As I recently shared on the ole’ blog, I have plumber blood running through my veins. I know it is a bold statement to make, but I’m not just talking about my uncanny ability to publicly show my butt-crack at a moment’s notice.
My father, grandfather, and great grandfather each invested a lifetime of work in the noble profession and if I hadn’t pulled a B+ on my Chemistry II final, I might have done so as well. I have my father to thank for that B+. He made sure to let me experience the labor intensive profession of plumbing often enough in my youth to really motivate me academically when it was necessary.
As a plumber’s son, I was privy to lot of important plumbing related lessons that most people don’t learn the easy way. Usually these lessons are learned by paying tuition to a service plumber who gets double overtime after 5pm and triple overtime on weekends… and if you saw the rate-multiplier for holidays you’d realize you’d need a working toilet to flush the money away fast enough.
One mistake people make is flushing the wrong things down the toilet. Aside from the few standard passengers that are expected in your average flush, nothing else should go down that drain. Foreign objects should NOT be flushed. Just because something disappears from sight does not mean that if ceases to exist. Not only does it continue to exist, it now has to navigate some twists and turns in the pipes. Q-Tips, short pencils, action figures, car keys, most feminine hygiene products and Lego blocks should NOT be flushed for this reason. Perhaps you are trying to hide something that embarrassed you by flushing it… imagine the embarrassment of having a much grosser version of that thing handed to you by a plumber. With a bill!
Another costly mistake people make is dumping grease down the kitchen sink. It makes sense if you don’t know any better. After frying up a slab of bacon, there is more than a cup of melted fat to dispose of. In it’s liquid form, grease can trick people into thinking it behaves like water, and as such, can be dumped down the drain. FALSE! Instead, it should be saved in a can until it’s time to fry up eggs and grits. DOUBLE FALSE! In reality, you should let your dogs eat it. QUADRUPLE DOGGIE BYPASS FALSE!! Really, if you have bacon grease you can figure out how to deal with it because I am out of that business. However, I will reiterate: do NOT pour it down the drain.
Hot grease down the drain is a terrible idea because the further down the pipes it goes, the less hot it becomes. It doesn’t take long at all for the animal fat to cool to coagulation temperature. Rather than running down the pipes, it sticks to the side and coats the interior. Since water and oil (lipids) do not mix, running the water will not fix the problem and pouring hot water would only moved the congealed fat further down the pipes. Over time the grease layer will get thicker and thicker thanks to the addition of more grease and other bits of detritus that get stuck in the slime. As the drain flow is choked off over time it becomes more and more difficult to drain the kitchen sink. Before long you end up with a drain that wont drain and a sink full of greasy, murky water that smells like triple overtime for a lucky plumber.
I thought about this common error the other day when I watched our sink drain. It drained quickly and without much effort. Last year at the height of my Atkins dieting, even with my amazing plumber knowledge, our sink was dealing with a lot of grease. Washing dishes and frying pans leaves grease deposits in the plumbing just like dumping it straight from a cup. It just takes longer to build up, but it does eventually choke the drain to death.
When I consider how many years I dumped grease and fat and oil down my body’s drain pipe, it can be a little terrifying. Granted, my GI tract and cardiovascular system isn’t really a series of PVC and copper pipes in a home, but try to tell my former chronic colitis, former high blood pressure, and former high cholesterol level that. The years of food abuse lead to a septic tank full of problems that my body had to struggle through. Now, after essentially removing all of the harmful foods from my life and house the pipes in myself and my kitchen seem to be draining exactly as they were meant to. Removing the animal products from my diet has made it so I don’t need to pay Roto-rooter or the local hospital for their quadruple overtime on federal holidays or Monday Night Football.