Friday, February 19, 2021

Don't Read This While Eating


Well, our plumbing is fully functional again, thank goodness. But the day was not without its drama.

The plumber showed up yesterday morning, having scheduled an appointment to "jet" the drains. But to my surprise, he came without a jet. Instead, he had the same plunging rod that the other plumber brought on Tuesday. I was mystified about why someone would arrive with the exact same tool that failed to do the job two days earlier, but I let him out into the garden to attempt to clear the blockage. He pulled up the manhole covers and got to plunging, and plunged so vigorously that we got foul splashback (for lack of a better word) in our bathtub and flying out of our toilet.

You can imagine how happy I was about that.

After about an hour he left, unsuccessful. I contacted our property management company with pictures of the now-filthy bathrooms and they said someone would come Friday to finish the job. Dave and I both politely but firmly insisted that was unacceptable -- that we'd been without a functioning shower since Sunday, that this plumber for some reason showed up with the wrong equipment, and that they had to find someone to take care of the problem immediately. To our surprise, they did. A new crew arrived in early afternoon, this time with a van to jet the drains.


As you can see, it was quite a sophisticated operation. They used not only a jet -- basically a forced-water nozzle on a long hose -- but also a camera, to check the integrity of the pipes. You can't really tell in the photo above, but there's an image of the inside of our sewer lines on the screen of what I privately dubbed the "shit computer."

Anyway, they discovered that our drainage system is "weird," to use their word. The plunging didn't work because some of our pipes run backwards, toward the garden rather than the street, before making a U-turn toward the sewer. The plumbers were plunging in the wrong direction.

Finally everything was opened up and cleaned out, and the verdict is that fat was blocking the drain. Apparently this is a common thing. Who knows where it came from. The clogged area serves our bathrooms but also the kitchen and laundry room upstairs, so of course I suspect the neighbors. I sent them a note explaining what happened and transmitting a reminder from the plumbers not to put cooking fat down the sink.

I spent the afternoon scrubbing and sanitizing both bathrooms and then Dave and I both had showers. Even the dog got a bath. Ah, to be clean again!

In other news, Dave was invited to get his Covid-19 vaccination. Woo hoo! He's scheduled to go in this afternoon. Still no word on mine, but his is more important, given his Crohn's disease.

Finally, I optimistically bought a ticket to fly to Tampa in July. I'm assuming I'll be fully vaccinated by then, so I should be able to visit my family at long last. It was surprisingly cheap -- about £750 -- and I still have about £400 left on a voucher to use with British Airways on another future flight.

(Top photo: A street in Hendon, on Monday.)

61 comments:

  1. Thanks for the warning. I was about to get my breakfast but decided to wait. So glad it's resolved. Too bad you had to put up a stink (yes, I said that) to get things done correctly. Great news re the vaccine! AND your plane ticket!

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    1. Hopefully this didn't kill your appetite entirely!

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  2. We have only had two blockages here and opened the man hole to see what was going on. Not a pleasant sight, so I can imagine the filth you had to clear up in your bathroom and toilet. Glad you have it done now,
    Briony
    x

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  3. Those fellows could be the stars of a documentary style reality show in which the viewer follows them all over London - investigating drainage problems and solving them with the aid of their shit computer. "Today Joe and Max are in West Hampstead where they are looking into drainage from a luxury garden flat. The flat is occupied by two American fellows and a slavering hound that barks like an elephant seal on heat. One of the American fellows gets in the way all the time taking photos for some reason or other. Joe tells him to f--- off and they soon discover that the drain is blocked with a large rubber kong and several old tennis balls. The American fellow with the camera says 'Gee! I'm sorry guys!' ".

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    1. LOL -- I did ASK them before I took a photo, and I only took one. I wouldn't be surprised if there were tennis balls in the toilet as they're certainly all over the rest of the house.

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  4. Plumbing problems are the worst! I hope you're all fixed up now and have no more problems.

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    1. I think we are back to normal, thank goodness!

