Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tale of the Ancient Sink-Clog


I'm throwing up some details concerning the plumbing issue in Amber's previous post, because you need to be amazed by the awesomeness of our skills.

We've had problems with the house since before we were handed the keys. Yes, the siding. Yes, the roof. Yes, the floor. Yes, the electrical. Yes, the basement seepage. Yes, the hot water heater. And... yes, the plumbing.

The need for our very first home repair was diagnosed before we bought the house. We wanted to get an idea of how bad off we were with the 'not having water where we're supposed to have water' problem. The upstairs bathroom didn't appear to be an issue: a broken off faucet handle. Our Joe the Plumber, whose name is Jim and actually is a plumber, broke the union under the sink and got water out. Score. We were already going to replace that fixture, so he verified that the new faucet would fix the problem.

The problem of the day (POTD) was not having water in the tub in the downstairs bathroom. After a few minutes of poking around (and simultaneously fixing another problem I knew about but for which I hadn't mapped out a plan of attack) and a couple of turns of the wrench later, we found out that our potentially multi-hundred dollar, rippin' out walls plumbing problem was a $20, 5 minute fix. Score, part deux.

So we buy the house and meander along towards our desired state of move-in-ability and come to find that the kitchen sink backs up. A lot. It drains eventually, but not in a good way. Another trip to home depot, more (electronic) bills slapped on the (virtual) counter and we walk out with a new toy for Bryan. A toy that didn't fix the problem. Don't get me wrong--it got better. For a bit. Then it wasn't better. There was some plungering and some cursing and were some silent pleas to the heavens.

Then super-brother Nathan steps on the scene, (imaginary) cape flying, and we go at the problem from the back end. Or downstream. Whatever.


Scene: Sunday afternoon, light breeze, lightly overcast skies, and freaking cold outside... again. Setting: basement. While the performing of the mapping of the plan of the attack I found a pipe union in the ceiling... covered over with drywall. Nathan and I measured back from the access panel we did have in the ceiling and approximated a location where a controlled, localized destruction of the ceiling would provide access to the union. Success!

Of my toolset, I did manage to have a couple (4) pipe wrenches on hand. There was some discussion about the proper placement of the second wrench, but I wanted to try just putting some torque on it and seeing what happened, based on too many cooks being in one pot at the same time. That makes sense in my head.
One torque enhancement device (cheater bar in the form of one of those additional torque wrenches) later, the union broke free.

Now, anyone that has ever done any plumbing work on the back end of the apparatus knows what I'm about to say. Feel free to relish, or skip on to the next paragraph. First, we were lucky to be working on the back end of a sink. We were unlucky in that it was a kitchen sink. Second: stank. Third: nastiness. For anyone who hasn't worked with it before, there's no way to describe the breadth of it, nor how penetrating it is. Sometimes you can't wash it off with just one scrubbing.

We struck gold, sort of. The clog was exactly there, and upstream of there. There was some blockage downstream, but the outright plug was at and less than a foot upstream. I know that it was less than a foot upstream because when we had put less than a foot of the rotary pipe snake up the pipe a whole mess o' crud came gushing out with a couple of gallons of water. No, we were not ready for that to happen.

Any of the unpleasantness of the whole situation was wiped away by the relief I felt at the problem being that, and just that. We got about two quarts of what looked like very fine cottage cheese looking material out of the pipe, and most of it ended up in the bucket. The rest of it did not end up on the floor, if you get my drift. We worked the snake with a trickle of running water until we got a clear flow out of the pipe, and declared victory. Just to be sure, we snaked the downstream pipe for a while, then buttoned everything up. We were further pleasantly surprised to find that the union didn't leak after the initial reassembly. To tempt fate, we put about 30 gallons of water through the drain and found no problems.

The day also saw my awesome brother awesomely taking off another awesome truck load of leaves. About 150 cubic feet worth... compacted. And more remain. There is mulching in the future of Bramberville, but I don't know that we'll be using all of the leaves for that. As of this writing, though, the pile is manageable and contained.

I do have to mention that we struck up a storm of yardwork on our street. The next door neighbor, Hibi, and (I assume) a daughter raked up their front yard. Last night while driving to the apartment from the house, post paint-job admiration, I saw about 20 bags of leaves on the sidewalk in front of the yet-to-be-met (but-looking-forward-to-
meeting) down-the-street 'dirty hippy' neighbors, out for pickup today with the trash.

So ends another chapter in the ongoing saga of Bramberville.

Windows, windows, every where,
Nor any draft to seal.

1 comment:

  1. Just another one of the many, many reasons I will never be able to eat cottage cheese.