Slightly Bemused: Mystery Drain And The Bleeps Of Doom

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Slightly Bemused writes:

Well, the dishwasher is broken. Again.

Went to put on a load before bedtime, and before I am halfway up the stairs I get the beeps of doom. Error E2, whatever that means. I know I kept the manual, and even downloaded a version, but do you think I can find either at this time? Something for the morning, I reckon.

This happened before, and I think I know what the culprit is. My dishwasher has a mini fat berg. Which is appropriate, given it is a mini dishwasher. A wonderful countertop version, it takes me a few days to fill it, and then washes everything clean with less water than I would use in a basin. Greta Thunberg would be happy with me. Except maybe for the chemicals. And, of course, before Little Slightly arrived, and discovered sausages.

Every so often though something too greasy gets put in, and it does not clear it all if you are not careful. So the grease builds up around the fairly small floats that determine things like emptying the water out, pumping the water in, or my favourite: Stop pumping the water in. I came down one day to the beeping, and found the entire unit had filled with water that was still coming in. The seals are good, but not that good, and water was all over the floor.

This was before the furry carpet incident, but it may have helped lead to it.

And today I had to chuckle ruefully. It reminded me of myself when I was half her age. In two respects. I was over at Grandma Slightly’s place with the horde, visiting the horde that lied there, with Aunt Slightly’s mini-horde along for the craic. At one point, I noted that Grandma had put on a washing, and the twin tub was sitting by the sink. Outlet hose had been taken from its storage position and hooked over the sink to drain away. Young me looked at this and thought it a waste of water, and plugged the drain hole. A short time later there is a yell from the kitchen, adults come running only to find the sink full and overflowing. It was an old one with no overflow drain, not that one would have helped much given the outflow from the tub.

Not only is there water everywhere on the floor, it is draining into the contents of the under sink cabinet. Grandma was furious. and demanded to know who had done this wicked deed. My Mum assured her that none of her little wains could ever dream up such a diabolical thing. All were drafted in to mop, squeeze, slop out and eventually return the kitchen to a sense of normality. All while dinner was cooking in and on the old Rayburn range, somewhat cut off by the floodwaters. But I think my mother knew, and went point for me.

At last all was well, food was piled onto plates, and all the tables were filled with munching munchkins while the adults chatted about stuff that went over our heads. Roll on a few years, and I am at home asked to help my Mum clean up after cooking dinner, letting it settle before we sat to eat. Clear the cooking dishes, then eat, then wash the dinner plates and such, that was the plan.

So little old me decided that the best way to clean the roasting pan that had cooked the roast potatoes in suet rendered fat was to pour it down the drain of the sink. So I did. Of course, I knew nothing of the fact that fat would congeal. Well, I did, because we saw it do it. Mum and Dad’s usual way of disposing of same was to let it set, then scrape it and dump it. In the winter, my mother would use it to make fat balls for the birds, but in summer it went the way of the bin.

So a load of hot melted suet fat is poured down a drain where it promptly gels into a nice fat berg. Water goes nowhere, and even the overflow pipe is blocked. There was no getting away with this either. Mum had seen me, and yelled ‘Stop!’, but it was too late, the damage was busy moulding itself to the shape of the drain, and the u-turn, and as we later learned, the entire downpipe to the drain. First it coated, then everything else stuck to it.

Did I mention that my Dad was an engineer? He was, and very good at it. Anyways, I got a lesson in how drains work, and why it is not a good idea to pour fat down a sink. We had to dismantle the whole system to the main drain. I had the joy of cleaning out the dank smelly pipes and removing all the crud. It was not pleasant, and at the time I felt very put upon. Richly deserved, and me-of-then did not appreciate that my Dad was also teaching me about plumbing.

He quietly let me know why narrowing of the pipes affected things like speed of drainage, and why some pipes were thinner than others. What is the fall a pipe should have for good gravity flow, and why straight down is really not the solution. And how to remove a fat berg from a blocked drain. Time, effort, and hot water. All was put back together, all did not leak (after Dad checked the seals, that is) and I was allowed have a by now much needed bath and change into clean jammies, as it was now past my bedtime.

After that, a new system for fat disposal was introduced: the empty glass bottle! A glass bottle of some form was set up with a funnel atop. Liquid fats were poured in, where they could settle any which way they wanted. Once full, the bottle cap was affixed, and the bottle put in the bin. I still do the same today

Over this past weekend I took Little Slightly to visit another wing of the family, who arrived in their multitude. During the course of the evening I was reminded of a conversation between my Mum and Aunt Slightly. It went along the lines that the art of conversation is to start on one subject, wander through many others, before finally returning to the original topic. Turned into a little competition as my cousins kept interrupting my story off to new paths before one finally turned and said ‘Let’s give Slightly a few seconds so he can recalibrate and return to his story’, at which point without a break I returned exactly to the part I had been interrupted at. It’s not clear if she was pleased, or another ‘p’ word, but she laughed while using language I cannot print here.

So I think Little Slightly may have inadvertently put something into the dishwasher that had a bit too much grease. Or maybe not one, but several post-sausage or post-rasher frying pans too many. And so the poor thing is on strike, and wants a little TLC again, and maybe some hot water. Sadly that will have to wait until the weekend comes, but it has been a faithful friend of fine cleaning, and deserves a little break. I am sure it will soon be back up to its usual chirpy slurpy self, and pristine dishes shall once again grace my shelves.

But don’t worry! I will not make Little Slightly clean it out alone. Or send her to bed afterwards.

Slightly Bemused‘s column appears here every Wednesday.


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8 thoughts on “Slightly Bemused: Mystery Drain And The Bleeps Of Doom

  1. GiggidyGoo

    Heh heh. Enjoyed that – someone else getting the bleeps of death. Mini dishwasher is an idea though. The noise out of those twin tubs was a pain.

  2. alickdouglas

    We used to get peculiar blockages of the kitchen sink. Eventually I discovered that Dr Douglas Home was badly brought up, and was emptying grease down the drain. I therefore introduced the concept–er, probably rather heavy handedly–of the empty tin can (tomatoes, beans) to drain the fat into, something that my mother had championed. It is now referred to rather sarcastically as an ‘Alick’s mother’s tin’. I dread to think what will happen if my mother finds out. Although I like your idea of the glass bottle, I don’t fancy the risk of it breaking with hot fat, or in the bin. Also, I’ve discovered the tin can go in the freezer.

  3. Slightly Bemused

    Hi all.

    I am glad you enjoyed this. Sorry for the very late reply, but I am newly employed and get home at an odd hour.

    If anyone wants an update, the dishwasher had a diet of a couple of kettles of hot water, a rest, and is now out running again. Shortly I will treat it to a nice deep cleaning bath and all will be good in the cutlery stakes!

    alick, I have been lucky and never had the glass break. We rarely use cans or that would have been the go-to option, and I have used it before. The good thing with the bottle is once there is a small amount in it, the next gets cooled quickly, which is why the funnel is good. It directs the flow to the centre of the bottle, and does not flow down the sides, which would possibly crack them. Also the lid will keep liquid fat or oil in.

    Apparently cooled fat in a shallow can with cardboard wicks used be put to use as a ‘hobo’s oven’ during the great depression in the US. Coil a piece of cardboard in the can, pour in the used fat (oil I am not sure would work, but might) and light it. Enough for a hot pot or kettle.

      1. Slightly Bemused

        I normally do that, but I think in this case it got more use in a month than I normally give it in six :-)

        1. U N M U T U A L

          …the drawbacks of a 24 hour kitchen and 16 sausages on the go… Next time throw in a dose of Andrews Liver Salts with the dish washer tablet. ;-)


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