When Hospital Plumbing Goes Wrong


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Nurses know that plumbing systems in healthcare facilities differ greatly from the small plumbing systems found in houses. Because healthcare facilities are typically so vast, they require more advanced and effective plumbing solutions that comply with any codes or standards in place. So, when clogs to occur in a hospital, chances are a professional plumber will have to be called in to fix it.

However, professional plumbers shouldn’t only be called into tend to clogs but also should be scheduled for regular visits throughout the year so they can ensure all the water supply lines and drainage pipes are working reliably. This is a great step to prevent major clogs from occurring. But how do clogs happen in the first place? Are there any dangers that pop up when a clog happens? Let’s find out.

How Do Clogs Occur?

Hospitals are prone to drainage clogs because a lot of things end up going down the sink that shouldn’t, especially in parts of the hospitals where patients reside. According to Richard Hunter, the engineering and operations manager with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, everything from diapers and paper towels to plastic bottles and even grease often find their way in the drains and pipes of hospital plumbing systems. “Lots of things that go into plumbing systems should go into the waste stream.” When large items like these get mixed up in the plumbing systems, it presents complex challenges for technicians working to keep plumbing systems working optimally.

What Happens When the Drains Get Clogged?

When a clog does happen, it’s important for plumbers and technicians to tackle the problem quickly before it gets out of hand. However, it’s not as simple as pouring a jug of Drain-O down the drain. In large hospital facilities, plumbing systems are large and complex, meaning technicians usually have to spend a good deal of time locating the clog and making a plan of action on how to unclog it. If clogs go unattended or they take too long to clear up, what started as an annoying clog in one patient room can end up affecting the entire facility.

The Dangers Hiding in Backed Up Hospital Drains

Plumbing clogs are a hassle and headache for anyone. However, when they occur in hospital settings, there are certain dangers that come to play if a clog isn’t cleared up in a timely manner. For example, hospital drains are notorious breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria. When drainage clogs occur, these dangerous bacteria are more likely to splash out of sinks onto countertops or people. In extreme cases, something like this could even lead to an outbreak of disease in the hospital. However, deadly bacteria don’t just thrive in hospital drains. They’re in plumbing pipes, as well. In fact, bacteria are often more difficult to get rid of once they start growing in plumbing pipes.

Drainage Clog Prevention

So, what can be done to prevent drainage clogs so hospital residents, workers, and visitors are safe? For starters, it’s a good idea to schedule regular plumbing inspections throughout the year to ensure that all plumbing fixtures and pipes are in good working order. If there is a pipe that looks old or isn’t in good shape, replace it so that breakdowns don’s happen down the road. Also, educate hospital staff on what can go down drains. There is no reason why large items, like paper towels and diapers, should be making their way into the plumbing system.

By taking preventative measures like these, any hospital can maintain a well-functioning plumbing system. What do you think? Does your hospital or clinic schedule regular maintenance checks of the plumbing systems?

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