Plumbing The Depths

I’d just like to say up front that I hate plumbing.

I’ll tackle carpentry, automotive, and electrical projects without complaint; but I hate plumbing.  Not because it’s difficult; just because it’s disgusting.

I have a pretty strong stomach.  I can deal with blood, injuries, and even vomit without flinching.  It takes a lot to gross me out; but plumbing does it.  I don’t know whether it’s the gray and glistening slime, the stench, the revolting schloorrrppp sound of pulling out a giant clog, or all three; but it’s almost enough to activate my gag reflex.

Not quite, though.  What it does activate is my mouth.  My exclamations of disgust are completely involuntary and frequently unprintable: “Eeewww!  Bleah!  Eugh!  Aw, gross!  Ech!  Blargh!  Yuck!”  (Etcetera.  The full list would require an F-bomb alert at the top of this post.)  Those with delicate sensibilities would be smart to flee the scene if they see me wearing a resolute expression and clutching a pipe wrench.

That happened last week.  After months of avoidance, I had finally reached my breaking point with a sluggish sink drain. It’s been a long time since I plumbed the depths, so my memory of revulsion had faded and I started the project without much dread.

But as soon as I got the P-trap off and slimy reeking gobs of I-dare-not-name-this started slithering out and splatting into my bucket, my fountain of expletives surged up and over.  And when a particularly large splat spattered slime onto me, well… let’s just say you wouldn’t want to have been there.

The good news is that the clog was easy (albeit repulsive) to fix, and the drain is fine now. The bad news is that I might have melted a piece of the ABS pipe with the heat of my invective.  And I think I lost a layer of skin from scrubbing my hands ten times in a row afterward.

And scrubbing the sink.  And scrubbing the cabinet under the sink.  And scrubbing the floor just in case some molecules of grossness escaped…

Have I mentioned that I really hate plumbing?

Book 16 update:  I started plotting this week and the ideas are flying!  This week’s goal is to round up my brain and point the story in some recognizable direction.  Stay tuned…

56 thoughts on “Plumbing The Depths

  1. Pingback: Sink Slime and Adulthood | Author Diane Henders

  2. Sounds really grim!
    The grim thing I’ve been having to tackle is slugs.
    Outside, I don’t mind them, but when one is crawling up my bedside table or in my sink that’s enough! They are so slimy to pick up that I have to squeeze my lips together to not squeal and wake the neighbours (2 out of 3 slugs so far have been found at an unreasonable hour)
    At least I know all slug remnants are gone from my hands – lord knows I wash them enough times!


    • Slugs indoors?!? BLECH! Outdoors I’m mildly amused by them – it’s such fun to gently touch their little antennae and watch them retract. But I only stay amused until I catch them devouring my plants and then it’s war!

      I’m impressed that you’re able to suppress the squeal of disgust. I grabbed a giant slug once and it was like holding a handful of snot. Somebody else’s snot. Eeeeuwww! Once I got over the gross-out factor, though, I was amazed at the substance itself. It’s so incredibly slick and durable that it took scrubbing with a nail brush to get it off my hand. I’ve read that slugs can actually crawl over razor blades without hurting themselves thanks to their slime coat. Impressive, but I’d still be horrified to find them in my house!


  3. Ok, being a very visual thinker….I think I just cleaned the drain with you…ugh. Having done it more times than I care to admit, I think your expletives are part of the required process…at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!! Hope all is well with you!


  4. I admit as you describe the removal of said plug I was gagging in solidarity. As a former nurse I have seen a lot of nasty things in my day but something about that slimeball build up pushes me over the edge. Off to wash my hands now…


  5. I don’t like doing plumbing because I always seem to scrape my knuckles while trying to loosen the pipes. My solution these days is to call Greg the plumber and solve the problem with money.


  6. It may be gross and disgusting, but you get major props for doing yourself what the rest of us would call a plumber for. And with the money you saved by doing it yourself, you can buy more soap and household cleaner to replace what you lost doing all that cleanup. 😄 (And still have money left over for some ice cream. If you have the appetite for it…)


  7. Happy to read that your Writer Brain is doing a good job these weeks, plotting along and letting the creative juices flow! 🙂

    I’m a lucky girl, as my husband is the handy man around the house (I mean, around the boat and around the camper). He HATES plumbing. Like you, he doesn’t mind doing other projects (unless he has to fix the same thing for the third time), but plumbing – especially on our sailboat for eight year, where the toilet (called “head”, don’t ask me why) needed to be rebuilt every year. Plus, he says, nothing ever goes back together exactly the way it is supposed to go, with a tiny leak as a result more often than not, leading to more trial and error. Yikes!


