The Mysterious Drain Clog

December 13, 2022
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Did we get your attention? Good. We wanted to share some of the of wildest maintenance stories that are from our real maintenance clients. If you have your own crazy stories you'd like to share, let us know - we'd love to hear them!

Once upon a time...

This is a story about a plumbing emergency at a 6 unit building with 3 units on the top floor and 3 units on the bottom. Do you already know where this is going? Managing apartment complexes is always fun... What happens in one unit can affect the entire building.

We received the first maintenance request from the tenant in unit one regarding the plumbing inside of their bathroom being clogged and would not drain properly. This issue was affecting the toilet and the sink faucet. 

This complex was over 80 years old and still had the old cast iron piping, so it did not take much to clog the pipes. Typically we would have the plumbers come and snake the lines clear.

But then, we received another maintenance request from the tenant in unit 3 which was an upper unit complaining of the same thing. Shortly after, we received a phone call from another tenant in unit 2 saying that their plumbing was backing up as well. The other 3 units were not at home at the time.

APM Help to the rescue!

We quickly dispatched our plumbers to go out there to assess and repair the line. Our biggest fear was that the cast iron piping had collapsed and that would mean that the pipe replacement project would have to be pushed up months ahead of schedule.

The owner was not ready for that major expense just yet since they were currently renovating the vacant units within the complex. Our plumber was in the area nearby and quickly made it to the property to assess what was happening.

When he entered the first unit, he began snaking the line and he began pulling back some debris but there was still a clog up the stack. So he went to the upstairs unit to snake the drain clear some more on their end and was able to clear the line some, but it was still clogged.

There was a plumbing stack that ran to the roof and the vendor knew the only way to completely clear the line was to run the snake all the way from the roof to clear each unit.

As the vendor began snaking the plumbing stack from the roof, he began pulling back the debris that was causing the line to be clogged. This is when the story becomes interesting.

To the vendor's surprise, the debris he was pulling back was not only paper towels but also Tampons. As the vendor quoted to us:

“I pulled out enough tampons to decorate a Christmas Tree... 🎄” - Unfortunate Vendor

After 2 ½ hours at the property snaking the line clear through the roof, he was finally able to clear the lines so that the blockage was gone and each unit no longer had any issues.

This was an interesting way to start the weekend, and of course, a building notice went out to all the tenants first thing on Monday morning explaining what items are not appropriate to place down plumbing drains.

We'll handle your next maintenance emergency

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