2010-12-13: Snake

There’s a snake in my drain.  One of the joys of owning an 82-year-old home is a daily plumbing repair.  Often these are simple fixes and not too problematic.  For example, flush valves.  I discovered both of my were leaking so I replaced these with relatively little surprises.  The p-trap below the sink was leaking and I whipped this one out in no time.  The dishwasher sprayer popped off and I was able to reattach with little drama.  However, the ever-present drain clog in the shower was finally too much to ignore. 

Kelly was kind enough to buy a snake for me today and I quickly put it work.  Those who haven’t had the joy of manhandling a plumbing snake may not know exactly what this marvel is.  It’s basically a long coil of wire with a flared end that roots through the drain in a circular motion.  I have had more experience than I care to admit in snake use during my tenure as after hour maintenance worker at University housing at Texas A&M. 

This particular snake included a shaft on one end for attaching to a cordless screwdriver and was 20 feet long.  After I maneuvered it through the first few bends and gave it a good rooting I tried to retract the steel reptile back into its case.  It snagged up and then started coiling up outside the case making a twisted steel spiral.  I managed to untangle it and shoved it back in the case.  I then held the case tight to the drain and gave it a good whirl with the screw gun.  About that time I heard a snap and found myself peering into my shower drain at a severed snake.  I soon realized the predicament I was in and tried to think of the quickest way to extract this metal beast without having to re-do the plumbing back to the street.  I grabbed a set of man-pliers and tugged on the free end for about 15 minutes.  Fearing I was slowing destroying the 82-year-old plumbing joints beneath the house I eased up a bit and decided to test the broken snakes effectiveness of clearing the drain.  After running the water a few minutes I discovered its suicide mission was successful, no clogs.  I cut the little bastard flush with the top of the drain and carried on.  I figure next time it clogs I will call a professional and have them extract the snake.  In the end, if the snake gets stuck, I probably have bigger problems down below than I realize. 

That is one of the tenants I am learning about homeownership…  Often the only choice is to just fix it good enough to buy a little more time.


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