Sounds like the name of a band, doesn’t it? Or a children’s movie perhaps, a funny TV show, an exciting book? It’s not. It is a tool, a very burly one. They can be rented at your local DIY store to clean up your sh*t. Ryan’s favorite thing to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
We are having some issues in the basement. Every time it rains the basement floods. Every time we shower the basement floods. Every time we flush the toilets, the basement floods. Basically anything involving water will cause our basement to flood. The sump pump we purchased is not up to the job because of the silt that blocks the water intake and causes the pump’s motor to overheat.
Egged on by my cousin and me, who were raised to attempt everything yourself before calling in the professionals, Ryan rented the Electric Eel: a burly machine that pushes and rotates a sharp object attached to a steel cable down the drain and cuts up whatever is in its way. Then you pull it back out, insert a bigger sharp object and do it all over again. Until the obstruction is completely gone and your water flows freely again. Sounds easy enough, in theory.
The reality is a little different. First off, you don’t stick the Eel down the drain in the floor but open up a pipe that connects to the main line, usually located closer to the street. The Home Depot guy told us the blockage is always in that pipe. In our case we found out there was nothing to open up. We found a pipe going down into the newly poured cement floor at the front, but it is not capped off. That can’t be good. When we looked inside, we could not see anything alarming. We figured the blockage was probably not there, but in the part that’s under our floor. If that pipe had been blocked, then our basement would have flooded from there as well since it was not closed off.
But what do we know, we’re not professionals, and the tool was paid for, so we stuck the Eel down that pipe anyway. We pushed the line down as far out as it went, about thirty feet. Then we hauled it back in. That was the fun part. The engine had some trouble pulling all that weight, and Ryan had to give it a hand. Hanging directly over the pipe, he got up close and personal with the contents of the sewer. He was not happy and very vocally so. It did stink, I’ll give him that, but Lola’s diapers were so much worse. What was truly awful though, was the brown splatter flying off the cable when it rolled back up onto the reel. I held up a piece of cardboard to catch most of it, but not all.
The worst part of it was that it didn't do any good. The water pooling in the drain was still there. Nothing had changed. We had only proven to ourselves what we already knew: we are the exception to the rule and our blockage is under the house. And for that we need a professional. So we hauled the heavy-ass machine back up the stairs, hosed it off, and took it back to the Home Depot. For the time being, we’ll take short showers and hope it doesn't rain. Oh, the joy of home ownership.