BMEWS
 
Death once had a near-Sarah Palin experience.

calendar   Saturday - May 30, 2009

Not For Me

If any of my readers are plumbers, bless ‘em. This is not a career path I want to take.

Oh sure, I can solder. I can sweat pipe; it’s kind of fun. For the regular sized copper water pipes, you slap on a big blob of flux, push the coupler onto the end of the pipe, and hit the joint with a torch. When you hear the flux start to sizzle, you put the solder up against the join, and it goes right in. Let things cool for a minute, then clean up and cool down the joint with a damp rag. That’s the fun part.

Doing PVC pipe is a blast too. The glue and primer is rather stinky, but the pipes are easy to work with. And I’ve installed a couple of sinks, toilets, valves, faucets, etc, so I can handle that stuff. These are the clean jobs a plumber has to do, and they’re OK. Honest labor with a fair amount of know-how, and some regular problem solving to keep your mind alive. Neat. Cool. Fun.

Shit is the un-fun part. The dark side of the job. I got a call yesterday from the doctor’s office I clean on the weekends ... “Can you pick up a gallon of drain opener? This lab sink is really backed up.” Remember the other month when I had that “find the smell” job in the middle of the night? Same office. Same smell. It’s the lab sink. A 4” drain under a 50 gallon iron basin, God only knows what gets put in there, and I don’t think they’ve ever had a plumber in to clean it. Ever.

So I got down there, and pried the strainer off the sink drain. Solid black goo. Solid. And stank. Beyond belief! Knock your socks off, eye watering, nose hair toasting hell. Eff this, I’m getting a pipe snake. So I went down the street to the Home Depot ... and they had a $9 snake you could use by hand, a $25 snake that hooks up to your drill, a $150 gizmo that has it’s own drill motor attached, a $175 contraption that looked like a bigger version of the self-powered $150 gizmo, and a $425 unit for guys who want to be Mr. Roto-Rooter™. I picked up the $25 drill snake and got to work.

Dis-fucking-gusting. Horry Clap. No, not the mess in the drain. That was bad enough, and it took me 90 minutes to clean the line. The disgusting part was using the tool. You have to feed the snake in by hand, and move it back and forth by hand. And you need another hand to hold the cover/clutch unit still. And another hand to work the drill trigger to spin the snake. And the spinning snake tears up the fingers of the rubber gloves you’re wearing. And when the clog is dense, it takes 2 hands to move the snake around. So that’s about 4 hands, maybe 5, and I only have 2. And when you’re spinning the snake in the drain, and you back it off a bit so you can get a nice reaming action going, a couple feet of the shit covered snake comes out of your end of the drain. While the snake is spinning around. So, naturally, centripetal acceleration takes place ... and shit goes flying. Everywhere.

But to be fair, this wasn’t real shit. No, that would have been an improvement. This was the black lagoon fetid putrescent evil proto-lifeform sticky tarry uber-stank glop from hell kind of shit that only forms inside pipes that have had commercial chemicals and leftover sandwiches flushed down them for 30 years.

“Always wear gloves while using the Wonder-Spin drill snake” it says in the one paragraph of instructions. Yeah, wear gloves. Underneath your full body Haz-Mat suit, face shield, and gas mask. And now figure out a way to flush some of that ooze off of the snake before you feed it back into the casing, because you don’t want that stanky, ooze dripping tool going in your car trunk. Or even back into your garage. Hell, you don’t even want to touch it.

At the end, I got the drain clean. And I packed up the tool and threw it away. The snake was nearly broken, severely kinked in several places, and gross beyond imagination. The snake itself is a 1/4” diameter coil spring about 25’ long. And every single coil was hairy with the foulness and the entire thing was dripping. I bet there was a gallon of watery ick inside the spring coils. There’s really no way to clean it on the job site. You can’t run it under the faucet, because you’ve got the P-trap open. Besides, the snake is steel, which will scratch the sink enamel.

The better tool would be the $175 self contained power snake, which has an excellent reputation. [ and every review is the same: “First I tried a drill snake, and it sucked. I should have bought this the first time.” ] But I’d re-engineer that tool a bit, so that it had 2 garden hose couplings on the case, so that I could hook up a hose and clean most of the yuk off. Then maybe fill the case with motor oil or something to prevent rust. I dunno. But I gather this one is the proper tool to have if you have to do this awful task more than once in your lifetime.

But I got the drain clean, and I’ll charge them enough to cover my labor and expenses, and it still will come out to a lot less than calling in the professional drain guys. And I will cross off Plumber from my list of Careers I Might Want To Do.

Gross.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/30/2009 at 01:42 PM   
Filed Under: • work and the workplace •  
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