Well, I can at least say that we can now use our plumbing again.
The septic guy made it over in the late morning. The septic tank was, indeed, very full. When he had emptied it, however, nothing started to drain in the basement, so that – thankfully – ruled out the notion that the clog was due to fluids actually backing up from the tank, into the basement. That could have caused all sorts of problems with our type of system.
Also, when I called for him to come over, I asked what the rates were. They did, of course, go up a bit from when we had the tank emptied in the spring. I made sure to give him a tip, too. If anyone deserves a tip, it’s the septic guy!!!
Once that was done, I quickly grabbed lunch, then headed to the basement. Having helped my brother the last time this happened, I could go straight to where I figured the source of the problem was.
Which is when I had my first problem. I needed to get the cap off this access pipe, but my pipe wrench had disappeared. It should have been on the hot water tank, but I had the vaguest memory of taking it to use somewhere else. Too vague of a memory. I had no idea where it might have been.
While cleaning out the new part basement, we did find a couple of large pipe wrenches, so I decided to try one of those. I grabbed the smaller one, but it turned out to be broken, so I went back to try the bigger one.
Now, situations like this are among the reasons I’m glad we have the opening between the two basements blocked off, keeping the cats out. The mess was bad enough on its own. The mess with cats running through it, then tracking it through the house, is a whole different level of horrific. Unfortunately, it also meant that, to get something that is in the new basement, I had to go back up the stairs to the main floor, go down the other stairs to the new basement, then back up to the main floor, then back down to the old basement.
I don’t do stairs well at the best of times. Having to go up and down the old basement stairs, with its odd dimensions, was not a good thing. But, it had to be done.
So after a few precarious trips with me hobbling up and down the stairs repeatedly, I tried the big pipe wrench. That thing probably weighs about 10 pounds. Thankfully, it was not broken, but I still couldn’t get the cap off. Instead, the entire piece was turning. I realized I would have to take the entire top piece off, and that required loosening the bands holding what appeared to be a rubber seal in place.
That required tools I didn’t have.
At that point, I just hobbled half way up the stairs and called for my husband to bring me the big tool kit Finally, I was able to get the whole piece off the top of the pipe. And no wonder I couldn’t get it off! I knew the metal was rusting away pretty badly, from that last time we had to do this, but my brother did clean it up as best he could. About the only positive thing I could say is that, this time, there wasn’t any actual pieces of rusted out metal that had fallen off, for me to clean up.
I did take a picture, but it is too disgusting to share.
I then brought out the old chimney sweep that my brother and I had found was the only thing that really worked to break through the clogged pipe, last time. The end without the brush could be jammed through, and it’s long enough to reach all the way into the tank. I started to push it through, and barely got more than 10 inches before it was blocked.
I then spent the next… *checks the time* … two hours or so, trying to jam that thing through. I also had an old garden hose we’d used last time, too. It only has a female coupling on it, which works out quite well for a job like this. I could hook it up to the cold water tap that the washing mashing used to be hooked up to – I couldn’t use the taps at the laundry sink, since it was completely full of water… and… stuff. Very happy for the tap redundancy in this basement! Between the wire and the hose, I was eventually able to break through the clog. I knew I finally got it when the laundry sink suddenly started to drain! 😀
I then moved to the floor drain to work on for a bit. I had already had an idea of the cause of the problem, but here, it was confirmed.
There were roots running across the drain from the weeping tile under the new basement, all the way through to the access pipe to the septic tank.
I broke up and tore out as much as I could, but I just don’t have the equipment to do more. We do have a rotary drain snake, and I was able to use that to pull out quite a bit, but it’s just too small to clear the pipes.
Still, I got it to the point where water was flowing freely again, and I could start sweeping the water on the floor, and sweeping up… debris… for the garbage. I got most of it cleared, but not all. Once everything was flowing again, I made sure the dehumidifier that drains directly into the sump pump reservoir was set to maximum, then set the big blower fan up to face the worst of the wet and plugged that in.
Once everything is dry, we’ll be able to clean up the last of the mess and disinfect the floor.
It’s a good thing this is NOT a finished basement! I am also very happy that I made sure everything that we do have down there is up on bricks, not directly on the floor.
As disgusting and messy as the job was, it could have been much worse. Most of what backed up was from a load of laundry. It could have been much, much more disgusting, that’s for sure! Still, when it was done, I was so incredibly glad to be able to take a shower!
We will still need to call someone in to clear the pipes of those roots. Otherwise, we’ll be doing this again before too long. 😦 It could probably wait until spring, though, since the trees are going dormant and there will not be new root growth for a while. We won’t be able to get all the weeping tile done, but if we can just clear the pipes that are in the old basement, that would make a big difference.
The main thing is, things are now draining.
And I am drained!