March 12, 2005

I Don’t Play a Plumber on TV

I like to think that I’m not a helpless guy around the house. I try to fix things here and there. I’ve got the tools to do basic repairs and maintenance. Sometimes I get in over my head and I usually have a pretty good sense of when it’s time to stop and call in professional help before causing more problems than we started with. In reality I’m probably not all that handy” at all, but I sure like to think that I am. Probably a guy thing”. So, when prompted with the opportunity to prove that handiness” I don’t hesitate to dive in and see what I can do.

Last night I got home about an hour before we were expecting dinner guests. Nothing big, only one couple coming over, not a big party or anything. Anyway, when I got home Tammy informed me that the kitchen sink was stopped up. There was water standing in both basins and she had tried running the disposal more thinking it would agitate things out but it did no good. I decided to take a look into the situation and see if I could help.

First thing I did was unplug the garbage disposal. Tammy’s constantly shoving her hand in there and fidgeting with things without unplugging it. This makes my spine tingle for very irrational reasons. Before I shove my hand in that beast of destruction” it’s getting unplugged and I’m testing that it doesn’t turn on with the switch. I felt around and nothing was amiss. We ran it and this time it shot water a good foot out of the sink. Water that was also laced with little bits of carrots and potatoes, the last things to go through the disposal.

I started poking on the other basin and trying to see through even more carrot and potato bits floating in a few inches of water. Deciding that it just had to be clogged with too much debris from the disposal I put a clothes hangar (this is one of the professional tools”) down the drain and I could feel a lot of blockage and muck, or whatever word plumbers use to describe the junk that keeps water from going down in your drain.

I decided that if I could just put a plumbers snake down this thing I could probably clear it. I retrieved our miniature snake that is used primarily for getting hair out of shower drains from the garage and tried to run it down, but the drain openings were just too small. And this is where things went from relatively harmless to a complete mess.

I felt the drain through the water and the bottom bolt thing” (another professional term) was loose so I started to remove it. My thinking here was this was just a bolt to hold this drain cover on. I could remove it and voila, I would have all the room I would need to run the snake. It turns out this bolt is actually much more substantial than just holding any old cover on. It turns out in fact, as I’m sure anybody that knows really anything about plumbing knows, which I obviously do not, that this bolt holds the drain onto the sink!

I was able to remove the bolt with no problems, but then as soon as I started to fidget with the drain I heard a gushing sound as the water that was in the basin started to rush onto the floor! I’m not talking about a little bit of water by the way. I was doing all this work through about 4-5 inches of standing water, a few gallons of water! After about 10 seconds of water gushing we had a small lake of carrot-y, potato-y water on the floor and about 15 minutes until our guests would be arriving for dinner.

Here is the point in my story where I really must thank Tammy. She could have read me the riot act for not turning on my brain or trying to do this minutes before guests arrived, but she just laughed. It was a huge mess. After the water drained on the floor I put things back the way they were, we got things cleaned up and other than the fact that we couldn’t use the sink the night proceeded as normal. That is until a couple hours later when we went downstairs and realized the water had came through the floor and poured itself all over my desk downstairs! Luckily no computers were damaged, however my iPod has a nasty dishwater residue all over it. I’m now groaning over the potential for the ceiling drywall to be damaged. Hopefully we’ll be spared.

A plumber is on the way today. I should have skipped my little adventure and just fixed this with a phone call to begin with. But hey, now I know what that bolt thing is for in the middle of the drain!

Dear Diary

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