DIY: Plumbing emergency

September 21, 2010

I don’t know if anybody else has been reading The Do-Tique since Filia Artis, friend of this blog (and friend in real life too) started it up. It has been very interesting so far. Her stories about Do It Yourself (DIY) home improvements have inspired me to write about something that happened here a few days ago.

It happened this way: My lovely wife, overtaken by one of her periodic cleaning frenzies, had washed the kitchen floor with a bucket and rag, and went to empty the dirty water into the toilet. When she did so, the toilet automatically flushed and — oops — the rag fell into the bowl and was flushed too.

Out of sight, then, but not out of mind. We realized that a rag bunched up in a sewage pipe was probably not a good thing. It might very well come back to bite us, ever so gently, on the behind. We thought of calling a plumber, but, after a moment’s reflection, decided that this was an excellent DIY project. Plumbers are expensive, after all.   If we could snag the rag and pull it out or, failing that, push it further along (for this toilet was in the basement, quite close to the pipe that exits the house), we could probably manage to get rid of it. So we set to work.

The first thing we tried was a coat hanger. It did not work, mostly because the pipe that exits a toilet has a convoluted shape, and the coat hanger could not maneuver with enough agility. It was then that my ever resourceful wife, who was an engineer before she was a physician, had an idea. “We need a closet auger,” she said. A what? Before I knew it she had the car keys and her jacket and she was out the door, leaving me, alone, staring, with a certain poignancy, at the toilet bowl.

While I waited, I reflected on the peculiar name of this mysterious tool: closet auger. I thought that perhaps it was derived from ‘water closet auger’, which is what Her Majesty would be inclined to call a toilet-pipe-clearing instrument. In any case, our water closet auguries, I knew, were most inauspicious at that moment, and I hoped that the water closet auger would turn our fortunes.

My lovely wife returned. A closet auger, it turns out, is exactly wht it sounds like: a tool used by plumbers to clear toilet pipes of debris. It is a kind of wire snake with a crank on one end, like so:

We stuck that thing into the pipe and started cranking. It was unclear exactly how we would manage to snag and retrieve the rag, so we resolved to try pushing it out. And we did. Or, at least, we satisfied ourselves that the section of pipe on the near side of the big city pipe was clear. Case closed.

Following the format that Filia Artis uses at The Do-Tique, I conclude thus:

DIY rating: 10

Forget about paying for a plumber.
Get your wife to buy a closet auger,
and then have a glass of whiskey.

8 Responses to “DIY: Plumbing emergency”

  1. Janet Cupo Says:

    In these parts that is called a snake. My poor husband has become very adept at their use, except apparently the ones in the US don’t work unless you accompany the turning with some impolite words. Fortunately, he hasn’t had to use it so often now that we don’t have three daughters washing their long hair–or, at least–washing it elsewhere.


  2. Anonymous Says:

    You should give your wife a glass of whiskey too, for her resourcefulness.

  3. KathyB Says:

    that last one was me 🙂

  4. […] DIY: Plumbing emergency – All Manner of Thing – […]

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