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  5. Well if the piping is 'weird' your property manager has certainly has had to deal with this before. The threats to make you pay were empty ones. Here, they would also have to pay to clean the bathrooms, sewage being hazardous waste. If the job was big you would have been put up in a hotel while the job was completed. What are the laws there?

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    1. We don't have any laws in England. We just do what we want.

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    2. Here I was thinking you all were civilized...

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    3. It occurred to me that I could probably insist they send in cleaners to take care of the bathrooms, but I didn't want to fight another battle and delay our return to normalcy any longer. It was easier to just do it myself. I'm not a delicate flower.

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  6. I'm happy to read that your plumbing issues are finally resolved, what a pain that must have been. I'm also happy you'll be visiting your family in July. July is hot in Florida, but you already know that.

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    1. Yeah, having grown up there, I am not fazed by the heat.

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  7. A colonoscopy/enema for the pipes. What a shitty mess. Glad it's all fixed now, although not half as glad as you are I'm sure.

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  8. I know the feeling! My husband and I made reservations for a trip to New Orleans at the end of September and it feels amazing, like the return to real life is that much more *real*. Isn't it awesome to have travel to look forward to? To getting OUT and seeing THE WORLD?

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    1. Yes, it makes a HUGE difference to just have that on the horizon. Even if it doesn't happen and I have to reschedule, it's uplifting to have the possibility.

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  9. Good to hear the plumbing issues are resolved and that Dave has a jab appt. Hope you get one soon, too. Imagine you are chomping at the bit to visit family in Florida (or anywhere else beside the Heath).

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    1. Exactly! I'd settle for getting out of London! But my family is the top priority.

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  10. Whew - glad that's over! And also glad that we don't really cook with fat in our house so we don't have to remember to not put it down the drain.

    I'm glad Dave is getting his vaccination!

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    1. Apparently it doesn't have to be much -- even the oil that gets rinsed out of pots or off dishes can congeal over time. I don't see how we can avoid putting SOME of that down the drain.

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  11. Now that is some high tech plumbing. Holy Crap!
    SO glad all is resolved and good for you for not letting the management company get away with delaying resolution of your problem. The pictures most likely did it.
    So glad that Dave gets his shot. I sure hope you get yours soon too and perhaps I will even see you this summer?
    I hope so.

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    1. I would love to make a side trip to Lloyd! And hopefully by then we can go thrift shopping too!

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  12. Wow, nothing like a bathroom that isn't working to crap on your day! You must be so glad that's fixed, and now you know about the weird pipes if it ever happens again. Little by little we are all getting vaccinated. My husband and I get ours tomorrow. Onward.

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    1. Yeah, I think if we'd known about the pipes, the first plumber probably could have solved the problem with the plunger.

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  13. Isn't it great when you can shower after days without. Clogged plumbing can be such a shitty experience. I'm glad this crap is over!
    Such good news about Dave's scheduled vaccination. Yay! And wonderful that you are planning for a July trip to Florida. Yay! Roger's second vaccination was cancelled because of the weather's impact on vaccine deliveries. We wait for news.

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    1. That shower was the BEST feeling! I hope Roger's second vaccine comes through soon. I read that the weather had screwed up vax deliveries.

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  14. Glad everything is - um - flowing smoothly now.
    I was, in fact, eating as I read this, but it was starkly white cottage cheese, so no prob.

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  15. Plumbing problems are just nasty. Good that it is repaired.

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    1. I don't know how those guys do that job, but I'm glad they do.

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  16. Flight To The States, Right ON!!! Something To Look Forward To

    Cheers

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    1. Exactly! It makes a big difference to have that trip on the horizon.

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  17. last night on the "news" there was a feature on the trades vs. university. Plumbers are number one. Starting pay is 20 bucks an hour and you know that it goes up to a six digit yearly income quickly. As they say, it is a shitty job, but the trade is needed. Considered Essential for good reason.
    Fingers crossed that that does not happen again, as well as for your trip in the summer.

