Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Tub

After increasingly frustrated and frustrating attempts at getting the slow drain on the tub fixed, I finally got them to at least attempt to do something.


"We've had problems with this one before, come in here and I'll show you." The manager's husband, the same man that told me when I moved in that he didn't mind me using his internet, just that I shouldn't connect to his network, said to me in a pompous and superior fashion the instant he walked through the door.

"If you can show me some trick that makes the water go down the little hole, great, but I don't think that's gonna work."

"Sure it will, see, this plunger is off kilter and you have to... nngh... get it squirreled around and.... gah.... make sure it's really all the way up." He turned the water on to the merest trickle.

"Well, yeah, that much water would flow through a nervous frog's ass."

So he turned it up, and let it run for a few moments, long enough to get some water in the bottom of the tub, then shut it off and turned to stare at me triumphantly.

I was watching the water. If it drained, I was fully prepared to eat crow, and take a celebratory shower.

When I didn't start apologizing, he turned in confusion to the tub. Standing water.

"Hmm. Well I have to meet a guy in the office, I'll be back in a few with some tools and pull the plunger completely out."

"Okiedokie then, I'm leaving at about two thirty, so make it before then."

"Oh, this will only take me a couple of minutes."

Fast forward to a little later.

*Knock Knock*

"Let's get this thing fixed." He held up... a screw driver.

Ok, I can buy that, after all you have to remove a screw to get the cover for the drain plug off. But he didn't have any other tools.

Fast forward again, because this time, I just sat in the living room eating my lunch instead of watching him pretend to know what he was doing. Suffice to say there was a lot of turn the water on, turn the water off, clank clank, turn the water on.

"I just got a call I have to take care of something else, but I'll be back in a few minutes, ok?"

"Sure, whatever."

*Knock Knock*

"I'm back, and I brought backup!" This time he's carrying the cutest imitation of a pipe snake that I've ever seen, and has another tenant with him. His "backup" is large enough that I wonder if he'll even fit in my itty bitty bathroom.

"Uh huh."

Another trip out, lots of scraping and grunting and water running later, they emerged from my bathroom, looking sweaty.

"I've done all I can, we're gonna have to call someone."

"Figured as much. Just let me know when they're going to be here. I'll be gone all day Friday."

"Oh, they probably won't be able to get here until next week, can you hang in that long, kiddo?"

I could feel the urge to kill rising, but I beat it back with the sure knowledge that I didn't have anywhere handy to stash the body.

"That tub has been slow since I moved in. It improved slightly when they came in and cut the tree roots out of the pipes, but has gotten steadily worse. Now I have a choice of shaving my legs or washing my hair when I shower, because I don't have time for both before the tub overflows. I've told your wife about this problem before, and she always swore that she'd get something done as soon as possible. That's why this month's rent envelope had 'Tub. Won't Drain. Fix It.' written on the section provided for complaints. I've been 'hanging in there' with this problem for nearly seven months now. A week is not a problem, as long as it gets fixed."

"Well, kiddo, I'll call today and see what I can do."

"Fantastic. And stop calling me kiddo."

That's the point where I shut the door.


So maybe, just maybe, they'll get the damn drain fixed.

If not, then they'll miss next month's rent, and I'll start looking for a different place.


Anonymous said...

Get one of those bad boy gel drain cleaners. Follow instructions and your drain will probably clear if theres nothing but grease and hair. If it's roots, which I doubt if you're in an apartment (everybody would be having major problems) nothing but a new sewer line will really fix the problem.


Farmgirl said...


I suspect the true problem is that when the tub was installed they screwed up. The drain pipe makes a 90 degree turn less than two inches under the tub.

Also.. I've tried the drain cleaners, they don't do squat. I'm in a semi-basement apartment with two floors above me, which means that I get to deal with everyone's crap, if it is clogged.

Like I said I suspect it's going to take re-plumbing the tub properly, and possibly replacing some line to the sewer line.

LawDog said...

You might take a look at your States renting laws.

In Texas, after a renter notifies the landlord a specified number of times without the problem getting fixed, the law allows the renter to hire someone to fix the problem and then take the cost out of the rent payments.


Babs said...

:) We ladies and all our hair...Got a shopvac? Slurrrrrpppp!!!

Seriously. As one who doesn't have a landlord to fix these things, I do it myself. Not hard, really. You can rent a plumbing snake. Alternately, you just need a shopvac, a big bowl, a plumbing wrench, some threadseal tape,and - since you've used those drain cleaners and it's all just sitting in there - some Playtex Living Gloves (the real thick yellow ones they sell for washing dishes).

If you can see the plumbing, and I guess you can, all you have to do is suck the water out with the shopvac, unhook the J-drain (over the bowl,please)and with the shopvac you can blow it out or suck it out clear. I'd stick the end of the shopvac in the pipe that goes to the drain line too and see if you get any clogs back. That outta clear any clogs. Rinsey-rinsey, put it back tight with some threadseal tape, and check for leaks.

Farmgirl said...

LawDog- Believe you me, I've looked. The only thing I can do if they don't get it fixed is to notify HUD and start carping on the owner. There might be an avenue in the health department, as well, but I'm not positive. Colorado law states the renter and the landlord's responsibilities and rights, but doesn't specify what you can do if they aren't fulfilled.

Babs- Darlin, I shed like a shetland in March but that's not the problem here. The drain was messed up before I ever moved in.
As for seeing the pipes... well, not so much. After trying multiple avenues of self-repair including bleach (you wouldn't believe how many times I've been able to speed up a slow drain with a cup of bleach and hot water) drain cleaner, and a plunger (I was desperate!) I suck my finger down the drain to make sure there wasn't any gobs of hair hanging from the drain itself. That's how I discovered the inappropriate sharp turn to the pipes underneath. Basically, the drain pipe turns immediately below the drain, leaving *no* room for proper water flow in the first place. I'm not sure that's all of the problem, but I do know that when I put foaming pipe snake drain cleaner down there it foamed right up out of the overflow instead of going down the drain.

To me, that's a sign that something is seriously wrong.

farmist said...

I can't say I've ever seen a tub drain that DIDN'T turn 90 degrees immediately under the tub, and I've been doing the handyman thing for 40 yrs. I'm sure that is not the problem.

Farmgirl said...

Farmist, I'm not talking immediately as in, the pipe comes down, and then the bend. I'm talking there's pretty much no "down" to it, just over.

Like I said it may not be the whole problem but there isn't a lot of room there for water flow.

Anonymous said...

Tubs usually have a 90 deg bend just below the drain; usually within 4 inches. This works, as long as the piping past this point has good fall and is not at a point in the piping that allows accumulations. What really aggravates is the tub not draining into a larger trunk line almost immediately after it leaves the enclosure. Even worse, if tree roots can grow into a system like this, they won't be removed when the main trunk is augered out.

So, I have some theories, which are good for absolutely nothing, except to promote while imbibing beverages that have a substantial amount of alcohol.