Silicone Solutions

Among the diverse entertainments which enriched my life this weekend, I attempted the fifth effort on fixing a seeping drain under the new vanity. I was just almost impressed with myself and my scientific approach to the problem.

There were at least four potential sources of the leak, including each joint of the trap and where the tailspout attaches to the bottom of the sink. I cut strips of toilet paper and wrapped each around the pipe at appropriate spots. I figured the least bit of seeping water would leave an unmistakable trail.

Next I turned the faucets on and let the water run for about ten minutes, then checked underneath. There wasn’t a drop of water in the catch pan nor the least indication of any water contacting any of the strips of toilet paper. “Hmm,” I thought, “this is not precisely what I expected. This is odd indeed.”

An hour later, there was a half tablespoon of water in the drip tray but nary a trace on any of the paper strips. I was pretty sure the water could not have moved through the paper without leaving any evidence but there was no denying that water was still somehow leaking from the sink.

I checked again a few hours later. There was more water in the tray. I unwrapped each strip of toilet paper; still no trace there. I expressed my consternation to Randa. Five minutes later, while I was consoling myself with milk and Oreos, she called out, “I found it!” I continued chewing my Oreo and walked into the bathroom.

Randa had her head thrust inside the vanity and was shining a tiny, very bright LED flashlight up toward the bottom of the sind. “There it is,” she pointed, “right up there.” We swapped places and I saw a few beads of water glistening from the bottom of the sink. I wiped them off with a piece of paper towel. Within several seconds, a new bead began forming. I wiped it away and the phenomenon repeated itself. In a little while, the bead dropped off, hit the lowest bend of the trap and dropped into the catch pan. Without touching any other placeā€”or where any of the paper strips would have been.

Having found the source, I prayed, “Lord, please give me understanding, discernment and insight. Help me to understand what the problem really is and give me wisdom to fix it.”

I disassembled the entire drain assembly, removed every piece. Next, I scraped away all of the silicone I’d used trying to fix the leak. Then I used “Goof Off” solvent to remove all of the residue. With a flashlight shining underneath the sink, I inspected from the topside. The reason for the leak was immediately evident; there was a small defect at the bottom opening underneath, a tiny vertical crack in the casting.

The overflow port design of the sink and drain system create a reservoir of water around the base of the drain. The heavy rubber washer compressed against the junction is supposed to provide a seal. That tiny crack made it impossible for the washer to completely seal the joint. I filled in the defect with fresh silicone then placed a heavy circle of sealer around the opening and around the new washer. Hopefully that has fixed the leak; I haven’t tested it yet.

The whole little opportunity set me to thinking about how often we try to fix things without taking the time to really find out and understand the nature of the root cause. We change one or two steps of a process without looking at the whole thing or talking with others involved in the process and affected by our change. We epoxy the inside of a basement wall without trying to find out where the moisture is coming from on the outside of the wall. We change the order of worship without talking to the worshippers. We put up a basketball court to reduce juvenile crime without taking the time to consider the life forces at work elevating the crime rate. I think there are a lot of times when we aren’t truly trying to fix things; we’re just hoping that we’ll get lucky and it’ll quit leaking long enough for us to get away before others realize we are part of the problem instead of the solution.

Sometimes the problem is that we’re operating in our own wisdom and impatience. People probably scoff and mock at the idea of praying to fix a leaking drain. “Are you serious?! You think ‘God’ is going to fix your drain?!”

Well, it’s pretty much the same prayer I pray for the situations I face at work, situations that are much more challenging and complex. Some of those situations look like they’d need a miracle to fix. Well, I’ve already revealed my little miracle yesterday. I finally took the time to actually look for the cause instead of just smearing some more silicone on the problem. I guess next I’ll pray for the courage to find out if it really worked or not.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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