My project for Day 1 of my series of 31 Days of Projects Around the House is not a project I anticipated working on. My kitchen sink is stopped up. Well actually it started out just draining slowly.
I thought I would be smart and use some Liquid Plumber Pipe Snake chemicals. It is supposed to foam up and remove the gunk from the sides of the plumbing pipe so that the water flows again. I purchased some at the grocery store. I followed the directions used it, let it sit for 15 minutes and ran some hot water to flush it through. It didn't flush through. It stopped. I now had a sink full of water. I was frustrated and it was late so I let it sit over night. The water drained! Great I thought. I ran water and it quickly became apparent that the sink was still stopped up.
So I got the plunger out and gave it a go. I plunged mightily for 20 minutes with no luck. I did however pull up all kind of nasty gunk from the pipe. It filled the water in the sink with its crude. It was gross. I let it sit over night again. (As you can probably tell I did NOT want to call a plumber out. Well I did want to call a plumber out I just didn't want to pay the $150 to do so). I was also working and having other commitments during this time frame. Not just sitting around the house avoiding my plumbing issue.
So the 3 day I thought I'd get some more liquid plumber chemicals. This time the version for water standing in the sink with a clog. It was supposed to "power through the toughest clog". I dumped in a 1/2 bottle and left it to work. I check on it in 15 minutes. No movement. I'll give it more time I thought. I checked back in 1 hour. No movement. Darn it. Now I have a sink full of caustic chemicals and water.
I left it again and called a friend to borrow her plumbing snake thingy. She suggests that I remove as much of the water/chemical mix from the sink. And she mentions in passing that the chemical might be eating away at the enamel of my sink. Great. So I use a little cup and scoop out as much of the water/chemical mixture that I can trying not to splash any on me because it will cause a chemical burn. At this point I’m not sure what to do with this water. If I dump it down the bathtub drain won’t I loosen all the gross gunk on that pipe and cause it to clog? I slowly dump it down the drain and run LOTS of water with it. And it doesn’t clog the bathtub drain. Yeah!
I wait another night for her to deliver the do-hickey the next day. I also go out and purchase a pair of gloves that you can use around caustic chemicals. So on the 4th day I get the snake/auger/thingy-ma-bob and fish it down the drain. And work it, and work it and work it. It doesn't go down into the p-trap where the clog probably originated. I try the other drain. And work it and work it and work it. Nothing. I can't get it. It doesn’t work.
I call my brother and get his advice. He says to remove the p-trap, clear the clog or use the snake/auger/thingy into the pipe after the trap is removed. I’m not really clear on how to take the plumbing apart and more importantly put it back together when I’m done. He volunteers to come over and help. The next day.
On day 5 my brother comes over. He takes apart the p-trap and uses the auger on the pipe. And works it and works it and works it. He puts the p-trap back together, runs some water and .... nothing. It fills the sink with water. The clog is still there. He then takes the plunger and puts a rag in one of the drains and plunges mightily. The clog is still there. He again takes the pipes apart and tries the auger on the pipe after the trap puts the pipes back together and runs the water. Still clogged. After 90 minutes we give up.
Can you feel my frustration? I need to call the plumber. However I have work and other commitments morning, noon and night for the next several days and wouldn’t even be able to be home for a plumber to come out. Well not if I don’t want to pay extra for after hours service … which I most certainly do not.
Well anyway I stay home from work on the 6th day without a functioning kitchen sink and call the plumber out. A few hours later he arrives and begins to work on the clog. He uses an electrical auger/snake/thingy on the pipe after the p-trap. And works it and works it and works it. He, however, is successful! Hooray! My sink works. No more clog! Now to give the sink a deep cleaning to remove all the gunk and crud.
The plumber gives me some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the clog was in the wall and as such the condo association is responsible for the bill (which is probably close to $300 since the plumber was here for over an hour).
The bad news is that the plumber tells me I have a slow leak on my water supply line. He said he would fix it for free but doesn’t have the needed part on his truck. So now I have to try to convince my very busy brother to come back over and replace my supply line. It should be an easy fix. Turn the water off. Unscrew the flexible pipe in two places, screw a new one on.
I do lots of home improvement projects. I hang things on my plaster walls, paint, replace light fixtures, hang ceiling fans, replace all my outlets, etc. However I am not comfortable with plumbing issues. It could be because years ago I tried to replace the stem/flapper on a toilet and had water shooting out of it, hitting the ceiling and raining down upon me. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, turned the whole house water supply off and called out a plumber to fix my little diy. I haven’t been comfortable with plumbing since!