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How to keep drainage disruption to a minimum in schools

Richard Leigh, Business Development Director at Lanes Group, discusses how to keep school buildings properly maintained

Posted by Lucinda Reid | April 04, 2017 | Facilities management

Keeping sewerage and drainage systems in schools in full working order presents a unique set of challenges, especially if you are trying to cause minimal disruption. Consequently, here are some ideas on how to manage these systems to that the school day can continue as normal.

Working with antique facilities

Many schools and colleges are located in ageing buildings with complex sewer facilities. The nature of how these buildings were constructed means that special measures need to be put in place to ensure drainage and pipes are in line with new modern systems.

Issues such as root infestation and cracked pipes are both problems that arise with old drainage systems and can become a major issue if they are left to deteriorate.

Lanes Group recently surveyed and cleaned hundreds of metres of pipework and completed dozens of repairs at The Polesworth School in order to update the school’s drainage system. The initial series of CCTV drainage surveys had revealed a range of problems with surface water and foul drains. These included collapsed, deformed and cracked pipes, serious root infestation and blockages caused by silting.

The work was undertaken to get the school’s drainage system back to full working order, as it had not been inspected for a number of years.

Regular maintenance is key

Emergency drainage problems are one of the most common causes of disruptions within schools and, in some cases, have led to closures that disrupt learning and cause a headache for parents who have to arrange childcare.

Although emergency repairs can never be planned, keeping drainage systems regularly maintained and scheduling in repairs around weekends and school holidays will mean school closures can be avoided.

General drainage maintenance should be carried out as a matter of course during holiday periods, to ensure that the drainage system is working at peak flow and capacity ready for the start of each academic year. Flexibility from contractors to execute these work programmes is key to their success.

Use repair techniques that minimise disruption

Patch lining and ‘no-dig’ techniques are commonplace when carrying out work in school grounds. Avoiding expensive excavations means children are still able to use the outside space while work is ongoing.

When Lanes Group engineers carried out repairs on an underground pipe at East Wichel Primary School, a CIPP (Cure In Place Pipe) repair technique was used to mend a blocked pipe that was blocking a staff room sink. This involves using a glass fibre sleeve, impregnated with resin, being placed inside the cracked pipe and inflated until the resin is dry. When fully cured, the resin creates a hard and smooth lining which supports any cracked pipework.

Education, education, education 

The large number of people who use school buildings every day means it is imperative to keep the drainage systems blockage free at all times. Items such as fizzy drinks cans, rubbish and paper can be disastrous if they make their way into the pipes or sewers. Educating children on throwing rubbish into the bins, what can and can’t be flushed down the toilet, and having signs put in up bathrooms and changing rooms should help resolve some of these issues.

For more information, visit Lanes Group’s website

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