Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The last few months in review, part 2, or Fun with old pipes!!

The other huge issue we've been dealing with over the last 2 months has involved plumbing. Hopefully, as of last night, everything has been resolved, but it took a lot of time, money, and we saw a little more than we'd like to of our plumber. Not to say that he's not a nice guy (he's actually great, and has tons of funny stories) but generally the plumber isn't someone you want to be a frequent guest.

March 26: This entire ordeal began with a really bad clog in the kitchen sink. I noticed it had been backing up frequently, taking forever to drain... finally one day it refused to go down entirely. So Adam and I decided to attempt to fix it by removing the existing corroded old p-trap and rodding it out. Easy enough, right? Haha, nothing is ever easy at Bungalow4865. When trying to loosen a super tight connection on the old trap, Adam ended up cracking the corroded trap on the J part of the p-trap, so it was off to Lowes.

At the hardware store, in addition to a new trap, I also bought one of those big rodding reels that attaches to a power drill. So after some serious rodding out of the pipe going to the drain, we put on the new trap and hoped for the best. Nope, still clogged. Gah! Time to call the plumber.

March 27: Matt the Plumber came the next afternoon and rodded out twice before he got it to clear. Finally! $95 and about an hour's work, not too bad. But not 5 minutes after he left, I happened to go down into the basement and noticed water dripping into the utility sink from directly above:

Apparently when he rodded out the pipes, he knocked all the gunk loose that was apparently plugging yet another leak in a pipe that went down into the basement ceiling and into the main drain. This began my theory that our entire house is held together by Polish cooking grease. I called him and he came right back, and promised to come out the next day. The plan was to create a new set of pipes going down from the kitchen sink to the main drain with PVC, leaving the old iron pipe in the wall (highlighted in red) so we could just leave it or drywall over it.

March 28: $500 later, Matt replaced all of the pipes coming from the kitchen sink, making sure the replacement pipes were properly pitched, which would increase the flow and prevent it from backing up in the future. It was almost back pitched, which probably was the biggest contributor to the backup. He also installed a pseudo-vent under the sink, which should have been vented in the first place. That would stop the drain from gurgling as well. It worked great, and we had no problems, at least for a month.

April 26: I had gone to bed, and Adam was in the basement finishing up some laundry. All of a sudden I hear yelling and the words "Oh no!! Flood!!" In my half-sleep delirium I went downstairs, and saw that the stupid P-trap under the utility sink had come undone. It came undone at the slip nut I had fixed months ago, which I had finally cemented with PVC cement. I had noticed that the laundry room utility sink seemed to be backing up more than usual when we did laundry. The washing machine "out" basically dumps a large quantity of water into the utility sink very quickly, and it must have finally come undone with the weight of the backed-up hot water. I told Adam I'd fix it the next day.

April 27: When I got home from work, I steeled myself to re-cement the stupid P-trap once and for all. Maybe it was the fumes of the cement, maybe it was fate, but something caused me to look over at the area where the PVC coming from the P-trap connected to the iron pipe to the main drain, and it had cracked:

It must have been the heavy weight from the backed-up water sitting in the pipes under the utility I am regretting not spending the money initially not to just get everything redone. Thankfully, I quickly realized that fixing this was beyond my meager plumbing capabilities. So we called Matt (again) to fix the cracked pipe and rod out whatever was causing the backup, and he came out the next day.

April 28: Matt replaces the pipe under the sink. It was $115, not too shabby. Unfortunately, I was on a conference call and Matt spoke mostly to Adam. Matt thought the sink was draining properly, but I guess he didn't test it with the large quantity of water we get when the washing machine empties into the sink.

(A few days later): I notice the utility sink is still completely backing up when we do laundry, and it's still coming up in both sinks. I call Matt again to see what we need to do to fix it - either put the washing machine "out" its own pipe going directly down to the drain, or modifying the existing pipes so the washing machine / utility sink pipe went directly down into the drain rather than the "T" fitting.

May 10: Finally, to the tune of $300, Matt comes out and gives the washing machine its own dedicated "out" pipe going to the main drain:

While Matt was here, he also fixed slow drains in both bathroom sinks. He also replaced the iron (galvanized steel?) pipes under the basement sink so that it's easier for me to fix on my own if necessary.

So all of this plumbing was quite an ordeal. I sincerely hope we can close the books on this. I just hope the rest of the pipes in the house manage to stay together for awhile... I've REALLY seen enough of Matt the Plumber for awhile.

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