Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service has just about seen it all when it comes to plumbing.
The company was founded in 1935, two years after the 1933 invention of the original Roto-Rooter sewer cleaning machine. The machine, which revolutionized the process of clearing seriously clogged pipes, propelled Roto-Rooter to rapid expansion and into a national household name by the 1950s. Today, Roto-Rooter has evolved into a full-service plumbing company capable of handling any size residential or commercial plumbing problem from faucet repair to complete sewer line replacement.
How has the company kept it going for so long?
“Essentially, we have continued to evolve to meet the needs of our customers,” explained Paul Abrams, director of public relations at Roto-Rooter.
Homeowners trust Roto-Rooter for a variety of traditional plumbing needs, including installation, repair and replacement services. Those needs involve work with sewers and drains, faucets, sinks, toilets, showers and tubs, waterlines, pipework, disposers, dishwashers, water heaters and septic tanks. Many business owners do the same, calling on Roto-Rooter to handle commercial plumbing work ranging from drain cleaning to underground leak and line detection to pipe repair and replacement, and everything in between.
A prevalent need – one that reoccurs often – involves retrieving objects that have either mistakenly or purposely made their ways into sewer lines.
“We respond to several calls each year involving pets or jewelry,” said Abrams. “We've established a pretty good reputation for pet rescues and jewelry recovery. Occasionally, police departments have enlisted our help to locate weapons or illegal drugs.”
Roto-Rooter uses an array of equipment to complete such tasks, including RIDGID® SeeSnake® cameras and line locators.
“The RIDGID cameras have proven particularly useful in locating and rescuing live pets, including numerous kittens, puppies and at least one pet bird,” noted Abrams. “We've also recovered customers' diamond rings and other jewelry that was accidentally flushed or dropped down drains.”
Down the Drain
Last year, a challenging opportunity arose for Roto-Rooter of Atlanta – putting its RIDGID inspection and locating equipment to the test.
“A customer called in stating that she had accidentally flushed her bracelet down the toilet,” said Roto-Rooter of Atlanta Plumbing/Excavation Manager Steve Gonzales, recalling the incident. “It had fallen off her wrist and into the toilet.”
The company dispatched a camera technician and a recently purchased RIDGID SeeSnake® microDrain™ D65S inspection camera to assist.
The microDrain system, which features a 65-foot flexible cable and a small, 22-millimeter diameter camera head, turned out to be the right tool for navigating the line.
“The tech was able to push the camera through the toilet and verify that the bracelet had made its way through the trap and into the line,” Gonzales said.
“He then pulled the toilet off and ran a RIDGID mini camera down to locate the bracelet. He was able to use the camera to push it to a back water valve and then used a locator to find and remove the bracelet from the line.”
Needless to say, the customer was pleased – and the local news (WAGA-TV) was amused.
A Feline Rescue
Yet another example occurred a few months earlier when a Colorado Springs family needed help retrieving its family pet. Shadow, a three-month-old kitten, had climbed underneath a bathroom vanity in the family’s home and fell into an uncovered vent, leaving him trapped in the home’s duct system.
After unsuccessfully attempting to rescue the feline, the family made calls to the local fire department, animal control office, humane society and an HVAC repairman – none of which were able to help. The HVAC repairman did, however, recommend that the family call “someone with a camera.”
The family, who had worked with Roto-Rooter in the past, called its local office for help.
Similar to the bracelet recovery story in Atlanta, Roto-Rooter dispatched a camera technician and RIDGID SeeSnake camera equipment to diagnose the situation.
“They found that our kitten had dropped down a level and was stuck between our first floor and the ceiling of the basement,” explained one of the family members in a letter thanking Roto-Rooter for rescuing Shadow.
After finding the kitten, the company used a locator to determine the right spots to cut into the home’s walls and duct system, avoiding excess damage and thus costly repair work. When all was said and done, the kitten was freed and the family was grateful.
“[Roto-Rooter] – once again – took great care of us,” noted the family member.
A case for continued use
Abrams said Roto-Rooter will continue to use RIDGID sewer inspection cameras and handheld locator units, noting they “have had a huge impact” at the company.
“We can save so much time and effort evaluating the condition of pipes, locating them underground and finding objects that were flushed or lost; not only in sewers but also in floor drains and even in large
conduit pipes and behind walls,” he said.