The Frozen Toilet

The internet is full of some incredibly weird things. We thought we had seen it all, from exploding boilers to a bathtub rowboat. Today we came across this post on Reddit, of a toilet that sort of exploded. No one in our office has ever heard of anything like this happening. Let’s take a deeper look. Typical Winter Plumbing Winter is no friend to your plumbing. We’ve talked before about problems like pipe bursts before. These are typically your biggest winter plumbing problem. The water freezes in your pipes and causes them to burst open. When the ice thaws, you flood the house with running water. This problem is caused by one simple fact: water expands when it freezes. On top of that, the pipe is full of water, so there’s only one real direction for the force of expansion to go: outwards. The pipe is essentially more rigid than it is flexible. It’s possible to bend copper, but the force needs to be applied in the right way, that’s why we have special tools to bend copper pipes. A force like this will find the weakest part of the pipe and once that’s failed, it loses all its strength and ruptures. For this freezing to occur, typically the ambient temperature around the pipes must be below freezing. Most ground water is cold, but likely to be above freezing. The Earth it turns out, is an amazing insulator. For any […]

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NASA’s Water Recycling System

After last week’s Wednesday post, Lead Sales Guy Scott has told me no more sewer blogs. He really values his breakfast. Luckily for me, that’s a request I’m happy to oblige, with a loophole a mile wide: you don’t call it a sewer when it’s in space. In space, we call that Waste Water Reclamation or Recycling. Water In Space Water is a basic human need. If there is no water, there will eventually be no humans there either. Its probably possible to have life without water, but that won’t be us any time soon. We’re giant blobs of water wrapped in a soft, squishy membrane for all intents and purposes. We’re 60% water, which makes us water with some contaminants. Our bodies however, constantly excrete that water. We sweat, exhale water vapor, and lose it in our waste. Consequently, we need to constantly refill ourselves with more water. On Earth, this isn’t much of an issue. We can return the water to the environment and find more. If necessary, we can build an enormous processing plant and turn ocean water into drinkable water. In space however, that’s not an option. In a best-case scenario, it costs about $2500 per POUND to put anything in space. Cost of Water Per Astronaut Without Recycling1/2 Gallon of Water X 8.34 LBs/Gallon X $2500/LB$10,425/Day Per AstronautWater For The Longest Stay on the International Space Station438 Days x $10,425/Day$4.6 Million Per Astronaut It would […]

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The Disgusting Future of Water

We’re back again this week to ruin your appetite with another look into waste water. After our last few articles left lead sales guy Scott unable to eat his breakfast (the pancakes were delicious), we’ve been ordered to write about something clean this week. In that spirit we’re going to look into the future of recycling all sewage into usable water. We advise you finish your breakfast and lunch before reading. Water Shortages Increasingly we are running into a problem with having enough water to drink. Despite the Earth’s surface being about 70% water, we can only drink about 0.01% or less of it. The issue we run into is that ocean water would kill us. There’s too much salt and bacteria in it. This is why we have fresh water and salt water fish. The environments are so drastically different that few, if any fish can survive in both environments. We can only drink water which isn’t from the ocean. This is a massive restriction. It means all of society has to survive on water from lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers. The problem is exacerbated when we experience droughts, which leave us drawing on our water reserves. Unfortunately, for the past century or so, that’s what we’ve been doing. We pump water out of wells and end up draining them faster than they can be replenished. Certain large drink companies make the issue worse by buying water at less […]

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Industrial Clog Removal

Most homeowners are familiar with the tried and true plumbing snake for handling small blockages. It’s a long metal tube, sometimes with a claw or a camera on the end. You can push it into a pipe and force a blockage apart to clear the line. The problem is, this only really works for small pipes and some blockages. What do you use when you’re up against a bigger problem? The Snake’s Flaw The plumbing snake will push through a blockage, but it doesn’t necessarily clean up the line. Even after you’ve pushed a snake through the pipes, all it’ll do is move one obstacle. If there’s waste build up inside the pipe, there will still be reduced flow. It even gets a bit worse: the snake can only relay so much force into the clog. For most significant issues, a plumbing snake is a tool to quickly and temporarily resolve a bigger problem. Waste is building up inside the pipe, similar to how hard water build up can block off the water supply pipes. The snake isn’t as big as the pipe, it only creates a narrow channel or at best pushes a big obstruction apart. The rest of the pipe remains nearly clogged, waiting on a small blockage to seal it up again. In some cases, this issue can be fought chemically, using de-cloggers to break down the blockage. That’s not especially friendly, it’s not fast, and it’s […]

