Everyone loves plumbing disaster stories… unless they happen to be the unfortunate protagonist. Last week, we recounted two of the most dramatic, (literally) death-defying tales of plumbing gone wrong that we’ve ever heard of. Those were something else, for sure, but we’re not done yet. Not by a long shot.
We saved two of the best for last: the weirdest story, and the scariest one. We’ll start with the weird one, obviously.
Thanksgiving Down the Drain
People constantly try to flush all kinds of strange stuff down their toilets. You’d be amazed at some of the stuff we’ve found lodged halfway down drain pipes on some of the jobs we’ve been on. No matter what we find, though, it’ll have a hard time topping this tale of Thanksgiving turkey terror.
This tale comes from Kelly-Sue Midler, a call center admin for a plumbing company in Kansas City. Apparently, she took a call from an elderly woman on the day after Thanksgiving. The woman’s toilet was backed up, and water was flooding out of it onto her bathroom floor.
When the technician arrived, he quickly diagnosed the problem: there was something lodged in the toilet’s trap that was preventing water from entering the drain pipes properly. The technician removed the stool to get at the trap… and found an entire turkey carcass inside it. The woman had tried to flush the remains of a Thanksgiving feast down her toilet. When the bewildered tech asked why she had done this, she explained that she didn’t have a garbage disposal!
Why It Happened
What we can’t figure out is how this woman managed to get the turkey carcass as far down her toilet’s drain as she did! A Thanksgiving turkey is a big bird. She must have been really mashing that thing in there.
Obviously, if a large object gets lodged in a pipe, that pipe can’t serve its function. In this case, the turkey was lodged in the toilet’s trap. Traps are the P-shaped curve in your drain pipes. That curve prevents sewage or wastewater from back splashing back up. When the trap gets blocked, all the water you just flushed bounces off the clog and comes right back at you.
What We Could Have Done
Ask for seconds! …sorry, we couldn’t resist. We’d start by digging deep into the trap to pull out the whole turkey carcass along with any… other remains. Then, we’d probably deep clean the trap and the rest of the drain pipe, either with a snake or inspection camera and hydro jets.
Depending on the nature and severity of the clog, we might replace the trap entirely. Finally, we’d double check on the stability of the toilet and whole drain pipe system. A substantial enough clog (like this one!) could put pipes under a lot of strain. We could fix or replace stressed pipes on-site.
Winter Flood Warning
This one is less a single, specific plumbing disaster story and more a cautionary tale that repeats itself every winter. Pipe freezing isn’t just a problem for those poor saps up in Minnesota. Under the right circumstances, almost anyone’s pipes could be vulnerable to freezing. Yes, it even happens in Texas.
Ironically, southern homes may actually be more vulnerable to pipe freezing, because our pipes aren’t built to withstand cold weather.
It’s the Holiday season. You and your family are flying up to the Midwest to spend a week with your spouse’s extended family. Before you leave, you do everything you can think of: you lock the doors, turn off the AC or heat, make sure none of the lights are on, close the garage door, take out the trash. But you can’t help feeling like you forgot something…
Fast forward: you’re pulling into your driveway. It’s the middle of the night, and you’re exhausted. You can’t wait to sleep in your own bed. You pull into the garage, unlock the door, turn the handle, and… freezing water pours from the home all over your feet. Your house has flooded. You’re not sleeping tonight.
Why It Happened
When the water inside pipes freezes, downstream water pushes up against the newly-formed ice. As it struggles it break through, dangerous amounts of pressure build downstream, between the ice and the closed faucet.
When enough pressure builds, the pipe could rupture or even burst, flooding your bathroom or kitchen. Pipe freezing is more likely if you don’t use your water, so if it’s going to happen, it’ll probably happen while you’re out of town. Life isn’t fair.
What We Could Have Done
Before the freeze, we could inspect your pipes and let you know if you should be concerned about freezing. We can insulate the pipes or replace vulnerable sections with more freeze-resistant material. We’d also remind you to turn off and drain the water system before going out of town. You’re not using it anyway, and it’s the best way to protect your pipes.
After the flood, we’d spring into action to help. First, we’d turn off the water. Then, we’d move anything vulnerable to water damage. Next, we’d replace the ruined pipe along with any ruined faucets or other damaged plumbing apparatus. We could even locate and fix hidden leaks inside the walls of your home.
We make plumbing sound pretty dramatic and scary here, but that’s not (all) we’re trying to do. Hopefully, we’ve also reassured you that no matter how crazy and ridiculous your plumbing disaster may seem to you, we’ve seen–and fixed–worse.
When you give Ben Franklin a call for any of your plumbing needs, rest assured we’ll know exactly what to do. Just… don’t go out of your way to top these plumbing disaster stories, ok? We’re up for the challenge, but we worry about you. And turkeys.