Sunday, September 04, 2005

Read the instructions

Let the word go forth from this time and place: Never use Liquid Plumber in a toilet!

To cut a long story short, in my continuing battle against the Evil One1, I made a low-altitude pass over the city of Dresden Wednesday morning, leaving the city in ruins. Good news so far, but the toilet was plugged and did not respond to the plunging I administered, as I so often have to due to the manly nature of my poops.

It's a small house and the only other toilet we have is in the interrogation room downstairs. That one's not working well because I am in the process of repairing it. There's a small leak from the tank, not the bowl. Throughout the course of the day, my lovely wife and children bravely made trips down the stairs to relieve themselves.

We have an old house with weird old toilets, and the auger I bought at the hardware store did not seem to fit the geometry of the toilet. I should have gone back and gotten a wire snake.

While the kids were out of the house I variously put dishwashing soap, and boiling water into the toilet. This seemed to help, as the draining got faster, though you still couldn't flush it without risking an overflow. After I dumped two liters of tonic water with quinine in the bowl, on the theory that fizzy bubbles might help, the draining occurred within about three minutes.

You still couldn't flush it safely, though, so after dinner we decided I should get some Drano. I got Professional Strength Liquid Plumber Gel ("Safe for all Pipes.") I told my lovely wife that none of the Drano-type products on the shelf mentioned toilets, all sticking daintily to the subject of sinks. I skimmed the label on the back, and showed it to her. She informed me that because it said "Do not use with ammonia, toilet-bowl cleaners, or other non-Liquid Plumber drain openers," that implied that one could use it on toilets -- because it mentions toilet bowl cleaners. I said you could conceivably use a toilet bowl cleaner in a sink, but she dismissed this concern.

After letting the miracle gel sit in the bowl for 15 minutes, I tried flushing the toilet. It filled up, and did not drain. At all. That's when I noticed that tiny print on the instruction label says "Do not use in toilets."

I went at it with rubber gloves and a rusty phillips screwdriver. Yes, you faint of heart, by this time the waters were clear, not brown. It was like concrete down there.

I called a plumbing outfit in the yellow pages. The lady would not give me a price estimate, and referred me to a man who also would not. I believe in being a customer who gives useful feedback to service providers, so I thanked him and called another place. The lady who answered was already giggling with her coworkers, and when I asked her what the price would be for someone to come out in the morning she importantly informed me that no one could come out tonight, and it would have to be in the morning. I believe in being a customer who gives useful feedback to service providers, so I thanked her and called another place. They told me exactly what the price would be per hour, and that they have a one-hour minimum. I made the appointment.

It took the guy about one minute to clear the clog, using an auger quite similar to the one I have. He said any auger, such as mine, should be able to clear any toilet, but that you just have to do it right, and I may not have been familiar with the technique. I was also weak as a kitten. I've spoken to my wife, and if this should ever happen again (heaven forfend!), We'll operate the auger as a team.


Left grip is 31 pounds (26, 31, 30), right grip is 81 pounds (80, 81, 75), left leg balance is 8.22 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.

Verily, I have fallen into the habit of skipping several days at a time of recording my metrics. You could say I am avoiding the reality of my decline, and I wouldn't dispute it. But I don't feel discouraged at all. I get busy with family events, and I've placed less emphasis on getting daily metrics. I guess that I feel that I can do them whenever curious. The gaps in the data represent days I've skipped.
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