Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Cookie Gods are Laughing

I expect you are just as busy this week as I am -- last minute preparations for the holiday weekend and all that goes with it.   I have a lot to cram into this week like everyone else does, but admittedly I do my best work under a tight deadline.  I am a list maker (and a dish soaker, but that's another post) and I of course have a tidy list of what I plan to do each morning and night this week to knock out all the things that must happen.  A little less sleep, a build up of unwatched shows on my DVR and it's all going to get done.  Except...

So, night Monday night, in the torrential rains, I did what I'd hoped was my last grocery store run for the week/weekend.  (Don't be impressed; it turns out I missed some things and was going to go back last night...)  I had assembled various recipes -- mostly for cookies and bars -- (oh my gosh and this really divine looking chocolate salted caramel tart) and my well oiled machine of a schedule dictated that I would make the doughs last night, and bake tomorrow night for Friday night and weekend consumption.  And irrational as it sounds, I cleaned up the kitchen before I started the dough making.  You know, a clean slate to mess up.  My kitchen trash is under my kitchen sink, and I had the cabinet doors open as I tidied.  Some things went into compost; (a lime wedge from last night's beer) some things were going into the trash; and then dishes into the dishwasher.  I was humming along, wrapping things up, and I did a quick zip of my garbage disposal.  And my knees got wet.

A moment in time, that.  A moment of confusion.  I looked down into the sink.  Some mental gymnastics:  "Are my knees wet?  My knees feel wet."  And then, realization:  My knees are wet.   And my socks.  I back up and peered under the sink.  Oh yes, water.  Where water shouldn't be.  Not gushing, but definitely more than a drip.  JOY.

Out came the trash can, and the tray of scrubbies... and the gallon jug of vegetable wash... and then I saw it.  The gravity defying pipe had finally corroded enough that there was about a 3 inch horizontal jagged gash in it.  Honestly.  Really?  Christmas week?

I got a towel, mopped things up and assessed:  Was it still dripping?  Yes.  How "attached" is that pipe?  e.g. Is it a 7 foot pipe with 17 connections (obviously exaggerating)?  No, about a 15 inch pipe connecting two pipes.  Okay... seems somewhat manageable.  And then I did what I always do after I realize I have a problem on my hands that may be larger than I want to tackle alone:  I called Red.

I gave him the cheery, "Hi!   How are YOU?"  He knows better.  "Well I'm fine -- but what's going on there?"  Ahhhh.  I explain.  We decided we will try to replace it, and if we can't, I'll call a plumber.  He warily asked if this was something I wanted to do right away, or could it wait until tomorrow night (Weds.) when he's over anyway for date night.  (We now have a VERY romantic date night planned, involving the plumbing aisle at Home Depot and laying on our backs under the sink.  But Home Depot plays the best music, and much to Red's chagrin I usually end up dancing in the aisles, so there is that.)

The unfortunate back story here is, when I bought my house, a plumber looked under the sink and laughed and proclaimed that someone before me had done some reverse engineering.  Engineering that defies gravity.  But, it was mostly working -- some water would always sit in the pipe that is sloped up instead of down -- and it was connected to some original (read "old and fragile") pipes, and frankly he didn't want to fix that and cause a larger problem in the process.  Fast forward to tonight. Yeehaw. (The bath tub plumbing has suffered a similar fate, I suspect at the hands of the same "I can fix this" homeowner.*  Talk about waiting for the other shoe to drop.)

So here's what we're looking at.  Here's the overview:

Let me help you because that's just a crazy photograph.  The foil on the back wall is insulation held up with black duct tape.  That's an exterior wall, and being a 1929 house my walls do not have insulation, so I added that when I ripped out cabinets (when I realized that it was, um, COLD under there.  Where my pipes are.  Uh huh.)

Next we have some lovely shelf paper, upon which are resting two drinking glasses, holding up two 9"x13" baking pans with towels in them to catch drips.  (I have a fan blowing into the cabinet to dry it.)  And then... see the horizontal silver pipe running from the garbage disposal on the left, uphill to the right hand sink pipe?  That is the culprit.  I wrapped it in duct tape (which really didn't help much.)  When I squeezed the pipe with my hand, it was sort of soft -- I'm not a plumber, but I am fairly confident when I say that isn't a desirable attribute for a pipe.  That's the pipe that continually holds water because of the whole gravity defying thing.  So no huge surprise that it finally corroded.

Here's a view of where it connects on the left, on the back of the disposal -- the disposal that I would just as soon just take out and reclaim that space under the sink:

My common sense assessment of how to solve the upward slope issue is that basically the right hand side of that white PVC p trap needs to be longer/higher so that the pipe is at least horizontal, if not sloped the opposite way. 

Here's the right hand side:

The other pipe with the p trap visually looks like its corroded, but it still feels solid when you touch it.  But do you see the vertical skinny pipe in the background against the insulation?  That's 81 years old.  Me no want to touch that. 

Meanwhile, after I got the pans and towels in place, I needed to see how wet things were under there.  e.g. how long has this been going on and I didn't know it?  The inside of the cabinet door was just barely dirty, telling me that it hadn't been getting the power blast of water every time I ran the water.  And I very rarely use my garbage disposal for a host of reasons -- that probably bought me some time.  I pulled up that shelf liner paper** -- well past its prime anyway.  Under it were planks painted white -- clearly original, damp but not rotted.  The bead board on the right wasn't wet at the bottom... I looked in the next adjoining cabinet and it seemed dry. 

All of the looking around inside cabinets (and I use that term loosely) just heightened my already very strong desire to gut my kitchen.  The counters don't exactly sit on cabinets -- they sit on a wooden wall with doors cut into it -- and I know from ripping out the cabinets before that it would all pull out very easily.  And the counter tops -- that 4" square white ceramic tile with grout that is supposed to be white?  Loathe.

You can read about my previous kitchen demo antics here
and here

(Sorry for the clunky links.  I know there is a prettier way to do that but I haven't taken the time to figure it out.)

I frankly think I could be pretty happy with planks on saw horses in there, (that is not an exaggeration, I really like camping) just to be rid of the cabinets... but I will muster my restraint.  Rationally I know that (a) I need to finish the bedroom wall project first; and (b) a kitchen remodel of any scale is not in my current budget.    But ohhhh the temptation now is even greater.  Must.  Remain.  Strong.  And, at least for the next meal or two, eat out, and, probably buy cookies for Friday night that someone else has baked. 

As per normal, I think we can probably fix this ourselves.   Okay, so maybe I'll be home from work on Thursday, waiting for a plumber, but at this point I am still optimistic.  It's sort of an adventure, right?  Earlier this week I re-caulked my bathtub with great success, so I'm feeling all plumber-y!  Stay tuned for updates... Let's all hope that the next post opens with a cookie sheet of freshly baked cookies...

*  I suspect the same homeowner who truly believed  that everything could be fixed with caulk.

**  I probably should have saved it when I ripped it out -- I'll bet there is some obscure State Fair award category for it.

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