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Spring cleaning, sewer style

Spring cleaning is not just reserved for that pile of old magazines and unfinished winter projects that built up in your garage. It is an essential tool in the sewer maintenance toolbelt that every public works manager should have ready once those snowmen start shrinking. Right about this time every year, we often find ourselves thinking about those warm spring days.

With it comes beautiful days for working outside, but with it comes extra water that, when added to your sewer system, may be cause for concern. 

Snow melt and spring showers will test your storm system capacity. If catch basins and inlets are still loaded with leaves from last fall, they cannot function properly to filter out the debris from the street by keeping it from entering you storm mainlines. As the dirt fills up your storm mains, water retainage is left to the open roads, ditches and culvert pipes. Early spring is the best time to clean and inspect those basins, inlets and mainlines before the April showers bring May flowers.

Whether you use halite (sodium chloride) or sand as a preventative measure during snowfalls, both treatments can be detrimental to your storm system. After melting the snow, road salts combine with the water that is drained away through your storm pipes. Most systems are comprised of concrete or corrugated metal pipes, which are subject to degradation from the chemical. Although less evasive than halite against concretes, sand will continue to collect in the inlets and basins, reducing overall collection system capacity. A good spring cleaning will help wash the structures and pipes.

Storm sewers aren’t the only ones affected by winter melt and spring showers. As the water saturates the ground and enters the sanitary and storm trenches, it flows freely, entering sewers at open joints and lateral connections. This excess inflow and infiltration (I&I) lowers overall capacity, resulting in sanitary sewer overflows, flooded basements and emergency calls. The additional water also adds to the overall treatment costs at the plants while simultaneously removing the substrates that provide pipe support. This causes voids and sinkholes, and adds to the debris within the pipe. 

Throughout this brutal winter, we have seen several freeze/thaw cycles that often wreak havoc with manholes. As the ground freezes, the water expands and lifts the rings and frames. After a warmer day, the top layers quickly thaw, relaxing the structure. This constant movement causes cracks and fractures that weaken areas of the manhole, allowing for inflow at the chimney areas. These areas are also subject to abuse from snowplows overhead as their blades scrape the snow and ice from the road. Need a perfect solution to stop water from entering at these points? Install a protective chimney boot to stretch with the movement and protect against the sodium chloride entering with the melted snow. 

Michels can help with your spring cleaning and seasonal maintenance. As part of our holistic approach to sewer rehabilitation, we have the nationwide capability to identify sewer problems during your spring cleaning and repair them.

Here are five ways to get your sewer system ready to celebrate spring and the rest of the year.

  1. Cleaning – Basins, Inlets, Culverts, and Mainlines
  2. CCTV Inspection
  3. Lateral Inspection
  4. Manhole Inspection and Grading
  5. Joint Testing and Sealing

Once your sewer system has been cleaned and any issues have been identified – either by Michels, your employees or another contractor, Michels is ready to help. Our rehabilitation services include cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining, municipal grouting, short liner installation, manhole rehabilitation, and geopolymer culvert lining. 

Remember, before the road resurfacing programs begin, make sure you know that the sewers below them are in good shape by spring cleaning and televising them. Use this time to practice good preventative maintenance measures and prepare for the construction season ahead. Seasonal maintenance helps provide key information to keep your system operating properly.

Learn more about our sewer & water services.

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