Practice! Is It Necessary?

” Our crew attended training class about 6 weeks ago and we finally went out on our first job. What a 

Trailer Jetter

disaster! Needless to say, we didn’t get the liner in the ground and wasted 75′ of liner, calibration tube and 60#’s of resin as well as 2 guys wages for the day. I feel like forgetting about lining and just stick with what I know. I’ve been cabling and jetting lines for 10 years and never have this kind of trouble.”

I’ve run a jetter as well as a cable machine and I can tell you my first experiences with both weren’t pulling up to a job site with a few hours of instruction and complete a drain cleaning job efficiently. I’ll bet you didn’t either and in fact, cabling and jetting took way more practice than I thought were necessary before I started either. Can a guy open a line with very little instruction? Yes. Can he or she do it safely? No! Can he or she perform either job so the line is cleaned the best it can be cleaned? No! How many times have you gotten a call from a homeowner who get a chunk of cable from Home Depot, took it home, and got a toilet opened up only to have it plug worse a few days later? If you say you never got any calls like that you’re either brand new in the business or lying. The training was over a course of a long period of time that the boss took you with him on several drain calls and instructed you over many weeks or months before he let you go on your own. Even then, you may have called him when you ran up against something you’d never experienced before and he or she was there to advise you. You were under no gun regarding time or additional tooling to get the job complete and if it took all day to get done, that was just part of the learning process. If fact, I’ll bet that when you look back at some of those first jobs you did by yourself, you wonder how it could have taken you all day to jet a 50′ x 4″ line from the house clean out. If you are like most of us, you chuckle about how “wet behind the ears” you were on those first jobs and the time you spent just learning. That was your practicing time. Time you could take because there was no “under the gun” timer hanging over your head.

If you take that same approach to lateral lining, you’ll fail. The one little caveat to this process is that once you mix chemicals together, you have a clock telling you to get your liner in the ground before it cooks off. So with that clock as a motivator, you have to change your training methods. Lateral lining training can’t take place in the field for a new crew. It has to be done in an environment where you can repeat the steps over and over until, like walking, they become natural. To get good at anything takes practice. Each activity you do required practice to get good at it, but some practices can be done in the field while others require a controlled environment.

Let me give you a good example. Most all children learn to talk by the time they are 2 or 3. In fact most are pretty proficient at that ability, but virtually none of them can read or write. If you can read or write, my bet is that you learned those skills in a controlled environment like a classroom and practiced it over and over until you were able to do it.

Lateral sewer lining is no different. It’s more like reading and writing that learning to talk. You need to practice the process over and over, in a controlled environment to be proficient. Actually lateral lining is much easier than drain cleaning, and both skills are learned, they are just learned differently. As soon as you embrace that concept, learning in the shop will insure success in the field, because of that one little component, the clock, that sets a limit of how much time you have to get the job done before it’s too late.