Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Adventures In Hillbilly Plumbing

Our house out here was built either just before or just after World War I, which means it's getting up on 100-years-old.  The house originally ended at the creek, and a later addition added the whole straddling-the-creek situation.  Remember this photo?
There are three rooms which sit over the creek: my bedroom, Kat's bedroom, and the main bathroom.  Which brings us to my story.

On Saturday, after our adventures at the swimming hole, Vista, Greer (who works at Snowshoe and is one of the ladies in this post), and I were lazing around on the porch with the roomies.  In the midst of this afternoon of sloth, I roused myself to hang a load of laundry to dry on the line.  Kat had gone inside to take a shower, and a few minutes after the screen door closed after her, water began streaming steadily from beneath the house, into the creek.  It was odd, so I wandered over to investigate.  When I determined that the water was coming from the approximate location of the bathroom, I may have panicked.

I ran to the porch, and somehow conveyed my distress earnestly enough to Emily and Greer to draw them over to check it out.  Emily was the first to take the initiative and actually look underneath the house to assess the extent of the damage.  What she saw was pieces of the house dangling down directly beneath the bathroom.

I'm afraid I did not handle myself well.  The house was rotting.  Pieces were hanging off of it.  This was bad, oh was it ever bad.  I was certain, absolutely convinced that the next time I stepped into the shower, my weight would send it crashing through the rotted floorboards and there I'd be, naked and mortified, standing in the creak surrounded by the wreckage of our bathroom.  The world was ending, and I would never be clean again.

Fortunately, I held it together long enough to call Handyman Dave, who has already been our savior on several occasions.  In addition to the precarious shower situation, our sink hadn't been draining very well, so he looked at that first.  From the next room, I listened to his exclamations of disgust has he went further and further down the pipe.  I don't know what we were expecting he'd find, but it wasn't what he did find: a bright red and blue child's toothbrush.  Which would be odd enough, except that our sink drain isn't exactly open.  Getting a fat little toothbrush all the way down into the pipe must have been a serious feat of engineering.  But the question of why someone would purposely put a toothbrush down a drain was only the beginning of our bathroom mysteries.

Handyman Dave turned to the shower.  He hemmed, he hawed, he walked purposefully from the bathroom to the creek and back, turning the water on and off.  I sat on the couch and chewed my fingernails.  Finally, he had his answer.  First of all, the house was not rotting.  The stuff we saw hanging off the house were pieces of cheap cardboard cover that someone had installed at some point.  Structurally, the house was sound.  There would be no crashing through the floor, no naked mortification.  But what was causing that water?

"Hillbilly plumbing" was Handyman Dave's answer.  What?

Apparently, when the shower was installed, oh, thirty years ago, the drain was never actually attached to any pipes.  The shower drains directly into the creek.  It has always drained directly into the creek.

Here's the part where I laughed myself half to hysteria.  Fortunately, Handyman Dave thinks it will be fairly easy to correct, and soon enough we will be polluting our little creek no more.  When I joked about bathing in the creek, all those weeks ago, I had no idea how close I'd actually be coming.


  1. Forgive me for laughing out loud for a few moments, literally. Whew. That was funny. I think you should make sure that the lady who draws the great pictures of her mentally retarded dog and her killer pink and purple bike reads this story so she can draw a funny picture of you standing in the creek in the bathtub :)

  2. I tried to do one, for you I tried. But it failed miserably.

  3. Ooh. Straight-piping. You get that in the Appalachians. Not good, but glad to hear you're getting it sorted. :) Sorry that it took you a heart attack and visions of the house succumbing to gravity in the process.

  4. This post made me giggle a little bit.