Pipe cleaning minimises blockage risks at major hospital

Drainage engineers from Lanes Group plc have been commissioned to clean and survey below-ground foul drainage pipes at one of the UK’s largest and busiest hospitals.

They have used a powerful compact electric pipe cleaning machine to remove material from over half a kilometer of pipes that, if left in place, could have caused significant blockages.

Teams from the Lanes depot at Sevenoaks, Kent, carried out the pipe cleaning work as part of an infrastructure improvement programme at the hospital in London.

Gavin Weeks, Area Development Manager for Lanes Sevenoaks, said: “Large and busy hospitals have among the most intensively used foul drainage systems of any type of facility in the UK.

“Thousands of people work in them, are cared for in them, and visit them every day. On top of that, hospitals are hugely complicated and have drainage systems developed over many years.

“This means there are pipes of different types, age, and condition right across the estate.”

The Lanes drainage engineers worked both day and night shifts across several months at the hospital to ensure patient services were not impacted.

In some cases, the only access into the drains was via manholes in hospital corridors and treatment rooms, so Lanes engineers observed strict hygiene and health and safety controls, as well as all protocols needed to maintain a COVID-19 secure environment.

They used mobile reel CCTV drainage survey units that could be set up anywhere in the hospital, both inside and outside. Their HD-quality flexible rod video cameras could be guided along drainage pipes to record footage showing their condition.

Picote Drain Cleaner

Another vital piece of equipment was Lanes’ Picote drain cleaner. The electric machine has a milling head, again on a flexible rod, that removes blockage material from pipes. Being very compact, it could be easily moved around the hospital and set up in small spaces.

Foul drains made from clay, plastic and cast iron, with diameters of 100mm and 150mm, have been cleaned.

Cast iron pipes are prone to blockages triggered by the build-up of rust. Water flows can also be restricted by calcified deposits and scum created by the large quantity of hand gels used in hospitals, increasing the risk of blockages.

Gavin Weeks explained: “Just as in the wider community, patients and visitors can mis-use drains by disposing of wipes and other non-paper tissue products down toilets, which can very quickly cause blockage problems.

“The Picote drain cleaner cuts through all this blockage material easily. It allows us to clean pipes in sensitive facilities like hospitals without using water jetting, which carries the risk of internal flooding.

“In the skilled hands of our engineers, the Picote can clean long lengths of pipe thoroughly and quickly. Given that minimising potential disruption to patient services and NHS staff is vital, the speed of pipe cleaning with the Picote is a key benefit.”

As a national drainage and utilities contractor, with 23 depots, Lanes will always ensure it has the latest and most appropriate surveying, pipe cleaning and pipe repair technologies to provide customers with the best service, Gavin Weeks added.

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