Friday, July 27, 2012

Further crapshackular disintegration

Apparently it's not enough that our house (known variably as the Punk Rawk Palace or our crapshack, depending on the situation) blew a hole in the roof that led to a partial collapse of the bedroom ceiling last month - we came home last night to find that the first real rain we've had in a month or more had backed up the drain at the bottom of the walkout stairs.

A bit of water in the basement doesn't sound too bad, except the Punk Rawk Palace is a backsplit - our basement is our livingroom, including my very own trainer dungeon! This happened once before, too; during a hard rain on Saturday, July 16th, 2005 that washed out the Cambridge Highland Games and seriously threatened the Toga Party we were hosting that night for my birthday. Seven years and ten days later, we found ourselves squishing around the carpet in the back of the livingroom again.

Beyond the door at top left lies the culprit.

The drain itself is full of mud, which I'm hoping is merely the result of some tree roots getting into the drainage pipe and can be solved with a good augering. I'm unwilling, as yet, to contemplate other possible causes.

So, Tanker went to work with the Shop-Vac (the handiest thing we ever bought to go with our house) and our steam cleaner while I went to the pool. He's freakin' awesome like that. He got as much water as he could out of the carpeting, which fortunately doesn't have an underpad to hold moisture (it sits straight on cement), then went to work cleaning up the bottom of the stairwell. 

To his dismay, upon trying to dump the Shop-Vac's contents down the laundry sink, he found the bloody sink drain plugged and the drain plumbing leaking!

This is what we call a "Larry and Deanna special", typical of the previous owners of our house.

The p-trap isn't a p-trap at all - it's a bunch of ABS fittings cobbled together into a loop-the-loop, culminating in an aluminum pipe with ABS collars to thread onto the sink's drain. There's so much goop used to try to seal the lower collar (in white) on the aluminum pipe that I couldn't budge it with channel locks. It seems to be leaking from the top collar, the threads of which are rife with layer after layer of teflon tape and (for some reason) pipe dope. 

The whole thing should be cut out, the pipe to the waste outflow snaked (did I mention that our drain snake broke last night, nearly taking Tanker's ear off in the process?), and replaced with a proper p-trap. I know how to do this stuff, as I have a history with ABS pipe.

I built this whole business the Dec. 23rd, 2009 so we'd have a kitchen sink for Christmas.

Now, we've also had ongoing issues with the facuets in the laundry room. We've never turned the hot water on to the washing machine since that tap leaks like crazy, and the faucet at the laundry sink likes to leak on occasion. Now it appears that the cold water handle is cracked, so we're unable to turn the tap on and off. Spanky.

It doesn't help that we need to use an old can to hold the faucet in place, either.

Again, it's possible I could do this stuff myself - I even know how to cut and sweat weld copper pipe.

Before: sprang a leak where the white glob is at right.
Note: "Mighty Putty" doesn't work worth a damn.

Removing plumbing from the long-discarded water softener.
After. Watertight since September 1st, 2010. 

However, we're off to the Stratford Festival tomorrow for shows at 2pm and 8pm, then brunch with friends Sunday morning, packing up the motorcycles and doing oil changes (plus changing out the dead battery in mine), and rolling out for Quebec on Monday morning! I don't have the tools to un-block the back drain, and I'm in desperate need of some sleep. Didn't see bed until 01:30 this morning, as I tried a couple of quick fixes for the plumbing issues (none of which worked) before giving up and getting out for a short run to clear my head. I also need the laundry tub issue resolved tonight, since I have to do laundry (most of which are fabrics that can't go in the dryer) before we can pack for the tour!

Fortunately, I've found a local plumber who is A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau and does 24/7 service calls - Hy-Pro Plumbing & Drain Cleaning will be coming by the house around 7pm this evening to quote and hopefully do all of the work that needs to be done. As much as I feel like I'm wussing out by not spending my whole night sniffing noxious pipe cement fumes and fiddling with 45 and 90 degree elbows, I think I need to suck it up and get a pro to handle this for me.

We all like to feel confident in our abilities, but sometimes it's even more valuable to recognize your limitations. If we get a professional plumber to do this, despite hating to spend the money (which was already going to be a bit tight for the tour of Quebec since we're still paying off our new roof), at least we'll have the peace of mind that the job is done right and we won't be coming home to another flood. We can even run some errands while the plumbers work, saving me some time and hopefully letting me get a bit of sleep.

Dear universe - can this please be the last thing that goes wrong with our crapshack for awhile?

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