Getting to Know the Neighbours a lot Better!

It was Sunday morning when we received a call from a customer that she had sewage overflowing out of her floor drain in the downstairs bathroom. I told her to make sure that they did not flush or use any plumbing fixtures and that we would be there within 30mins.

When I greeted her at the front door I was in the process of putting my boot covers on, she simply said “don’t worry about putting those on because there is shit everywhere!”. As we walked to the bathroom there were towels laid out everywhere and the smell was bloody horrible. When we arrived at the bathroom sure enough there was shit bubbling up through her floor drain. I asked her if she had a dishwasher or washing machine running and she replied indignantly “no”. At that point she did not realise what was happening but I sure did and it was not good!

I quickly ran out side and looked for her “Overflow Relief Gully” (ORG) and saw that the grate was jammed in position and had not popped off and was blocked with waste. I quickly sprinted to the van grabbed the crow bar and came back to the ORG and smashed the black grate and let it completely flow out in all its glory (I can’t think of a more descriptive way of putting this but shit went everywhere). I walked back inside to check the bathroom floor waste and as expected the sewage had stopped overflowing into the property.

Now for those of you that don’t know what an ORG is, it is an overflow relief point on your drain line, every property has to have one. Its job is to allow sewage to discharge from it if there is a blockage on the councils main drain line or your privately owned drain line. It stops sewage from entering your property if there is a blockage on the main line.

It was unfortunate for our customer that their property was at the bottom of the hill and what was even more unfortunate was that all that sewage that was overflowing into her house was her neighbours waste!!!

I grabbed my Ridgid CCTV camera from the back on the van and put it down the drain line. I had over 40m of camera cable down the drain and it was obvious that the blockage was not located on her property but out past the neighbouring blocks. I contacted the council and gave them the news and requested one of their trucks to come to the property ASAP to clear the blockage.
The worst part was letting the customer know that all her neighbours sewage had been flowing out into her house. It took a little while for it to register but the look on her face was one of utter disbelief. It had gone out through the bathroom into the living area and into the carpet of the theatre room, the kids study room was off to the side of the bathroom and it had all flooded into there as well and all the cables on the ground were nicely soaked with waste.

The customer had told me that the night before she flushed the downstairs toilet and it had taken a while to drain away. She thought nothing of it and just wanted to sort it out the following morning. That was a sign that the drain line was fully blocked already. By the morning the damage had been done as it was overflowing by the time she woke up.

If that wasn’t bad enough outside where the ORG was located it had been seeping sewage for a number of hours as well and had all gone into her veggie garden. Now most people have a veggie garden in a couple of small confined garden beds but this lady must have been an avid gardener because hers was huge and it was completely swamped. She looked near to tears when she realised it was all ruined. My comment of ‘manure being good for the soil’ wasn’t received well. She said she would rip it all out and start again. I myself would not be too keen eating anything that would be regrown in that spot, I would rather stick to Woolies and Coles.

The council workers arrived pretty swiftly and got to work and cleared the blockage. I gave my condolences to the customer and wished her all the best. To be honest I didn’t really know what to say to her, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

The first thing I did when I got home was checked my own ORG grate and made sure it came loose freely.

When the Brothel Calls on a Friday Night…

One Friday evening we received a call from a Madam who needed an emergency plumber ASAP. They had a burst flexible hose in one their rooms that was spraying everywhere, and she was unable to isolate the water main at the front of the property as the isolation lever was jammed in position.

After a few quick questions we found out that a hot flexible hose had burst underneath one of the vanities. I told her to head to her hot water system quickly to isolate the water line connected to the unit. It was a bank of 4 instantaneous hot water units and she isolated all 4 units with assistance over the phone. I told her that we would be there within the hour to fix it all.

On arrival I grabbed my tool bag out of the van and headed up the stairs. I had to stand in front of a huge metal door and pressed the security buzzer. I was buzzed inside, and the lady asked me to have a seat on one of the couches as the Madam would be out shortly. There were not many seating options and I sat down opposite some bloke. He was looking down at the ground and had a baseball cap on and oversized sunglasses. It would have been a crack up if I had known him but I didn’t and he was just a stranger that didn’t want to make eye contact. I had a bit of a laugh inside at the disguise he was wearing but then thought what he might be thinking of me. Maybe he was having a laugh at me like I was some tradie coming into the Brothel to play out some fantasy.

