Plumbing... ugh. Let's just say that whoever plumbed the drain system from the apartment through to the main house did a thoroughly bass-ackward job. Long-time readers will remember how the drains froze up last winter, and how we had to scramble to get the other bathroom in working order.
Well, Ken's been working under the house, in the crawl space, to get floors insulated, wires rerouted, and ultimately, to get the drains fixed. The problem was that there was apparently very little slope, and, "creative" joins where all the various drains came together into one, including a Fernco coupling which was never meant to be used in such a fashion. Do you know what happens when water freezes inside an improperly fitted Fernco? It expands, and leaks, and forms "icicles" from the coupling down to the ground, under the house. We know because we stuck our heads under there last year and saw the spectacle.
So, Ken finally got to the point where he could work on the drainpipes, which entailed digging out quite a bit of soil so he'd have room to maneuver under there. The original plan was to push the pipes up, as they'd obviously been hung up before (but the plastic hangers broke) and re-hang them. Last night that was what we tried to do, with Ken under the house, and me inside. Except, there wasn't enough space to push the pipe up enough to get the slope. It would just run into the floor joists between the first and second floor and couldn't go any farther. I should mention that the apartment has an upstairs half-bath and a downstairs full bath. The drainpipes for the upstairs bath run through the ceiling and then down next to the end of the staircase where the PVC pipe is visible for all to see and then down through the floor and underneath the house. The ceiling fortunately is made of rough barn boards so they can be taken down fairly easily to expose all the lovely plumbing.
After examining all this it became apparent that the vertical length of pipe running from the second floor down to the first was too long. And since the other bits and pieces up there in the ceiling had been leaking in various spots, it was decided to just take it all apart, and start over. Today therefore we made a trip to Home Depot and picked up all the necessary parts and got home and Ken started sawing through pipe and removing it bit by bit.
Then things got really interesting. He was upstairs in the half-bath where he'd had to cut a hole in the wall behind the toilet (after removing said toilet) to get to the vent pipe which goes up through the eave space and through the roof. He suspected that the coupling used to to join the vent wasn't glued, and indeed, it was just jammed on tight and not glued, which explained why we had periodic leaks. So he was up there examining that and I was downstairs, on the computer, writing a blog entry in fact, when the lights simply went out. No flickering, no warning, just out. Well, it was pretty windy and apparently a power line was taken out somewhere. So, now we have a dismantled drain system, and Ken's all dirty from crawling around under the house, and there's stuff all over, and we have no power. Oh, and did I mention it was raining?
What to do but press on! We got the generator out, plugged in some worklights (and our freezer), and kept going.
To make this long story slightly shorter, once Ken was able to get all the old parts out from under the house, he started to hang tees and wyes under there so he could measure to cut pipe to make the joins, and also so he could get the right slope..... except.... as currently configured, there is no slope to be had. See, where all of this rigamarole enters the basement of the main house, the pipe is up too high (it goes through an old window which is boarded up). From where the pipe enters through the old window, back to where the pipe comes down through the floor in the apartment, there is virtually no slope at all, and no way to get any slope because the pipe has to run across the floor joists, and it bumps up against them. The only way to get the required slope is going to be to lower the drain pipe where it enters through the window and runs into the basement of the main house. Fortunately, once it goes through the window it drops straight down for a distance before heading along the wall to the other end where it goes out to the septic. So, there is room to lower it, without messing up the drainage on the inside of the house.
About the time that Ken finished getting the old bits out from under the apartment, the power did come back on, so that was one bright spot (no pun intended) in this whole mess. But you can see why this Halloween turned into such a horror!