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…

Toilet Trepidation: Number One

Warning:  This is a post about toilets and related, um, issues.  If you’re easily grossed out, stop reading now.

I have an uneasy relationship with toilets.  I suspect I’m alone in this.

Most people probably don’t think about toilets much, unless they’re plumbers or poor souls engaged in a frantic search for facilities.  But all my life, I’ve been dogged by ambivalent relationships with toilets.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have indoor plumbing.  Our outhouse was of the deluxe variety: a two-holer, with one big hole and one little hole, side by side.  The tiny sliding window was real glass, and the wooden seat had been worn    satin-smooth by countless contacts with Henders bums since 1905.

At night and in the winter, we used a pail in the basement.  If you think this sounds revolting and unsanitary, you’re absolutely right.  But it was better than having an arctic gale whistling up the crack of your ass.  At forty below, exposed skin freezes in minutes.  Just sayin’.

When we eventually got a flush toilet, I was awed.  It was so white and fresh.  When you inevitably dropped something that splashed, your butt got sprinkled with clean water, not somebody else’s pee.  And it never filled up so that your backside dipped into the contents…

Sorry, I’ll stop now.

Anyway, the flush toilet was love at first sight, followed by a long interval of quiet but sincere appreciation.

Many years later, ambivalence returned.  Our house has three toilets.  The plumber who originally installed them was clearly a moron.  The flanges that hold the toilet were all installed incorrectly, so every single one of them cracked.

For the uninitiated, this means that sewage leaks out at the base of the toilet.  Slowly.  Under the flooring, so you can’t see it.  So that by the time you discover it, the floor is rotten and reeking.  After all the repairing and replacing was finished, I wasn’t feeling quite so warm and fuzzy about flush toilets anymore.

Then came the radish debacle.

Food occasionally migrates to the back of our fridge to die.  When I discover it, I dispose of it according to its composition.  Anything liquid or squishy goes down the toilet.  My husband observed this process, but apparently failed to grasp the initial “classification of composition” phase.

So, the day he discovered decomposing radishes in the fridge, he flushed them.  Problem is, decomposing radishes aren’t liquid or squishy.  They’re firm and round, with a slimy outer shell.

They wedged themselves into the toilet trap and refused to move.  A plumber’s snake was useless, because it worked its way between the slippery spheres and dislodged nothing.  In the end, we had to remove the toilet (we’d had a lot of practice by then), and take it outside so we could turn it upside down and pull/shake the radishes free.

We were quite tired of removing and reinstalling toilets at that point, so we did what any self-respecting geeks would do:  we tested the system before reinstalling it.

We set the toilet upright on a couple of two-by-fours in the driveway, filled the tank, and flushed.  Just as our new neighbours went by.

They didn’t let us explain.  For some reason they still keep to themselves.  I don’t get it.

Any other toilet stories out there?

But wait, I have more.  Stay tuned for “Toilet Trepidation:  Number Two”, coming next week.  Not for the faint of heart.