Sunday, August 10, 2014


My plumbing experiences put me behind so now I need a list to help me get caught up.

1.  Call Harry to firm up LA plans so I can get better idea of date/time for Hearst Castle tickets.

2. Talk to children about plans for Miami wedding trip.  Who is coming and when so I can make house reservations for us all?

3.  Make Miami house reservations.

4.  Hostess gift for Jack and Susie - What to take that I can carry on an airplane?  Virginia peanuts, jams, and wine but that is heavy and takes a lot of space.  Or maybe that is fine because then I'll have space in the suitcase to go shopping in California.

5.  Send note to Florida Sharon welcoming her to the beach and letting her know  when I'll be down.

6.  Get Daddy Arena Stage tickets.

7.  Order yarn for Christmas gifts.  Hope I have to time to get them made.  At least I've selected patterns using chunky yarn!

8.  LA rental car reservation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

We have been experiencing a sewer line odyssey which has now resulted in me having three different plumbers on speed dial. We've lived in this 48 year old house for 35 years so I guess we were living on borrowed time.

First there was the hydro-jetting person aka Plumber #1 who cleaned our original blockage last September.  They ran 18 psi water through the entire line to clean and flush out everything.  Then they ran a camera through the lines and declared that we had "belly" which is where the pipe is sagging and consequently you have a constricted flow-through.  So, basically we were now on notice that this was not going to last forever. Another blockage this June made us realize we had to get serious about getting this fixed.  I called the same hydro-jetting company and this time when they ran the camera upon completion they didn't find a belly but they did determine that the pipes were very rough and corroded, not unexpected for cast iron that has  been in use for almost 50 years.  After getting some estimates for pipe replacement in an effort to be proactive before the next blockage we had our pipes replaced from the house to the street by Plumber #2.  To replace all the way to the sewer main requires huge amounts of money and posting a $20,000 bond with the county for 15 years.  You don't do that unless you are absolutely positive that it is necessary and no one thought we had that level problem.

Two weeks ago today we had the work done and I felt so good that we could once again use the garbage disposal, shower, do laundry, and flush simultaneously!  That euphoria was short lived. Yesterday when I went into the laundry room I realized that water was backing up into the floor drain again and the sewer had backed up into the downstairs toilet and shower.  ARGHHH.    I immediately called the people who installed the new pipe (Plumber #2) to say "HELP!" but the woman in the office didn't get back to me with any promise of help so I called yet another plumber to to see if he could figure out what was really wrong.   By now it is late afternoon and we have no working plumbing in the house so I called Plumber #3, Larry and Anthony.

Plumber #3 heard the quiet desperation in my sweet Southern voice.  When I really desperately need something I unconsciously revert to my mother's soft Kentucky accent and people do seem to be nicer to you.  (My children call it my "Grannie voice" because it is the accent I had growing up and when speaking with my mother.  I learned to speak more unaccented English when at work.) Well, thankfully Plumber #3 speaks with the same Appalachian accent because he said "I'll be there in an hour."   

Larry and Anthony aka Plumber #3 were a strange couple.  Larry is a small, wiry older man, probably in his 70's, and clearly from Southern Virginia or thereabouts, and Anthony is a young man who is extremely personable but you can tell he is just a tiny bit slow.  If I had to guess I'd say he's a grandson or nephew.  Larry directs and Anthony works and you can tell that Larry is trying hard to build his confidence and let him do things on his own.  So while Larry and I chatted on the front porch, Anthony ran a huge plumbing snake through my pipes and worked hard to burst through the clog.  None of us could figure out what could possibly have caused such a clog in under two weeks.  It's not like I have kids that throw baseballs and Barbie dolls down the toilets.  During my chat with Larry he heard my whole tale of woe and I learned a lot about drains and sewer pipes.  It will come in very handy with what happened next.  

As soon as Larry and Anthony left, Plumber #2 showed up!  I explained that since I had not heard back from the office manager I had contacted another plumber to get the clog cleared.  He offered to run a camera through it to see if they could find why it had clogged.  Well, we found the problem  - a giant rock about 1/2 the size of the sewer pipe is out in the pipe under the street.  Hmmmmmmm..... how did that get there?  Plumber #2 and I have conflicting opinions.  He thinks maybe there is a break in the bottom of the pipe exposing some rocks and gravel and the rock came from there.  I tried to explain the laws of physics and that the rock could not have jumped or floated up into the pipe.  My theory is that it got in during there construction and then got pushed further into the pipe when I had the pipe snaked.  

Only after he left did I get to cleaning the downstairs bathroom.  First I flushed the commode and put in LOTS cleanser, then I turned on the shower to try to wash some of the muck down the now cleared drain.  The shower would not drain.  Apparently the back-up caused a local clog in the shower pipe.  So this morning another call to Larry and Anthony to get the shower unclogged.  He again came in about 2 hours and Anthony worked and Larry and I talked about the rock.  Larry agrees with me and gave me some ideas on what they can do to get it out so that when I call the company that Plumber #2 works for I can speak with some authority on getting it out of there.  

So now I have a call into Plumbing Company #2 and will wait to see what they have to say about the situation.  Maybe they will be embarrassed enough about leaving a giant rock in the line that I won't have to change to my "don't mess with me" accent.

Final, I hope, update:   Plumber #2 called in Plumber #4 to clear out rocks and debris that were left in line.  He jetted it and we looked through the camera, twice, to make certain it was clear to the main.  I have now resumed flushing, laundry, and using the dishwasher.  He assured me I could do it all simultaneously!