Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bad Plumbing

Has any of this ever worked for you?

When you are poor the plumbing is always bad. My life has been plagued with bad plumbing. In Chicago, brown water poured from the ceiling and the super there yelled at me for tossing chicken bones down the sink. We hadn't eaten chicken all week! In the next apartment the bathtub would back up and the water would turn black. Bad plumbing and a lower socioeconomic status go hand in hand.

 I tried reading manuals from the library to fix some of this garbage but the maze of pipes under my sink didn't match the books I checked out. I have felt helpless to the max. We had the maintenance man come and fix the sink on Friday and he complained about grease clogging up the drain. I never pour grease down the drain, so where did it come from? He said it could be from upstairs.

 Anyhow the sink and dishwasher are backed up again. I drained some noodles and some fell in the sink. These were skinny little noodles! Did they do it?Well I can't eat those noodles again even paired with chicken breast and veggies they made my blood sugar too high but eating dinner at 9:30 pm probably didn't help. I am sure the maintenance man will be outraged to be back in our apartment struggling with the endless clogging sink. If I counted the times it has clogged up, I would say it is an average of once every two months. They will come and fix it but pipes the diameter of a hair don't help. Who made such horrible plumbing? My husband says it was "state of the art" for the 1960s. I dread them needing to fix it yet again. Can anyone suggest a book that will teach me how to fix plumbing? Even youtube doesn't work and even using one of those plastic thingies with the sprogs leaves the sinks still plugged up.

Sometimes I have nightmares about the plumbing. Once in this apartment, a water heater broke upstairs and a deluge of water started pouring in. I was running to grab my stamp collection and computers almost evacuating like for a fire. Other times the sinks have made noises like the pipes themselves led to hell and demons were trying to get out and weird black stuff burbled up. The bathtub has drain on it that constantly clogs up and I shower always with water up to my ankles that takes time go down the drain. Don't take good plumbing for granted!


  1. Yeah, I've used the vinegar/baking soda/boiling water "cure" but not for the major problems it sounds like you're having, Peep. It sounds like jerry-rigged "plumbing." When you run the dishwasher does it back up into the sink? I'm wondering if the dishwashers (or clothes washing machines) were added sometime after the building was constructed without any thought for the inadequate diameter piping to accommodate the additional waste water. And no, unless you poured the entire box of noodles followed by a few pounds of potato peelings down the drain, added hot water and let it sit awhile to make starchy gluey concrete, the problem wasn't a few escaped noodles from dinner. Even if it was lasagna ;)
    As far as the "Maintenance Man" goes, just remind him (with a smile of course) the plumbing problems in this building are his employment "insurance." Standing in that water in the shower is not only yucky (if you wanted a bath or a foot soak you would have bought your rubber ducky with you!!) it's also dangerous.
    It's always one.more.thing. I know about wood stoves, chimneys, septic tanks, wells, submersible pumps and how to electrocute yourself without even trying, but your plumbing sounds nothing like I've encountered. As far as books go I had a couple basic home repair books (of the yard sale variety) depending on what kind of mess I was in and approximately how old the mess was I needed to fix: Unfortunately, some of it was prehistoric. (That's where jerry-rigging comes in.)
    When the pipes made all that noise was it above or below freezing? When they freeze and break it absolutely sounds like hell demons are escaping along with enough water to extinguish a five alarm fire and any hope of financial solvency. Ever.
    I know you likely worry about complaining too much least you end up with an eviction notice. (So much for "Tennant's Rights.") The way around this for me was making anonymous complaints repeatedly to the local building code inspector's office. (And I used different voices each time I called.) That worked really well-This might be your best bet. They could also determine if there's more than one problem such as the pipes that lead from the building to the main line in the street could be partially blocked etc. Typically those problems need to be remediated by the property owner or the town/village will do it and send the owner the bill.
    This sounds so inadequate but I really am sorry, Peep. I understand in my own way/experience how all this stuff just beats ya down. I'm wondering why you don't have a Public Health Nurse/Aid to help or a Home Maker from DSS or please, even someone from Adult Services advocating for you?

    1. I think something is wrong with the set up. Even if the strainer is removed, I am throwing food away in the trash and wiping grease out into the trash too. I think the plumbing is jerry-rigged too. if it plugs up even after we use the strainers without fail, I will go and talk to building managers. So far we have not gotten complaints or threats of not renewing the lease, but I know we have to be careful. In my state if one is ill enough they can delay an eviction. I made it my business to know these things, though I never had to use this.

      The building is old, the sinks are from the 60s so I would agree the dishwashers were put in later and you can see new pipes along with very old narrow copper piping. It is definitely inadequate diameter. I ranted and raved about the narrow pipes in shock they were that small.

      He seemed crabby today fixing it. He left us three sink strains as a hint I guess. I will use them without fail and if it still plugs up it is bad plumbing. I cook more then normal people too since processed food doesn't cut it for me though with the cuts in money, Ive eaten more processed then I like. Yes the water is yucky.
      I am glad you are up on all those things. We are both mechanically inept which does help and yes I try to research things and still struggle.

    2. The pipes are more apt to burble in the winter. We have had sinks fill up with water before, and this weird black grit, coming home to a flooded kitchen and bathroom before. When I say the plumbing is BAD in here, it really is. This hasn't happened in a while. They do send someone over quick to fix things, but I do think this building is old and deriorating. My faucets are old and even have holes in them now and I won't sign another lease unless they are replaced.

      I've lived in worse places where they take their time fixing things. I do worry about too many repairs forcing us out. We have been here 9 years. They won't repaint and told me I have to do it, which doesn't sound kosher. I wish I had said, "Do I look like I can paint?" though they said they would give me free paint and want a 200 dollar fee to move furniture for a new carpet. We are considering strongly moving so I've tabled those improvements anyhow. They had an inspector in here actually last Tuesday, I wonder if they saw the badly painted walls and dirty old carpet. They seemed to focus on the windows and fire alarms though.

      I have a disability advocate, I could turn to if there is any toss-outs. I pay the rent so I think they will leave me alone. I tried to get a home-maker years ago but was told because of husband I do not qualify. If he was disabled officially I would. I may try again. We are both getting worn out trying to keep the place up. Honestly if I won the Lotto, I'd put us both in an assisted living apartment where they cook me some meals but that is only for the rich. I have nurses and doctors in here from my visiting home but they are usually focused on medical, physical therapy, insulin use, the normal medical care. I wish they had something for disabled, just do apartment clean-outs and helps for us. I know this is something that people with normal families get help with. We don't have friends here. I have one lady who was Stephen's Minister with me years ago who takes me out to lunch and a local bookclub. A few friendly acquaintances. I even called local churches asking one that does work in the community if they would help a disabled woman with her apartment, but was turn down. They do fix the stuff. Trust me if that wasn't happening I wouldn't be paying this expensive rent. I do think the plumbing is very jerry-built. Its gotta be with the filling sinks and other things. I do feel sorry for the building managers, some corporation owns this place. I think they are trying to make do with very little but its frustrating. Thanks TW.

  2. Thanks for the tips!! Sue