Monday, June 25, 2012

Reassembling the Kitchen Sink -- I Should Have Sought Professional Help

(Que the music from The Twilight Zone)
The cats found them to be good sport. Sloppy fliers, spotted pseudo-butterfly wings. Ugly creatures we thought were moths flew around the kitchen and bathroom. We couldn't get rid of them, though the traps my wife purchased were filling rapidly with stuck insectile corpses.
   I noticed that many gnats flew up out of the kitchen drains on a regular basis. A little on-line research told me they were not moths at all. They're drain flies. They lay their eggs in gunk in the drains. The suggested solution was to dump an enzyme based cleaner down the drain and hope it killed the larvae.
    I waited until my wife was gone and searched the house for the jug of stuff we used to use to get rid of kitty "accidents" from when our ancient cat, Zeb, could no longer be relied upon to make it to the litter box or would get mad enough to pee on the corners of the couches. The internet said that enzyme cleaners would eat the gunk.
    I couldn't find that stuff (it's long gone, I think, now that we have fastidious kitties), and so dumped a bunch of other stern chemicals down the drain. I did so with my safety in mind--had the windows open and held my breath over the sink.
    It wasn't working.
   Then, a dangerous sort of inspiration struck! I don't mean "dangerous" in terms of threat to life and limb (other than risking having my sweet, loving, martial artist wife rend me from limb to limb). I mean "dangerous" as in "low chance of success".
  I decided that the best way to clean the gunk out of the pipes under the kitchen sink was to...egads!...remove them completely, and clean them by hand!
   It helped not at all that I was as resolved as Don Quixote. It helped not at all that I know darn well that every IQ test I've ever taken has revealed my mechanical IQ is "impaired" and was a kind and generous assessment!
    Yea, verily, I say unto thee... I looked under the sink at the pipes and said aloud, "That's all PVC! I can take it apart by hand. I won't even need a tool. I can't do any harm with no tools!"
    (Twilight music grows in the background. Cut away to an inside view of the pipes and we see drain fly larvae doing a dance, holding hands, laughing and skipping.)
   DRAIN FLY LARVAE: (loudly) Nee-ner-nee-ner-NEE-NER
   I unscrewed each section of the kitchen sink pipe. I think my feet (sticking out of the cupboard) twitched when gunk, water, and goo dripped out. Yes, there was still some water in the pipes.
   I took the pipe hunks outside and cleaned them out with the hose. There was a lot of black gick in them. Thick black gick that probably smelled really bad. It was ugly. I'm sure that stuff started to accumulate before we bought this place, and had only grown while we lived here.
    I threw away the rag I used to clean the pipes. It was covered with thick black stuff and I was pretty sure I didn't want to clean anything else with it...ever again.
   Then it occurred to me that at no time did I ever think (not once, not for a second) to make a diagram of where the pipes came from so I could put them back together.
    I point you to exhibit A -- my mechanical impairment.
   I was in familiar territory. Dark, familiar territory. It's a masculine land called "Uh-oh". I was the new King of UhOh.
   As the King of UhOh, I was in firm command of my subjects. There was, of course, only one subject. That was me! I awaited orders for myself and found myself unable to give them. I just stared at the inert pieces of clean plastic pipe and said, "Uh oh." I even sang the word as the new national anthem. "Uh oh, OH... UH-OH!"
    The second through sixty-seventh verses are the same as the first.
   I wasn't sure when my wife was going to be home. I knew that if I had to, I could spoon a little crow into my mouth and ask my beautiful (and mechanically gifted) wife to re-assemble the pipes.
   Manly pride reared its head and told me that although her help might be required, it would not be an acceptable first choice.
   I got back down and put the pipes back together. There was only five pieces of pipe to connect, and they only went back one way. I assembled them with no problem at all...
...well...almost no problem at all.
   There's a plastic washer between each connection. I was missing one of those. I didn't lose it. It wasn't there to begin with. The pipe used to drip from that spot. That was when we first moved in. It stopped leaking from that spot, and now I know why. The black gunk grew over it! I had visions in my head of that black gunk that was now lying in hunks in the yard next to the end of the hose was reassembling itself outside and would soon be knocking at the door... Twilight music swells and reaches crescendo.
    I cranked the pipe joints tight.
   Then I turned on the water.
   It sprayed out two of the connections below the sink. I cheered. It only sprayed out two connections!
   I stopped cheering when I remembered I should turn off the water!
    I got down on my hands and knees and cranked the leaking connections.
   I turned the water on again, got back down, and cheered again (hitting my hands on the underside of the sink when I raised them to cheer) when I saw that the two leaks had been stopped.
    Then I saw the water coming out of the last connection, the one with no washer.
   A smarter man than me, a more humble man not caught up in the thrill of near victory, would have run down the street to the hardware store and purchased a washer.
    I was in a hurry. I wanted to have the new "bug-less" pipes assembled and the sink working before my wife got home.
   I tightened the last connection. Stuck a pan under it, and turned on the water. The pan took the drips. It wasn't on straight.
    I'm glad I had the pan. Like a moron, I unscrewed the pipe connection, forgetting completely...that the damn pipe was FULL OF WATER!
The water dripped in my handy-dandy pan. Then, in an increasingly moronic train of thought, I did what one normally does with a pan of unwanted water...
    I dumped it in the sink. Duh!
   The water I dumped in the sink ran out the open pipe under the sink. I caught it quickly by sticking the pan I had just dumped under the open section of pipe.
   That filled the pan.
   Then I repeated the exercise... Seriously! I took the water I dumped on myself and dumped it back in the sink...caught it again. This time I learned!
   I was laughing, and that's good. I was too busy laughing to offend me with the names I called myself!
  Fortunately, I had a spool of silicon tape handy. I bought it when I replaced our shower head, an operation that went extraordinarily well compared to this one. I wrapped the hunk of pipe that had no washer with the silicon tape and reassembled it.
  Success! It didn't drip.
  I did it! I cleaned the pipes, killing the larvae (no more giggling, dancing, and laughing in there), and successfully put it all back together.
   I stood to enjoy my work. Panicked when I saw white through the drains. I had never seen white through the drain, and I cussed. I wondered what I had left in the pipes that was white.
    Duh. Nothing. For the first time ever, I was seeing the PVC itself through the drain.
   I think my wife is proud of my plumbing, but she's too smart to say so. She probably thinks it's not good to encourage me. She doesn't need to worry. I can still hear the Twilight Zone theme playing.

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