Well, it looks like the warning I got (See my last post Is this another Omen – or The Omen?) may really have been an omen. 😦
It started with a blocked toilet in Barony St. John’s Ladies toilets…….then the Disabled Access toilet was blocked…….then the Gents urinals overflowed.
Originally I thought it was the twenty-odd kids whom come to Muay Thai three times per week. It seemed that they all saved themselves all day to come into the hall and take a dump in my toilets.
I was going through a toilet roll per week in both the male and female toilets.
Now compare that with the previous owners, The Church of Scotland.
I can pretty much guarantee that the members of the congregation went before they left their house and wouldn’t have dreamt of taking a dump in the church hall toilets. Sacrilege.
Also, in the last twenty years or so, the congregation numbers had decreased and, of course, the hall was probably only open once per week so the volume of people using the toilets was obviously far less than the present.
Anyway, ALL the toilets were now blocked and I tried everything to unblock them –
I poured a bucket of water down each one to try to flush away the blockage….No joy!
I rammed a mop down each one to try to act like a plunger…No joy!
I poured a kettle of hot water down each one (my granny’s old trick)…..No joy!
I poured enough drain cleaner down each one to dissolve my mother’s chocolate cake (and that’s no easy task, believe me)…..No joy!
There was nothing else for it, I had to get in a specialist drain cleaning company to identify the problem and hopefully provide a solution. It was time for – The Drain Doctors (I kid you not, that’s the name of the company).
So, first step was finding the drain cover and sticking a camera up it to see what’s blocking the drain.
There appeared to be a slight blockage but nothing major – well nothing a high powered water hose wouldn’t shift.
So the Drain Doctor inserted the water hose into the drain and turned on the water.
Five minutes passed – nothing!
No sign of water forcing up into the toilets – no sign of the blockages shifting – nothing!
So the Drain Doctor took his hose out and shoved his camera back up. This was quickly followed by an exclamation of “Oh sh*t!”
It appears that this drain pipe was actually disconnected and what he had actually been doing was firing water under the floor of the hall.
“Don’t worry, it will soak away.” he said. Hmmmmm!
I should’ve known then that this was going to get to be a lot worse than I had expected – in fact, things were going to get a lot, lot worse.
The Drain Doctor decided that if we couldn’t find the way into the toilets from the drains, we had to go from the toilets to the drains. So he opened the connecting pipes in the Ladies and shoved The Worm down it.
Now, The Worm is a mechanical, spiral, flexible rod which twirls and snakes around as its inserted into the pipe system. The theory is that it will loosen up anything down there.
After an initial back splash (I’m going to have nightmares about this), The Worm was switched on and slowly fed down the pipe…..No joy!
After five hours of trying to free this blockage, Drain Doctor One had to give up. His colleague would come and try again tomorrow.
The next day, Drain Doctor Two arrived and after assessing the problem, called for backup.
Now we had Drain Doctor Two and Three on site and they weren’t leaving until the air was filled with the sweet smell of success – or something a lot less sweeter. 😦
Cameras were inserted up the drain again….No joy!
And then they realised, hang on a minute, there are two drainage pipes side by side. One should be the drainage pipe as it runs into the drains – and one is the storm drain pipes connected from the gutters to the drains with a drainage trap midway.
The storm pipe is only three inches in diameter whereas the sewage pipe is six inches.
Surely the toilets hadn’t been connected to the storm drain pipe when the toilets were refurbished twenty odd years ago?
It was at this point that the fire alarm company decided to pop in and replace the faulty fire alarm in the corridor – and guess whereabouts in the corridor it was?
Yep, of all the forty plus feet of corridor, the alarm was directly above the hatch with the blocked pipes! Typical.
So, as the Drain Doctors hatched a cunning plan to solve my blockage, the alarm guys went up a ladder to solve my faulty alarm. What could go wrong?
The Drain Doctors reckoned if they cut a hole in the disconnected drain pipe and then drilled a hole in the storm water drain pipe which they thought was actually connected to the toilets, the blockage would simply flow from one drain hole to the other. Brilliant.
Now, if you can imagine an oil drill in Texas striking oil, it will give you an idea of what happened next.
Unfortunately, I haven’t got a photo of that so this is the best I can do….It’s taken from across the road from the church hall – which was the safest place for me to be at this point. 😀
As you can see, we have the two Drain Doctor vans plus the alarm company van all blocking the pavement and part of the road – while inside the sewage blockage was spraying all over the contractors. Not a pretty sight….and apparently not one which they wanted photographed either. 😦
Anyways, once the initial eruption died down, the Drain Doctors managed to insert a high pressure water hose and got the drain cleared – Hooray 🙂
But my problems were not over yet – Awwww 😦
You see, the drain trap in the storm pipe (remember the one which was actually connected to the toilet drains) must have been filling with sediment, toilet paper and faeces over the last twenty odd years and was probably now full of crap (literally) making the flow of water and the flushing of the toilets almost impossible.
Now the water is now flowing albeit slowly but this means that if more than one toilet is flushed now, they will overflow into the space between the two pipes. And eventually, the storm drain pipe will block up again.
So, the solution had to be to get someone in to connect a pipe from the storm drain pipe to the disused drain pipe and then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be back in business.
Enter Super Builder, Paul Marchetti.
Paul is the guy who has saved me, and more importantly the charity, a fortune in building works since we bought the church buildings in December 2014.
Paul cleared up our dry rot problem, secured our doors, replaced our toilets, damp proof lined the walls, re-plastered our kitchen, repaired the roof and ceilings in several areas….etc. etc. etc.
He is the master builder of all master builders. He is, quite simply, Super Builder.
His plan was to reconnect the toilet pipes with the original six inch wide drain pipe and block off the storm drain which was actually disconnected anyway (and turned out to be the one which Drain Doctor One had pressure jetted water into).
To do this he had to remove eight bags of rubble from under the floor to fully access the pipework. 😕
And so, just over a week from the point where this all started, we are sorted. The toilets are flushing, the drains are flowing and the air is finally clearing. Phew!
And the reason for naming this post Money flushed down the Drain?
Well, the total hall rental profit for the last FOUR MONTHS (and then some) has been lost paying for this little mishap. Quiet literally, money flushed down the drain. 😦
I’d like to think that this is the last big problem I’ll incur for a while – but with the weather forecast saying we are to expect our worst winter in decades, I have a feeling that my bad luck is not over yet….