Tag Archives: plumbing panic

Toilet plungers really do suck: They stick to faces


Call the health department. Plumbing disease is contagious.

We left town and all our drain problems behind and headed to the coast. I lugged everything into our tidy little place and made a bee-line to the bathroom when a guest* large smelly boy said, “Oh, that toilet is weird.”

I flushed it. It burbled back at me.

We have lugged everything to this tidy little place** for nearly 18 years. It has two toilets, two tubs and four sinks. Never, in all that time, have I had to plunge a large clump of goo.

The Mini Pro Sink and Drain Plunger: like a joystick.  Monument ToolsAs I realized I was having another plumbing panic — my third in a week — part of me was in a suspended state of disbelief while the other looked for a plunger. In vain.

Here I had a lovely view of the Pacific Ocean, but I was roughing it. I did not have my impressive array of drain-cleaning implements.

I rummaged under sinks and in closets until I found one pathetic-looking plunger. It wasn’t a designer model. No sucky lips. No caddy.

I was embarrassed for its nakedness so I searched through the cupboards for a proper caddy. But remember, we’re roughing it. I didn’t find even a cheap Tupperware container.

I pushed the plunger up and down to no avail. It had a big problem. It didn’t suck. That’s when I did what any sensible amateur plumber would do. I went to dinner.

On the way home we stopped by a one-stop shopping store (yes, the very chain where the flashy, brazen garden nozzles are lined up in a red light district). My grocery list? Milk. Eggs. Juice. Plunger.

And cookie dough. We have a tradition at the beach of baking cookies each night. But remember, we’re roughing it. So we don’t actually make the dough. We just bake it. After we buy it.

One of the large smelly boys and I were picking out what kind of cookie dough to buy in a package when we both said, “Look, it comes in a tub!”

I compared prices. Sure enough. The tub was cheaper by volume. Then I realized we’d gain a bonus. We’d gain a plunger caddy. But we’d have to bake a lot of cookies.***

Continue reading Toilet plungers really do suck: They stick to faces

Confessions of an amateur plumber, or, Hey, at least my pants stay up

Auger label. Photo: Mrs. ScatterBy LAURA GRIMES

I thought I was done with my impressive array of drain-cleaning implements after the previous plumbing panic.

I was going to stash them in the basement and let them collect dead spiders, but when I put the plastic bin at the top of the stairs it fell over. I peered around the corner in time to watch the bin plonk, plonk, plonk down the stairs and roll away, leaving the plastic thorny thing, the big auger, the little auger and (my personal favorite) the hose blaster up and down the steps.

I did what any sensible amateur plumber would do. I shut the door to worry about it the next day. Or the next time I had to go to the basement to do laundry, whichever came later.

Little did I know one of the large smelly boys would have to go to the basement first thing in the morning to fetch frozen waffles and a loaf of bread.

“It’s booby trapped!” I yelled.

He figured out what I meant. I could tell by the “Ewww!”

As unluck would have it, I had to go to the basement the next day to do laundry. I’m not sure if my bigger motivator was not wanting to look hideous in a leg cast or risk a higher premium on hazard insurance, but I picked up the impressive array of drain-cleaning implements.

As unluck would have it, the plastic thorny thing had landed in a cat litter box.

Yes, I unscrupulously manipulated that line for maximum gross-out effect. The litter box was actually clean and empty. It was in place to catch drips from a bathroom flood when a large smelly boy didn’t properly place the shower curtain (on the second floor!). But that’s a plumbing woe for another day. As is my shameful bout with garden nozzle envy.

As I picked up my impressive array of drain-cleaning implements I remembered I actually had to use them again — a banner week!

The toilet in the bathroom that belongs to the large smelly boys didn’t flush properly. I had plunged it and plunged it. It didn’t work. Even though I was using a designer plunger. It has such high style points that it comes with its own caddy. So it’s much more fashionable than our other one, which sits in a Tupperware container. And it’s certainly more fashionable than the one it replaced — a plunger that had a carved duck head with googly eyes. My dad made it. But the head fell off. Making the handle action uncomfortable while plunging. I hate it when my plunger duck heads fall off.

All I can say is it’s a good idea I was doing the plunging instead of my (nameless) husband. I’m a quiet plunger by nature. He, on the other hand, uses words that start with e-p-i-t-h-e-t.

But even my quiet plunging nature didn’t work this time. So I took my impressive array of drain-cleaning implements upstairs and, well, it all augered well. Maybe because I read the directions:

Loosen thumbscrew. Insert boring head [not the interesting one, apparently] through crossbar and push into pipe until stoppage [the technical term is not “large clump of goo,” apparently] is reached (if head can’t pass through strainer [I can’t remember the last time I tried to put mine through one], use bent tip at other end of spring.)”

It also says:

Don’t force the snake! Let the boring head do the work.

I learned a few things:

1. My big auger is called a “clog chaser.”
2. My little auger says that it “retrieves wash cloths, diapers, toys” [you can’t make this stuff up].
3. When I auger out a toilet my husband hollers, “What’s that wippity wappity noise?”

— Laura Grimes