slices of life: Insights into plumbing
At our house we recently experienced a season of plumbing. TGIO (thank goodness it's over — I hope).
It started with a water heater that refused to heat water. Which was a problem. Obviously.
I'm not much for cold showers.
Unfortunately, it didn't end there.
A cold shower is one thing. No shower is another.
This next adventure started with a clog in the bathtub/shower, which quickly spread to another tub/shower that was attached to the same drainage system. One clog, two tubs.
The first guy used a snake. Not a reptile, but a tool with the same name. It's used to slither downward through the pipes to clear clogs. Except not ours. The snake was stymied. As was the plumber.
Enter plumber No. 2. He diagnosed the problem — after knocking a hole in our kitchen ceiling. It was in our drum traps, which I'd never heard of before. Suddenly, knowledge about drum traps leapt to the top of my to-do list.
Plumber No. 2 kindly explained we had an antiquated kind that were in need of an update, except he didn't have the right parts on hand to fix the clog that day.
This was on a Friday afternoon. He wouldn't be able to return until Monday. It was going to be a long weekend.
Our clog was comprehensive; the pipes were completely blocked. If we ran the shower, the tub quickly filled with water that didn't drain. Even if left overnight. The shortest, most abbreviated shower forced us to bail with a bucket into the nearby toilet. Cleanliness at a cost.
To our credit, we didn't completely stink up the place, thanks to a new invention called a sink shower, which wasn't really a shower, but involved water and a sink and a fair amount of scrubbing — of our skin, not the sink.
Our dilemma also made me appreciate the importance of a clog-free life. A sink in another bathroom was slow to drain so I decided to proactively take things into my own hands, or in this case snake. Plumbing professionals use professional grade snakes to clear clogs. I got a cheap facsimile, which was basically a long, barbed ribbon of plastic.
I snaked that doohickey town the drain and pulled up a slimy hairball the size of a small kitten. It would have been gross had I not been so very proud.
Plumber 3 arrived first thing Monday morning. God bless him. He worked like a warrior, cutting through old pipes and piecing in new to create an unclogged work of PVC art. It was a beautiful sight and I didn't know if I'd ever have the heart to cover it up with a new kitchen ceiling patch.
He also produced another kitten-sized hairball: the cause of our past weekend's shower-free status.
After paying the plumbing bills and being witness to the two kittens — also known as clogs — I'll never ignore an errant strand of hair in the sink again. To think I used to rinse them down the drain!
Prevention became my mantra. I was (am) sincere — zealous, even — in my commitment to avoid clogs in the future. But how? We could all shave our heads, but I'm not sure that would work as a long-term solution.
It was time to visit the place with all the answers: Google.
Viola! I discovered an amazing invention called a drain strainer. It sits on top of the bathtub drain and works like a kitchen strainer, except instead of veggies it catches hair, soap slime and other grossities that schlep off of our bodies in the shower. Every so often (depending on your personal shedding capability) you simply empty the hair-goo blob from the strainer.
It goes without saying that I am the only person in my house with the talent and overall prowess required to empty the hair from a full strainer. It's a responsibility I take seriously.
Plus, it's a small price to pay for the assurance that I'll never have to give birth to drain kittens ever again.