Major MoD office site gets drain downpipe clean

Drainage teams from Lanes Group plc have cleaned downpipe stacks at one of the UK’s largest office complexes. They were supporting commercial fit-out specialists Beacon Business Interiors who have been refurbishing toilet blocks at MoD Abbey Wood. The site, at Filton, near Bristol, is home to Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation. Drainage engineers from the Lanes Bristol depot worked for 12 weekends to clean 29 downpipe stacks in the award-winning building.

Lanes Bristol Area Development Manager Matt Banks said: “The toilet refurbishment project was the ideal moment to clean the stacks. It ensured the internal drainage system was fit for purpose and would be operating at full capacity when the new facilities had been installed. Regular cleaning of downpipes is essential as they can become clogged with scale, hair, and residues from sanitation gels and detergents. Pipes in downpipe stacks can also be compromised by items wrongly flushed down toilets, such as wipes and sanitary products.”

The drainage engineers used electro-mechanical cleaning equipment to scrub the insides of the 225mm-diameter cast-iron pipes build into the three and four-storey building. The electric-powered device has a rotating head on the end of a flexible cable which removes debris as it is lowered through pipes. While this was being lowered from above, a drainage engineer used a water jetting hose to flush debris from the pipe from below.

The Lanes team used a van-based water jetting unit as cobbled access road could not take the full weight of a jet vac tanker. A remote hose-reel was deployed to reach several isolated stacks. This is a water jetting machine on a tracked unit for working off-road.

Lanes also carried out CCTV drainage surveys of the downpipes to check their condition and show the cleaning had been effective.

The MoD Abbey Wood offices were opened by The Queen in 1996. It has 1.63m2 of building space on a 402-acre site. More than 9,000 people work on the site which, in 1997, won a RICS award for ecological design.