“Jan, I know this is going to upset you,” Mother said at breakfast.
“The carpet around my toilet is all wet.”
Quickly calculating my day’s activities I considered how long it would take me to pull her toilet. I’d encountered this problem before.
Wax seals are big, waddy, donut-shaped, mounds of caramel Sugar Daddy looking rings. They are cheap at Home Depot. (This is the ‘seal’ that makes a union between the toilet exit and the main drain poop pipe. They wear out, I guess from hundreds of times butts sit on toilets. Or something. I actually have no idea why they wear out. I just know that they do.)
I hate plumbing. I have not had good luck getting plumbers to come and fix things. And let’s just face it, Youtube has saved me more than once before. So I started mentally rearranging my schedule.
Mother likes to drag bad news out.
“And poop is coming into my shower.”
Horror stories of huge, compacted stoppage in drainage pipes are legendary and numerous.
As we mounted her stairs and opening the door, I could smell the aroma of sewer. Navigating my way to her small bath, I assessed the situation.
Damp carpet wasn’t an adequate way to state its condition.
It was soaked completely all around. Ripping up the carpet to expose very wet pad, I flushed the toilet, heard the poop come up in the shower drain and watched water flow out from under the bottom of the toilet.
“Is there any chance that all of this could be because of a wax seal,” I said mumbling to myself.
Not a chance I answered, which would turn out to be visionary on my part.
The first thing to do was to start.
I drove to Home Depot and purchased a wax toilet seal.
An hour later I had fixed that problem and that problem only.
I moved out of the bathroom, down the stairs and into the garage, all the while trying to figure out the best way to approach an obviously serious clog in Mother’s apartment sewer pipe.
Mother’s apartment was built by a very good carpenter and after thirty years of use, this was the first serious plumbing issue. As it turns out, one of the very good things about a garage apartment is that all of the underground plumbing is actually in the ceiling of your garage.
Well, that can be a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that there is no mystery where the pipes lie. The bad part is that you are under the pipes that are you going to be working on.
I looked up at the plumbing and tried to map stuff out. Bernie and Javier, hearing my problems, had come over and brought a large roto rooter commode thingy and had been plunging away in the toilet to no avail. They now joined me in the garage. Gazing and tracing 3 inch PVC pipe through the floor joists, we were all looking up.
“I think it’s here,” Javier pointed up to the pipe farthest from the toilet, confluent to all the drains of Mother’s home.
“I think we can probably do it if you want us to try,” Bernie said. “You are going to have to cut out a piece of the pipe and try to get to the clog.”
I hate to ask people to do my poop work for me. (I so badly wanted to say shitwork there.) I thanked them and said I needed to think about it.
It was Silent Bob who offered to help.
It took us all day the next day. The first cut into the pipe and I knew but didn’t know just how bad this was going to be.
I am trying to decide how much detail I should give.
Basically, once we cut the pipe, the entire waste system drained into the buckets we emptied, over and over, the waste water above the blockage, riper than it would have been had it been flowing freeing into where ever our sewer lines flow into.
That part took for ever. When it was over, we were both soaked from water dripping down our arms as we took turns cutting the pipe overhead.
Then we took a snake like coil of wire with a cork screw looking end, and threaded it through the cut open end of the pipe. About 8 feet in we found the clog. We cranked the corkscrew thing into the clog by turning the handle attached to the other end of the wire coil.
I have never in my entire life done anything as nasty as this. I was the threader, on the ladder up at the cut end. Silent Bob was the cranker. Every time we would pull the cork screw end out, a bit more of the clog came. It came out of the end of the pipe like a bad, projectile vomiting pipe mouth. It was more than gray water. And when shit comes from above your head, projectiling out of the open end of a sewer pipe, it gets all over you. I mean, all over you.
There was nothing to do, but just keeping doing it till it was done.
I took three baths that night.
I will be honest. It was a bit difficult to get the whole thing out of my head.
One has to wonder why I didn’t call a plumber.
My only explanation is that I am stubborn. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop until I finished.
I do know that should I ever have to crawl through 500 yards of sewer to freedom, I probably could. And Silent Bob would go with me.