Wednesday, August 13, 2008

8/13/08 More Adventures in Apartment Living

More Adventures in Apartment Living
Tuesday night Cindy called from the kitchen those always frightening words, "The sinks stopped up." Well, with my skills and confidence, I advanced on the recalcitrant sink with the plunger and absolute confidence in my abilities, soon to be deflated.

First, my plunging with the tool I'd bought some weeks ago in anticipation of such a crisis made absolutely no change in the sink's water level. Worse yet, when I stopped, I heard water running under the sink. When I opened the doors to the under the sink compartment, water ran out on the floor and into my slipper. Score: sink one, Doug zero.

What I had done with my plunging was to work loose the joints that had heretofore been held fast together with blue electrician's tape. (In Russia electrician's tape is blue, not black) Rather than being held fast now, the joints were spraying water in all directions. With the grace of a ballet dancer, I spun around the cupboard door sprinted to the other side of the kitchen (about 2 steps) grabbed the trash bucket and stuck it under the waterfall that now covered the entire under-sink area and began sopping up the water. Eventually I was able to open the bottom of the trap and direct the deluge into the bucket. Score: Sink 2, Doug Zero.

After disassembling the trap and pipes, I found what looked like plaster-of-paris mixed with 20 years of sludge. It was obvious that this was the problem and I made plans for the correction. After cleaning out the trap and pipes, which required removing about 20 yards of blue electrical tape, I attempted to reassembled the drain, but found that there were no gaskets in the joints. This may not mean anything to you ladies, but to the guys it's obvious, this thing is going to leak like a sieve, which of course it did in spite of my tightening the joints so much that I couldn't get them apart later. Now I knew what the blue tape was really for; an external gasket.

The next day, Wednesday, I got President Gushin, the mission driver, to take me to a building supply store to get the gaskets. . . wrong! They don't sell parts. They sell kits; period. Well, at 135 roubles (about 7 dollars) I bought an entire new p-trap and pipes to fill the gap. When all was assembled, I ceremoniously turned on the water and watched it accumulate in the sink. Score: Sink 3, Doug Zero.

That night (Wed) I called Olga, the office do-it-all lady and reported my defeat and asked if she knew a plumber. She said that she knew a guy and would call him. She later called and said he would be here by 9:00 pm. In the mean time, I washed the dinner dishes and the diswasher full of dirdy dishes from the night before in the bathroom sink and tub. Quite a process. Well, you guessed it, by 9:30 he had not come and I called her again. She called back and explained that the plumber had come but forgot the apartment number and called Olga for the info, but her phone was turned off so he went home.

Today he was going to call by 9:30. After deciding to go to the office instead of waiting for him, we arrived about 9:45 to find the office empty; no Olga. Several phone calls and it was established that he would be here after doing a job at the Mickelsen's. He had his priorities straight. In the mean time, Sister Gushina said we should use drain cleaner. (She's a plumber now) She asked her husband (pres Gushin) to bring some to the office for us, which he did. The plumber finally came to the office about 6 pm ready to work on my pipes.

Sasha, the new physical facilities director for the area, was in the office checking the installation of a new cabinet that sister Simmons had ordered for the "library". He decided to go with me and the plumber to work on the drain. After an hour of drain cleaner, wires poked into the 3 inch sewer line that runs from the kitchen three feet to right and connects to the 4" main sewer line that runs through my utility closet down from our 9th floor to the basement. Rotorooter, no. Snake, no. Drill auger, no. A coat hanger I gave him after the piece of electrical wire (about 20 gage) he happen to have in his plastic grocery bag of tools kept bending, was the only tool he had.

Sasha and the plumber worked on it for close to an hour and finally got water to flow. Sasha said that I should continue to use the drain cleaner at least once a month to keep things moving. End of the story, right? Score: Sink 3, Doug (& plumber & Sasha) with a three pointer and we end in a tie. BIG WRONG!

Cindy & I got home a little after 7 and I finished cleaning up the kitchen, which included running water down my now well running sink, when I hear someone banging on our exterior door; very insistently. I opened our two security doors and peered out the peer-hole in the outer door to see a skinny, 30 something lady looking very distressed. After opening the door, I heard her desperately trying to get us to do something I couldn't understand. I have her my best, "ya niponimiyu ruskee", which is roughly, I don't understand Russian, to which she tries to tell us in very difficult English that there is a problem with the water and don't use it in the kitchen.

Just then, my cell phone rings and it is a Zone leader with a question. I got him to listen to the lady and translate. Basically, she is on the 6th floor and has asked that those above her not use their kitchen water because it is flooding her apartment; drain problem. I immediately have compassion for this lady and agree not to run the water. She is expecting a "miastro" tomarrow late morning to fix her problem and we can use our water tomorrow evening.

I have the picture. Whatever was blocking our sewer pipe has now migrated down and gotten stuck at the 6th floor level. I hope it's willing to go all the way to the main sewer. If not, we could be without a kitchen sink for a long, long time . . . one floor at a time.

What a country

. and tightened everything


Trisha said...

Holy Cow! What a few days. This is crazy. I am not to sure what to say about all this. I guess you can just eat out of the cans.

Shannon Simmons said...

Lets start the "new sink & fridge" collection right away! You two are stalwart! I agree with Trish & the canned food route...