I Heard the Springs of Hell on Christmas Day

Taking a cue from another local blogger who is recycling some of her material (I don't have clearance to link, in case you're wondering), and in response to something that recently arose on Facebook (an exchange between two sisters, one of which happens to be my spousal unit), it seems appropriate - essential, even - to revisit an event that occurred during the Christmas of 2006.

OK, so where were we? Let's see...peace, joy, presents, blah, blah, blah...oh yeah, plumbing.

We have to backtrack to early Christmas afternoon, when some potato peels were fed to the garbage disposer in my father-in-law's kitchen sink. I'm not saying who did it, or what volume was sent down the drain; that's not important and won't be, until we bring it up again at a future family gathering.

Anyway, we all know that while garbage disposers are marketed as being able to, you know, dispose of garbage, their actual function is to keep the federal government's Full Employment Act for Plumbers in effect, and the insertion of anything more substantial than melted ice and not more than eight sesame seeds at one time is a really bad idea.

So, the end result was a clogged kitchen drain. No big deal; happens all the time, especially during holidays, when professional help is unavailable, and the liquor stores are closed, too. We went ahead and ate Christmas dinner (consisting of the traditional brisket, pinto beans, mashed potatoes [peels off, unfortunately], and crescent rolls, the latter suffering greatly at the hands of the Nephew, who eats them by the dozen) and then waited until the Dallas Cowboys were looking especially ugly during another nationally televised embarrassment to explore the possibility that the clog was just under the sink. Which, of course, it wasn't. It never is, but you still have to disconnect all the pipes and get doused with yucky water in order to confirm what you knew all along.

We sent a poor man's plumbing snake (a metal tape measure) down the pipe that ran through the kitchen wall, hoping the clog was nearby. Which, of course, it wasn't. So we quickly reached the end of the very short checklist of Things I Know How To Do When It Comes To Plumbing, except for the last item, which doesn't do you any good on Christmas Day in Fort Stockton, because it's "Call a plumber," and good luck with that. Heck, even Wal-Mart was closed so we couldn't buy and apply the requisite ten gallons of Drano (The Extra Useless Version). We were somewhat optimistic that we'd make progress because we were able to send a pretty good load of water down the drain before it backed up again, so chances were that the clog was becoming more porous. Perhaps it would miraculously dissolve. It was, after all, Christmas. Did I mention that already?

So we did the next best thing which was to rejoin the Cowboy fiasco still in progress, biding our time until something more entertaining came on TV. We were just settling into a state of Christmas miasma...no, wait...that's not the right word. Myopia? Misanthropy? Something starting with an "m." Anyway, we were pleasantly zoning out when it happened. Without warning, great gouts of evil black water began spouting up from the double sink in the kitchen, as if we'd tapped the very springs of hell.

Much running around and yelling and waving of arms ensued, by parties varied and sundry, including the dogs, who, while limited by a lack of arms, more than compensated with what passed for yelling. It was a malevolent mystery (more "m" words, except those are right, I think): where could the water be coming from? The dishwasher wasn't running; even we were smart enough to know better than that.

Then I heard that familiar ka-chunk...ka-chunk. I ran into the garage, opened the laundry room door, and -- sure enough -- the clothes washer was busily pumping black water back into the kitchen sink, where it was attempting to re-create an Everglades Christmas. I slammed my palm against the knob to turn the washing machine off, and ran back inside to survey the damage. The kitchen carpet was completely saturated, all the way into the dining room. We rushed out to the workshop and grabbed the big honkin' Sears wet/dry shop vac and I started squeegeeing the water from the floor. Fortunately, the carpet is thin and not laid over a pad, so the vacuum was pretty effective in getting the excess water up; after all, those Craftsman shop vacs will suck the skin off an anvil. After the emergency vacuuming, we set out a box fan and let the dry west Texas air do its thing.

Nobody fessed up to starting the washing machine, and I can't argue with that, since there weren't any clothes in it. All we can figure is that all that water we thought we were putting down the drain and which was moving through the "porous clog" was, in fact, backing up into the washing machine, which at some point, for reasons and by abilities still unperceived, decided that it was time to drain, sending the water back whence it came. If anyone has a better explanation, we'll be happy to entertain it.

It made for quite an exciting Christmas evening, which we capped off by watching the first few episodes from the first season of Northern Exposure. So, things could have been worse.

Well, they actually did get that way, but that's another story for another time.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on January 9, 2011 10:10 PM.

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