The Madam was out to say gday quickly. She said that room 5 was fully booked for the night and asked me nicely to get it done fast as she had clients arriving shortly. I was escorted into room 5 and sure enough the basin mixer that had a burst flexible hose, it was a cheapo $50 Estilo basin mixer from Bunnings. These particular flexible hoses that come packaged in the box are bent in half in order to save on packaging costs, it’s a common site to see these hoses burst! It was a straight forward job as I could only replace the hot flexible hose as the cold water supply could not be isolated. I turned all the hot water units back on, tested the mixer and it was all good.

I packed up the tools and headed on down to the office to finalise the paperwork and collect payment. The place was an absolute fortress and in the office there were about 12 TV screens up on the walls all showing 4 different camera angles on each screen. When I went to collect the payment she made the comment that we get paid more than her girls which made me laugh, I really didn’t have a come back for that. I wished her all the best and drove home wondering how to tell my pregnant wife at the time why I had been to a brothel. Luckily for me she has a great sense of humour and had a good laugh about it.

A picture of Room # 5

A picture of Room # 5

Burst flexible hose underneath basin cabinet

Burst flexible hose underneath basin cabinet

Did Not See That Text Coming…

Monday night on the 11th of June would have to be one of the funniest and awkward moments I have had with a customer so far to date doing emergency call outs. I have added screen shots of the text messages back and forth from that night as some people might not believe the story.

We received a job from one of our booking companies late Monday evening letting us know that a property owner rang to report water leaking through the ceiling at their rental property. They were unsure whether it was a burst pipe or water leaking from the upstairs bathroom. The roof was starting to sag and the gyprock was at risk of collapsing if left unchecked overnight.

We arrived onsite at around 7pm and isolated the water main to the property. There was a consistent drip coming from the gyprock and a large bulge in the ceiling. We were able to drain all the water that had built up in the roof space by puncturing a hole in the gyprock. There was a 20mm copper main that had a failed weld that was spraying out a fine mist of water. We have uploaded a video (click here) of what we came across on arrival to the site and the burst copper pipe that was causing the issue.

The repair was straight forward, our vans are always fully stocked with supplies to deal with all the emergency call outs that we attend. We cut out the damaged section of 20mm copper and used our Viega copper crimping tool to repair the water main. Water was turned back onto the property and the tenants were happy to have it all sorted out that night. Pictures and videos were taken for the customer to supply to the insurance company for the claim.

I left the premises at around 8:30pm and pulled up down the road to complete all the paperwork and contact the property owner and run them through the job and collect payment. I then messaged the property owner the videos and pictures of the job and the job sheet with the description of work and total amount owing. Then it all went a little pear shaped…

Within 2 minutes we received two rather odd picture messages back. To put it politely there were 2 pictures with fingers shoved up a males hairy back side!!! I was to say the least a little shocked then I was furious. I thought that this person was basically telling me to go and stick it, and had no intention of paying for the work that was completed. I called the number straight away and had my calls screened and not answered!

I sat there for a little while wondering what the hell was going on and didn’t really know what to do. I then started to receive more meme pictures taking the piss out of me. I rang the company that had sent me the job and double checked the details were correct. They said that the customer rang off a private number but they double checked all details prior to ending the call. When someone rings me on a private number for an after hours emergency job I am always sceptical. I was sitting on the side of the road fuming that this customer wasn’t answering my calls and more importantly paying the bill.

I decided to head back to the property and talk to the tenants and see if they knew the property owner and had his mobile. I told them that I was having difficulties getting in touch with the owner and if they could give me his mobile. They read out the mobile number and every number was correct… except for the last digit!!! It was a 4 instead of a 5!!!

I breathed a sigh of relieve and had a good laugh about it. I found it hilarious that someone could send back messages like that within minutes just taking the piss out of the situation. Fair play to them they would have been cracking up themselves.

So finally I had the right contact details and messaged the details to the right number. I rang the customer a few minutes later and the customer answered straight away. Was the easiest person to deal with and was so thankful that we attended the site that night to sort the issue out.

Looking back it was one of the funniest call outs I had been to and one that I wont forget. To who ever was texting me back I hope he or she had a good laugh as well.

Below I have added screenshots of the sequence of messages that were sent!