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How a Blocked Drain Led To The "Wall of Fame"!

A coke can that was blocking a drain

I wanted to share an interesting story with you about a job we recently did and the subsequent start of our shop’s “Wall of Fame”!

It all started with a phone call to our dispatcher Sarah for a blocked basement drain. It was fairly standard stuff in that the customer was having a backup of the drains in the basement whenever they used the water in the home. As you may guess, this tells us that there is a blockage somewhere in the main building drain that is not allowing the water to make it’s way out and to the city sewers. These blockages can be caused by all sorts of things: toilet paper, baby wipes, collapsed drains, root intrusion, etc. We were definitely not expecting what we found!

We sent Jeremy (our lead drain technician) and Glenn (one of our apprentices) to try and get this blockage cleared. As is standard practice, they first sent the auger down the drain to try and get some movement of the water (and other fun stuff). We need to clear the water before we send the camera down the drain so that we can see what is actually causing the problem! Jeremy and Glenn did get the water moving and sent the camera down next. Lo and behold, after powering up the camera, they found a fully intact Coke can in the drain! This can was stuck in what is called the Building Trap, outside the front entrance of the home; building traps are no longer installed (or needed), but during the original installation 100 years ago, they were meant as a way to keep sewer gases out of the house. Building traps are the source of many issues as they act exactly as their name suggests – a trap! They love to trap anything and everything that makes its way down the drain; including errant Coke cans.

As an aside, it is very easy to know for 90% of you if you still have a building trap for your home. Do you have one of those mushroom shaped caps in your front garden, lawn, etc.? If so, you have a building trap! Those mushroom shaped caps are the top of what we call the “breather” pipe; an old style of venting (introducing air into the drainage system to negate negative pressures and allow proper drainage). As I mentioned before, these building traps are nothing but trouble, so if the opportunity does arise, it would be best to dig it out remove it altogether!

Getting back on topic, there was no way to remove this Coke can that was stuck in the building trap short of digging it up. We went through our standard process of putting together a quote, getting the customer’s approval, calling in for locates, and then getting to work. Towards the end of Day 1 of the dig we were able to cut into the drain and remove the troublesome Coke can. Now this is the interesting part – looking closer at the can, IT WAS PRODUCED IN 1983! This means that this can was somehow living in the customer’s drain for the last 40 years without issue! I have seen a lot of things in my time as a plumber, but this is a first.

Many of you are going to wonder how on earth a can found its way into the drain. Of course we don’t know for sure, but we suspect that some kid, back in 1983, decided to take off that mushroom cap of the breather pipe I spoke about earlier and drop it in there. Personally, I find it quite funny to think that there is a good chance that person still lives in or visits the neighbourhood and is now a 50-60 year old who could very well be reading this today! If you are out there and reading this, let me know so I can put you in touch with our customers and they can forward you the bill 😉.

This find has led us to start what we are calling the “Wall of Fame” at the shop! We come across strange things in this job all the time, so what better way to commemorate these interesting jobs than putting them up on the wall! Don’t worry – we washed it first 😊. I’ll keep you all posted as the wall grows!

Thank you for taking a few minutes to read this today - I hope you found it as interesting as I did!




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