So it all started Saturday when my wife started to make a tuna fish sandwich that we could split for lunch. Opening the can revealed a slurry of tuna paste and oil, not very appetizing. It went down the disposal and the sliced ham came out of the fridge.
Not to be deterred from our omega-3 fatty acids, she made a great swordfish meal with squash and white rice. A spritz of lemon, a slice of dark bread, a glass of Chardonnay, and we had a lovely dinner.
I took on cleanup duty, saving the swordfish pan with its nasty swordfish skin for last. Finally I stuffed everything into the disposal and topped it off with the leftover lemon rind to sweeten the deal. Whirr gargle gargle, whirr gargle gargle, where is that ending whirrrrrrrrr that indicates an empty disposal? Oh, oh. Shut off the disposal and the nasty stuff comes right back into the sink.
I’ve been through this before. Old house, old plumbing, never designed to have a disposal. Those lemon rinds were probably the “stopper” that did the trick. Out with the plunger add hot water and try to set up enough pressure waves to push things along. Hmmm, a lot of water went down the drain, but the blockage is still there. Where did that water go? Oh, oh, open the door and yep, sure enough, the nasty water went into the dishwasher.
This is a new trick. Usually the blockage is between the sink and the dishwasher. This time my attempts to get things going just filled up the dishwasher. I’m not going to panic. I can play the waiting game. I’ll just let this sit overnight. The water should slowly drain out through the blockage leaving the pipe dry.
Sure enough, the next morning the sink was empty. The dishwasher was still full of water, but I expected that. The smell in the kitchen was unpleasant to say the least. I ignore the suggestions about calling the Roto-Rooter man.
In my mind’s eye I can visualize the dry pipe leading from the sink to the blockage. This is my big chance! Now is the time to mount a chemical attack! If I pour in a pile of Drano and water, it’ll go straight to the blockage and work its magic. You can’t fool an old pro like me. This is not my first plugged up drain.
Tablespoon? What are they talking about, a tablespoon. We’ll just start out with about three times that and follow it with a few quarts of water to deliver it to the blockage.
Here we go, pour in a healthy pile of crystals, turn on the water. Hmm, I love that fizzy sound. A little more water, and then we wait.
What’s that water on the floor? It’s in front of the dishwasher! What’s happening! Oooops, the dishwasher’s overflowing. Throw down some paper towels. Ok, ok, we got it all. Now just relax for a while, let the Drano do it’s thing.
Ah! I’ve got another brilliant idea. I go down to the shop and grab my little water pump that I use if I get water in the basement. Just the thing. With my wife’s help I pump the water in the dishwasher into the downstairs toilet, and voila, problem solved.
Now here’s another valuable trick. Pay attention, boys and girls, you’ll be amazed. I fill the teapot to the brim and boil up a gallon of water. Pour the whole steaming pot down the drain at once, and the blockage and the grease build up in the pipe will be washed away. Here we go! Away goes trouble, down the drain. Blub, blub, blub. Sweet.
What’s that water sound? It’s pouring out of somewhere. Check under the sink, nope. Check in the dishwasher, nope. Sounds like it’s under the dishwasher. Sounds like it’s in the wall.
If water is pouring out under the dishwasher, where’s it gonna go? Oh, no! Run down cellar.
So that’s how it happened that I got a gallon of hot, Tuna-Swordfish-Drano water poured over my lathe and wood clamps.
-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."