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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Interestingly, 'Loo Lagoon' Is the Name of My Linda Ronstadt Tribute Band. But I Digress

Hey, mister; did you really buy this house? Yes. Yes I did. I think it was formerly owned by Hitler's pool man.
Let's stop waxing philosophical and get down to brass tacks. Poopy brass tacks. My plumbing was installed by Helen Keller and maintained for a century by the Shirk Brothers. My house was inhabited for a goodly portion of its long history by stoners, drunks, and pyromaniacs. Wondering what was flushed down that toilet over the years could turn me to drink, medical marijuana, and arson, now that I consider it. But I don't have time for any of that. A geyser of excrement must be dealt with in the here and now.

I didn't care exactly what the problem was. That might sound dumb, but only if you're never been in a leaky boat. First, you bail. Then you plug the hole. Thirdly, after the morning ration of grog and cheese the next day, you wonder where the hole came from. It was ten at night on a Sunday, we were already really tired from our HVAC exertions, and the only thing to do was stop the bleeding.

You'll have to trust me when I tell you I know more about a sewer line than the average person. If you're the average person, I'd like to take this opportunity to finally shake your hand. I've heard so much about you over the years. Then I'd like to caution you to wash your hand with bleach because I've been mucking about in sewage systems.

I've broken into dozens and dozens of sewer lines, and repaired them. That's because I've built or renovated a lot of structures out there in the real world. Structures that the average person just drives past or poops in without another thought. I've inspected many more than I've actually mucked about in, too. Take a piddle in the closed end of Gillette Stadium? Do more than rest at a Rest Area on half the Mass Pike? Flush a moist towelette down the john in the ladies room of the gas station at the Belvidere Oasis outside Chicago? Pour paint down the sink in the gingerbread house in Fairhaven, or flush an adult diaper down the crapper at the senior center in Bellingham, Mass? Scoot into the Martha's Vineyard Post Office to throw up last night's clam bellies and appletinis after the ferry ride? Yeah, I know where that goes. Believe you me, you don't want to know.

I looked over the loo lagoon that had coalesced in my basement's basement, and I had to make some quick decisions. What's necessary in such situations is to think critically. Critical Thinking is now an official subject in college, high school, and in some grammar schools. That's why no one knows how to do it anymore. Rearranging your prejudices to conform to the topic at hand might get you an "A" in school, but it won't stop a geyser of excrement in the basement.

You have to know real facts to think critically. Critical thinking is choosing between competing factual facts, not introducing unfactual things as an alternative to reality. On top of that, many facts are true, but extraneous. You decide which to ignore and which to pay attention to. Every-other program on television is a lamebrain version of Sherlock Holmes, but the viewers never get any impression from the archetype other than acting like an imperious jerk is proof you're smarter than everyone else. Acting like an imperious jerk in a ditch where sewage is spoken will get you a bouquet of fingers applied to your nose. Put a sock in it, college boy.

So here's what we know that tells us how to behave:
  • A sewer pipe is tested when installed with very low air or water pressure, but it's never supposed to have any pressure in it after that
  • A geyser of goo means it's under pressure 
  • We have town sewer. Pressure from a town sewer would be cataclysmic
  • The pressure is coming from the house, not into the house, or the problem would appear upstairs, too. There was no geyser of excrement coming from the toilet. Thank goodness for small favors
  • You've been told that lo-flow toilets, miserly sink faucets, and water-rationing showerheads will cut your water usage bigtime. They won't
  • In the same vein, your toilet went from having 5 gallons of water to 3 to 1.5 or something now. Whoopty
  • Your clothes washer dumps between 30 and 50 gallons of water down the drain
  • Our clothes washer was currently running
  • A gallon of water weighs about 7 pounds
  • Fifty gallons of water weighs about 350 pounds
  • Tree-fitty pounds of pressure in a pipe that's not supposed to have any pressure can result in deleterious effects on your plan to move excrement outside your house expeditiously
  • Turn off the clothes washer, dear
  • Geyser goes to sleep for the night
OK, so we've stopped the bleeding. Now we have to cauterize the wound. We've got a sheared off plastic knuckle glued in a rusty cast iron knuckle jammed into another cast iron knuckle that's buried in a concrete floor. At 10 at night on Sunday in the middle of nowhere. What to do?

[to be continued] 

10 comments:

Sam L. said...

Wash up (somewhere). Remove messy and smelly clothing (do first, not second). Sit down and have a drink. Pray, and go to bed.

