Thursday, 8 January 2009

Rats for Christmas

We received a call from an office manager just before the new year asking us to repair a faulty toilet flush. The cause of the fault surprised us all.

The inner workings of the toilet concerned were concealed behind a decorative panel. All that was visible on the panel was the pneumatic flush button. These buttons work by compressing air within a rubber tube the increased pressure is enough to operate the flush valve and the toilet flushes. In this case the rubber hose had become disconnected from the button and as a result the toilet was not flushing when the button was pushed.

On closer inspection the handyman noted that the end of the rubber tube was jagged as if a rodent had been chewing on it. He cut off a bit of the tube and refitted it to the flush button which restored the correct operation of the toilet. The whole process only took 20 minutes.

A few days later we got a call from the same customer to say that the toilet was not working again. We sent the same handyman back to investigate. This time he found that most of the flush button had been eaten away by rodents. The extent of the damage to the button can be seen in the photo.
It emerged when discussing the problem with the customer that they had come back from the Christmas break to find that rats had run riot through their offices chewing on anything from computer cables to coffee cups.
The rats were using the toilet cisterns as their water supply and once they had had a drink were pausing to nibble on a bit of rubber to pass the time.
The answer was to prevent the rats from getting into the toilet cisterns and this meant removing the decorative panel, filling all access holes with steel will and expanding foam and then reinstating everything. This was done in conjunction with an exterminator laying poison and traps throughout the office.
We completed the work and are confident that the rats won't gain access to the men's toilet again. However we got a call this morning to say that the woman's toilet now won't flush. I believe politicians call this phenomenon 'crime displacement'.

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