Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Glamour of Home Ownership

I had just gotten out of the shower when Zirpu asked if the toilet in the "small" bathroom was overflowing or acting strange in any way. It wasn't. I heard him flush the toilet in the other bathroom and then say, "Oh, crap." That toilet overflowed. Plunge, plunge, plunge. Then the toilet bowl in the small bathroom filled; like a comedic movie, I was racing to get the water turned all the way off before the bowl overflowed (and succeeded, just as the water reached the rim).

We called a plumbing company recommended to us by our neighbor. Drain Patrol sent a young man who took off his boots before coming in each time he walked through the house (with which I was very impressed). We walked around the side of the house and inspected the pipes under the house. Mostly he was looking for a clean-out trap, which we don't have (surprisingly - some previous owners did all kinds of other things, like remodeling said bathrooms and attaching the house to the foundation).

While the plumber was snaking the toilet drain (the toilet itself sitting in the office), Zirpu and I sat in the living room and listened, with increasing alarm, to the loud clanking noises coming from the small bathroom. Finally he asked Zirpu to look under the house and see if the pipes (which are above ground, hanging from the floor) were rattling around, or what was going on. Zirpu went under the house and the plumber started snaking again, accompanied by more clanks. I went out the back door to find out was going on under the house and happened to look up.

The snake was on the roof, spinning around and knocking leaf debris out of the gutter. "Stop!" I cried, "Dude! The snake is on the roof!" I don't know why that vision was so frightening, but it was. The plumber laughed - I think he was amused by my calling out "Dude!" He did not seem concerned that the snake, which should have been going under the house, was on the roof. He said the snake must have gone up the vent (vent??). He pulled the snake out of the drain and re-set it, and the clanking stopped.

In the end he snaked the pipe clean. Pulled out a bunch of roots, which he suggested could be from the trees on the west side of the house or more likely from the bushes in front of the house. A stop-gap measure would be to dump some kind of root killer into the pipes every six months, but the real solution (of course) is to replace the pipes. He called his boss about digging up the yard and replacing the pipes and gave us what he said was a very inexpensive estimate because our front yard is so short. It doesn't sound all that inexpensive to us, and of course we have the problem of taking out the trees and the bushes whose roots are causing the problem, though the plumber suggested that when they bring in a tractor to dig up the yard they can deal with the bushes too.

When the plumber left less than two hours after he'd arrived, Zirpu said, "Now we know why that side of the yard is so much greener than the other side."

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