Flushable Wipes Are The Devil or A Really $h1tty Weekend

July 30, 2012

by — Posted in Personal Writing


This last weekend was no fun.   Let’s start with Friday night.   Xie was still sick with what has lasting for the last week.   Lex still had a cough that he had prescription medicine for.   Xie then proceeded to accidentally break her glasses.   I logged in online and scheduled an exam for Lenscrafters the next day at 4:00PM.   Everything cinched up right?  Not quite.

Friday night Xie asked me if I spilled some water Friday morning since she cleaned some up.   I didn’t, but I thought maybe I knocked something over in my tired morning state.   We chalked it up to the mystery that would never be solved.  It was solved, the next morning.

I’m sitting downstairs on Saturday morning watching cartoons with Lex.   Xie is upstairs taking a shower.   I hear dishes shift in the kitchen, that happens sometimes.  I let it go.   A few minutes later I hear dripping.   It wasn’t a little drip – it was a big drip.  Then there were more drips.

I rush out to the kitchen and there is water on the floor.   There is water in the sinks that is rising.  There is water pouring out from under the cabinet.   I sprint up stairs and tell Autumn to turn off the shower.   I figured out pretty quickly that it was probably Lex’s flushable wipe that was causing the issue.  It was the only thing that has changed – always look at the new variables first.

Searching online you can find out that flushable wipes are one of the main reasons for drain clogs these days.   They are not as flushable as one would believe.   They don’t break down either.  If one get’s caught it will cause a backup.   This is what we figured happened to us.  I then did what every red-blooded testosterone misdirected man in America tries to do, I attempted to fix it myself.

Luckily it was stuck somewhere in the middle of the basement.   This meant we still had one working toilet.  We also had a working shower and washing machine.   The sink downstairs had been scavenged for parts when I put a new sink in the upstairs bathroom, so that was out.   In theory we could still bath and use the restroom.

We got Lex out of the house and went shopping early.  I bought the usual round of industrial drain cleaner’s from Lowes.  I also bought a drain snake.   Lex is then scheduled to go to Grandma’s for the night.   When we get home I drop all the chemicals down the drain.   We waited a few hours.   We attempted to run the shower.   There was no change.  It started to back up again.   Xie cleaned up the kitchen.  I proceeded to pull out my snake…er…my drain snake.

The first round was to try to go through the kitchen drain and into the main pipe.   After removing all the under-sink pipes I quickly learned this strategy was not going to work.  I wasn’t going to get it done Saturday night.   I needed PVC pipe.  I had to cut into the spot the kitchen drain met up with the main drain.  The next day I went to home depot and bought PVC pipe.   I also bought more industrial drain cleaner (misdirected testosterone driven male).   We came home and I proceeded to cut out a six-inch section of pipe.

With the pipe removed I managed to get into the main line (finally).   I fed in about twenty feet of the snake.   I hit a snag I couldn’t get past.  I attempted for about fifteen to twenty minutes.   I had Xie run the shower to see if somehow I managed to get it clear.   I am listening to the pipe and water is going down.   It sounds like it is getting more shallow, but I’m not sure.  All of sudden water it just about to the top.  I yell for the shower to be turned off, but I didn’t figure the distance of the water still in the pipes.  I got splashed good.

I knew at that moment I wasn’t going to be able to do this myself.   I also knew adding more chemicals into the mix wasn’t going to help either.   I had to claim defeat at the DIY scenario.  I had to call of work on Monday and call a plumber.  I would say I felt less masculine, but I’m a geek, that feeling is natural.

I woke up at 9AM and immediately called some plumbers.  It seems that plumbers don’t answer the phone anymore.  They have you leave a voicemail message and then call you back.  It’s a gauntlet.   I left two messages and by eleven I hadn’t received a call back.  I then called down the list and left messages at six other places.  I called a national provider and they could be here later today.   There was unfortunately a $69.00 just showing up before any work is done charge.  No one else had called back, so I scheduled it.

Fifteen minutes later I did receive a call.   They had an hourly rate of $110.00. I knew this was going to be the better solution.   I called the other place back to make sure I could cancel.  I then arranged for my only call back to come out.   They were there in two hours.

They attempted to run their snake through the opening I had made.   After two run throughs they didn’t pull anything up.   We ran a hose down the line and it was still clogged.  They tried one more time and the same result.   They then opened an access point at the bottom of the pipe (that I wasn’t aware was there).   They snaked it two more times with the same result.

Then then use the balloon spray injection method.  I’ve had to do this for clogs in the upstairs sink.  They ran this for ten minutes.  They then ran the snake through again.  No change.  After three more attempts they finally pulled up some wipes.   A couple more attempts after that they pulled out some more.   The drain was going faster, but still to slow.

They then used the balloon device again and ran it for fifteen minutes.   After that they snaked it one last time and it seemed to be flowing normally.   They packed up and explained to me that since it was the wipes they couldn’t warranty the work.   Everything did seem to be working though.   My total bill was 140.00.   The first hour was $110.00, but the second hour it took was an additional $60.00.   They did give me a discount on a half hour because they originally quoted me $110.00.  I would have paid them $170.00 without blinking.

The only real annoyance is they don’t take credit cards.   We had to find the checkbook and actually write a check.  This will make three checks I write this year.   We did talk about some options so they could take credit cards in the future, since it is annoying.

We went picked up Lex and went out to eat.   When we got home I dumped the rest of the industrial drain cleaner and some drano into the opening I cut on Sunday.  I then put a new section of PVC pipe in to replace what I cut out.   I headed upstairs reassembled the pipes underneath the kitchen sink.   At the moment everything is working and flowing.   It will be a bit before we take a long shower again.

I can say if you use flushable wipes even just for toddlers, be warned that the damage can costs thousands.   We were lucky with getting by for as cheap as we did.   There are many horror stories out there where there is thousands of dollars in damage.   I’m glad that with the cost of tools, chemicals, and professional I managed to get out with just about $200.00 down the hole.  Literally all the money I spent was to go down that hole.

I hope you had a better weekend than us.

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