Sam L. said...

I trust someday you'll return to telling us about propping up your basement semi-properly.

vanderleun said...

Hey, Sipp, one of our mothballed battleships called and they want their hull paint back.

vanderleun said...

"My house was inhabited for a goodly portion of its long history by stoners, drunks, and pyromaniacs. "

I thought that Unorganized Hancock was only recently living in the house.

thatmrgguy said...

Sorry to hear about your situation. Nothing worse than having effluvium backing back up in your house.

Sounds like whomsoever previously did the plumbing might have used thin wall PVC instead of schedule 40 PVC as the norm now, to tie into the old cast iron. It also doesn't look like they use any no hub or hub adapters to tie the plastic into the cast iron either. As you probably know, plastic doesn't glue to cast iron too good.

Casey Klahn said...

Oh boy! Here's my chance to tell you about the swell toilets in Finland! Doods. North of the Arctic Circle, in Finnish land, are the dam finest loos on the planet. Probably something to do with the government is too broke from paying out welfare checks to go that far to check on your plumbe ding. I was so impressed with these privvys that I was trying to figure out how to get one on the airplane home and factoring upwards of the $1000 in retail, export fees, freight and then the bribes on this side to make the customizers turn a blind eye to my contraband. I gave up; but not without a lifetime want of those things.

Interested now? 'K. You may not know (Sippi knows, but you readers may not) that our wonderful government regulates the height of your sit in the John. Old guys like me with back aches may wish for the perfect achievement height for sitting, but fuggus says the gov. Until you've experienced the proper going height, which is a few inches higher than in the US of A, you will never be motivated to kill a gubbmint inspector who wants to retard your comfort in the closet of water. I'm not saying I've ever thought of that...

More on the Finn Loo. Press button 2 part flush valve dead center on top of the tank. Kills it. Or just washes it. Your choice. Here, you have other choices, but not about actual hygienic flushing of the goods. That's too technical for you Americans. The gubmint knows just how much doogan-clearing water you get, and not an ounce more.

Now for the part that will bring murder to your eye when the toilet inspector comes out of the brush to see your stuff. In free countries of the north, you are placing the pot diagonally from the corner into the WC. Let me paint a picture of this. Here, you are crammed next to the wall, or right angled out from between the sink and the tub or shower stall. You don't need no stinking room for movement. What are you, the king or something? In free countries of the north, you command the corner, with a space to put your legs and feet and if a cricket ball enters the room, bygog, you can return the volley! It is a happy, almost giddy state of sitting. Diagonal, man! Not square.

OK. back in the goo, comrades. I know you hate me for telling you all of this. A man is not better for knowing that somewhere there is a right way to do something, and his over-minders won't let him have it.

Sorry, Sipp, I had to get that out. Your series on the toilet system creates passions in your readers. I won't say the word "vent," here. Anyway, carry on.

julie said...

I did wonder about the source of the pressure. Thank God turning off the washing machine was enough, though of course as Sam noted, how do you clean up after that if you can't have water going down the shower drain?

For every answer you are creating more questions. Thank goodness - whatever keeps you writing!

The Bergall said...

Sippian, I trust you have never been in the Submarine Service, however I somehow feel you'd fit right in. This what we called "blowing shitter's". Meaning, closing all valves - toilet's, drains, etc. Pressurizing the "shit tank" and opening the sea valve.......

Sounds easy? Nope, never is and wasn't meant to be.

Larry Geiger said...

He's going to be in the Submarine Service in his basement if he doesn't get this fixed. We'll presume that he doesn't have a "sea valve". Or, at least, not yet.

chasmatic said...

Sipp, first thing you shoulda done was take a head count of all your domestic animals. I guess you count the whole animal but "head count" sounds official.Let it be said that no Bantam chicken ever clogged a drain. Ever; maybe a cat or dog or some other worthless critter but not a Bantam chicken.
My uncle Letsgo Lozko was known as "the King of the Bantams", becoming a charter member of the Blue Island Bantam Chicken Association, with twenty, no make that twenty-two members. his roosting sheds never had anything as serious as plugged drains. Some of the grumbling members said it was because there were no drains in any of the coops. Uncle Letsgo retorted that none of the coops had any utilities. He stifled the malcontents with the rhetorical question "Vat choo tink, dese coops are Holiday Inns?"

Slow and steady as she goes, lads.