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November 22, 2012

Solve the problem with what's in your mind


I'm always banging on about Edwin H. Land's useful exhortation, "Solve the problem with what's in the room."

Today — this morning to be exact, after returning home from running the Boar's Head Turkey Trot 5K (27:05; 8:44/mile on a very hilly course) — I was kind of slowly calming down and approaching ground level when all of a sudden the solution to not one but two vexing problems presented themselves, seemingly out of nowhere.

1. I noticed about a month ago that one of the cuffs in my fancy new long sleeve white dress shirt didn't extend out of my suit jacket.

I looked inside the jacket sleeve and the lining was all puffy and messed up in the right sleeve, unlike the left where it was smooth and perfect.

I went back to the store where I bought the suit and asked the guy, what was the problem?

He said it hadn't been pressed properly and advised me to take it to Crystal Cleaners in Seminole Square.

OK, that made sense.

But after I got home I thought, wait a minute.

I turned the jacket inside out and lo and behold, the lining in the good sleeve was perfect — but the inside of the right sleeve looked like it had been sewn by a one-armed tailor.


I've been trying without any success to find Charlottesville's best custom tailor to take the suit jacket to for repair, but only this morning did the penny drop: What's wrong with me?

Why aren't I taking it right back to the store where I bought it and had it altered to perfection (or so I thought) last year?

Of course, I'd never have discovered the problem if I had kept wearing my default short sleeve white dress shirts: Only after buying the long sleeved shirt last month did the flaw reveal itself. 

Tomorrow morning that jacket's going in.

2. My washing machine's water lines are weirdly plumbed.

How weirdly?

Well, during the wash and rinse cycle, water from the machine suddenly starts burbling up out of the laundry room sink's drain before draining away.

But wait — there's more.

At the same time that happens, the drain in my basement floor starts backing up and regurgitates sudsy wash water onto the basement floor, said water then draining back down the hole. 

I have no interest in fixing this craziness: I've lived with it for nearly 30 years and it's not a major issue.

But what I do find annoying is that the clothes in the laundry sink — piled up as they are awaiting my occasionally doing the wash — get wet because of the bottom-up water ingress and proceed to stay wet, buried as they are under several more feet of dirty laundry, then smell kind of mildewy until I finally get around to doing the wash.

I started thinking about something to elevate the clothes above the sink bottom, say four to six inches, to keep the retrograde water from wetting the waiting dirty laundry.

Then the [second] penny dropped: Take the rack out of the unused-since-I-bought-the-house-in 1983 dishwasher (I can't stand the noise of dishwashers) and put it on the bottom of the laundry room sink to act as a lift, thereby keeping my dirty clothes above the inflowing used washing machine wash water.

I did it and it works. 

Solve the problem with what's in your mind.

Think like an anesthesiologist.

November 22, 2012 at 10:31 PM | Permalink


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The drain could be backing up suds not water if the machine hose is cavitating the water as it is pumped to the drain. I once bought a home with the washer/dryer included in the purchase. However, the owner "forgot" to tell me that the washer drain behind the washer always overflowed suds when used (among other more critical items which were hidden when the house was purchased).

Fortunately this suds overflow was onto the unfinished basement floor but without a drain so the floor was stained and slick next to the washer. Pondering the problem for several months while mopping the suds overflow, I realized that the washer was formerly a high end market version and had a white corrugated plastic drain tube installed - the tube molded like the bending part of a drink straw but for the whole length. This type of tube was an "upgrade" from the black hoses of lower end models in that it allowed the user to bend it to curves and it would keep the shape.

I swapped the corrugated tube for a new cheap, ~smooth~ black hose and "bingo" no more suds.

The corrugations of the high market tube had been cavitating the soap infused waste water when the unit pumped the water out after the wash cycle creating the huge soap suds overflow out of the drain tube. The rinse cycles would just encounter the prior suds caught in the corrugated tube and create smaller but similar problems.

Posted by: econobiker | Nov 26, 2012 5:27:30 PM

I hate to get snarky since I'm not a physician, but wouldn't thinking like a cardiologist work here? The clog is obviously above where the combined washer/floor drain join the main soil pipe or you'd be getting sewage up in your basement. A quick spin with a coat hanger (as others have commented) down the basement drain would probably be close enough to angioplasty for your needs.

Posted by: Scott | Nov 23, 2012 10:47:55 PM

Reach into the floor drain with your fingers, clear the gob of accumulated washing lint, worry no more about wet clothes.

Posted by: JohnM | Nov 23, 2012 10:26:17 AM

Think like the Anesthetized: call a plumber and have them roto-root out the main drain line to the sewer. Aseptic conditions are preferred by the Anesthetized! Take one of the benzodiazepines to deal with the trauma of plumbers!

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Nov 23, 2012 9:56:57 AM

I think like an anesthesiologist. I pass gas every day. ;-)

Posted by: antares | Nov 23, 2012 4:33:22 AM

joe - you definitely need - really need - help
i think a new bride would do it -


Posted by: sherlock | Nov 23, 2012 2:28:37 AM


Dead silent.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Nov 23, 2012 2:04:49 AM

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