I have had the not so pleasant job of unblocking one of the toilets on the Birds Unit this evening. What I hoped to be a simple job, became more complex as it went on. One of the younger kids had decided to shove their Pull Ups Training Pants down the toilet, instead of doing the more sensible thing and to put them in the nappy bin by the sink. Flushing the toilet caused the pants to get stuck, thus causing a blockage. At this moment in time, I had no idea what had caused the blockage.
This isn’t your usual plunger jobbie tho. This particular toilet is connected to a Macerator, due to it’s location. Many toilets on this side of the building have macerators, due to constraints on the drains. A Macerator is a centrifugal pump which is equipped with a cutting system to facilitate chopping/maceration of solids that are present in the pumped liquid. The shredded matter is then pumped down narrower pipes, to the drain stack, where it continues it’s journey to the Main Sewer.
Here’s how it works:
Firstly, when you flush the loo or empty the sink, the valve on the inlets open and allow water to be sucked in by the pump impeller. The waste travels into the grinding chamber, where steel blades shred it and turn it into pulp. Once it has been pulped, the waste shoots through a non return valve, out the outlet pipe and into the drain pipes. If the pressure of the incoming water is too high, a pressure valve opens in the pressure chamber, allowing the liquid to leave the unit, via the drain pipes.
Of course, training pants will naturally block the system. However, it does not always reach the blades and often can be pulled out using a flexible drain rod, with a small hook fitting. The drain rod, allows you to anchor the hook in the blockage and pull it free. In my case, I it conformed my suspicions that something non flushable had been put down the loo. So it called for more tools, as I would have to take the macerator apart and clear the blockage.
For this, I had to go to the Unit Distribution Cupboard and switch off the breaker for the Macerators. Next, using a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, I sucked the water out the toilet. Next, I switched off the water at the screw valve and then unbolted the pan from the floor. I disconnected the flush pipe and removed the bowl. Thankfully, the training pants were just inside the macerator inlet, so I was able to use a gloved hand to remove it and then put the toilet back together. Finally, I used the blow setting on the vacuum cleaner to blow the water back into the toilet. (Don’t worry, I disinfected the inside of the machine after and I also cleaned the toilet surfaces and the floor where I had been working. JOB DONE! 🙂