Yesterday was a study in chain reactions. A few days ago, the lever that holds up the sink plunger in our first floor bathroom broke. I pried up the plunger so the sink would drain. It was being held up by nothing but sink gook. My wife, wonderful house keeper that she is, cleaned out the gook, because ewe. Unfortunately, that dislodged all the gook, and clogged the drain yesterday morning. I rodded it out with a plastic electrical fish tape ... SUCCESS!

Oh cock. Water started gushing out of the bottom of the cabinet. I had punched right through the apparently rotten sink trap with the fish tape. I cleaned out the cabinet (side note, we never keep toilet paper down there, but last week my wife stocked it with toiled paper ... at least it absorbed a lot of water, I guess), took off the trap, went to my local Ace for a trap and replacement lever rod for the plunger.

I was determined to buy a plastic trap, but I noticed the bend of the plastic trap is slightly wider than the metal ones, so I spent four times the price on a stupid metal one. Installed it in a jiffy. SUCCESS!


Nope, water was gushing out off the joint between the trap and the tail pipe. Removed trap, and found that the tail pipe joint had disintegrated from installing the new trap.

New problem 1: The tile guy, the one guy who was obviously hired to do a job, and not work done by the idiot hack of a former homeowner, had done such a good job that there was no access to get a wrench onto the nut at the wall joint.

New problem 2: The vanity is tiny, and there was barely any room to turn the wrench anyways. And even if there was room to grip it and turn it, that nut was seized like a (string of expletives deleted).


Solution: Yank the rotten tailpipe out with brute force. Chip away enough tile with a hammer to put a giant ass socket around it. Go to Harbor Freight to buy the 3/4" drive socket set I’ve been eyeballing for years. Get 1-3/4" socket in place ... and realize there is no room in the cabinet to get giant drive tools in. Then go to Napa, buy an adapter to use my 3/4" drive socket with 1/2" drive tools. Hilariously try using my 1/2" drive flex ratchet, fail miserably, and then go get my 1/2" drive impact gun.

This is not supposed to be a plumbing tool, but desperate times call for desperate measures

Now, some of you may be wondering, “Shop, why not just pull the vanity and get it out of your way?” I’m glad you asked that voice in my head. Frankly, the vanity is a piece of crap, and I knew if I pulled it, it would almost certainly fall apart. The last thing I needed was to tear apart my bathroom, while my kitchen is still not finished, and we have a house guest (oh yeah, my father in law is dong much better. He was released from the hospital Saturday night and is staying with us while he recovers. Everybody’s thoughts/prayers/concerns were much appreciated. You rule Oppo!)

Anyways, the nut came off, so I went back to Ace, bought a full plastic trap and tailpipe assembly, plus a new nut and gasket for the joint into the wall. Installed it all, trimmed the tail pipe to fit, and SUCCESS!


Or not. No, definitely not. Now the sink wouldn’t drain at all. This revealed that I had not done a good job installing the new lever rod, so water was pouring out there, but the drain was very much clogged. I go grab our big soup pot, take it all apart again, get splashed and wet, go to pull the pot of water out ... and it’s too wide to get out of the cabinet flat.

At this point I walk away for a little bit to keep from smashing the vanity to pieces out of shear rage. Then I go get my crappy little Harbor Freight hand transfer pump, and pump the water out of the pot into the toilet, then remove the pot. Finally I clean the gook out of the drain in the wall, where it turns down with my fish tape, some wire, and just my fingers really.


I then pull the lever rod back apart, clean the calcified glob of gook that was keeping the nylon ball from sealing, and put it back together again. I put the trap assembly back together yet again, turn the water on and ... SUCCESS!

Finally, actual success!


I spent the next hour putting tools away and cleaning up. Today my back and butt are sore from how contorted I was doing that job.

Days like yesterday, I wonder why I don’t drink.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter