Snaking the Sewer


The Deadly West African Gaboon Viper

The Deadly West African Gaboon Viper

When we bought our house, having the main sewer line snaked was a regular part of the holiday festivities. Our neighbors all came to expect to see the Roto-Rooter man in our front yard as much as any other holiday tradition, like Christmas lights. Usually this event would occur around Thanksgiving, but sometimes it waited until Christmas. Eventually, I bit the bullet and invested a new main line, which fixed most of my problems, but since there is still about 40’ of the original line left, occasionally, problems do still arise. In fact, just before Thanksgiving of this year another backup occurred. Fortunately, I have a neighbor who is also a plumber and a good one at that. He is also very reasonably priced and that problem was fixed without too much angst.

What are the three rules of plumbing?

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

Not too long afterwards, another plumbing related problem developed. The kitchen sink faucet began to drip. At first it was just a slow drip, but over the Thanksgiving weekend it got progressively worse. I dithered whether or not I should call the plumber again, but in the end I decided to do it myself. Years ago I had installed the faucet that was now leaking, but memory of that ordeal gave me pause and I went back-and-forth over my decision. I remember being scrunched down under the sink, with the new faucet leaking worse than the old one had been. Still, I prevailed and over the years I have gotten better at plumbing. I consider myself a decent rough carpenter and I am comfortable doing electrical work, but plumbing has never been my forte.

From the movie, “The Money Pit”:

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

Years ago, the first time I tried replacing the toilet’s ballcock, I got so frustrated and angry that the swear words flowed faster than the leaking water. Anne took our then small children with her and fled the house. Before leaving though, she suggest that I call our good friend Bob for help, which I did. He brought his calmness and the miracle that is white Teflon plumbers tape. I’ve used it ever since, but it can be a devil to work with. This time I decided to wrap the threads of the new faucet before I installed it. I read the instructions, also a first. Both of these innovations made all the difference, because when I turned the water back on, there were no leaks. I felt rather proud of myself over this and continued to bask in my own self-gratification for the remainder of the week.

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