Jake Mohan's account of getting the plumbers in to repair a ghastly backed-up basement drain is a lovely, happy-ending tale of honest contractors, nice property developers, and the fascinating, invisible guts of your house:
Rick turned on the jackhammer, making the loudest noise I’ve ever heard indoors (and I’m a drummer). What’s truly crazy is that we didn’t actually know where the sewer line was underneath the floor—we were simply operating according to Rick’ educated guess. So once we’d punched through the concrete with the jackhammer and pounded it away with a sledgehammer and shoveled away the soil underneath, we had to dig down and back and forth in several directions—roughly the dimensions, I noted grimly, of the hole one might dig for a small coffin—tapping around gingerly with the shovel until we heard the telltale ping of the iron sewer main.
That’s when Tom returned with segments of PVC and cans of pungent, purple adhesive to fuse them together. In slightly more time than it would take me to change the aforementioned bike tire, Tom jumped into the hole, cut out a segment of 112-year-old cast-iron sewer pipe using a pipe snapper1 measured and cut a section of PVC with Y-joint for the cleanout, and attached this elegant new segment onto the old sewer line.
Tom then ran off again, but not before writing me an invoice for “work to resolve a non-conforming cleanout,” which made our plumbing sound like a goth kid.
Adventures At The Intersection of Homeownership And Sewage [Jake Mohan/The Billfold]
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.