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High Pressure Service

11/08/2015 | General

Founded in 1992 by Gary Gifford, Southern Drain Services (SDS), gained an enviable reputation simply because the company guaranteed all its work.   Gifford said:  “if a job was done correctly the first time, then the guarantee would never be invoked.”    It was a brilliant USP at the time, although much imitated since.

Based on operating a very good service at a very fair price, Gifford soon had a successful company on his hands.   But then tragedy struck when he was killed in a road accident, leaving his widow Anne - now with two children of one and three years - to pick up the pieces and take control.

Looking back Anne recalls:   “It was a terrible time.   It was difficult coping on my own, with little money coming in from the fledgling company.   But Gary had started his 'dream' and I was determined to ensure it carried on and succeeded.   It was hard work, horrible in fact.   But we are still here and that is because we provide a great service and we have a very loyal customer base.  In fact we still retain a high number of our original customers.  These are people who like value for money and don't like being ripped off.   They know we take a personal pride in our work, and they like the personal touch we offer. 


The company has grown and we can boast of customers such as Lloyds of London and the British Library, who we have serviced for 15 years, amongst our clientele.   We now employ 18 staff and operate 24/7, 365 days a week across London and the Home Counties, although we do service several remote sites as far away as Wetherby in Yorkshire, one of three sites we maintain for the British Library. In fact, that site demonstrates how effective our operations are.   The Library called out a local company for maintenance work; but after leaving several answerphone messages, we got the call and travelled to Leeds, did the work and were back in London, before they even responded.”


At the heart of operations at SDS in Thurrock, Essex, are 11 high-pressure water jetting vehicles used for the removal of debris in culverts, drains and sewers. The rigs are especially useful in de-scaling water mains, cleaning and flushing process pipe work, cleaning storage tanks, restoration of painted or corroded structures, cleaning heat exchangers and condensers, and the removal of oil, grease, graffiti, paint, chewing gum and even road markings. The rigs can be used on any size pipes from 19 to 1200 mm and have a water flow rate range from 9 to 70 gallons per minute at 1,000 to 12,000 PSI. These units are backed by a fleet of tanker jetters and combination units that carry 1,000 gallons of clean water, and are powerful enough to blast pipes up to 600 mm in diameter.   They collect and remove wet and dry material including bricks, bottles and compacted sewerage and in a separate compartment they can remove 1,000 gallons of waste water.

The company also operates a variety of electro-mechanical cleaning processes, which are suitable for cleaning everything from sinks, drains, sewers, process pipe work, interceptors, fuel lines, water mains, duct-work, heat exchangers to chimneys and flues.   Cable-operated, they can work around bends reaching otherwise inaccessible points. Prior to complex work, SDS will often employ a CCTV survey  team in a dedicated vehicle that can conduct 360 degree visual monitoring in 250 metres of pipe.


Specialist services also include Cured in Place Pipe (CIPP) repairs, a system of onsite repair that restores pipework by creating a smooth, corrosion resistant pipe within a pipe.   SDS re-lines pipework, an ideal solution for repairing pipes rather than replacing them.   A polyester felt tube is externally coated with a polyurethane membrane, a resin is then mixed with a catalyst and fed into the pipe to impregnate the felt which is then expanded to the existing pipe walls with vacuum pumps. SDS specialise in the supply, fitting and maintenance of grease trap systems, and even offer a full plumbing service for domestic and industrial needs.

“There have been some amusing and even scary moments during operations.   We have been mentioned on Sky Sports during a live match at Chelsea when a torrential downpour threatened to flood the pitch and the commentator said I don't know who maintains the drains, but they have done a superb job.   We've helped police in Newham search for murder weapons, had an engineer held hostage, found just about everything down blocked drains from a hamster, underwear and dentures, and even dealt with a live rat in a toilet.   We supply the best service available and we are able to do that because we use suppliers such as Pirtek Thurrock. They supply everything from our jetting hoses to the hydraulics on the tankers.   They have an excellent counter service where we can get things made on the spot, which is invaluable as well as provide on-site repairs,” Anne Gifford concludes.   “At this very moment they are replacing a metal water cooling pipe on the Dennis tanker outside. A part that would probably take ages to obtain from the OEM. Pirtek have come up with an alternative solution that was manufactured and installed in under an hour, which means the tanker can complete an urgent call at Heathrow tonight.”

“Pirtek  have a great counter service where we can get everything made on the spot”




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Lockdown Update - January 2021

Lockdown Update - January 2021

As we enter a new phase of COVID-19 restrictions nationally, we would like to assure you that Pirtek will remain entirely operational throughout this period. All our local... MORE