This Jetter Has Never Failed Zurn Plumbing

Even after 16 years of service, a trailer jetter nicknamed Old Faithful keeps busting through clogs and bolstering revenue for a Georgia contractor

This Jetter Has Never Failed Zurn Plumbing

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For sheer durability and power, it’s tough to beat the track record established by the Harben 4014 E Series trailer-mounted water jetter owned by Zurn Plumbing Services in Atlanta.

The company bought the machine in 2003. Since then, it’s racked up thousands of hours of service and has yet to meet its match in terms of sewer line blockages, says Matt Zurn, veteran drain cleaner and plumber who co-owns the company with family members.

“At the time, my dad, Ted, really liked the design of the P-style radial piston diaphragm pump,” says Zurn, who’s been with the company since 2004. “It’s been a great machine. We use it multiple times a week.

“We’ve had pretty much zero issues with it in 16 years. I’m sure we’ve been a little abusive with it over time. Jetting is really hard on components. But other than hoses breaking and replacing the muffler, nothing major has ever gone wrong with it. We’ve never burned up an engine or had to rebuild the pump or anything like that.”

In fact, technicians fondly refer to the machine as Old Faithful, a testament to its power — 4,000 psi and up to 13.4 gpm — and longevity.

Power to spare

As for power, Zurn cites a job a couple of years ago when employees ran into what turned out to be the mother of all clogs: a 10-foot-long root ball in a 6-inch-diameter residential lateral line in the Atlanta area.

“The root was growing in an area that would’ve been massively expensive to excavate, not to mention very destructive to the resident’s yard,” Zurn says. “The nozzle actually got stuck for a while. The roots were long and stringy and got wound around the nozzle. Once that happened, there was no turning back: We either had to finish the job or start digging up the line.”

Zurn opted for the former option and thanks to the Harben’s power, it turned out to be a good decision. He says a crew kept at it for eight or nine hours total and used about 1,200 gallons of water in the process.

“We were sweating bullets for a while, but we just kept going after it and finally busted through,” he says. “It was awesome. And we saved the customer a lot of money.”

The metro Atlanta area has kept Zurn Plumbing busy since it was established in 1985. The company employs about 30 people and runs 16 service vehicles; its primary offerings are plumbing service and repair work, drain cleaning and pipe lining, using Perma-Liner Industries CIPP technology.

For drain cleaning, the company also owns a propane gas-powered Brute jetter (4,000 psi at 9 gpm) and an Eagle 600 trailer jetter (4,000 psi at 18 gpm), both built by Jetters Northwest.

Technicians use nozzles made by StoneAge (Warthogs) and Enz Technik AG. They also use “jiggler” nozzles for breaking up concrete, Mole penetrator nozzles for flushing scale out of cast iron pipes and a Solo chain tool, all made by Nuova ConTec and sold by Jetter Depot in Cummings, Nuova ConTec’s exclusive North American distributor.

Don't leave home without it

The company relies on the Harben jetter primarily for clearing stoppages in residential and commercial lines and cleaning lines prior to pipe lining. It’s also used to clean pipelines as part of quarterly scheduled maintenance contracts with shopping malls, Zurn says.

“It’s inconvenient at times because with a trailer, it’s sometimes hard to park. But we keep the Harben behind the truck most of the time because the chances of selling drain jobs are much better if the technician has it with him," he says. "Depending on the time of day here in Atlanta, we could get a job 5 miles from the shop, but it might take 30 to 45 minutes to get there and then another 30 to 45 minutes to get back to the customer. So if the jetter is right there, it gets used.

“We work in a lot of old commercial buildings with a lot of scale built up in cast iron pipe, and it does a great job,” he adds.

The jetter is easy to maintain, requiring only periodic oil changes for the engine, pump and gearbox.

“If you take care of it, it’s a rock-solid machine,” Zurn says.

Confidence in a machine

The Harben generates more revenue in two ways. First, using larger, more specialized and expensive equipment allows the company to charge customers a higher hourly rate.

“They understand that; we don’t get much pushback,” he says.

It also expands business opportunities because other plumbing shops that don’t have jetters will hire Zurn Plumbing as a subcontractor.

“They ask us to come in an unmarked truck to do jetting for them,” he says.

But one of the best benefits stems from simply not turning down work for fear that a job is too big. Zurn is always confident the machine will perform, which enables the company to tackle jobs it might not otherwise consider.

“We have just as much confidence in this machine today as we did the day we bought it. At the end of the day, when we roll out with that machine, I know it’s going to work. I’ve never seen it fail to get the job done.”


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