Six Ways To Seeing Solutions

Lorraine as Super Handywoman facing leaky pipeNothing like wringing in the new year by discovering a leaking pipe.

Crap. So much for catching up on some work.


Mind glommed onto the problem and began racing through solutions as if survival of the planet was at stake.

Water! Water! Water!

Fix! Fix. Fix!


Double crap. Of course, this had to happen late Saturday afternoon.

In a little over two hours, the hardware store would close for the weekend.

(Yes, stores in 2019 still close on Sunday and holidays if you live in a small enough town.)

Oh, but look there. It does explain the bubbled cabinet bottom.

Okay, get back to the problem at hand.

What are we going to do before the store closes?


Triple crap. To fix this properly there’s not a whole lot of pipe left.

We get one cut.

Blow that and we’re replumbing the entire sink drain assembly.

Not this late on Saturday.


Close up of leaking drain pipe


For some perspective, the leak was coming from a joint in an ABS drain pipe.

Water was not spewing out all over the place.

This was a slow but persistent drip that had been going on for 2.5 years!

Apparently, we don’t give under the kitchen sink a good cleaning often enough.


Time for Google.

Could there be a solution I’ve not considered?

They all say make a proper repair.

One guy has a cool tip if your pipe is dry (nope).

Another mentions how to get much-needed wiggle room to slip the pipe into place again.

Drat. Nothing useful.


Wait a second.

Aren’t there TV commercials about stuff that will fix this?

Some kind of miracle tape or glue?

We’ve blown a half hour but the hardware store is still open.

Off I go.


Quadruple crap. No this-patch-will-fix-your-leak-instantly stuff in the plumbing section.

There is some tape thing but it looks hokey despite all assurances from Hardware Store Guy.

All I can see is the next homeowner (someday) gasping in horror at a wrapped up pipe.

We head over to the caulking section.

Maybe there’s some sort of putty or caulk or something that will do.

Hardware Store Guy scans the epoxy section, selects one and then checks the vendor’s website.

Yup, it will work on ABS pipe. (Not all do.)

He says there’s even a video on how to use it.

Fantastic! I race back home.


First thing to do – watch the video.

Quintuple crap. This epoxy only forms a paste, not a putty.

Double check the pipe and joint.

It would be like spreading watered down toothpaste around and into the pipe joint – not effective.

And look, the joint has never been glued.

No wonder it leaks.

Forty-five minutes until closing.

What to do?


Let’s think a minute.

This has been leaking for over two years.

Fixing it tomorrow isn’t going to make the cupboard, house or planet fall apart.

Too late to do anything now anyway.

Cats want their supper soon.

But I could get the wrap so we can hack repair it tomorrow.

Back to the store I go.

Return done, tape purchased and leaving the store with two minutes to spare.



Driving home the pipe joint flashed to mind.

Wait a minute.

The joint was never glued.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

We can make the repair cutting below and leave alone the precious little amount above.

Don’t need to use the hokey tape! Woo Hoo!

And we should have an extra joint, pipe and ABS cement already on hand.

Super Sunday Handywoman shall save the planet. [cue music]


Sextuple crap. Not quite.

The jar of ABS cement was old enough the applicator was not coming out.

Off to the other two not-hardware-stores that were open on Sundays that might carry some.

No on both accounts.

Super Sunday Handywoman would have to wait for the hardware store to open on Monday.


Driving home it happened again – the pipe flashes to mind.

Followed by the P-trap.

Wait a minute.

The joint was never glued.

And the P-trap just over to the right on the drain assembly was attached with a coupling that could be undone.

Wiggle room!


Whole drain assembly under counter


All we needed to do was undo the coupling,

lift the pipe up just enough to apply cement in the joint and on the pipe,

then lower again to cement the pipe into the joint.

And of course, reattach the P-trap coupling.

Eureka – The proper fix was possible after all!

Along with being both the easiest, quickest and cleanest.