    • That’s another reason why I hate plumbing: It has such a huge potential for making the original problem worse and/or dragging it out interminably. And I seem to have a gift for tightening things just a little too much… or a little too little. Just enough to cause one of those infinitesimal secondary leaks that doesn’t show up until after I’ve finally relaxed and concluded that everything is fine. Which means I don’t discover the miserable little secondary leak until it’s caused MORE damage. Grrr! I hate plumbing!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Puke, retch, vomit. In air which has been turned a deep cerulean blue from the expletives which puntuate the task.
    You are soooooo not alone in not being a plumbing fan.
    ]And yes, blocked sinks, drain pipes are bad. Blocked toilets are worse. I have dealt with both and have washed several layers of skin away in my frantic post blockage ablutions.


  9. I am not a fan of plumbing either. I can cope with blocked sinks OK it’s the loo. I’ve been in my home now for 20 months and in that time the loo had blocked its self for no good reason at least twice I can remember the first time last January when I had just got out of hospital. It really did turn my stomach. It took days to clear properly no idea why or how it blocked and cleared it just did. And it was the same last time it did it. Fortunately I know know how to fix it so I can do it myself like I did the first time as I couldn’t find a plumber to do it. Moral of the story learn to fix it or suffer. I’ve not had a blocked sink in this flat but now I’ve said it no doubt it will happen

    I’m doing an open university course on fiction writing again a free course, it’s quite interesting seems to focus on character development, for me the worst bit is other people reading what I write and giving feedback on it.

    Still I’m enjoying it must crack on and do some more before another day slips by and I’ve none nothing

    Hugs to all


    • Your writing course sounds very cool! Getting feedback is always stressful, especially early in your writing life. I’m at the stage now where my stomach only drops momentarily at criticism, and then I move on to, “Okay, how can I fix that?” But it took a LONG time to get past feeling awful after even the most tactful and constructive criticism.

      Kudos to you for doing your own plumbing! Your toilet sounds very weird — maybe it’s defective. I think if I had a toilet like that, I’d replace it. Toilets are easy to replace, and it’s a lot less gross to pull one out than to deal with frequent clogs. But that’s just me…

      Fingers crossed that you haven’t jinxed your clog-free sinks!


  10. I’m with you on the yuckiness of cleaning out pipes. The only time I do that is when I drop an earring down the drain. The rest of the time, when the drains start running slow, I use a heavy-duty plunger – bought and used solely for sinks, I might add – to get the clog moving. And you’re right, it’s the creams/lotions that really slow things down. Same in the kitchen – it’s the grease. Even if you’re careful to discard the fat from cooking meat into the compost, there’s still going to be some of it go down the drain.

    Ewww! Now I have to go wash! lol


    • LOL! I’m right there with you. I could have used a plunger, but I decided I’d rather deal with the clog while it’s conveniently located in a P-trap where I can get to it, instead of in a pipe inside a wall somewhere or (God forbid) in the sewer line. I prefer to amortize my grossness into manageable pieces whenever possible. That always seems like a good idea until I’ve actually got the P-trap off and the expletives start flying…


  11. Jeez, you’re not done with Book #16 yet?? 😁

    We “celebrated” the 4th of July in the kitchen this year. I had a pork shoulder fresh off the smoker. We’re getting ready to make the sides. The kitchen drain got plugged.

    Back story–this is an 80 year old house. The drains and some of the supply lines are still galvanized steel pipe. The under-sink plumbing is all PVC, but it leads to the galvanized drain pipe in the wall. In addition, the pluming in the wall is higher up, since the house was built before garbage disposals were available. So we’ve always had drainage problems in the kitchen. (Fixing that would require tearing out all the cabinetry and the hard plaster walls.) The bathroom sink is Problem #2, but I run the snake in there once every couple of months to clear it out. The bathtub/shower is #3, but that’s always long red hair, for which only one person in the house can be blamed for. (Note: Mine is a half inch long at the most, and decidedly very much not red.) I also fixed #3 eight years ago when I got tired of it clogging weekly by replacing the drain pipe to the stack with PVC, so now it’s just the screen on the drain that needs a few tugs to get all that hair out.

    But, back to the holiday. My better half had cleaned out some leftovers from May or June in the fridge, one of them being rice. The clog removed easily with the plunger, as it often does. About two minutes later, “There’s water on the floor.” Me: “No, there isn’t.” But sure enough, there was…and it was flowing out of the cabinet as I had the sink running.

    The downpipe from the disposal had blown off of the trap. So not only was there some really nice smelling water under the sink, there was rice all over. And what’s under the kitchen sink? A lot of cleaning supplies, assorted glass vases, and even things we’d forgotten we brought here ten years ago when we moved in.

    Kitchens are the worst–not only is there the smell, the slime is greasy on top of it. I probably did the same as you–I kept washing my hands for a half hour after cleaning up that mess.

