stoppage so i use my brand new k40 squeeze the lever and let it rip. well the sink is still plugged and i'm stuck. can't pull back. find out that the unit is back to back above the garage. person is not home next door so i left my cable there and took the machine. left a note on their door to call me when they get home.

                          phone rings and i go there. the 5/16'' cable goes out the sink, under the door and grabbed a shower matt/ towel. other than destroying the towel and marking the sink, i was lucky.

                          now i always ask on unfamiliar jobs.

                          and that k40 been retired.


                          rick.
                          phoebe it is

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                            the 5/16'' cable goes out the sink, under the door and grabbed a shower matt/ towel. other than destroying the towel and marking the sink, i was lucky.


                            crap, i've got to go buy another monitor & keyboard. i just spit diet coke all over the place laughing so hard. what a visual i have of that

                            steve
                            In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Biggest mistake while drain cleaning

                              Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                              bill had almost an identical situation.

                              went to an apartment for a buddy of mine. never been there before.
                              lav stoppage so i use my brand new k40 squeeze the lever and let it rip. well the sink is still plugged and i'm stuck. can't pull back. find out that the unit is back to back above the garage. person is not home next door so i left my cable there and took the machine. left a note on their door to call me when they get home.

                              phone rings and i go there. the 5/16'' cable goes out the sink, under the door and grabbed a shower matt/ towel. other than destroying the towel and marking the sink, i was lucky.

                              now i always ask on unfamiliar jobs.

                              and that k40 been retired.


                              rick.
                              Can you imagine if someone had been on the commode when the snake came out from the sink. lol

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