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Thread: save a plumbers job

  1. #1

    Exclamation save a plumbers job

    I work for a company that has a restaurant franchise. They are strongly considering buying the techs electric sewer snakes fairly large one with half inch cable. We are not plumbers by any stretch of imagination. We are AC and kitchen equipment service men. We know from when we call plumbers in to clean out blockages there is some technique to using these things.(feeling when it is in a turn or hitting a clog) I have heard it is possible to break fittings or traps in the floors or cause other damage with these machines. If anyone could assist me with some information to combat their idea it will be greatly appreciated. We have good relationships with the plumbers we use in each of our areas and would like to continue to give them business. In addition, we don't want the added work load as this was not in our job description when we started with the company.

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member harleysilo's Avatar
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    Well, you could act all gung ho about it, let them buy one, first clog run crazy with the auger and bore through everything in sight, that'd show em!


  3. #3

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    Don't know that I can save your job but I can tell you that the augers you mention can be quite dangerous. Not just any yahoo should be operating machinery they have little knowledge of. Not just any yahoo has the ability to handle the cable. It does take a certain degree of coordination, strength, physical ability. A good understanding of plumbing and of the machines can prevent serious injuries and destruction not only to plumbing but to anything around the machine while it is being used. A cable which gets in a bind can kink and result in difficulty or innability to control the cable and can cause a machine to move which could conceivably and realistically be destructive to anything in it's path. Definitely not for a novice or DIY'er. With a little experience and training these same machines can be easily handled by someone with knowledge of sewers and drains. I have had to break out concrete to repair old cast iron pipes destroyed by a plumber who thought you just run a snake down a hole and turn it on without knowing how to guide it through the ell where it was inserted into the floor drain. On the other hand, if the pipe had been installed properly and was in good shape then there would have been no problem...if there had been no problem then the guy would not have been there in the first place. Too, there's the story of when I was much younger and sent to pump out a septic tank and auger a sewer line. I was wrestling the cable as it was turning and running into the line when my shirt sleeve wrapped around the cable and my arm began to wrap around the cable. Very narrowly I escaped injury but I was very shook up and did have a sore arm, hand, fingers, elbow, and shoulder for a few days. Back then a foot switch was not a common accessory but even if I had've had one the incident still could have occured as these things do not have instantaneous brakes to stop the cable from turning.

  4. #4
    DIY Member casman's Avatar
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    "A cable which gets in a bind can kink and result in difficulty or innability to control the cable and can cause a machine to move which could conceivably and realistically be destructive to anything in it's path. Definitely not for a novice or DIY'er."

    I was one of them yahoo's. Despite being told not to buy one, I did. Within 1/2 hour I had the cable fly out twist and kink with my hand in it. I didn't want my wife to kill me so I didn't ask for help. I tried reverse and that only crushed my hand more. I ended up spinning around in a circle a bunch of times and that allowed me enough give to pull out my hand. The glove I was wearing was all tore up and some blood, but no real injury. Then I'm looking at this big 10 foot mess of twisted cable up to the ceiling, with some still in the drain. I don't know what the solution was at that point, but reversing it to put it back in wasn't a good idea, It snapped like a bull whip, grabbed a hammer I had sitting on a table and flung it like a rocket across the room where it took a chunk outta a concrete wall.

  5. #5

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    They dang sure ain't no toy!

  6. #6
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    The building maintenance crew where I work is required to at least *attempt* to clear drains before calling in the pros, and they do have a large, powered-wire auger. Whenever a drain clogs, they dutifully bring out their gear and open an access or two and insert the auger a short distance and give it a few turns ... then step back and either shake their heads or shrug their shoulders while looking at the boss just before he next heads for the phone.

  7. #7
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Every time I think I'm safe with those machines is when I find out (yesterday) how fast they can scare you.

    1/4" cable bound up and wrapped the hand I was guiding the cable down the drain with. Didn't hurt me but I have bruises where it tightened around my hand till the machine stopped.


    I need a new cable as of yesterday also.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  8. #8
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking its like giveing a monkey a loaded revolver...

    The plumbers you now use have their
    own insurance, their own workmans comp ect ect

    and if they injure themselves while cleaning out
    your buildings, you company is not on the hook for
    injuries, rehab, medical ect ect....


    also if you dont know what you are doing and get
    one of those cables stuck in a main drain line, and
    your building gets shut down till they can get it out
    this could be expensive too....

    and their is
    no one else to blame but yourslelves for being
    cheap asses and trying to save a buck...


    that should be reason enough

  9. #9
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Before I got better at the cable, I ruined a 100' length by wrapping it around my arm, breaking my watch.

    The other plumber had the tendon pulled off his thumb as it was bent back to meet his arm. Try it, your thumb shouldn't even get close to your arm.

    I have my own company now, and I don't own one of these.

  10. #10
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    A RotoRoo*er guy was running a main to the street from a basement. What he didn't know was there was a C/O in the yard with no cover on it. His snake made its way out the C/O and on to the yard and he thought everything was O.K. until the owner came running in screaming for him to stop. His dog had seen the snake flopping all over the ground, ran over to attack this intruder, and had gotten his fur caught in the cable and was tangled up and being flung around by it.

  11. #11

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    My next major purchase will be a jetter. Lots of plumbers are going to them as a 1st choice over the cables...especially where it is suspected that the clog is not roots although a serious jetter will eat away the roots too. I've never used or even seen one but I feel it would definitely be safer.

  12. #12
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking sewer work is not really plumbing

    I gave up cleaning out big drains long ago
    and I will rarely fool with the little ones....

    you can get seriousley injured messing with the big
    machines....

    it never seems to pay off ....I always have to go
    up on a roof or go down in the crawl space and
    make a god awful mess out of my self just to collect
    maybe 125 bucks....


    Also,,,It takes a special kind of employee that likes to fool
    around in sewers every day, and good ones are very hard to find and they are even harder to pacify......
    most "plumbers" are too good to do that kind of work
    in this area....

    So for me , I feel very lucky that I can pick and choose
    what kind of work I want to do.....

    I pass most of this off to others ...

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