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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



I am not a home improvement expert although I’ve watched more than my share of This Old House reruns on television the last 20 years. In fact, regular readers will remember the ill fated bathroom remodel that took me nearly three years to complete. So to say I’m handy around the house isn’t wrong, but don’t ask for anything out of this world when it comes to major home repairs.

I have also quickly learned that when it rains it pours around my house. Early last week it started. I had been noticing that the clothes were taking a very long time to dry. This didn’t bother me too much and I figured it was time to clean out the hose that leads outside as it gets mucked up with lint every once in a while. So I cleaned it out and set the dryer to 60 minutes and went to watch a movie.

If you’ve never watched Jim Thorpe All American, it is a dandy old picture and I enjoyed it. Shoving myself out of the chair and figuring that I needed to get to bed before it got too late I decided to make a stop at the bathroom so that I wouldn’t wake up at 5 a.m. needing to go. The dryer now running for over 2 hours was still running and the clothes were still wet. Obviously the timer switch has gone out of it and will have to be replaced, but that’s not the true object of this weeks ramblings.

I had stood in the shower early last week and was washing away ( I apologize for the mental picture that any of you may be forming in your heads right now) with my soap and my rubber ducky when I noticed that I felt like I was a passenger on those last final moments of the Titanic. Before I was done I was up to my ankles in water!

No big deal I thought to myself, as I was sure it was just hair in the drain, so I took the little screen off of the drain that keeps you from sticking things like your little brother down the drain…. Speaking of which…am I the only one out there who was warned by our parents not to get to close to it or it would suck you down? I’m really not sure where that thought came from, maybe a movie I saw on TV as a young boy. I looked and fished around and no hair…this could be bad.

I had noticed that the toilet hadn’t been flushing really well lately, but like all things in an old farmhouse they don’t always work as they should and I like to use the “ignore it until it explodes” method of dealing with things around the house. That explosion usually comes when someone in the family isn’t watching the toilet flush and suddenly is screaming for towels to mop up the floor with. I knew at that point that it was time to act! I went in and after thoroughly mopping up the floor I went to wash my hands in the sink. I thought to myself this water seems to be draining slow and yet I could hear water bubbling only to look over at the tub to see a giant geyser of water shooting up from the drain! And before you ask, YES, I had plunged the living daylights out of it, so much in fact that everything I plunged ended up in the bottom of the bathtub! After a few hours the water would drain out so I knew it wasn’t a heavy duty clog. The tub, bathroom sink and toilet are on one line and the washing machine and kitchen sink on the other. The latter line works brilliantly so I knew that it couldn’t be a full septic tank. This went on for a couple of days.

Ok, so I know that now is the time to act. Off to the local plumbing supply I search the shelves for some heavy duty stuff that requires a permit and an air pack to use. The bottle actually stated that I should understand the warnings before I purchased it! That made me nervous right off the bat. Suppose the guy at the counter starts asking me questions, or worse wants to have a copy of my photo ID to mark down in a book of people buying dangerous chemicals? But never fear, it seems that they don’t really care if you have even read the warnings and are more than happy to take your money. So I took home my bottle of dark brown acid and warned the kids to stay out of the bathroom. Reading the directions I removed the! This stuff is strong. I gently poured it down the drain being cautious to watch that I didn’t splash any and it immediately started to bubble and steam. Good sign I thought. I waited 15 minutes and went back in. Still nothing…another 15 and I decided to run some water in the sink to see what would happen.

When I noticed that the tub was quickly filling up with a brown liquid I decided that I had done something wrong and when I get to this point I figured that I needed to snake the line. So I started snaking…well this isn’t working so well. So I did what anyone would do in my position, I called my little brother who has a great working knowledge of all things sewer related. He came over and looked over the situation. There’s only one thing to do…pull the toilet and go right to the source. At this point I began to have flashbacks to 8 years ago when the oldest child flushed her toothbrush down the toilet and it lodged in there and took three plumbers and $330 to find it.

We started to pull the toilet and I reminded him that the last time we worked on it that we should have installed a water shut off valve, but being lazy we hadn’t, so downstairs to the basement I went and shut off the main feed to the house. We pulled the toilet….well he did..I supervised as I felt that we probably needed to maintain some sort of OSHA safety regulation and there it was….the pipe. We tried to snake it with one of those hand held jobbers but no luck. He then suggested putting a garden hose down it and shooting it with water. Great idea as I hauled hose after frozen hose into the house and unhooked the washing machine. I hooked the garden hose up and turned the water on. Another frozen hose? No water coming out the end…Hey, little are we going to get water out of the faucet when it’s shut off at the main?

So off to grab a borrowed electric plumbers snake. This behemoth was drug into the house and slowly we started snaking the line. About ten feet in the cable inside the machine was so badly kinked that it wouldn’t come out any further. Now at this point the general frustration started to get to me. I can live without a shower, but a toilet is kind of important and Casey’s closes at eleven at night! He started to jerk and jerk the cable out of the pipe and brought it out..cable looked clean. Nothing to do at this point but call in a pro I guess, and we reseated the toilet and I loaded up the kids to take a trip to the farm for a bathroom run and to put clothes in the dryer.

I wandered around the house for an hour or two and decided I should clean up the bathroom and I remembered that we had left the garden hose in the tub which had the stopper pulled and had water sitting in it. I flipped the stopper down and whoosh! It was like someone had opened up the storm drains as the water rushed out. I took a shower this morning…long and hot! I’m not sure what we did that caused it to work, but for now I’ve got a clean family and we don’t have to sneak into Casey’s a couple of times a day just to use the bathroom.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.