Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Further adventures in plumbing

You really don't know how much you take something for granted until you lose it as I lost the toilet nearly a week ago. The ordeal is over. I have flush. It did not, however, happen easily or quickly.

After using the usual equipment, the team of plumbers finally decided to bring in the big guns, a pressure hose that blows clogs out with a combination of air and water pressure, and it worked. I don't know where the problem came out, just that it came out and the loud chugging and groaning and sound of mechanical muscle ended abruptly. All this happened after the plumbers once again pulled up my toilet and tried their massive snakes through the hole in the floor to no avail.

One of the younger plumbers came into my office and told me they found the problem and sketched in the details. There were roots growing in the line, but I at last had a working toilet. I went to see this marvelous miracle and tried the handle for myself while the grinning crew of grimy plumbers watched. I pushed the handle down and the water went bawhoosh and out with its usual dispatch, leaving the toilet bowl clean and free of debris. I had flush and life is good again.

They asked if I wanted to see what was stuck in the line and it turned out to be a rather large root ball, about 16-18 inches long. What compounded the problem is that the only way to get at it was -- I told them so -- through the vent on the roof. The line from the toilet, a solitary line not hooked into the rest of the plumbing, leaves the house under the deck and converges with the main line from the house about 20-30 feet beyond the house under the parking lot. To get to the line the plumbers would have needed a backhoe to dig down and excavate it. To fix the big hole would take a paver to lay more asphalt over the gaping wound once it was covered up again after the new plumbing was installed. Right now, there is still a gaping hole and several evergreen hedges drying out as they lie on their sides with their delicate and tenacious roots bare to the elements lying amidst piles of dirt and paving stones and bricks.

I don't know what the landlord has planned, but the lines should be cleared out about every 1-2 years because roots will get in the lines and will grow and create another clog. A new clean-out for the toilet line should be installed, but I have no idea what's going to happen at this point. I can only hope for the best, but I am much more optimistic than I was over the weekend since some normality has been restored inside the cottage.

One good thing about having the hedges torn out is that when the planter is refilled, I can plant rose bushes and flowers and maybe even some vegetables, herbs and tubers. I have options. Somehow the idea of the rain-washed and sun warmed scent of flowers and herbs and the prospect of fresh vegetables and provender makes me feel excited and anxious for spring. So many possibilities lay ahead.

In the meantime, I need to go enjoy the bawhoosh that comes with a fully functional toilet, a sound I doubt I will take for granted any time soon.

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