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When you are in the plumbing industry a little too long you tend to try and find humor in just about anything. That is why we are opening up an article about sewer rodding…..yes you heard us, a humor article about sewer rodding.

Sewer Rodding is Super Fun and Funny

You may be scratching your head wondering what could possibly be funny about sticking a flexible spring down a waste opening to unclog the aforementioned. Yuck, right? Not so fast, after being in the industry for awhile you wouldn’t believe what we find in some of the sewers we clear out. We’ll try and be as tasteful……ahem as possible.

O.K. we will start the rodding festivities and we hope you the readers will continue with your very own. Home owners feel free to chime in, some will be too embarrassed to tell but what’s life without a little plumbing humor?

A certain plumbing contractor we know was asked to rod a waste line in a doctors office because of constant backing up. This particular contractor went out to rod couldn’t get though so suggested they camera. Well to make a long story short the waste piping was a mess under the floor.

So the doctor and contractor scheduled to do the work and replaced the underground sewer piping servicing the toilet rooms. The repair was finished without a hitch and the sewer flowed fine. Come Saturday a couple days after the repair the plumbing contractor got a frantic call from the Doctor telling them the same line was backing up. He didn’t imply that it was the plumber’s fault but that’s where it was leading.

Fish found in sewer roddingThe contractor dispatched the same plumber that performed the plumbing repairs. He pulled the toilets and began rodding, after some time he hit the blockage and began pulling the rod back out of the sewer. Upon retrieving the rodder head he promptly asked the doctor if he was missing any fish from his fish tank. The doctor added rather sheepishly that he found one of his bigger fish dead and thought he should flush it down the toilet.

The rather large salt water fish had gotten stuck in the waste line and was acting like a dam. You can imagine the plumber’s surprise when he pulled back a big fish. Don’t flush big fish down the toilet.
We have plenty more goofy rodding stories but we’d like to here yours. Please respond to this article to keep the stories coming.


We’ve got a Plumbing Problem and it Needs Fixing

O.K. I’ll chime in another to give an idea of what types of stories should be told. This one is from yours truly. Many years ago I was an apprentice plumber (I had already been in the business for the better part of a decade before enrolling in the apprenticeship program) attending a meeting with a client in a major metro area. One of our plumbing service technicians was dispatched to do an emergency rod out. The customer was a very large hotel conglomerate and the location happened to be in the downtown area so my father and I agreed to drop off the power equipment and tools while we were downtown.

We were both dressed in construction casual. Nice plaid shirt, nice jeans, boots but not work boots, Abercrombie and Fitch jacket for me (pre-the you can only fit in it unless you weigh 150 lbs) and he in the LL Bean.

So we were finished with our meeting and we meet our plumber in the lower parking garage. I put on a pair of work gloves to help unload the truck. My father gets out of the truck and we speak briefly to our serviceman were he looks at me and says were are your boots? I looked over my shoulder to see if he was talking to someone behind me. Finally it dawned on me that he asked me and I politely said “not today buddy, I’m in some pretty nice duds.” He said “I need a hand.” I slowly looked over at my father and said “what’s going on?” “I don’t have a ride home.” my service tech said “don’t worry, I’ll drive you home today.” “go grab the extra boots in the van.”

Well if they needed me fine. So I took off the shirt, coat and I had a t-shirt on so that had to be good enough. I walk around to the van and spotted the boots and that’s when I knew this was going to be a long day. It was also at this time that I heard my father peel away, the last I saw of the him that day was the quick wave out the window. The boots were thigh high rubber work boots, I knew I had been sandbagged.

This is What Happens When You Have a Huge Plumbing Back-up in a Major Hotel

Sewer rodding in hotel kitchenI put on the boots and walked down the ramp to ask our service tech what the story was. He quickly informed me that the super grease basin or super grease interceptor that served the hotel kitchen was completely blocked. No food, 1500 rooms, 85% occupancy = Urgency. Let me paint a picture for you, the super grease basin in this particular hotel is approximately 10′ x 4′ x 3′ high. It is located in the lower parking garage in a small room . That small room is about 4′ off the floor and is accessed by a door, not unlike a metal door on a commercial closet. As I walk down the ramp and into the garage I spot the door (I’ve been here before just never under these circumstances) We can see from were we are walking that grease cakes and water are pouring out from underneath the door and spilling on the concrete floor.

We Reach the Grease Basin Room

As we reach the door I swallowed several times to chase down the contents of my stomach. We opened the door and if you think that it looked like Willy Wonka’s candy factory you’d be dead wrong. The door was holding back a good percentage of the rooms contents. So upon opening the door that “content” poured out on to the floor. “Flowers, Flowers, Flowers…..”

O.K. so we have a room full of grease with a super grease interceptor full of kitchen grease with a hotel drain line full of grease.  We lift the power rodder on top of the grease basin, we climb up and pop the clean out and wouldn’t you know it, more grease comes pouring out. So my service tech inserts the rod and I help pull the rob back out. I want to stop here to share a bit of  “hands on” advice.

  • Buy the Right Power Rodder Heads –  There is one in particular for cutting though grease and it is aptly named a grease cutter. “Why does it matter?” you ask? Grease especially in a line that was as clogged as this one, poses some unique problems. There are times when your rodding grease that the back-up drains and you think all is well. However when you pull the rod back and try to drain the line it is magically stopped again. What is happening is the grease is closing back up as you pull the rod out. You punch a hole through and as you pull it back it closes up. The grease cutting head punches a hole then moves the grease away from the rodder head. The angle of the head blades makes this possible. In this particular situation once we got through the blockage we increased the size of the grease cutting head to make sure we got the line cleared.
  • Take Your Time – In your zeal to get this job over with quite a few servicemen tend to rush. Take your time, use the right tools and be careful. This is a very slippery job.
  • Work with Your Partner – You’ll get no where if you don’t get in sync with your helper or your foreman. In this case I had to help pull the rod back out when we were moving the rod back and forth. We had quite a bit of cable in the line and it was extremely slippery. Team work pays off.
  • Use plenty of water to flush the blockage away as you rod.

Back to the good stuff. We insert, rod and pull back, every time we pull the rod back the grease flies off the rod and on to us. After 5 hours we finally complete the job. We drove back in the company service van and neither of us realized we both smelled like goats, probably worse than a goat. I walked in the house took off my clothes and threw them all right in the garbage can.

Just as a side note, the grease basin needed to be cleaned out and another rod out was scheduled to clear any lingering debris from the line.

Hope you enjoyed


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