Clogs in the Machine

by Katie Lee

Don’t let a clogged pipe be a drain on your bottom line.

By Mike Polizzi

Out of order.” It’s a sign you never want customers to see, especially not in your restrooms. A clogged drain can happen any time. It can also leave patrons with a negative impression until the issue is fixed, which can be hours — even days in some situations. This type of issue can impact your image and brand’s reputation. We all know that clogs happen, but what causes them? And, what can we do to prevent them?

Common Clog Culprits

Instead of constantly having to repair a clogged drain, it’s important to understand what often causes the clog in order to prevent it from creating a future problem. One of the most frequently found items in a clogged drain is paper products, including feminine products and toilet paper. However, the most common clog culprit is paper towels. Often, paper towels end up in the toilet instead of the trash. Another offender is flushable wipes, such as baby wipes. Flushing multiple wipes can cause a costly blockage. Although these are common items found in most restrooms, there are steps you can take to prevent them from becoming a major drain on your time and bottom line.

Clearing a Clog

Serious clogs or ones that are deep in the plumbing or drainage system will most likely require professional attention. However, you may be able to loosen some clogs with a plunger. If that doesn’t work, you should contact a facility provider to diagnose the situation.

It’s crucial to determine if there’s an issue as quick as possible. If not addressed properly, what was once a minor concern can cause more extensive issues in the line with other toilets. Ignoring the problem altogether can ultimately cause the restroom to be shut down. This leads to customer inconvenience, which typically translates into lost sales.

Jetting your pipes can decrease the likelihood or the severity of clogged pipes. This method cleans pipes effectively by clearing debris, and returning plumbing surfaces to a smooth condition. It is recommended that this be done annually to prevent future issues.

You can also minimize the occurrence of a clog by evaluating your existing bathroom setup. From there, you can identify trigger points and alter what you provide in your bathrooms. For example, you can install sani-bins in each stall to provide an access point where feminine products can be disposed of instead of the toilet. Additionally, offering seat covers in stalls alleviates patrons from using toilet paper to cover the toilet seat.

Education also plays a critical role in preventing a major backup. Assign in-house staff the responsibility of restroom maintenance. Provide staff with a daily checklist to ensure everything is functioning properly. For example, they should check to see that drains are clear and the toilets are flushing properly. Schedule a bathroom check between peak business times and train employees on procedures. Your staff should know where the water shutoff is to each restroom and foodservice area to eliminate other areas being affected during a repair session.

If you’re still in the construction or remodeling stage, you can add additional access points to your restrooms. Builders typically build restrooms to meet jurisdiction requirements with the minimal amount of access points. However, by adding additional access points, you can prevent a larger issue in the future. The more access points available, the better because it increases your ability to reach something that might be stuck down the line.

Be Prepared by Partnering with a Pro

A clog can happen at any moment and quickly become a drain on your business. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an emergency maintenance provider that knows your facilities and can act quickly in diagnosing and fixing these type of issues. Your brand image is one of your most important assets. Contracting with a maintenance services provider helps keep a consistent image across all of your locations while saving you time and money.

Fewer Clogs Improve the Customer Experience

From the physical cleanup and costs associated with drain repairs to downtime, inconvenience and image problems, no one can afford to have a plumbing issue affect his or her facility. You don’t want to lose time or customers due to a potentially avoidable issue. In addition to preventative steps that will help avert a plumbing-related catastrophe, you should identify a reliable partner who responds quickly and is equipped with the knowledge and equipment to fix your issue the first time. Whether you have a single location or 500 sites spread across the country, finding a qualified plumber who can fix your issues quickly and correctly will not only limit downtime and potential sanitation issues, it can also enhance your customers’ perception of your business and improve your overall bottom line. Otherwise, even a small plumbing issue can be a drain on your bottom line.


— Mike Polizzi is director-customer solutions for Cintas Managed Solutions – Metro Door. Cintas Managed Solutions provides 24/7 emergency solutions like plumbing and door repair services that help limit business interruptions and keep businesses moving smoothly. For more information, visit

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