I love these people!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Be JaneFay Cleans Out the Drain

Be JaneFay Quotient: 8.5 on the Gag-Me scale

THE BACKGROUND: Two years ago, while in Cabo, JaneFay bought one of those pretty Mexican talavera sinks. She loved the intricate painting and the fact that it was different from anything she has. It also didn’t escape her that all the gook that accumulates in her sink would certainly go unnoticed in all that visual noise. Less cleaning is always a good thing. So she carefully packed her prize, along with a matching toothbrush holder, soap dispenser and wall lizard (JaneFay got caught up in the bartering process) in her carryon and brought it all home whereupon she packed it away and pretty much ignored it. For two years. Not because her sink doesn’t need to be replaced. If that sink were human it would be in Hospice care. It has lost half its finish and the original color is indeterminate. It now contains permanent samples of every shade of hair color she has ever used and she thinks something may have died in the overflow. It is time to replace it. Yes it is, but that is not what today’s lesson is about.

THE PROBLEM: It seems the sink cancer must have spread down to the popup mechanism in the drain. One day it no longer popped up. JaneFay tripped off to the Depot only to discover that repair parts would be nigh onto $20. Well, since she was planning to replace the faucet, complete with popup, she thought, why throw good money 'down the drain'? JaneFay’s a little tight that way. Instead she bought one of those little rubber drain plugs for $1.29 – a temporary fix, but surely she would start ‘the sink project’ soon.

Well, days quickly turn to months and JaneFay discovers that an unguarded drain is pretty much a magnet for bobby pins, Q-tips and makeup bottle tops. The drain gets slow…. and slower….. and finally all but stops. JaneFay is totally disgusted. When a drain doesn’t drain well the scum from every hand wash and tooth brushing adheres to the sink as it s..l..o..w..l..y goes down. I’m sure you all get the picture. Vomitrocious with a capital V.

THE ACTION: JaneFay uses her better sense and determines that Plumber-in-a-Bottle would probably not be effective against metal and plastic objects since those are the very things of which plumbing is made. That leaves one alternative. Manual clean out *spine shiver*.

In retrospect, JaneFay recommends you get a bucket at the very beginning of this project. A big bucket. You should place the bucket under the trap BEFORE you start loosening the pipes because, well, it’s darn hard to hold water in your hands and grab the bucket (just a..scootch,scootch..TINY bit out of reach) at the same time. So bucket in place, you should start to loosen the connections around the trap. Note: the trap is the part below the drain that does the u-turn. Hopefully, you have the plastic kind of pipes, like JaneFay does, which can be loosened by hand. Otherwise you need to go get some kind of a tool in which case JaneFay also recommends you put on gloves since tools and plumbing often conspire to shave skin from your knuckles. JaneFay knows how long it takes knuckles to heal. Another caution: trap connections are crazy. Lefty is not always loosie, depending on your angle. JaneFay’s advice is to try one way and if that doesn’t work, try the other way before you apply brute force and naughty words. Next, remove the trap and clean it out. They call it a trap because stuff gets trapped in there. Try not to make that retching noise too loud, it scares the kids. Good news, JaneFay found three missing earrings and 22 cents! Reattach the trap. Same process but in reverse with the alternate caution: Rightie may not be Tightie. You will figure that out after going round and round and round without feeling anything catch.

With trap reattached, run water full force and check underneath for leaks. Make adjustments if necessary. It’s important that your pipes aren’t skewed a little, this will cause leaks like JaneFay’s. It’s also important to make sure you leave all those little washer... ring thingys in place – turns out they are NOT decorative. Adjust, tighten, reach up and turn off water….. notice that the sink… is full……it’s not draining AT ALL! Check to see that little rubber plug is not in. Determine that clog must be farther down the line. Oh, my. JaneFay’s lunch is going to be lost for sure! She removes the trap once more and also the length of pipe that attaches to the stub on the wall. Oly, Mother of Maude, JaneFay nearly passes out. Repeat clean out process that was used on the trap, but don’t examine it this time. Seriously. Nothing that may be caught in there is worth retrieving. Off to get a piece of wire, and a good stiff swig of root beer. JaneFay highly recommends you also grab a bandana soaked in your favorite perfume and place over your nose cuz, believe her, the smell is going to be worse than when Uncle Murray ‘meditates’ in there after Christmas dinner.

Make a little hook on the end of your wire and poke it in and out of the wall pipe. Oh, no, the hairspray cap comes out sporting a 6 inch trail of indescribable heinousness. Dump in bucket, poke, repeat. When you’ve had enough of the smell of plumbing pitch and, now, vomit, take the bucket and quickly dump it down the toilet. Sit on the lid and flush before anything comes to back to life and crawls out. Take a few deep breaths – through the bandana …. you did turn on the fan, didn’t you? Reattach the pipe parts. Examine your life, as JaneFay did, make mental restitution for all the people you have wronged and hope on hope that when you turn on the water, IT ALL GOES DOWN!

While your vision clears, turn on that tap again and leave it running for five minutes. Relax, close your eyes, embrace the sound of the rushing water and realize why plumbers get $80 an hour. Pour a little bleach down that sink to kill any creature offspring that may still be in there. Clean up the mess under the sink. Note that black sewer gook has properties similar to Magic Marker.

Next time: The importance of using an undercoating when painting over sewer crud stains.

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