Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


June 1, 2014

The day I almost fixed the sink

BLUEFIELD — I am not sure how a few ribbons of cucumber ruined an entire Sunday. I was in the kitchen making a cucumber and onion salad for dinner. As I sliced the veggies, I tossed them into the sink, ready for the garbage disposal. With water running, I hit the switch and let the veggies slide down into the disposal. After I cleaned the kitchen, I planned on a quick run and a few errands before making the rest of our dinner. But the water swirled around and around. Bits of cucumber started floating to the top. The sink stopped draining completely. I hit the switch again. Nothing. Water began rising in the other side of the sink too.

So what does a woman do when she has stopped up both sides of the sink? You get online and starting Googling before your husband wakes up from his nap. I tried all the suggestions on the web. I tried the plunger, the “snake” tool and turned on the disposal again, just for good measure. As I stared at the pipes underneath the sink, I knew things were about to get messy. I called my dad, who was out-of-town, for a quick lesson in plumbing 101.

I am no plumber but I had seen enough to know how to take the pipes apart and look for clogs. But I needed a pipe wrench and we didn’t have one. I went to the hardware store — all the while praying my husband wouldn’t wake up and see my mess — for the tool. Once home, I got a bucket and started working on the trap. I wasn’t prepared for the rush of water out of the sink. I forgot to unscrew it slowly. Once the water drained, I started taking apart the pipes leading to the garbage disposal. This time, I let the water out slower so it wouldn’t  splash.

I ran water and hit the disposal. Everything looked good so I put the pipes  back together and waited for my husband to wake up from his nap. I would let him give it a look before I started dinner. I really thought I had fixed the sinks. But an hour later, the water stopped draining again. I handed the pipe wrench over, slightly defeated and frustrated my efforts didn’t solve the problem. Later, I learned it would take a bigger pipe wrench and stronger muscles to find the clog, which was most likely in the basement pipe. I will still never understand how cucumbers could cause such a dilemma. The sad thing is that neither one of us ate the salad that started the entire mess.

My husband was amused by my determination to fix the sink He laughed when he saw I had Goggled “how to unstop a sink.” I like to fix things. As a daughter of a mechanic and general Mr. Fix-it, I spent hours watching my dad work his magic on pipes, cars and bikes. When things go wrong — like a stopped up sink — I wonder if any of his magic rubbed off on me during those years. I guess not. I am best when I am the assistant, which I proved by holding the flashlight for the husband. I ran up the stairs, turned on the water, counted to five and ran back down the steps to the basement. I fetched a towel, an ice cold drink and a few tools. I handed them over to the real amateur plumber in the house. At this point, I was happy to hand over the goods to the Mr. Fix-it. Things got messy very quickly.

Was there a lesson learned? Don’t shove a bunch of cucumber peels down the sink anymore, obviously. I also discovered I am a better helper when it comes to projects. So what if I didn’t fix the clog? I get an A plus for effort and for holding the flashlight for 45 minutes, while dodging sprays of water. I experienced a few firsts that day — a new pipe wrench, taking a part the sink, admitting to my husband about the cucumber overload and watching slime roll out a basement pipe.

 I couldn’t believe how happy I was to see water drain down the pipes and not rise back up. The fixed sink was better than finding a good sale in my favorite clothing store.

Jamie Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at or on Twitter @BDTParsell.

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