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    1. We definitely need tradespeople, don't we? A plumber seems far more valuable to society than another English or Philosophy major. (I say that as a Liberal Arts major myself...)

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  18. I just got another email from British Airways asking me if I want to buy a ticket this morning. Not yet but fingers crossed it will be soon. A friend called me last night and wanted to know if I'd be interested in a weekend trip to Tucson about two weeks after I get my second vaccine. I said yes. I figure that will be a nice test run for a longer trip. Lord knows, I'm itching to go somewhere.
    I'm glad you got the drain problem resolved but sorry it was such an ordeal.

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  19. Glad you got that fixed. Amazing where tiny cameras can go these days!
    Your Mom will be happy to see you!

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    1. I was impressed not only by the camera but by how clean the sewer lines looked. Much better than I feared!

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  20. I am happy your plumbing is fixed. Here's hoping the neighbors will stop putting grease down the sink. It pretty much sucks for your plumbing fates to be in the hands of others.

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    1. Yeah, the downside of communal living, for sure. Of course they probably think we're at fault!

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  21. I don't know what to say. So I won't.

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    1. Ha! Sometimes silence is an adequate response. :)

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  22. So glad your plumbing problems are fixed. Here's hoping you can take that trip in July. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

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    1. I have a good feeling about traveling in July. I think it's going to happen.

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  23. Whoever put the plumbing in must have been coming off a bender. So glad it's fixed! What we take for granted can seem like luxuries when we've been without. :)

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    1. Part of our flat is a later addition, and I have a feeling the weird plumbing stems from that.

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  24. Again, sewage from the toilet? I'd move.
    Still, glad you got jetted after being plunged.
    That's always for the best!

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    1. It was pretty awful, but then, moving is awful too!

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  25. In the news today, there was a similar problem in East London - Yabsley Street, Canary Wharf. The FATmountain the size of a small bungalow! Only took them two weeks to jet, drill and scrape by hand their way through it. Apparently, if it had gotten any worse, householders might have been blessed with a similar scenario to yours in the bathroom.

    Glad to hear that you have enough trust in the future to buy your ticket to Tampa now. Good luck to both you and your mother! As is, passing a newspaper stand earlier, the headline's gist that all over fourties will be invited to be vaxxed by end of March.

    U

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    1. I SAW THAT STORY! It's crazy what's down there under the city. You know all these chippies and chicken shops are probably dumping fryer oil down the drain.

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  26. Replies
    1. He was pretty cute, between you and me. (And everyone else reading this.)

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  27. glad to hear you got your pipes cleaned out. the plumber here says it's not fat but soap that clogs the drain (and fat since fat is used to make soap. since I've been doing the baking soda vinegar boiling water treatment every week or two our sink is draining well. and yeah nasty backsplash from the sewer. ewwww. and yay Dave gets his first shot. because of the weather, our second shot was postponed again but this time with no future date. supposed to get it 4 weeks after the first and it's now been 5 weeks.

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    1. I wondered about soap -- I know fat is an ingredient, but then you'd think the other ingredients in the soap would break that fat down, wouldn't you? I don't know the chemistry behind it all. Hope that shot comes soon! As I understand it, waiting longer for the second shot isn't believed to reduce its effectiveness. (Here we're being told to wait as long as 12 weeks for the second jab so they can get more people done with the first.)

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    2. Saponification is the word. I knew the formula long ago but don't remember it now. Anyway, I'm showing off with my big word. What we're really talking about is soap scum. Calcium and magnesium in the water combine with the soap to form the scum that attracts mold and mildew and clogs drains.

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  28. Glad that is done and I hope Dave does okay with his vaccine.

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    1. He did fine, fortunately! Have you had yours, E?

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  29. Glad that was successful,reminds me that I need to find where our services are.
    I am about to install gates and fences and don't want to impale anything!
    Hope Dave's Crohn's behaves..we have two friends here with this, one is managing well with quarterly injections and being sensible about diet and stress

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