The Role of Chemicals in Sewer Cleaning

Chemicals can offer efficient solutions for blockage removal and maintaining clean plumbing systems, but mishandling them can lead to severe consequences

The Role of Chemicals in Sewer Cleaning

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In the world of sewer cleaning, chemicals play a role — especially from homeowners — in efficiently removing blockages and maintaining clean plumbing systems.

Understanding the proper usage and potential risks associated with these chemicals is essential for sewer professionals. Here’s a look at the importance of handling chemicals responsibly, including dealing with customers who have used dangerous chemicals, the effects on both older and newer plumbing systems, leveraging chemicals for maximum efficiency, and preventive maintenance practices.

Handling customer calls involving dangerous chemicals

Sewer professionals often encounter situations where customers have attempted to fix their clog issues themselves using hazardous chemicals. When dealing with such calls, prioritizing safety is paramount. Follow these steps carefully:

Assess the situation: Gather detailed information from the customer about the type and quantity of chemicals used. Note any associated safety concerns or potential risks this may pose.

Advise caution: Educate the customer on the hazards associated with chemical usage, stressing the potential of the chemicals injuring not only themselves but also the piping system in cases where cast iron or copper is still in use. Explain that mishandling chemicals can exacerbate the problem, leading to more costly repairs.

Personal protective equipment: Equip yourself and your team with adequate PPE, including gloves, goggles, and respirators, when dealing with potentially harmful or toxic substances. Prioritize safety above all else. I’m assuming you’ve seen photos online of workers who have been hospitalized and almost died because of this situation.

Charging extra for cases of chemical use

Addressing customers who have already used dangerous chemicals requires awareness of the additional time, effort, and potential risks involved in the sewer cleaning process. Transparent communication is vital when explaining the reasons for any extra charges:

Inform the customer: Clearly and honestly explain the potential damages and complications that can arise from chemical usage. Describe how these complications extend the timeline and complexity of the cleaning process.

Justify the extra cost: In a comprehensive breakdown, detail the additional steps needed to address the consequences of chemical use. This may involve employing specialized equipment, implementing safety measures, and ensuring proper disposal of hazardous waste.

Demonstrate the value: Emphasize the importance of professional service in mitigating the risks posed by chemicals. Explain that the extra charge ensures a thorough clean while avoiding potential harm to the plumbing system.

Transparent pricing: Display the additional cost as a separate item on the invoice, providing an itemized breakdown of the charges. Transparent pricing allows customers to understand and appreciate the value of your expertise.

The effect on older plumbing systems

Older plumbing systems tend to be more vulnerable to the corrosive effects of dangerous chemicals due to the natural wear and tear they’ve undergone over time. Consider the following key points in dealing with these systems:

Increased risk of pipe deterioration: Many older pipes are made from materials like cast iron or galvanized steel, which are more susceptible to corrosion caused by chemical exposure. The presence of harsh chemicals can expedite the deterioration process.

Weakening of pipe walls: Harsh chemicals, when in contact with older pipes, can erode them, leading to weakened walls and an increased likelihood of leaks and blockages.

Limited tolerance for pressure: Older pipes may have suffered structural damage due to age, making them more fragile and prone to collapse when subjected to high-pressure sewer cleaning techniques. Therefore, a cautious approach is crucial.

Leveraging benefits

While there are risks associated with chemicals, they can also be used advantageously by sewer professionals to maximize efficiency and achieve effective sewer cleaning:

Selecting appropriate chemicals: Understanding the chemical composition and compatibility with different pipe materials is essential for safe and effective clog removal. Select chemicals that are specifically designed for sewer cleaning purposes.

Pre- and post-cleaning treatments: Implementing suitable chemicals before and after sewer cleaning can help minimize recurring blockages. Pre-treatments can break down organic matter, while post-treatments inhibit the growth of bacteria, ensuring the system remains clean and functional for a more extended period.

Regular maintenance solutions: Recommending preventive maintenance products to customers can significantly extend the lifespan of their plumbing systems and reduce the likelihood of major clogs in the future. These solutions can include enzyme-based drain cleaners or septic system treatments.

Customizing chemical solutions: Every plumbing system is unique. Customize chemical treatments based on the specific needs of each customer's system, considering factors such as water hardness, pipe material, and the severity of blockages.

About the Author

Anthony Pacilla is a registered master plumber for McVehil Plumbing in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has over two decades of experience in the plumbing and HVAC trades, and has a bachelor’s in business and economics from Thiel College.



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