3/31/2008

The Sordid Sink Story

Here’s the scoop:

Day 1: It’s my first day in our new house. Kevin is at work. We’ve only slept here one night, and I didn’t sleep so well. The house is dusty, and the heater kicks up dust off the very dirty blinds whenever it comes on throughout the night. Since I’m still recovering from a nasty cold and am still coughing a lot anyway, I’m feeling pretty rough. Plus, breathing all the cleaner fumes and dust from cleaning the bathroom just before we went to bed got me off to a bad start for the night.

Nevertheless, it’s morning, we’re more or less moved in, and I’m determined to make some cleaning headway. I start with the stove and the smallest cabinet unit in the kitchen, both of which are thick with dust--construction and otherwise. So I’m scrubbing removable shelves and stove pans in the sink, then rinsing them. I turn the water off--but still hear water running. Freely.

That probably shouldn’t be happening.

Looking for the source of the bubbling brook, I find the remaining drain pipe from the little sink that has been removed from the now-second bedroom. (Remember that random sink?) It is gushing. Uh-oh.

Putting two and two together like the genius I am, I quickly surmise that the drain pipe from the kitchen must be connected to this drain pipe, which was left open for now (That room isn’t finished yet, remember.). I quickly call Kevin. He is busy at work, can’t talk, and tells me to call our contractor friend from church, Jim. He’s at the hospital with his mother, and I know this--but what am I going to do?

So I call, he affirms my genius deduction and says he’ll call another man in the church and ask him to come by and fix it on his way home from work.

Excellent. And, on the bright side, the gushing pipe is right next to the hole in the floor, so all the water is pouring messily into the basement--which is already messy and can’t be hurt. Besides, it’s gushing down right next to the hole in the basement floor where the sump pump is to handle flooding.

So I continue my cleaning, being careful to run all my kitchen water into a dishpan, so as not to cause further drain flooding.

Unfortunately, the man Jim calls about dropping by to plug that pipe goes home sick in the middle of the day. Jim says Kevin can probably figure out what part to get at Home Depot after he gets home. We can handle that.

Then! A banging on the door! Who is here? Does anyone even know I live here now?

Yes! Our pastor does! He was conveniently out this direction, heard what was going on (I’m still not sure how, exactly) and dropped by to fix the problem. He has the wrong part, but returns a few minutes later with a replacement and--voila!--no more open, gushing drain pipe.

I drain my sink full of water. No leaking (except for the small one under the sink, where the trap is corroded--I haven’t mentioned that yet, but it wasn’t a big problem. . .thus far).

End of Chapter 1

With the gushing drain pipe plugged, I am free to use my kitchen sink again, and I am glad. There is a lot of washing to be done, after all.

That evening, however, the sink drain slows to a trickle. Two inches of water in the sink, ten minutes of draining. Three rinses and waits to drain to keep whatever debris is in the water from drying all over the sink. Apparently, with no open drain pipe to gush from, the kitchen sink does not wish to drain at all.

We try Liquid Plumber, and the leak under the sink suddenly becomes worse. Still, it’s not too heavy. In the next day or two, Kevin replaces the corroded trap with a new one. In the process, the threads from the next section of drainpipe, break off. Now the leak is more serious. And the drain is still painfully slow.

I finally finish my four-day section-by-section first mopping of the kitchen, and the 5-gallon sheetrock mud bucket I was using for mop water becomes my slop bucket. I wash dishes and run all kitchen water in a dishpan, which I then empty into the bucket. In the evening, Kevin empties the bucket in the utility sink downstairs. Over the weekend, we consult with Jim again and he advises what to do about the next section of drainpipe (it’s copper and welded on. . .not a simple unscrew and replace job).

Monday, I go to Home Depot while Kevin is at work, hoping to get the sink parts for him and save him a trip (we’re both there enough these days, as it is). The men helping me find what I need have very difficult time understanding what I’m looking for--quite probably because I don’t know what it’s called and my description is. . .decidedly inexperienced. I do, however, finally get the idea across and emerge with the parts.

Kevin is working in D.C. now and doesn’t get home until almost 7 o’clock. But he spends the evening fixing the sink anyway, and is successful! Well. . .kind of. The leak goes away. But the slow drain does not. Apparently, the clogged pipe is not part of the trap.

End of Chapter 2

A week later, we’re still dealing with the slow drain. I run water in the sink when I need to, letting it drain completely and rinsing it several times (little by little) to keep it relatively clean. I still dump a fair amount of water in the mud bucket, and Kevin empties it every couple of days. I need my mop bucket back, though. . .so something needs to change there.

It’s Monday, and I’ve been delaying washing dishes (no dishwasher until we remodel, remember) for several days, because the sink is a pain and it’s easier to do them all at once than a few at a time. Now, however, the time has come. So I put the stopper in one side of the sink and commence running water. Now, understand, when you run water in one side of the sink and it doesn’t drain well, it backs up into the other side. And my stopper is. . .somewhat incompetent. So it leaks water, which quickly backs up into the other side of the sink. Whatever. I keep the hot water running barely, to rinse dishes and keep my sink with enough dishwater in it. It takes a while, but I get everything washed.

I release the stopper. . .not like that will make the sink drain faster, but it’s what you do when you finish washing dishes.

Suddenly, there’s a loud pop and a gurgling, and I jump back, unsure what is happening. BOTH SIDES OF THE SINK SPONTANEOUSLY DRAIN. I run to the plugged drainpipe.

It’s still plugged.

I check under the sink.

No leaking.

I run down to the basement, sure that water is pouring out of a pipe somewhere.

No water.

Eureka! Elation! Ecstasy!

The sink DRAINS!!!

Chapter 4

Later this afternoon, I did call Grandad. I just had to make sure it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that whatever blockage there was had broken itself free, finally. He assured me that could be exactly what happened and probably was, if we couldn’t find any leaks anywhere. All the pipes are exposed in the basement ceiling, so there’s nowhere for leaking water to hide.

Hooray! Something has fixed itself! May this be the precursor of many spontaneously solved problems to come!

2 comments:

Alissa said...

I feel a little bad for laughing at your trauma, but it can't be helped. Sorry.

I'm guessing your sink stopper plunged the drain when you pulled it out.

Just wait until you have to run to Home Depot for a single screw, and you know some of the employees by name--and they know you, too!

Sassi said...

Sorry, but I was cracking up while I read this and I'm sure Chris will as well. Yo know we love you though :) Look on the bright side things are looking up!