Been There, Done That: Make do and bail water

We’ve had plumbing issues at my house for years. It started gradually with the kitchen sink not draining well. The shower drained, but very slowly and only after allowing the water to get almost to the top of the rim. And eventually, I abandoned the washer altogether after having water pumped out all over the floor for the LAST time.

Our “inside” house insurance only covers it when something breaks. A drain that doesn’t isn’t their problem.

The funny part is that it was only that one line. Both bathrooms were unaffected, the sinks and toilets anyway. We had stopped using the upstairs bathroom long before the drain problem. I took offense to the way it leaked into the closet downstairs.

We had called plumbers on occasion, they’d come out, snake the drains and charge us $100. Everything would work fine for a while.

And then slowly they would fade out again. Another $100 and here we go again. We needed a permanent fix — which we couldn’t afford. So, we made do with what we had.

We could still use our shower if we were willing to bail out the water afterward. Yep, I can do that a lot easier than figure out someplace else to take a shower on a regular basis.

We still had running water in the kitchen, it just wouldn’t drain. So, we bailed it out of there after doing the dishes. It only took a little while to learn to contain the water in something other than the sink. It’s lots easier to pick a big pan out of the sink and pour it out. We dumped it in the driveway until we noticed the dogs out there scavenging for snacks.

Trying to catch the washer before it pumped a million gallons of water on the floor proved futile, so we opted for a trip to the laundromat. We went weekly for a while, just seemed natural to do laundry once a week. But that got old — loading up basket after basket, unloading, reloading, unloading again then spending the whole next day drying everything.

We dried at home. I’m not spending my afternoon at the laundromat ripping through a bucket of quarters when my dryer works fine.

Eventually, we bought more socks and skivvies so we could go three weeks between laundromat visits. We bought a few more laundry baskets and used the triple load washers.

It wasn’t horrible — a hillbilly can survive. But when we finally scraped up the money to get a plumber to replace the drain lines — we were ready to thrive.

No more pots posing as the kitchen sink. That’s a good news/bad news thing. Pots don’t hold as much as a sink, so dishes got done a lot more often with pots.

We did away with the downstairs shower altogether after the plumber fixed the leaky one upstairs. Heating that little room is a breeze compared to attempting to warm the utility room, which is made up of mostly concrete. Letting the water rush over you and run right out the drain is wonderful. No more Cinderella bailing out bucket after bucket.

As for the washer, ours didn’t survive all the years of stagnation. And sadly, our budget didn’t include a new one.

A friend offered us one that has some “issues.” Awesome. Not like we haven’t lived with “issues” before.

I did have to relearn how to do laundry at my house. Where did I sort out my piles and do I even want to do that now? We’ve been washing everything together in two triple load washers forever.

I’m learning how to deal with it. I’ve also learned that one of this washer’s issues is it doesn’t like triple loads. It doesn’t even like full loads. No more three weeks between laundry days.

No problem. It likes little loads, great, I don’t need a staging area. I gather what I can carry out of the hampers and good to go.

We’ve put up with so much worse, this is going to be just fine. Making do is what we do.

Laura Nethken
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