It was a relief to finally get my drains fixed. The water first started to run slowly on a Thursday, nothing at all was working by Monday morning, and the plumber cleared everything up Tuesday afternoon.
By then I had used drain cleaner twice, plunged thrice, gone to the hardware store, bought a pipe snake from an adorable young man with a strong Southern drawl, and deployed half a bottle of bleach trying to disinfect and deodorize my poor house. The drains taunted me, appearing to function, and then backing right up into my shower.
At least nothing overflowed onto the floor. We take what we can get, in these situations.
Afterwards, given that none of my efforts took, I wondered whether I should be angry that I’d tried so much in vain. I don’t think so. By the time I called the plumber, all that work convinced me that my ignorance was mostly likely not at fault. That there wasn’t some super secret trick known only to Plumbing Superman that I could have tried.
As a woman living alone, I hate feeling that I’m being taken advantage of. I want to believe that taking a reasonably traditional female course for my life, motherhood, cooking, gardening, running a product management department, (well, that should be traditional by now) hasn’t left me unable to perform simple maintenance.
I was happy to have made all those failed attempts. That’s the good part of getting older. When you know that some failure is inevitable, you pride yourself on failing gracefully, second only to succeeding with fanfare. Given failure, better to fail noticing and learning, than in a great grand flail of despair.
Next time my drains stop up, as they are almost guaranteed to do, here’s my plan.
- Plunge any recalcitrant toilets, once
- Use the pipe snake to see if there’s anything I can pull up. If yes, it will most likely be hair.
- Try baking soda and vinegar, in a non-toxic chemical attempt to dislodge any unreachable clogs
- Resort to drain cleaner, last, only in the showers. That stuff is not good for toilets, especially gaskets
- Call the plumber. I have one I can trust, now.
I hadn’t realized what a toll the experience took until everything was working again. What a relief.
In the end, the process had benefits. I went back to the hardware store yesterday. The Deep South hardware guy helped me again. You know, I’ll remember his drawl, and the tentative pleasure of conquering my fear of widgets, much longer than the concomitent plumbing distress.
I bought a shower drain strainer to keep my long hair out of the pipes. I bought a new aerator for my son’s bathroom faucet, which I replaced, myself.
I even bought a new switch for the garbage disposal. The old one’s broken, and I have to use the circuit breaker to turn the disposal on. I took the switchplate off myself and looked inside. Scary wires, that refused to behave as they were supposed to. No, I couldn’t do this myself. Oh well. But I failed pretty gracefully. I used pliers, I learned stuff, I made progress. I will call the electrician without shame and I’m proud of that switch, hanging out of my kitchen wall.
Consider the concept of small repairs.