I am a 60-plus-year-old kid that still works as an IT consultant. I hope to write a humorous, slightly apocryphal column with some real life insights.
This is a true story and the actual names are removed to protect the guilty (although you can guess who was an active participant). Of course, this emergency happened right before a family celebratory event. I noticed our kitchen sink was backing up (okay I was one of the participants). Could it be because I was peeling potatoes along with onions and I shoved the remains down the sink drain hole? The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is really appropriate here.
So I was grinding and grinding the garbage disposal and the waste slowly went down the drain hole. But when I stopped, the waste came back up the hole even faster. I used the trusty plunger and tried the manual method (yes, I bleached the plunger before I used it, sort of). While I was using the plunger, the water came out of the dishwasher or drain air gap. Hmm, then I got smart and covered the drain air gap with plastic. Great idea! But the only problem was, after I stopped plunging, the water shot out of the sink drain hole stronger than ever. I really miss my favorite shirt that had the garbage gunk on it.
I got a great idea. Why don’t I rent one of those electric drain snake cleaners? I have used the manual version with some success and it is always exciting to see what is on the end of those wire snakes. So I went down into the basement and checked where the openings are to run the electric drain snake, so I can see the gunk come out. The key area was from my kitchen sink to the first opening in the basement. Piece of cake! Using my size 10 shoes, I walked off a horizontal measurement. And then using my trusty eyes, I figured about three vertical feet from the kitchen drain hole to the horizontal pipe. I added those two figures together and I was all set!
I went to the rental store and saw two electric drain snakes for rent. One had 25 feet of wire snake and the other had 50 feet of wire snake. So I rented the 25 footer and I was just fine knowing that I only had to use about 23 feet of it. Got home, removed the U-shaped trap beneath the kitchen sink, cleaned up the gushing water after the trap removal, and I then proceeded to insert the electric drain snake wire in the sweet smelling drain hole.
Well, I ran and re-ran the wire into the hole, put the U shaped trap back in place, ran the water and? The water shot up the sink even faster than ever. WHAT??? This time I found a tape measure, measured from the sink to horizontal pipe, and measured the horizontal pipe to the spot where the gunk (and wire) should come out. Hmmm, looks like my “measurement by feel/feet” failed me again. I needed 28 feet of wire, so I quickly looked at the yellow pages and hired a same day plumber. The moral of this story is “Plumbers know their wire snakes and I do not”.