Contractor’s Perseverance Pays Off on Difficult Drain Cleaning Job

Dave Ferrier, owner of Dr. Rooter in New York, recalls the time he spent two days at a pharmaceutical factory figuring out the source of a drain clog and clearing it

Contractor’s Perseverance Pays Off on Difficult Drain Cleaning Job

Dave Ferrier

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Dave Ferrier chuckles when asked about the worst drain cleaning job he’s ever tackled.

“I run into one of those at least once a month,” he says.

Nonetheless, the owner of Dr. Rooter, a drain cleaning company in Nanuet, New York, about 30 miles north of New York City, says one job still stands out in his mind: A pharmaceutical factory with a clogged drain that caused widespread flooding in the plant.

“The water was 3 to 6 inches deep in about 12 different rooms in the plant,” Ferrier recalls.

There were about 15 floor drains where Ferrier could access drainlines.

“But no matter what floor drain we tried, the snake either hit a dead end or ran into another floor drain,” he says. “To make things more difficult, the building’s (plumbing) schematics weren’t drawn correctly.”

Ferrier also tried cameraing the 4-inch-diameter cast iron drainlines, but the pipes were full of water, so nothing was visible. He tried using his line locating equipment, also to no avail.

“Everything still hit a dead end or wound up popping up at another drain,” he says. “I thought we were screwed.”

But Ferrier had one more ace up his sleeve. After plant personnel spent about 6 hours sucking up all the water out of the pipes with large, industrial-strength shop vacs, he randomly picked a drainline and inserted a Microsm 100 push inspection camera from Sewer Equipment Company of Nevada (SECON).

“About 60 feet down the line, I found a cross-tee where all floor drains tie in,” Ferrier says. “I could see the clog down that line. But my cutter couldn’t negotiate that 90-degree turn.”

The solution? Ferrier bent the end of the snake cable about 90 degrees. Then he pushed the cable cutter head and the camera head into the line together, without turning on the machine, which he says is a trick he learned over the years.

“When I saw the bent cutter head had reached the cross-tee, I swiveled the reel enough to get it to make that turn and go into the pipe,” Ferrier explains. “Then I turned on the machine and unlogged the line in about 30 minutes.”

In total, Ferrier says he was on the job for two days straight. But he never considered admitting defeat.

“You can’t charge someone if you don’t fix the problem, so I had to persevere,” he says. “Plus, when you solve a problem like that, guys at plants know other guys, and they talk. And they’ll tell their friends that if they have a problem, they should call Dave, because if anyone can figure it out, it’s Dave.”

The good news? The factory had a cleanout installed near the clog.

“So if we ever have to go back, this time it’ll be a 20-minute job, not two days long,” Ferrier says.

Read more about Dr. Rooter in the October 2023 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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