Thursday, October 6, 2011

Running water

Yup, those are our drains and
the mighty fine drain cleaner.
So the big news today involves plumbing. I know I talk about it alot, but hey, when it doesn't work it's more than a little annoying. You have read about the haunted bathroom and it's little quirks. You'll be happy to know that (and this is a little scary) everything works the way it's supposed to in that room.

Of course once the bathroom started working the kitchen developed an issue of it's own. The drain there started to run slower and slower. And then one day we found that draining one sink filled the other, unless it was done super slowly. And forget about laundry. That filled both sinks with some pretty nasty stuff. Yeah, eventually it would drain out, but it took longer than I really wanted it to.

The day before Leif's dad was coming to stay with us the drains in the kitchen gave up working at all. It took a half hour for the water to drain out after washing dishes. Running any water into the sink resulted in standing water. It wasn't completely clogged, because if you waited long enough it would drain. But I have better things to do with my time than watch water drain. Really, I do.

Leif had gone to the store where they sell "everything household-like" and talked to the guy behind the counter, who recommended a drain cleaner. He brought it home and we tried to read the directions. First, the letters are so small no one old enough to use the stuff can read it, and second, directions in Italian always seem to lack real direction. We managed to figure most of it out.

1. Be careful when pouring into water. Darn right, be careful. It makes a sound like acid eating through steel and this hideous smelling smoke comes out of the drain. Of course I worried that it was eating through the plastic pipes, but Leif said he told the guy that our pipes were plastic and he still recommended it. Little comfort when the drains are making crackling and snapping sounds and smell like they're burning.
2. Leave in drain for at least 30 minutes. No indication of how long might be "too long." Remember, the drain is belching out foul smelling smoke for most of this time. Every time we used it I hovered near the door so I could dash in and start running water if I sensed that the pipes were in danger of being eaten away. The rinsing directions are just as vague. Rinse with water. How long? Hot or cold? I need way more information than this.
3. Keep away from anything that isn't a drain or stainless steel. We set the bottle on the floor one night and when I came back in the morning the tiny little drips that had run down the side of the bottle had eaten the surface of the rock flooring. Yikes. Now I carefully wipe any drips off immediately, extremely aware that the thin layer of paper towel is probably not enough to stop my fingers from being dissolved if I'm not careful. But that's better than coming in one morning to find a round hole in the floor and the bottle in the neighbor's kitchen.
4. Don't drink, get in your eyes or get on  your skin. Duh.

It also didn't tell us how many times it's safe to use it before it actually does start dissolving the pipes. Which would have been really useful information to have. We used it probably six times in the weeks before his dad was scheduled to come hoping that we would have the problem licked before he arrived. As I said earlier the drains pretty much stopped working the day before he came. So I put on my big girl panties and poured way more cleaner in than I thought was advisable, I left it in for much longer than I ever had before and I left the apartment so I wouldn't be tempted to rush in too early and rinse it away.

I finally went back into the kitchen and started the water running. The water seemed to be running out the drain perfectly fine. So of course I yanked open the cupboard doors below the sink expecting to see gallons of water pouring out of pipes that looked like swiss cheese. But it was dry. I looked at the sinks again. Yup, everything was working now. The bathtub was making satisfying glugg-glugg sounds (don't ask or judge, just know that all the plumbing comes together in one glorious mess somewhere under the bathroom floor and that sound means all is well) and I finally relaxed.

But not too far. I know better. I'm sure that there are new plumbing horrors yet to come. But until it happens (probably when we start up the radiators) I'm going to enjoy the relative peace we have.

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