26 March 2015

I feel like Ralph Kramden's sidekick Ed Norton

I just love doing home maintenance -- NOT!  I get a really special "attitude" toward home ownership when the maintenance involves plumbing problems on the, ummm, odiferous side of the system.  Thus was my situation this week.

We have had a somewhat slow drain in the kitchen sink, forever, and just figured it was some of that there Pura Vida plumbing.  The other day, it got snail-slow and even backed up.  Couldn't figure out the problem.  Tried the nasty acid drain opener chemical.  Nope.  Opened the outside grease trap and cleaned that out (quite full after 4 years.)  Nope.  (Ack!! What a disgusting job.)

Day two.

O.K. -- this is getting to be a headache.  Got a plumber's snake.  Went in from the sink-side and figured that I had hit a 90-bend at about 6-feet in.  (Yes, they put 90's in drain and sewer piping here.  "Those pesky wye's are just too hard to figure out.")

Went outside to the grease-trap side.  Went in with the snake ... waaay in ... hit a kind of soft spot but after spinning the "roto rooter" head of the snake a bit figured it was the same 90.  Still not very good flow.

Using several small batches, I got a whole can of drain opener and boiling water into the pipe.  Over time and with a little addition of hot water, lots of little chunks kept coming down the line and falling into the trap.  Still not much flow.

Filled the sink half way with hot water and let it rip down the pipe.  Better.  More chunks.  Still crappy (pun!) flow.

Three more sink dumps ... and then there was a burping noise, the flow stopped dead and then s-l-o-w-l-y a long brown "something" oozed out of the pipe, dropped into the grease trap sump and disappeared.  Instantly we had full flow.  I put on my long rubber glove and went fishing.  Got it.

The long brown thing was ...

-- wait for it --

... a large wadded up piece of portland cement paper sack (with the cement company logo still intact.)


How?   How did the drain system EVER work with that blockage in there?

My guess that it has been there since the early stages of the house construction, when they put in the drain stubs before pouring the floor.  Normally, those stubs are stuffed with a rag or something to keep animals and concrete splatters out of the piping.  Somebody missed removing one when they did the final hookups.

So the mystery of a slow drain and blockage is solved, only to generate another mystery as to how in the world that drain ever worked.  Wow.

I hope they didn't miss removing another paper pipe plug somewhere else in the "castle."

1 comment:

  1. Back in those halcyon days of homeownership, I used to have a regular series on my old blog called This Old Motherfucking House. I went through a similar plumbing issue that, thankfully, has gotten a little fuzzy with the passage of time, but which turned out to be a homeowner's worst nightmare: tree roots. Just glad to be only reading about this type of thing now, safe from the confines of my little apartment where the dueño is the only one worrying about that business.