Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Great Plumbing Adventure

Lately I’ve noticed that my bathroom sink wasn’t draining very efficiently.

Being a proactive person, I decided I should do something about it today (even though I've been feeling slightly under the weather) rather than wait until it was completely blocked.

Also being a person who prefers to hug trees whenever possible, I decided I would try natural/environmentally-friendly solutions first.

So I looked on the Internet. First came the suggestions of pouring a lot of baking soda down the sink with a chaser of vinegar. I studied chemistry in university, so I know that there’s going to be a lot of bubbling and hydrogen gas formation, which happened. But the drain didn’t work any better. The same websites indicated that it might take a couple of tries for the soda/vinegar action to unclog the drain, so I tried it again. More baking soda, more vinegar, more bubbling and fizzing. Not much more happened except that a little bit of detritus – or “drain muck” rose from the plumbing to swirl around in the bowl of the sink. Hmmm. Sink isn’t draining very well at all now. Time to get out the plunger.

A minute or so of plunger action, and now the bottom of the sink is coated with drain muck. Who knew there was all that crap down there? Well, I guess I knew it was down there (I didn't think these clogs were the same clogs as dancing shoes, obviously), but I did not expect it to come rushing into daylight in order to defend itself and its drain-bound colony!!! And wouldn’t you know it, the sink now won’t drain at all!


I’m still a tree-hugger at this point, and the Internet is still my friend. So I look up a product I’ve seen commercials for – it’s a can of compressed gas that you just apply to the drain, release the gas into the clog, and Presto! Your clog is pressurized away. I googled the Next Great Plumbing Hope (no, not its real name) and found some glowing testimonials (to which I will not link as they involve stories about massive poops, and I'd like to think this blog has just a little more class!), then I called my local hardware store to verify that they carried this apparent miracle in a can (hereafter called NGPH).

I forced myself out into the wintry day and to the hardware store. Once there, I engaged one of the sales clerks in a debate over which product I should use. The only concern I had about the NGPH was that the tap was right over the drain, and I wasn’t sure I could get a proper seal on the drain before the gas was released into it. But since my only other apparent option was highly-corrosive chemicals, I decided to try it anyway. (Sales guy was not about to argue with me, as NGPH is twice as expensive as the chemicals.) So, after grabbing a few groceries, including a chocolate croissant to treat myself for dealing with the stupid plumbing situation, I arrived home with my purchases.

I decided I would leave my coat and scarf on while I tried out the NGPH, just in case it didn’t work and I had to go back to the store for the chemicals. By this time there is a toxic soup of water, sink muck, and vinegar in the sink. Undaunted, I pressed the NGPH to the drain and tried to figure out how to release the compressed gas. I fumbled around for a minute, and then PUHSHWOOSH!!! There was sink soup everywhere!!!! (Yup, getting a proper seal on the drain IS a real bitch!) My winter coat, my scarf (which thankfully was covering my hair), my shoes, my jeans, the mirror, the toilet seat behind me, the floor, the vanity around the sink were all covered in dirty water!


(Hmmm ... maybe massive poops and this blog have more in common than I'd like!)

Suddenly the environment just seemed less trouble than it’s worth. I’d done my part, I’d tried my hardest, and I’d just remembered that I had a half-used bottle of corrosive drain medicine in my utility closet. Woo-hoo!!!!!

Now the drain is cleared, the bathroom has been scrubbed from top to bottom, and my winter coat, scarf, and jeans are in the laundry. There must have been traces of the magic chemicals still left in the sink because when I cleaned it, the tips of my rubber gloves melted. I've opened a window to ensure that the fumes don't do the same thing to my lungs. Oh yes, and the chocolate croissant is history.

And that, my friends, is the Great Plumbing Adventure.




Anonymous said...

well, we are warned, thanks a lot ! now we can avoid this whenever we are in a similar situation ! by the way, love your writing style ! leaf

Chelsea's Mama said...

oh my God...too funny

well, funny NOW