Wednesday, December 3, 2003

The Fun Side of Plumbing

Yesterday we had a night where we actually weren't going anywhere or doing anything. That meant it was time to take care of some things that were on the "urgent" list but somehow keep getting pushed back. One of those was the bathroom plumbing. The tub has been draining slower and slower over the last several weeks until a typical shower would leave water standing in the tub for the next half hour. It does wonders for bathtub rings. I have been able to delay this problem occasionally by a vigorous attack with the plunger, which would bring the drain-time to about five or ten minutes. Then it would gradually slow down again.

Time to teach the kids some life skills.

We located a pipe wrench at the neigbor's house, set up some chairs in the basement to stand on, and went to work.

I had David hold a bucket under the pipe while I removed the hangars from the ceiling and let the pipe down from the tub drain. I told him to keep the bucket under the open end of the pipe while I rotated the vertical section to unscrew it from the large pipe at the wall. As the section of pipe tilted downward, the predictable stream of water poured from the end. Only David had the bucket aimed wrong. Most of the water made it in the bucket, but some of it splashed over his hands and onto the basement floor. With the water came some of the stuff that caused the problem. Thick black tar-like goo that the water carried out in little globs. It didn't smell like roses, either.

David let out a shriek, dropped the bucket, which I managed to catch with my free hand before it hit the floor, and clamped his fingers over his nose. "PEWW!" he yelled. "This is awful!" He then swiftly wiped his other hand all over his clothing.

I held the pipe AND the bucket and let him gather his wits about him. He came back in the room with his shirt pulled up over his nose, making gagging noises as he peered over his shirt collar. Since the pipe came apart in the wrong spot, I had to take another section out. This one required considerable force on the pipe wrench, and the free end of the pipe wiggled around substantially, putting all that black gunk everywhere but in the bucket.

I told the kids we were going to take the sections outside and run the garden hose through them to force the gook out. Josh ran out to the barn to get a hose while I carried the pipes up the stairs.

I was just in the garage when Grandma drove up. She had a stack of books in her arms from the library. Lego books. Josh has a library card, but he has Grandma's library card number memorized. So whenever he gets on the computer to reserve books at the library, he reserves the books using Grandma's library card number.

I'm sure the librarians think we have an interesting Grandma. She checks out a lot of books on Legos, robotics, and birds.

Josh came back from the barn, lugging a garden hose. He saw what Grandma was carrying. The next thing I knew, the garden hose was laying midway through the door in the garage, and Josh had disappeared. I guess drain plumbing and life skills still don't hold a candle to Lego robots. I completed the job by myself.

Maybe next time I'll have Grandma come over with a stack of books on Math problems, or spelling words. Or tell the kids we're going to design a robot to remove black gook from the drain pipes. Or just tell them to grimace and bear it.

P.S. Deb says any bathroom SHE uses in this house doesn't have black gook in the drains.

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