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Efficiently Fighting Clogs

Waste disposal pumps vary in scale and application, like all things with pumps and HVAC technology. Typically chopper pumps are meant for more industrial scale uses, where you’re running an entire county’s waste system. What about smaller scale? Clogs and blockages don’t just occur outside your facility, they happen on the inside too. An Expensive Problem A clog can occur anywhere in the piping. Things get really expensive though depending on just where that clog happens. It’s one thing if your local waste service has a blockage. If the pipes block up an inch over the edge of your property, it’s the waste service’s problem and in principal, their expense to fix. On the other hand, anything in your facility and its grounds is your problem. For a facility such as a hotel, where there might hundreds or even thousands of guests, there can be no clogs or break downs. Your customers will demand refunds if they find themselves standing in a pool of grossness mid-shower. These places need the same levels of reliability as the greater waste management system. Worse than that, with a wide variety of guests, just about anything could end up in the plumbing. Pranksters might try to flush ping pong balls, an intoxicated guest might accidentally flush a toothbrush, and someone will believe that flushable wipes are actually flushable (they’re not, they create massive clogs). There need to be defenses placed against the biggest problems […]

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What Makes a Sewage Pump Special?

Different pumps are needed for different situations. It’s possible to optimize a pump’s design to work in rugged conditions, work under a fluid (submersible pump), to operate precisely (a parastaltic pump), and even to resist clogging in heavy-duty usage. The latter is the type of design that makes a sewer pump special. A Special Kind of Fluid Sewer systems need to process more than just liquid. It turns out sewage is actually made of a lot of solid material that can clog a pump or pipeline. Human waste won’t just break up, it can often remain solid and become an obstacle to a smooth flowing system. This problem is very analogus to flushing golf balls. Eventually one of them will get stuck somewhere, and then others will get stuck, and things like toilet paper will block up the whole pipe. In some cases, clogs like this can be defeated with pressure. If you can exert enough force on something, such as with a plunger, you can break up the blockage and force the material to keep flowing. The only problem is that you need to keep fixing the problem over and over again. And sooner or later, a clog will develop that either burns up the pump or that can’t be fixed without taking apart pipes and being more direct about the problem. This unique waste composition of solids and liquids is a massive issue for sewer systems. It’s not […]

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A Crappy Tunnel

Once upon a time our public rivers and streams were essentially our sewers. In the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon to essentially leave waste in the streets and let it get washed into the river by the rain. In the 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for public sewers to dump raw sewage into the nearest major body of water. In some places, this is even still common practice. In the 1980s, Boston Harbor was one of these places. The Grossest Harbor in the Country Boston’s original sewer system dumped raw sewage 500 feet off the coast line. The belief at the time was that the ocean was so vast that the sewage would be harmlessly diluted. It was the 1800s and Boston was a smaller place back then. For a few decades, the system worked, but as the population grew, it became impossible to wash away that much waste. The entire harbor was soon contaminated with excrement and all the biohazards millions of sick and healthy people produce every day. By the 1940s the contamination was becoming evident, with cloudy, gross water in the harbor. By the 1950s there was some waste treatment, but it wouldn’t be able to keep up with Boston’s growing output. It takes time and space to treat waste like this, and the plants that were built didn’t have enough of either to keep things running smoothly forever. On days when the plants couldn’t keep up, the sewage […]

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The Future of Waste

The blog is back, Happy New Year! Since it is now the future, we’re going to look into something about the future today: the future of toilets. We sell equipment for waste treatment and everything is awesome with science. The science of toilets however, is more than a little dated. The Same Old Technology Toilets as we know them are a pretty old idea. The toilet as we know it, a bowl that flushes with water was first thought of in 1596 and eventually patented in 1775. Nothing else in the world has stayed so simple for as long as the toilet. That original concept was a two foot deep bowl that you flushed with about eight gallons of water, and then would dump into a sewer or other waste-disposal location. Given the time period, it was probably acceptable to dump it in the streets, gross as that sounds. This is essentially the same thing we have today. We have improved the efficiency of the design so it uses less water, made the sewage cleaning process cleaner, and made it smell a little better, but it’s still the same concept, isn’t it? In the intervening centuries we’ve learned about bacteria, viruses, materials science, precision engineering and manufacturing, chemical sanitation, and so much more that could improve the toilet. You might ask: why fix what isn’t broken? In reality, the toilet is very broken. Our entire waste water system is broken, […]

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