Some chokes are plumb strange

Some chokes are plumb strange

Cosmetic products, towels, shampoo bottles and even hamsters.

These are just some of the strange things plumbers David Chi, 53, and Joe Tan, 51, have found stuck in pipes in homes here.

The two have at least 50 years of plumbing experience between them.

So it came as no surprise to them that a clogged sewage pipe caused a severe flooding recently at a unit in Punggol.

It was reported last week that the toilet, hallway and living room of the newly furnished flat was covered in faeces and urine after the leak.

A town council spokesman later said that renovation debris had caused the choke.

Mr Chi, a plumber with NTUC Income Home Services, told The New Paper that while it is generally difficult to identify the source of the chokes, cases of plumbing systems clogging up are commonplace, especially in older Housing Board buildings.

"With older HDB buildings, renovation work happens regularly and increases the risk of plumbing issues arising," he said.

Mr Tan, who is self-employed, said he has seen many unusual items flushed down toilets and choking up systems.

"I have pulled out an entire towel from a pipe before, and once we found a couple of sanitary pads that had expanded from water absorption," he said.

The plumbers have also come across some small pets during these extractions.

Most did not survive but Mr Tan recalled his surprise when a terrapin managed to survive the ordeal.

"It was a miracle, really," he said.

MACHINERY NEEDED

For blockages, machinery will be brought in to break the obstacle into little pieces. Cutting the pipe is only required if the obstacle is too large.

According to the two plumbers, plunging should be avoided, as it will only push the obstacle further down and may cause chokes again in future.

Mr Tan also said telltale signs of trouble include fluctuating water levels or small tremors that are observable on the water surface level of the toilet bowl.

He said homeowners can contact plumbers for an assessment.

But if the situation is serious, they should contact the town council's Essential Maintenance Service Unit, which are 24-hour services provided by town councils for urgent maintenance requests.

The Singapore Plumbing Society also urged homeowners to use qualified and trustworthy contractors. The society represents trained and qualified plumbing professionals locally.

"Even with regular checks, blockages may still occur occasionally if someone decides to flush the debris down the toilet instead of disposing it responsibly," said Mr Chia Wai Chon, 70, the society's operations manager.


This article was first published on May 18, 2015.
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