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The Maintenance Management Blog

September 25, 2015

Are You Making These Plumbing Mistakes In Your Facility?

Plumbing Mistakes In Your Facility

Facility managers have a lot of juggling to do. From ensuring that routine and preventative maintenance is being performed to ensuring that property grounds are properly cared for, it is little wonder that every so often, something will slip through the cracks and cause an issue that could cost their department a pretty penny. One type of mistake that reliability professionals tend to make has to do with an unseen portion of their property: the plumbing.

Plumbing issues come in a variety of sizes. From small to large, plumbing mistakes can be a huge drain on a company"s finances, particularly if they are not caught in time. At their worst, they can cause thousands of dollars in flood damage and even lead to a factory shutdown. Mold and mildew as a result of undetected plumbing leaks are a real concern as well, as they can quickly spread and become a health issue. Black mold is particularly nasty and can cost thousands of dollars to clean up.

One way to avoid these issues is to catch some of the more common plumbing mistakes before they become a serious issue or, better yet, prevent them from occurring in the first place. To do that, however, we have to first be aware of what these common plumbing problems are.

If your facility has a break room or food preparation area or offers rooms (such as in a hotel, hospital, or university) for residents, you may find yourself running into clogged pipes and drains in sink areas. This is especially true for pipes connected to garbage disposal units. The issues arise when people place food and non-organic materials down the sink, thinking that the plumbing appliance will pulverize their uneaten food and it will magically disappear down the drains. Unfortunately, this behavior can lead to big problems, especially in older buildings that rely on cast iron pipes (versus PVC). Cast iron pipes rust and break down over time, leaving jagged metal "spikes" in the pipes that can and will capture food particles as they pass through the system. Over time, this material builds up and eventually leads to a clogged pipe or, worse, a burst pipe.

Pouring grease and oil down the pipes is also a big no-no, as these oily substances often congeal and harden, forming thick deposits and blockages in plumbing, resulting in damaged pipes. Training staff and placing warning signs near any disposal systems can help minimize the risk of this type of plumbing problem. The same can be said for toilets. Only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed; anything else can damage your sewage system. In a building that relies on a septic system, be certain that medicine is never put down the toilet, as it can damage the ecosystem that makes the septic tank function properly. The same goes for heavy-duty cleaners. Again, train your stuff in the proper way to dispose of chemicals and medical waste.

Another area to look at is plumbing repairs. When replacing or installing pipes, make sure that you have the right pipes connected to one another. If the wrong materials connect, a chemical reaction can occur that will lead to a rapid degradation of your system.

Finally, always be sure to fix issues the moment they arise. While it may be tempting to simply clean out a line when it clogs, be aware that if this occurs often, it is a symptom of a much larger issue. While it may be cheaper and easier to run a snake down the line every other week, eventually, that simple clog will become a major backup that will leave a huge mess in your building"s basement.

Having a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can help you avoid some of these common plumbing mistakes and make managing your facility a lot easier. From keeping track of spare plumbing parts and fixtures to tracking and issuing work orders, maintenance software can not only make your maintenance system more efficient, but it can help save your department money.

To avoid these common plumbing problems, get yourself a CMMS, and avoid flushing your profit down the drains!


Lisa Richards

About the Author – Lisa Richards

Lisa Richards is an experienced professional in the field of industrial management and is an avid blogger about maintenance management systems and productivity innovation. Richards' undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering opened the door for her initial career path with a Midwest-based agricultural implement manufacturer with global market reach. Over a span of 10 years, Lisa worked her way through various staff leadership positions in the manufacturing process until reaching the operations manager level at a construction and forestry equipment facility. Lisa excelled at increasing productivity while maintaining or lowering operating budgets for her plant sites.

An Illinois native, Lisa recently returned to her suburban Chicago North Shore hometown to raise her family. Lisa has chosen to be active in her community and schools while her two young girls begin their own journey through life. Richards has now joined the MAPCON team as an educational outreach writer in support of their efforts to inform maintenance management specialists about the advantages in marrying advanced maintenance software with cutting-edge facility and industrial management strategies.

Filed under: facility plumbing, plumbing mistakes — Lisa Richards on September 25, 2015