How Much Does It Cost To Thaw A Toilet?Posted: December 15, 2014
Last week, I explained how I managed to prevent a plumbing disaster in our home by gradually thawing a toilet bowl in our home which had become frozen. I also admitted that the toilet was frozen because I thought it would be funny to see my wife’s reaction to my putting dry ice in the bowl.
A catastrophe was averted that day because of my patient and heroic effort. I managed to thaw the ice before it damaged our plumbing. End of story, or so I thought.
Meet Ted Luby
The next morning was routine. I got a few things done, had lunch and headed to the gym. As I started my time on the treadmill, my phone rang. The number on the screen wasn’t one I recognized so I just kept the treadmill moving; the caller left a message. After a few minutes, curiosity got the best of me and I listened to the message. It wasn’t good.
“This is Ted Luby from the city water department, pollution control division. I’m trying to reach Mr. or Mrs. Omawarisan. Last night, one of your neighbors called 911 and reported some smoke or vapor coming from their plumbing. A fire marshal went out, there was no fire but there were some elevated levels of carbon monoxide and dioxide.”
“I returned to the neighbors’ to investigate this morning and we probed the water and sewer lines in your neighborhood. The highest levels of carbon dioxide were coming from the lines to your home. I’ll need to speak with you about this matter if one of you would call me back.”
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide gas. Did a piece of it get in to the water lines and cause this problem at the neighbor’s house? How could this be possible? It seemed that my funny little dry ice trick was becoming less funny than I’d planned. Less funny, in this case, looked like a lot of trouble.
Probed By Ted Luby
My first call was to my wife. I wanted her to know what was going on from the beginning. Not being upfront with her just wouldn’t be right. I called and explained Mr. Luby’s message.
She was, correctly, not happy with the news, but handled it the way we handle everything. “Call me back and let me know what happens. No matter what, we will get through it.”
Ted Luby answered after a few rings and I told him who I was. He ran through the situation again and started asking questions – “are you or your wife having any sort of symptoms from being exposed to carbon dioxide? Is there anything in your home that might be causing these elevated gas levels?”
I told Mr. Luby that we’d gotten a shipment of frozen food as part of a promotion and that it had come packed in dry ice. “Oh, did you have it near a drain?”, he asked. I told him that I did, because a toilet is a drain. “That could be the source of our problem. I’ll need to do further testing, can you meet me at your place?” I offered to meet him right away, but ended up with an appointment for 4:30.
As we were wrapping up the call, Mr. Luby dropped an extra bit of news on me – “there may be a cost associated with the time that we’ve spent investigating this matter”.
Ted Luby Is Everywhere
I walked a lap around the gym, then dialed my wife’s number to give her the bad news. Ted Luby answered the phone. Convinced that I’d accidentally re-dialed his number, I apologized to Mr. Luby and told him that I’d misdialed. “No problem, as a matter of fact, I’m in your wife’s office now.” Mr. Luby referred to her first name and occupation.
Luby was starting to bug me. I’d agreed to let him in to our home, because he was a guy who had a job to do. If I’d screwed up, I would deal with the consequences. I’d told him of the dry ice and had every intention of explaining what I’d done in full, yet incredibly silly, detail at our upcoming appointment. What reason did he have to bother my wife at her office?
I was processing these thoughts when Mr. Luby said “do you want to talk to her?” and then handed the phone over to my wife.
“I’m glad you called me right away before Mr. Luby got to my office” my wife told me. I told her that I was too, and then she started laughing. Luby started laughing in the background.
“I’ve got to let you off the hook. Mr. Luby is Barry, from my office.”
I’ve met Barry a few times. He’s a great guy. I still think that. It simply never occurred to me that Mr. Luby sounded just like him; I was too busy thinking about how much trouble I’d gotten myself in to. We all had a good laugh before Mrs. Oma and Barry went back to work. I took a few more minutes to stop laughing before I got back to the treadmill.
I try to learn from every experience. My lessons in this whole prank adventure –
- Dry ice in a toilet is not as funny as I’d anticipated. It was potentially a very costly joke.
- Patience is important when thawing a toilet.
- Pranking Mrs. Oma is challenging. The dry ice toilet was a predictable fastball down the middle of the plate. She (and Barry) hit that pitch out of the park.
Next year, when that food shipment comes, no more foggy toilets for this guy.
(This is the 900th post on Blurt!)