Kitchen Plumbing, Part II

By Steven V. Philips –

undersinkLast month I revealed how well our daughter had married. Remember in the old days, when your child married a lawyer, mom and dad thought ”L-o-t-t-e-r-y”?  Even better, our child’s father-in-law is Ron, a plumber. Talk about hitting the jackpot.

In February I listed my daughter’s many plumb-lucky plumbing gifts over just the past two years in their new/old house. And I even missed giving Ron credit for earlier years, for when their downtown Boston condo needed everything replaced, guess who spent a month there? Yup. Three zero-earning days, with a walk-down from the fourth floor every two hours to feed a parking meter five blocks away.

Of course, having zero shame myself, I’ve never hesitated to beg his advice from 1300 miles away either. So generously, to save you a few pence, I’m sharing some more inside plumber stuff with you.

plumb4First of all, paying the plumber. Pay on the spot, when your mess is fixed. A check, that will cash, is preferred. Next, some plumbers will quote over the phone. (These people would also be known as fortune tellers.) Some charge a diagnostic fee whether or not they do the work. Some charge a flat rate and whine later. Ron charges by the hour, a strategy that 35 years in the business has taught him is best for everyone.

So besides Ron whom do you call? Ask three other people whose judgement you trust and not the yellow pages. Once you find him or her, and if subsequently said plumber returns your call, shows up on time, (and quickly in a crisis) and leaves no mess, marry into the family if you can.

“I want to be alone with the drips.Lovable as 82-pound Rover may be, please keep him out back gnawing on his pork chop rather than on the shank de’ plumber. That would also be a ditto for grandma. And even more so, her lovable grandchildren. The plumber is not that interested in chatting although grannie’s stories of outhouses are riveting.

Horrible truth: Over-the-counter drain cleaners don’t usually work. “Usually” means in the 80% range. Better to avoid any icky-ness by keeping cooking fats, shells, ground bones, coffee grounds and celery shavings out of your sink. If your sink drains out s-l-o-w-l-y, or worse, if it doesn’t drain, call the plumber right away, because you’ll be making that call later anyway.

Plumb2Also know, as a true public service, that there are some drain cleaners, sold only to the plumbing trade, that might work. But, but, these have sulfuric acid as a component. Good to use if you want to burn out your piping, damage your sink and/or countertop surfaces, kill your pet gerbil and scar yourself for life. So, don’t use them. Didn’t I tell you to call the plumber?

And this from Ron: “When you drop your jewelry down the drain, don’t run the water thinking it might float back to the top.” Hmm, plumbers can be sarcastic.

Lastly, Ron reveals why he works by the hour: “I’m called to fix a leaking kitchen drain line. Suspecting the leak is the size of a gnat’s nose, I get down for a closer look. Opening the cabinet doors, I find this panorama: Jammed in the width of one yardstick hangs down a double sink, a million horse-power disposal, a trash compactor, a hot water dispenser, trash and recycling bins sitting on a non-removable roller system, a hand-lotion dispenser, a rotting cabinet floor, seven years of mouse droppings and accumulated containers of Comet, steel wool, detergent and silver polish. Plus a leaking box of mouse poison. And then the Lord of the Mansion arrives: “I suppose that I should have moved some of this before you got here, but do you mind if I watch?””

MY career in plumbing would have been much shorter.

M thanks to Ron Kushner, a master plumber in Eastern Massachusetts for 35 years. I’m thrilled we’re related.


6 thoughts on “Kitchen Plumbing, Part II”

  1. Note: Numbers correction to the article above.

    Said plumber actually spent 30 (that is three-zero/zero-income) days hiking up and down to that sky-high condo. And several of those days he spent hanging like a bat, in an inner air shaft, four stories from cement, installing two (1+1=2) vent ducts. No greater love hath a gratis plumber shown in plumbing histories. Never mind a plumber that’s paid.


  2. I hope your son in law brought lunch or at least answered a couple computer questions for his dad.

  3. Boy if Ron lived in the Sarasota area he would be in my contacts. Totally agree with asking around, so true with plumbers and many of the other trades when it comes to household issues.
    SVP’s humor has made me chuckle, thanks for the entertainment!

  4. Sounds like a handy man to have around! Maybe I should have married a plumber! Oh wait, I did!

  5. writing a monthly article for anything is certainly a daunting task, no less one about kitchen plumbing, but once again, your scholarly journalistic talents of taking the somewhat mundane and making it engaging were once again succesful-mazal tov

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