Adventure comes in many disguises–today’s was disguised as clogged plumbing. I felt ashamed yesterday when I had to tell the young man painting my stairs not to use either of the two sinks in my basement. One was clogged and the other leaks. So today I decided to take home repair into my own hands and fix the sinks. How hard could it be?
I searched “repair clogged sink” online to get advice. Advertisements for plumbing companies abounded. At last I scrolled down far enough to find a video showing how to fix a clogged ink. Great!
No, not great.
It demonstrated proper plunger technique. Another link showed how to pour clog-busting liquid through standing water. It was time to change search terms.
Eventually, searching “clean sink trap” yielded the information and assurance that I sought. It looked pretty simple. I gathered the tools needed and headed for the basement.
The directions I’d found were good. Number one was “remove clutter from under sink.” How did they know?
Ten minutes later, clutter was gone and I had channel-lock pliers in hand. (Called them by name–pretty cool, huh?) “Grasp the nut with pliers and loosen it.” That took a while since the directions didn’t say which way to turn.
Eventually I recalled “righty tighty; lefty loosey,” but the pipe was vertical. Do you look at it from the bottom or the top? Answer: From the top, even if that does mean you are pushing the handles of the pliers to your right… I learned that today! Finally both nuts were loose and I pulled the trap off the pipes above it.
Water cascaded out. The picture in the video had only shown a few drops falling into a towel beneath. I didn’t have a bucket handy, so I quickly emptied the trash container onto the floor and used that to catch the remainder of the water from the trap. Now my towel was soaked and I had half a trash basket full of water. And why didn’t the directions mention NOT to use a good towel??
Then the instructions said to stuff a rag in the open pipe to block sewer gas. It would have been even better if I’d had the rag handy instead of having to go hunt one down.
Finally successful, I took the trap to the kitchen sink to clean it. Except it was clean. Even fairly shiny inside. Maybe the clog had disintegrated over time.
Glad the sink would be functional again, I reattached the trap, checked for leaks, tightened seals and checked for leaks again. Success. Everything below the sink was nice and dry. I stood to wash my hands.
Water formed a stagnant pool inside the sink.
I heard the sound of dripping water coming from the workroom on the other side of the wall. The sink there, apparently somehow connected to the one I’d plumbed, was full to the brim, with water dripping onto the floor.
I grabbed my trusty channel-locks and cranked at the nuts holding the trap. They didn’t give, but water began to spurt out of the bottom of the U-bend. There was a hole rusted right through the pipe. Grabbing for another trash container, I dumped its contents on the workroom floor and stuck it under the squirting water.
When the water stopped dripping from the rusted trap, both sinks were empty.
I knew where the clog was not.
And I had two piles of trash on the floor to clean up.
This was when I decided to cut my losses and close the curtain on my plumbing adventure for the day.
But tomorrow… Maybe if I buy a pipe snake?