    My stomach still flips when I think of the sewer guy I used to hire when I had a 1951-era bungalow decades ago. We had to have him come clean our sewers with a cutter every year or two. I asked him how he could stand the smell. His reply? “I clean the sewers weekly at a fish market. This is nothing.”

    Mmmmkay. Yeah, I think I’m glad I’m not a plumber…

    P.S. Belated Happy Canada Day!


    • Thank you! Belated Happy 4th of July!

      I had pretty much the same conversation with the guy who pumps out our septic tank. I guess you get used to it. I hope I never have to!

      And you made me laugh with “Me: “No, there isn’t.” Denial: Not just a river in Egypt. And yeah, it’s always the grease that’s the problem. Mine was in the bathroom sink — dang sunscreen. It’s like wearing a coating of lard on my face all day, and washing it down the drain every night. Blech!

      We don’t have a garbage disposal, so at least our kitchen grossness is dealt with in small daily increments instead of in one fell (and foul) swoop like yours.


      • In years past, we used to dump a lot more down the garbage disposal but since living here, I’ve relegated it to smaller scraps that we happen to wipe up during food prep. We unfortunately have had issues with rats and the occasional raccoon (city dwellers that we are), so putting a lot of food outdoors is something we had tried not to do. If we’re clearing out the freezer, we wait until trash night so everything remains frozen. Luckily the large trash bin we purchased from the city a couple of years ago is rat-proof–they can’t open the lid and they can’t gnaw through the bottom like they did on our old cans. Plus, it keeps the odors inside. I would compost the vegetable remains but I had to give up on the garden due to severe mildew issues here.

        I’m not even sure what goes down our lavatory sink in the bathroom. My better half does her rituals in there either before a shower or before bedtime. Nothing on the Nichelle level I’m sure, but there’s always some kind of lotion or mud or whatever that gets sent down to the sewage treatment plant a few times per week. The scale inside the old galvanized pipes does not help either–you’re fortunate in that your casa probably has PVC throughout the house (and I’m guessing, to the septic system as well).

        Although like your septic guy, I feel for the folks who have to work at the sewer plants. When I worked on the industrial side of things, the county’s waste treatment plant was one of our customers and I got a tour of the process. It’s quite fascinating…but yeah, getting a little whiff of that is enough to tumble a person’s stomach…


        • Our bodies just instinctively know that smell means there’s something toxic in the vicinity and our stomachs react accordingly. It’s a useful evolutionary trait; but not always a convenient one.

          We have ABS for all our drain and sewer lines (supply lines are PEX), so at least it’s all easy to work on and won’t ever rust. We bought the PEX crimping tools, and ABS needs no special tools, so we can do all our own repairs. Do we want to? Eh… not so much. But I’d rather deal with a disgusting repair job right away instead of having to wait (and smell it) until a real plumber shows up.

          We don’t put any food items outside the house, ever. In addition to rats and raccoons, we also have bears. Once a week the Regional District picks up food waste, and garbage is every second week. That’ll do until I have time to build myself a big (animal-proof) compost tumbler.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank goodness I’m not the only one who finds sinks gross! I won’t even use the cupboard under the kitchen sink because of the thought of what has spattered in there over the years (before I lived here I might add).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Molecules of grossness? No thanks. I used to teach high school, remember.

    Ideas flying? Those were yours? Was out in the back yard day before yesterday getting the new grill burned in when four HUGE ideas came SCREAMING across the sky from the southeast, heading, as near as I could tell, straight toward Vancouver Island. Yours? Wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. But from the Gulf? Hmmm…


    • LOL! And hmmm, indeed. I’m used to ideas zinging in from out of left field, but southeast Gulf? If they were mine, things might get weird. Or weirder

      And hey, if you survived teaching high school, no amount of grossness will ever faze you. I genuflect in your general direction. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Why, thank you, Madame!

        And I hope they were yours. From the brief glimpse I got of them, they certainly looked like good ones! Then four hard sonic booms exploded in almost one long blast, and the craziness started. The FEMA nincompoops were running everywhere, questioning EVERYBODY about the explosion that “didn’t blow shit up.” (This here’s TEXAS, after all.) I, of course, admitted nothing. Gotta help a Sista out, you see.

        Then again, the Texas Gulf Coast has been called Left Field more than once. Just sayin’…

        Might check your cranial in-box. Stuff moving that fast might have gone straight to spam. 🤪


  14. Here’s a suggestion. White vinegar. I have a similar problem and started using the stuff and it’s helping clear out some of the ancient …. stuff. One dose won’t clear it up but just keep using it for a while. The smell clears after about an hour after use.
    Hope it helps.


    • Thanks! I like the smell of vinegar, and anything would be better than clearing another clog. The problem is that I have to wear sunscreen every day, and that stuff basically turns to solid lard in the pipes after I wash it off. After a few years of accumulation, blech! Vinegar maintenance sounds like an excellent plan.


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