Friday, September 21, 2012

When Good Plumbing Goes Bad

It was like something out of one of Connor's Goosebumps books. Alarming gurgling noises, nasty sludge spewing everywhere, bits of rotted food and stinky water soiling the walls, counters, and me. A freakish plumbing nightmare come to life. And what's that I hear? I believe it is the sound of someone knocking on the door...

Maybe I should start at the beginning. After a week of thoroughly enjoying summer and utterly slacking off in the cleaning and party preparation department, it was crunch time. We were expecting 12 guests for dinner in celebration of Bethany's 11th birthday, and we could no longer postpone the accompanying house work and cooking. In a whirlwind, we buzzed around the house vacuuming and washing dishes and peeling vegetables and scrubbing toilet bowls. We paid for our lazy hazy days of summer by working triple time to get everything ready before our guests arrived. We grocery shopped, picked weeds, pruned roses, poop scooped, and fired up the grill.

Everything was falling into place. I was assembling a veggie tray in the kitchen and trying to run the garbage disposal. But for some reason, it was making strange noises and backing water up into the opposite sink. I figured it must be really full, so I blasted the cold water and decided to run the disposal until the water started going down. Right about that time, a geyser took up residence in my kitchen. But not a cool geyser, like Old Faithful. This geyser was stinky, disgusting, and flecked with slimy chunks of discarded food that should have been well on its way to the nearest water processing plant by this time.

Our geyser was rising about 12 to 18 inches and spitting its contents at least three times as far. I had never seen anything like it...well not in a kitchen sink, anyway. Chris and I were grabbing for paper towels and rags and bleach cleaner, hurriedly trying to clean the mess up before anyone showed up for the party. Despite clear evidence against it, I tried the disposal again. And the same thing happened. At this point we heard the knocking on our front door and realized it was show time, ready or not.

We were not ready, but instead of freaking out, we looked around the kitchen at our giant mess, considered the situation, and laughed. We laughed when Chris realized he was going to have to turn the water off in the sink, and that we would have 18 people eating in our house with no running water in the kitchen.

No one cared that we weren't quite ready, and we had fun in spite of our minor disaster. Luckily I had had the foresight to pick up some paper plates, so we didn't have many dishes to wash. As the party wound to a close, I thought about washing dishes in the bathtub until we could get the situation under control, and suddenly I didn't feel like laughing and having fun anymore.

Chris tried and tried to fix the garbage disposal. He did all sorts of things in an effort to avoid paying weekend rates for a plumber. A handyman friend-of-a-friend stopped by to see if he could help, but he had also never seen anything like this. In a last ditch attempt to take care of the problem on their own, Chris and the handyman decided to attach a garden hose to the pipe, in the hopes that if there was a blockage deep down in the line, the force from the hose (once we turned the water on from outside) would blow it right out. We all nervously laughed and I held my breath. I had already cleaned up nasty garbage disposal gunk repeatedly, and if this little plumbing experiment didn't work out, I'd be in for an even bigger mess. I was envisioning myself scraping garbage disposal detritus from the ceiling. But lo and behold, it worked! And I laughed some more because I was relieved to not have to wash dishes in the bathtub.

FYI, I don't recommend this course of action. No one involved really knew what they were doing. Next time we are going to avoid the stress and call a plumber!

This post has been sponsored by Rotorooter, but this is a true story and all opinions are my own.


Money Beagle said...

We had something similar happen a while back and the clog was in the u-pipe underneath the disposal. In our case, the pressure ended up blowing the u-pipe right off and created a huge mess underneath the sink. My guess is you might have been able to unscrew the u-pipe (assuming it's PVC pipe) and clean that out. The garden hose likely pushed it down the line. Funny story, brings back way too many similar memories :)

alyaia75 said...

He tried that & it didn't work! We figured the clog must have been further down...hopefully it doesn't come back!

santa said...

In addition to lengths of pipe or tubing, pipe fittings are used in plumbing systems, such as valves, elbows, tees, and unions. Pipe and fittings are held in place with pipe hangers and strapping. Thanks.
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