I am a fairly independent woman. I can check the oil, change a tire, mow the lawn, and open most pickle jars. When it comes to plumbing, my skills are limited.
Several weeks ago I may or may not have put too many asparagus spears down the garbage disposal. Somehow, right after I did or did not flip the switch, the drain stopped up on the garbage disposal side. The other side drained perfectly fine. So, I waited for Hubs to get home from work to tell him that something had stopped up the disposal and that the something could possibly be asparagus.
He asked me for a bucket from the garage and I watched as he removed the PVC pipe to release a gush of water and mushy Spring vegetables.
Fast forward to a few days ago when I may or may not have been cleaning out the refrigerator and decided to rinse out a leftover rice dish.
I flipped the switch and the water just whirled and swirled but refused to go down the drain. Hubs was not only at work, but also out of town, so I was on my own.
Independent Melanie remembered the repair demo she had received a few weeks early. So she grabbed the red bucket from the garage, removed the PVC elbow under the sink and watched as nothing happened. Only a few grains of rice fell.
I used a makeshift snake (an old wire hanger from the cleaners) to try and dislodge the rest of the rice.
Glug. Glug. Glug.
The clog was further up the pipe and I needed to remove another section. It was really, really tight.
The thing is that Strong Melanie is not as skilled as Independent Melanie, so I couldn't loosen the other portion of the PVC pipe to get to the clog.
So I painfully called the plumber.
"Tony" showed up, right on time, donning his red surgical booties and wiping his shoes on a red doormat with the cartoon of a happy plumber on it.
He looked under the sink, offered me a quote, and I signed my life away as he removed the clog that I may or may not have caused, and I watched as gush of smelly water and rice plopped into the red bucket.
After all was said and done, Tony asked if I would like a complimentary plumbing inspection to check for any problems or leaks. I agreed because I had just spent over $100 on a drain so I'd better get something else out of this deal.
He walked around the house and I followed with that sinking feeling "Oh, I hope my pipes live up to standards."
Tony called me into the laundry room.
"M'am, do you turn off your valves when you aren't using your washer??"
He let out a sigh and clicked his pen.
"It is recommended by the manufacturer to turn off your valves when not using the washer. This is the leading cause of floods in home and these hoses are not as strong as the steel ones."
Another click of the pen.
"Ok," I said sheepishly.
"And do you see these?" he pointed to connections on the hot water heater," They are slightly corroded and you should keep an eye on them."
With another click of his pen he made notes and I squirmed, wondering what he was writing. I suddenly felt like I was in high school trying to pass my driver's test.
He moved on to the bathroom where I heard water running, a flush, and more water running.
Tony walked back into the living room in his little red booties and said,"How often do you use that jet tub?"
"Once a month."
Sigh, click, sigh.
And then he proceeded to tell me about how all the water sits in the pipes and that if the tub isn't used bacteria can grow and grow and I should either use it more often or fill it with water and bleach and run the jets periodically to clean it out.
Corroding valves?! Flimsy hoses?! And now I may have a gazillion bacteria growing in my bathtub! This doesn't do much for a girl's plumbing self-esteem.
I wished I had just gone to get the oil changed in the car because a lecture from the mechanic is far better than the systematic inspection from a plumber in little red booties.
However, I clung to hope because my drains and toilets passed beautifully.
At the end of the service call, I learned to buy new washing machine hoses, look for leaks on a water heater, and run ice cubes down the garbage disposal to sharpen the blades.
I also learned that I need to strengthen my hands so I can remove PVC pipe in order to prevent future plumbing lectures and huge repair bills. I guess I'll practice opening pickle jars.
Oh, and I am soooo getting some little red booties.
Seinfeld fans, enjoy this clip.