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A popular and normally prosperous hotel in the heart of the medieval and much-loved city of Cologne was losing custom because of a problem that was the cause of intense complaint among a number of otherwise satisfied guests who were staying there. The guests were quite rightly upset about some extremely unpleasant, gut-wrenching smells that had started to work their way through their rooms whenever the air conditioning was turned on. Much to the distress of both the guests and the hotel management, the stench was at times so overpowering that some of the rooms could not be occupied. This loss of revenue – and the loss of reputation that went hand-in-hand with it – were starting to hit the hotel hard. The only thing the management had to go on was a hunch that there had to be something wrong with the drain pipe venting.

The engineers from VDL who were called out decided to use the fog simulation method to check the discharge pipes for leaks in order to determine where the smell, which was vividly reminiscent of boiled cabbage, fish heads and an open sewer, was coming from.

After having carried out a thorough inspection of the site itself, the engineers started by connecting a fog machine to the discharge pipes of several washbasins in a number of different rooms. First air, and then fog, was pumped into the pipes until they were completely filled. Then the engineers from VDL checked the control openings which were located on each of the floors to see where the fog was escaping. This method would lead them directly to the location of the leak.

And so it was – the engineers were soon able to detect two leaks in the pipe system on the first floor of the grand hotel. They were also able to see that the problem was exacerbated when the air conditioning was switched on. The fog was then distributed throughout the whole building, even as far up as the top floor and the attic.

A solution to the problem had been found. The leaks were repaired and the hotel management could breathe a sigh of relief – and the guests could breathe clean, sweet-smelling air. Or as clean and sweet-smelling as the air in a teeming city like Cologne can be.

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