Cleaning Up: How One Ohio Village Keeps on Top of Sewer Maintenance

The Village of Carrollton, Ohio, has upped its game when it comes to keeping on the top of the debris that infiltrates its underground sewer pipes and culverts. The Village recently purchased its first-ever combination sewer cleaning system that crews have put to use across multiple Village infrastructure departments.

The newest member of its maintenance team is a Vacall AllJetVac R Series cleaning system that is making the workload for crews easier, as well as the maintaining its bottom line with its speed and efficiency. And most importantly, keeping the water flow going in the pipes.

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Vacall Carrollton Utilities LogoRELATED: Vacall Is Jetting to the Top

The Village of Carrollton, located southeast of Canton, Ohio, is the definition of a small town. With a population of approximately 3,700 people, the Village’s water and sewer departments take care of 1,400 households in a 2.5-square mile area. The sanitary sewer system is primarily made up of vitrified clay pipes that are 50 to 60 years old (and in the 6- to 10-in. diameter range). Carrollton Water Department superintendent Derik Kaltenbaugh has been with the department for more than 25 years, bearing witness to all of the labor-intensive work Village officials have put in to it.

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“Overall, the condition of our [sewer pipes] is good,” he says. “Being that most of the system is made up of clay pipe, we deal with root issues. However, for the most part, the system is in very good shape.”

Kaltenbaugh explains that the Village cleans out all of its sewer lines once a year, with crews starting in one section of the Village and working their way through until the end. If, while cleaning, crews come across a blockage or any other issue, they return with an inspection camera (Carrollton uses a Proteus crawler camera, purchased from Jack Doheny Companies) to see what is going on to determine a course of action.

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RELATED: Combined Benefits: Combo Sewer Cleaner Recycling Systems Save Time, Money and Water and Increase Productivity

Budget Conscious

Vacall at Work in Carrollton Ohio

Like most cities and towns across North America, the underground infrastructure in Carrollton is continuing to age, requiring more attention. The aging infrastructure needs of a smaller municipality are not much different than those of a larger one in that officials need to be able to do more with less and still be cost-efficient in their work. Just like larger cities, Carrollton must weigh its equipment budget against a constant need to maintain sewer line flow, keep storm drains open and handle water line replacements and breaks. Keeping the work in-house helps keep costs down; larger projects, such as water line replacement, are contracted out.

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The addition of a combination sewer cleaning system is exactly what Carrollton needed. After researching its options, Carrollton replaced its trailer jetter with Vacall’s AllJetVac R Series combination sewer cleaning system, purchasing it about 18 months ago. This machine is designed to use powerful jetting and vacuum forces to break up blockages in sewer lines and extract debris into a 10-cubic yard debris tank. The machine is also equipped with a hydro excavation wand.

The results of its use have far exceeded what the Village had hoped. “Before [the Village] purchased the Vacall, we used a trailer jetter,” Kaltenbaugh says. “But we have found that the Vacall [system] could deliver more productivity. It has made a tremendous difference. Everything is so much faster.”

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Kaltenbaugh explains that the Village handles such work in-house, which saves money but also can put a strain on crews to ensure the pipes remain cleared; having the sewer cleaning unit, solves the latter issue. The water department uses the Vacall truck’s hydro-excavation option for digging up water leaks and using the system, speeds up the process. “Usually you spend three to four hours digging,” he says. “The last water break we had, we dug it up, fixed it and were filling it back in 90 minutes.”

But the combo unit’s main focus is cleaning out the sewer lines, as well as storm drains and storm lines. Kaltenbaugh relates one project that involved a culvert that demonstrated the powerfulness of the machine, as well as its speed. “On one job, we cleaned out a 48-in. box culvert that ran 50 to 60 ft under a state route,” he says. “There was so much debris, sediment and vegetation inside, water was no longer going through it. We used the All JetVac for 12 hours straight, dumping seven loads of debris and we completely opened it up.”

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Kaltenbaugh adds that they did the job in just one day, thanks to the sewer clean unit. “A contractor had quoted us $9,000 to $10,000 to do that [same] job and we were able to do it ourselves,” says Carrollton administrator Mark Wells.

RELATED: 2018 Vacuum Excavator Spec Guide

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Kaltenbaugh says he can’t stress enough the importance of having a preventative maintenance program for both the sewer and stormwater infrastructure to ensure the flow is maintained. “It’s very important for both the sewer and stormwater,” he says. “We’ve had some problem areas we discovered since we started using the [sewer cleaning] truck that we’ve been able to clean out and really improve the water flow. Before we were just using the jetter, which just sends all the debris down the line. With the [sewer cleaning truck,] we are able to suck it right out of the sewer system.”

Vacall Carrollton DumpingBuying a Sewer Cleaning System? Here’s What to Keep in Mind

A combination sewer cleaning truck is a vital and expensive piece of equipment – most likely the most expensive piece of equipment in a fleet. The purchase of new equipment should not be taken lightly. With that in mind, we asked Vacall to offer some tips that buyers should consider before purchasing a new truck.

How versatile is the equipment?

Municipalities need to know if the machine will serve multiple departments for storm water cleanup, sewer cleaning and maintenance, utility work, hydro excavation around pipes utility lines and for hydrant replacements, etc. Even contractors feel the pressure to buy equipment and machines with multiple uses. Ideally, both municipalities and contractors want one machine that can do the work of many machines, allowing them to take less equipment to jobsites, or even reduce their need for extra equipment investments.

Can the truck perform in our conditions/environment?

Operators and department heads need to know if their equipment can work effectively year-round. Taxpayers (and contractors’ customers) require immediate maintenance work … not when weather improves. During winter weather, especially, the most productive machine designs keep water from freezing, and provide a compartment for operators to change their clothes and warm up.

How simple is the machine to operate?

Employee turnover raises concerns about lost productivity while new operators are trained. Likewise, even experienced operators increase their productivity and their working satisfaction with equipment that doesn’t have complicated startup procedures or requires a lot of extra adjustments, guesswork and unexpected operator errors. Happy, productive operators like to get to the job and get to work as soon as possible.

What is the average cost of ownership annually?

This should be a major consideration beyond initial purchase price. Single-engine designs, for example, reduce fuel consumption, harmful emissions, routine filter replacements and other maintenance tasks vs. machines that use two engines – one to power the chassis and another to power the jet/vac functions. Ask about the cost and availability of routine service parts? It’s also appropriate to be concerned about equipment reliability, because downtime and a void in productivity can skyrocket ownership cost.

Who do I call when this machine quits working?

Service and support after the purchase and delivery are critical. Make sure there’s a convenient resource for factory-backed routine service procedures, emergency repairs and authorized replacement parts. Typically, you want a dedicated distributor location with trained, experienced technicians to trouble-shoot and resolve unexpected problems.

Is the radio Bluetooth compatible and does the passenger seat have air ride?

Creature comforts are important to keep operators happy and productive. Operators want a machine that’s easy to operate, but they also appreciate a machine that’s comfortable and friendly for the over-the-road portion of their work day.

Ask about warranties.

Quality equipment is expensive, so it’s great to think you will never need warranty coverage on your machine or its various components. But that’s just not a reasonable expectation with machines that are out working hard every day. You want to know what kind of warranty support will you receive from competent manufacturers of your chassis as well as the jet/vac system. Recognizing this concern, some combo machine manufacturers even offer lifetime warranties on water and debris tanks, which can confidently extend your expectation for a longer, more productive working life of your equipment, maximizing your return on your equipment investment.

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