It all started on Wednesday when I noticed that every time the washing machine drained, the guest toilet bubbled. I didn’t think it was a good sign, so the second time it happened I mentioned it to Jonathan. Thursday morning he went under the house with a snake (plumbing snake, not long cylindrical reptile) and made some noise and thought he’d fixed the problem. Unfortunately, when we bathed the mackerdoodle Thursday evening, the guest toilet bubbled. He was stumped.
Friday he took a bigger plumber’s snake to the problem. Then we rented an even bigger snake, with a motor, and even that didn’t fix the problem. Finally, he began digging up the yard, and he found an old septic tank sitting about four feet from our front door. The clog appeared to be connected to it in some way, but Jonathan couldn’t get to it before he had to go pick up our friend Loran (Tera’s Loran).
By Friday night, I must admit I was cranky. It was two days for Jonathan with no shower, one day for me, and an entire day without flushing any toilets, washing any dishes, or using our drains in any way. When Jonathan rented the 100 foot snake, I had to help him with it – between feeding the infant, trying to keep the toddler out of things, and making sure that everyone got their naps and food and the house was sort of managed. Plus, it felt like it was 600% humidity, and the mackerdoodle was having a whiny, clingy day – which is so rare for her. I was feeling stinky and cranky and out of sorts. Jonathan was feeling stinky and defeated. We were not a happy couple – and poor Loran spent the evening with us.
This morning, Loran came over to help Jonathan dig out the old septic and very quickly they were able to find the pipe from our house going into the tank, and the pipe to the city sewage going out of the tank. When they detached the pipe on the house side of the tank, they found a lump of soap as big as a fist clogging up the pipe.
They broke it up and removed it from the pipe, but that left more questions: if soap was the problem,why didn’t any of the snakes remove it? Why couldn’t they make it through? What they found was bamboozling. The main drain pipe from the house went into the septic tank, and dropped into it. The snakes had been punching holes in the soap clog, and then hitting the down spout into the tank and getting stuck.
The pipe going into the tank was broken and rusted out. Essentially, the tank was acting as a large pipe fitting, collecting our sewage, and overflowing into the city sewage whenever it got too full. It looks like it’s been doing this for YEARS. To make matters worse, the tank was falling apart, clearly leaking into the ground around it and it wasn’t until the soap clog closed over that we even had a reason to look.
The solution: Jonathan and Loran inserted a piece of 4 inch PVC pipe through the middle of the crumbling septic tank, linking the “in” pipe with the city sewage on the other side. At 7:30 Saturday evening, Jonathan yelled up to me, “Coralie, flush the toilet.” I did so, with pleasure, and a satisfying gush of water went through the sewage clean out trap.
Jonathan’s taken a shower, I’ve run the dishwasher, and nothing has bubbled where it shouldn’t. The best part is this: tomorrow is the Lord’s Day, and Jonathan can rest.