How Did a Fence Post Get in Drainline?

All Ways Drains turns nightmare into fast fix for fast-food restaurant, helping minimize downtime and cost along the way.
How Did a Fence Post Get in Drainline?
Justin Moe, owner and CEO of All Ways Drains, holds the metal fence post that was removed from a Wendy’s restaurant sewer line/clean-out. A Ken-Way 400 mainline machine was used to extract the post.

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When a local Wendy’s restaurant found itself shutdown with a sewer line blockage, Justin Moe, owner and CEO of All Ways Drains, in Shoreview, Minnesota, had no idea the job would turn into one of the most unique he’s ever handled.

The business could not operate until the line was opened up, plain and simple, Moe says, and to make matters worse the issue — which occurred last summer — hit right in the midst of the typically hectic dinnertime.

“Within 30 minutes of being there working on it, the technician knew something was drastically wrong,” Moe says. “He suspected that the exterior clean-out was rotted out at the bottom and broken because you could only go down about 8 feet before everything just stopped.”

Shocking find

At that point the technician called Moe, and after calling another backup staff member, he hopped in his truck and drove to the restaurant to assess the situation. When Moe tried to cable the main sewer line he ran into the very same problem.

“I got down somewhere between 6 and 8 feet and it just stopped,” he says, “so we knew something wasn’t right.”

Moe also knew the head was not digging through the dirt because it did not come back polished, so he switched heads and started to work on it again using his Ken-Way 400 mainline machine.

“At a typical restaurant like that you’re suspecting it’s going to be paper towels or grease or something of that nature,” Moe says, so when he wrapped the cable line around an object and extracted a large metal fence post, a sense of shock set in.

“At that point, the sewer line opened up and started draining out,” he says. But the surprises weren’t over just yet. An SPX Pearpoint camera revealed two 3/4-inch copper pipes that had been shoved into the clean-out.

Clearly, Moe says, it was an act of vandalism. The clean-out cover was on, so somebody had removed the cover, crammed the materials in there, and then replaced the cover.

Shutdown for only a couple of hours, the restaurant was able to reopen and resume serving customers. All Ways Drains returned the following day to extract the two copper pipes, as requested. Afterward, a Spartan 758 sewer jetter removed any remaining debris.

Words of wisdom

“My understanding is the owner was worried that this store was going to have to be shutdown for days in order to get this dug up and fixed,” Moe says, so the much shorter downtime was well received — not to mention the cost.

“We thought that line was broken and it was going to have to be dug up,” he says. Rather than a hefty bill and an inability to conduct business for several days, they were right back up and running with a modest tab to take care of.

When it comes to emergency work in general, Moe says he’s lived, learned and come to follow a set of important rules.

“Rule No. 1 is answer the phone,” he says, “and rule No. 2 is take care of the customer.”

The third rule is if you don’t take care of a customer somebody else will.

The emergency rules of thumb feed into Moe’s overall business plan, which he can list off on five fingers: answer the phone, show up, get the work done, clean up behind yourself, and be nice and honest.

“For me it’s very simple,” he says. “You’re here to help people, and that’s what you’re supposed to do.”


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