Sunday, September 07, 2014

Plumbing again

Plumbing isn't one of my favorite things. In fact, it ranks right up there with having a tooth filled. But it's a reality when you're taking care of cabins. About a month ago now (that's how busy we've been—I'm just now getting around to writing about something a month ago!) I had a week of plumbing goodies.

It started on a Monday. The departing guest told me that the water closet seemed loose. I checked it out and it was. I figured it was just a matter of tightening the hold-down bolts. Right. I looked under the toilet and saw one of the bolts lying on the floor! It had actually rusted out. The only thing keeping the tank from dumping its water all over the floor was that Dave had put caulk over the inside head of the bolt. Otherwise...well it wouldn't have been pretty. I emptied the tank and took a wrench to the other side. The bolt fell off! Good thing they warned me it was loose or the next guest would have had a water closet all over their back.

I was able to replace the bolts and tighten the tank up with no problems. One down. Two days later another guest asked if I could come and unplug their toilet, a fairly common request. A plunger didn't do the trick, so I pulled out the snake. It didn't work either. In fact, it kinked the thing. Hmmm. I thought maybe a longer snake would work better, so I pulled out the faucet snake. It didn't work either. Time to call the plumber.

The first plumber I called said it sounded like the sewer line was plugged. He didn't have the tools for that and suggested I contact someone else. The second one suggested a "hydraulic hammer"—basically a pressure washer for sewer lines. The catch is you have to get it past the vent pipe or you have a royal mess!

No problem, right? I've been under that cabin so many times this year that I could do it blindfolded. Except I couldn't get the clean out trap off. I didn't have a big enough wrench and couldn't get enough torque on it.

Call the plumber! He can't come out until the next day! Yikes! I've got guests in the cabin and no toilet!

They were very gracious. I gave them a key to the Fiddler's Place to use that toilet... (Yes, we credited them for the night.)

Next day, the plumber arrives around noon. He tried his snake. No success. So, he pulls out this monster of a snake. If this doesn't work, nothing will. It didn't!

Well now what? He decides to take the toilet out and access the sewer line that way. But he suggested we take a look at the toilet after we took it out. So we haul it out onto the yard and flip it over. The thing was packed tight. No wonder my snake doubled back on itself!

While we had it upside down, he noticed a crack in the thing. Time for a new one! Whew! I wasn't relishing the thought of cleaning that thing out. The closest we could figure is that a child had flushed a small toy down and that had caused a blockage that was catching all the toilet paper and stuff until it caused the blockage.

New toilet. Happy guests! Two down.

Two days later (Saturday) was supposed to be a nice quiet day. We were full, so no cabins to clean. The yard had just been mowed, so no yard work. Great! I can get some editing done...NOT! There was a family reunion going on and they were using the Fiddler's Place. Guess what? The toilet plugged. Here we go again...

I got the plunger out. No success. I got the snake out. No success. Time for the hydraulic hammer... While I was doing all this, one of the people at the reunion asked what I was doing. He wasn't staying with us, so I hadn't met him. I told him that I was going to take the hydraulic hammer to it. He said, "Oh, a blow bag!" Huh? Turns out he's a master plumber! And he wanted to help!

Praise God! I came back to the house to get the "blow bag" and told Debbie about the "coincidence." Scott (that's his name) was a great asset. He told me some stories that would curdle your ears about plumbing under cabins. Seems ours isn't as bad as some...

Anyway, we ran the hydraulic hammer for a while. Then we (actually he!) put the toilet back on. It didn't help! The thing was still slow...He asked about a vent. Vent? What vent?!

We looked all over for a vent. Nope. Dave hadn't put a vent on the plumbing there.

I asked Scott what he would suggest. So, we scouted around, climbed under a nearby cabin only to find a drain had come apart there under the shower. Mental note: fix on Monday—I did.

He suggested all kinds of expensive options. Finally, he suggested putting an inline vent under the sink. He thought it might be enough. Great! Simple, easy, maybe not elegant, but it might work. And it was a whole lot easier than digging up the ground (to say nothing of cheaper!).

Tuesday I bought the vent and put it in. Relatively simple. Just a few cuts, some glue on a Y pipe and we're done. Except it wasn't enough air! It would work fine for 3 flushes then back up. Great!

Scott had suggested that if that didn't work, we could run a vent out the side. Problem: This is a log structure with 8-10 inch logs! I didn't have a bit that long or a Sawzall to make it big enough once I had the hole drilled.

Max to the rescue. He ordered me a Sawzall! It arrived three days later—a factory refurb : ) But no blades! Trip to the hardware store and look out world! I have a Sawzall!

I also picked up a 16 inch spade bit and the necessary pipes.

Out comes the trusty hacksaw and off with the vent I had just installed. Sewer gas stinks! But now I could see the log wall to drill through. I hope I guess correctly on the angle of the hole or I'm going to be in trouble trying to thread that pipe through. I prayed (later I found out that Debbie had been praying too). I started drilling. Went right through. This log was only 8 inches and relatively soft.

Out comes the trusty Sawzall. Open up that hole and test the pipe. It lined up with the inside one on the first try! Praise God!

A little glue, a little caulk. Everything is sealed. Now the acid test. Will it flush? I gave it five quick flushes in a row. Sure enough! It worked! Bring on the crowd!

And we did. That weekend (Labor day), Max and Sherri had a shindig to celebrate the beginning of their 15th year here.

And the toilet didn't back up!

No comments: