Plumbing Problems

Artistic Plumbing Problems near Pike’s Place Market

I was all roto on Saturday morning, Roto-Rooter that is. We had a main drain backup last month and instead of the clean out lasting the nominal year that it normally lasts; it didn’t even last much more than a month into the six-month guarantee. Roto-Rooter sent a guy out, for free this time, first thing on Saturday morning, like they promised to. I met him at the front door and he seemed sharp enough. I’ve been doing this for almost thirty years, so I feel qualified to judge. I showed him what’s what and he set to work. He cleared the clog and then delivered the bad news.

The Three Rules of Plumbing

  1. Sh!t flows downhill
  2. Never chew your fingernails
  3. Payday’s on Friday

I’ve heard this bad news many times before. Our house is seventy-five years old. That means that the sewer lines are that old too, cast iron inside and clay outside. When we bought the house, there were four trees in the front yard. Every single time that we’ve called a plumber, tree roots have been the problem. Whether it is Roto-Rooter, Rescue-Rooter or Root-Toot-Tooter the patter is almost always the same. Your house is old, your pipes are decrepit, the end of indoor plumbing, nay civilization is nigh. What always comes next is up-selling that I have thorough experience, learned to avoid.

I did falter one time. The plumber was a young guy. He didn’t say much, but effectively cleaned out the drain. At the end of the deal, when I am normally armoured against up-selling, there was not the usual financial assault. Like I said, I faltered. I started talking stupid. I told the plumber that I should look at getting bids for a new sewer line. He only asked, “Why?” He was right, I was just being foolish. Even at $200 to $400 per year, it is cheaper to pay for service than it is to buy a $6000 new sewer line. Talk about a sunk cost.

The Money Pit

Walter Fielding: Do you know how hard it is to find a  good carpenter? Besides, he’s got a brother who’s a plumber!
Anna Crowley: Really? A brother who’s a plumber?
Walter Fielding: I think so.
Anna Crowley: Do you think I should sleep with him?
Walter Fielding: Maybe just this once.

I’m out on the ledge again, which isn’t easy to do down in the basement. Our basement smells like a swimming pool again and I am faced with another capital investment. The city has some sort of insurance program for collapsed sewer lines. I don’t think that we qualify for the program, but I’ll ask them to take a look anyway. They’ll run a TV camera up the line and we’ll know more for sure then.

1 thought on “Plumbing Problems

  1. We have TV’d our line twice.
    We also cut down the tree that was a sewage sucker. (It was way to big for the space, partly due to a continuous source of nutrition.)
    We have also held off replacement. – Ask about sliplining – which does not require digging up the entire line.

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