Super Monday Handywoman at your service.




I had a good chuckle at the whole sequence of events.

The learnings weren’t lost on me.

Especially since a day or two before all of this happened I was frustrated by a logic puzzle.

My logic wasn’t getting anywhere at solving the problem so I took it to the Puzzle Master.

Who also was initially stumped until taking a different tactic.


Problems – and solutions – aren’t always what they seem.


Mind can get so focused,

so stuck in a rut,

or so pig-headed to make something work (read dog-with-a-bone)

that you lose sight of the answer that’s right in front of you.


Six Ways To Seeing Solutions

1. Look from the other end or side

When you’re focused on a particular spot, go to the other end or another side and look back. Instead of looking from the top down, what can you see looking from down up … or vice versa. Imagine flying over a forest and seeing a thickly packed canopy of leaves. You might be inclined to think there’s no way through. But on the ground in the same forest, you can look up and around to an entirely different perspective of options to move about. Had I shifted my thoughts to what was possible starting the fix from the other end of the pipe, I would have eliminated the worst option far sooner.

2. Expand the picture / context

Focusing in on a particular area or issue works fine if the answer is also within that area. If not, then you can spin wheels endlessly searching for something that’s not there. Or create a less than ideal solution. Expanding what you can work with opens up what you have available to work with and pull together in a unique way. The coupling that was critical to fixing the leak properly required sitting back to look at the whole pipe assembly draining the sink.

3. Get another perspective

Obviously, getting another perspective brings in new ideas to work with and play off each other. Having to explain the situation forces you to identify what you know. Rarely do you know nothing without a place to start from.  The process of communicating what you know often comes with sparking new ideas or seeing the situation in ways you hadn’t seen before. Talking out the problem between the two of us led to the solution neither of us saw on our own. And kept me from diving into the first (and not best) solution I saw.

4. Research the problem

This is a variation of “get another perspective”. By researching the problem you have to identify something about the issue at hand. Going through the material gives you a wide variety of solutions, things to consider and tips. You’ll either have a concrete answer, spark new ideas you haven’t considered before or clearly know what is the wrong direction. Even starting with a high-level search, you’ll come across further ideas to research which can lead to more refined ideas to research. Doing some quick searches on leaking ABS joint returned a forum with suggestions about the exact problem. While the advice was to do a proper repair (heart sink), I discovered a tip that put my focus on the joint rather than making a bad cut.

5. Wait

When a solution isn’t blatantly obvious, give yourself some space to mull, consider and more importantly allow ideas, insights and inspirations to appear.  Focus, particularly intense focus, creates blinders. Time (and patience) creates that space. Not every problem needs to be resolved yesterday. Some take time for the pieces to fall into place. Not wanting to start a repair when the hardware store would be closing forced me to slow down and not head straight into a less than ideal solution.

6. Disprove your theory

When you’re so sure a solution or way forward is correct, but you keep getting blocked, try disproving your assumptions, beliefs and logic. Be wrong for a minute. If what you’re doing is wrong, what other ways or paths forward could there be? Purposefully being wrong shifts your perspective and puts you back into curiosity mode to ask what else can there be.  I couldn’t solve the logic puzzle because I kept assuming my logic was correct. When what seemed clearly logical (a trap set by the puzzle creator) failed on the second step, my conclusion went to the puzzle was wrong rather than backing up to see what would happen if my logic was wrong.





Pro tip: We prevented further water damage to the cabinet bottom by wetting a piece of cotton string, tying it around the pipe where the leak was and putting the other end into a yoghurt tub. The cotton string acts like a wick and allows you to direct the water where you want it to go. Once we had a large leak above the front door in a rainstorm and needed 4-5 of these wick strings landing in ice cream pails to wait out the storm and morning to arrive.

String wrapped around leaky pipe wicking water into plastic tub


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Lorraine Watson - on rustic porch

chief nudging officer


Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.

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