Plumbway Blog

Why Preventive Maintenance?

 
It’s really about the bucks—because no one wants to spend $100K on plumbing emergencies. Just ask Horizon Utilities. We estimate that’s what Plumbway saved the company with a preventive maintenance program to cover its three main buildings and 14 substations in Hamilton.

It all started in 2013, when Plumbway responded to an emergency sewer backup at one of Horizon’s substations. Sewers—just like what goes into them—don’t tend to get a lot of attention. As a result, we’re often called to similar emergencies in parts of Hamilton that were built prior to 1980 and have aging infrastructure, including clay sewer pipes that are easily penetrated by tree roots and overwhelmed by rainwater during storms.

We snaked Horizon’s substation sewer and realized that tree roots in search of moisture had cracked through the pipe. It was a costly fix, requiring coordination with the City’s wastewater division, a private locate, excavation, pipe repair and re-sodding. The worst part? It could happen again—either at that location or any of Horizon’s 16 other buildings—without a preventive maintenance program.

When it comes to sewers, ignorance is not bliss. We presented Horizon with a maintenance proposal to do a video inspection of every building’s sewer over a three-year period—think of it as a corporate colonoscopy—to detect issues that could require costly intervention down the road. If problems were found, Horizon could proceed with a simple restoration—snaking the sewer and, in some cases, installing a sewer lining—rather than a system overhaul. With emergency sewer repairs topping $20K a pop, prevention wasn’t a hard sell.

But sewer inspections are only one component of a comprehensive preventive maintenance program. Plumbway develops customized proposals for every maintenance customer to address specific areas of concern, priority or vulnerability.

Grease trap cleaning is a key preventive maintenance task for many of our customers. When grease interceptors aren’t maintained, coagulated grease gets into the sewer, eventually causing a blockage that can result in high repair bills and service disruptions. Grease trap maintenance is much less expensive than an emergency sewer backup call that requires power flushing and an auger.

Catch basin cleaning is a simple, inexpensive maintenance task that will prevent the company parking lot from looking like a wading pool, and can done early in the morning before employees and customers arrive. In contrast, an emergency pump-out because a plugged catch basin has overflowed can cost thousands of dollars and adds the hassle of finding alternate parking arrangements to that day’s to-do list.

Most preventive maintenance proposals also include inspecting and testing our customers’ plumbing infrastructure: the fixtures, piping and systems, such as boilers, pumps, humidifiers and water filtration equipment, that keep key processes flowing.

Of course there are also preventive maintenance tasks that commercial and industrial customers can do themselves. An educated customer is our best customer, so our maintenance programs include a walk-through of the facility where we teach customers the telltale signs (sights, sounds and smells) that may indicate a problem as well as steps they can safely take themselves.

The bottom line is that preventive maintenance is always cheaper than a catastrophe. Contact Plumbway to discuss a think ahead strategy customized specifically for your facility.

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