Drain-Cleaning, Mind-Reading

Jan. 1, 2001
Homeowners and contractors might need sewer- and drain-cleaning equipment any day of the year, regardless of the season.Being successful with the equipment,

Homeowners and contractors might need sewer- and drain-cleaning equipment any day of the year, regardless of the season.

Being successful with the equipment, however, depends on how well you satisfy your customers' needs by giving them the right machine for the job the first time and maintaining your equipment after each rental.

When a customer outlines his or her plumbing problem, ask as many questions as necessary to make a sound recommendation about the equipment needed for the job. For example, is the blockage localized, or are several lines draining slowly? Knowing the location of the blockage will lead you to the next critical step - matching the right machine to the job. Letting your customer leave with the wrong machine will result in a disgruntled renter who might never give you another chance.

On the other hand, getting it right the first time will help make you the authority customers will depend on in the future.

When matching the machine to the job, take into account the diameter of the drain, the length of the line, the location of the blockage and the type of stoppage - for example, is the source roots or grease?

Stoppages usually occur around sinks and tubs. A hand-gun-type machine normally works well in these locations. A cordless model can provide additional convenience. Continuous cable (drum or cage) machines generally are used in small work areas or tight spaces. A stoppage in a larger line - 3 to 10 feet - might require the popular sectional machines, assuming the operator has 10 to 12 feet of work space available.

Situations will be as different as the experience levels of the users, so it is your responsibility to make the correct analysis and recommendations to ensure a happy customer and repeat business.

Safety first Successful rentals are safe rentals, and customer safety always must be the top priority. A demonstration of the drain-cleaning equipment is recommended before every rental, and you need to make sure the customer is aware of necessary safety precautions.

Many manufacturers produce videos, and written guidelines should be provided when possible. You must obtain the customer's signature that they have been provided to limit your liability should an accident occur.

Heavy leather gloves and protective clothing always should be worn when operating any drain-cleaning machine.

Remind customers that forcing cable into a line can cause breakage. Standing in water while operating an electrically powered machine is a severe hazard, as is wearing loose-fitting clothing.

Sewer- and drain-cleaning machines always should be operated by one person only. If another person is present, he or she should observe the same safety rules.

Beyond these basic rules, other logical precautions are dictated by the situation:

* Verify visually and by meter that all electricals are operating correctly, and note that on the rental sheet.

* Train all employees on the use and maintenance of equipment.

* Perform regular maintenance on equipment, replacing worn parts and cables when necessary.

* Replace safety labels on machines before they wear out and become illegible.

* Equip all machines with ground-fault circuit interrupters.

It is always satisfying when the customer returns the drain-cleaning equipment and happily reports that the job was well-done. However, one more step is needed to complete the rental process and increase the probability that the next renter will be as pleased.

That step begins with a visual inspection to determine the machine's condition. Check the power cord for cuts and missing ground plugs. Test the mechanical operation of the machine and power test it as well. Also test and reset the ground-fault circuit interrupter.

Cables need to be washed and oiled on a regular basis to help prevent rust and corrosion. Damaged cables and fittings should be replaced immediately. The sooner this is done after a machine is returned, the less likely it will go back into service untended and in unsatisfactory condition.

Routine maintenance of your sewer- and drain-cleaning equipment always should be done to the manufacturer's specifications to prolong its life and your chances for more successful rental transactions.