Here we go again; septic woes

Well, it looks like I won’t be getting new glasses anymore, because that budget is about to disappear.

The girls and I started on the horrible job of cleaning up behind the washer and drier.

The primary goal was to access the drain pipe and pour down some drain cleaner, but we had to get to it, first, and that job fell to my younger daughter; the most able bodied and agile of us going into a space barely big enough for one person.

Also, it’s amazing how many things the cats get at that end up under appliances.

First, the dryer needed to be pulled out, unplugged, then pulled out some more.

Then my poor, saintly daughter took care of the mess that cats made back there. Not only did they knock all kinds of things off shelves back there, but they then peed all over it. We ended up throwing out an unopened box of drier sheets, a caulking gun, with a tube of caulk still loaded in it, my other daughters missing wrist brace, and even a strainer basket that I used to use to pick, then wash, vegetables from the garden, among other things. I’m amazed by all the stuff that ended up there.

Then the washing machine got pulled out, and we found the rest of the little things the cats chased under there. Some of them were even cat toys.

After drain cleaner was poured down the pipe, my daughter continued to clean and mop the floor, while her sister and I assisted where we could. I decided it would be a good idea to use the plumbing snake as well, so I went into the old basement to get it.

The basement was flooded.

But only on one side, and not the side where water seeps through during spring melt. No, this was all over near the septic pump.

But not FROM the septic pump. Nor any of the pipes beside it.

What the heck?

The drain in the floor does not have what it should to prevent gases from getting into the room, so there is a sheet of plastic under the drain cover. I moved it aside to allow the water on the floor do drain, only to find the drain was full.

There was also was looked like toilet paper.

What the heck?

I went back up to assist my daughter, we quickly determined the plumbing snake was not going to work out, and kept on going. We had to wait 15-20 minutes before we could pour hot water down the pipe after the drain cleaner. Once we were at the stage of putting everything back again, I went back to check on the basement.

After a while fussing with the drain, it became clear that it was the source of the flooding.

Water was backing up from the septic tank, though the drain, and into the basement.

*sigh*

At that point, I got my husband to call the septic guy and see if he could come out – as well as finding out how much it would cost, and if he could take an etransfer. While he did that, I headed outside to start shoveling a path to the septic tank. With our melt-thaw cycle lately, the snow had a very hard crust on the top, so it needed a lot of tackling with the ice chipper first, then shoveling. Chip out about a foot, then shovel. Chip about a foot, then shovel.

I didn’t get very far when I realized a major problem.

It’s one thing to shovel a path to the tank, but how was the truck going to get in? We haven’t been able to clear the yard for a vehicle at all this winter, and the snow was just too deep, even for a big truck.

I quickly messaged the family to let them know (I love technology!) and my husband cancelled the septic guy.

Shortly after, my other daughter came out and took over the shoveling.

I headed inside and made a call to the renters who have so kindly been clearing our driveway.

I just got interrupted in writing this.

The septic guy was on the road and never got the call about canceling. He just showed up. We talked for a while, and now he’s left, because there was no way he could get through that snow.

Which brings me back to my call to the renters, and spoke to the Mrs.

I explained the situation and asked if I could hire someone to come with their front end loader and clear a path for the septic truck. Unfortunately, her husband and the farm hands had just left and would not be back for several hours. She promised to text her husband (which would eventually get to him; they’re in the same cell phone dead zone we are in) about it. I told her that if it could be done today, we could call the septic guy in for tomorrow, and to please let me know how much to pay them for it. They’ve been refusing payment all this time, but it’s different when I’m going to them for a job! She said she would let me know.

Which is what I just explained to the septic guy; that hopefully, we’ll have someone with a front end loader to clear the snow, and then we’d call him back. He told me that, if the front end loader starts sinking into the ground, not to bother, because he would get stuck. It seems that the snow fell before the ground was frozen, which means in some areas, the snow insulated the ground and kept it from freezing.

I don’t think we’ve got that problem, but we’ll see.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My husband had found out how much the septic guy would cost – $160 (six months ago, it was $135), and that they did not take etransfers. Which meant, I needed to get cash.

So I updated my daughter that was shoveling, then headed to the town my mother lives in, where there is a branch of my bank, to get enough cash for the septic guy and for clearing the snow. I have no idea how much that will be, so I took out what I hope is extra.

The remains of my tax return for my glasses budget just went *poof*.

I don’t actually mind. I’m thankful that we had the funds at all.

Once I got back home, I didn’t even bother going back inside. I went back to shoveling.

My daughter had shoveled all the way to where the tank is, before she had to go in. She had to fight her way through a drift, so the snow was even deeper than usual for much of it. Just to make things even more unfortunate, the snow under the crust was sticky – and would stick to the shovel! So it was chip, scoop, fling, shakeshakeshake, over and over!

Now we have this area.

Normally, we use straw to cover the tank. A couple of years back, we had to get the tank done in January. I had to dig a path, then got the straw off the lid, and that was it.

It won’t be so easy, this time. We used an insulated tarp this time. It was big enough to fold in half, so it’s double insulated.

The first thing was to find the edge of the insulated tarp. It’s pegged to the ground all along this edge, and the end. I needed to be careful using the chipper, at this point, because I didn’t want to damage the tarp.

I dug my way down to the corner and discovered a problem.

The downspout from the roof was draining near here. All that melted snow from the roof has formed a layer of ice, a couple of inches thick, right over the end of the tarp.

Which means we would need to lift the tarp from the other end.

This end.

When putting insulation along the bottom of the house, we made sure the tarp was right up to, and partway up, the wall, then everything was weighted into place.

*sigh*

Well, there was nothing to do but keep on digging.

Hopefully, enough has been cleared that we’ll be able to pull it back to the lid of the tank enough to open it.

After all this was done, I made sure to check the basement again. I’m happy to say that the majority of the water did drain away. Also, the septic pump is still doing its job. So we should still at least be able to use the toilet.

We got the outhouse fixed up just in case something like this happened, yet we can’t even use it. The path to the outhouse is full of water. We don’t even have the honey pot anymore; that got loaned to my mother, and I haven’t seen it since.

*sigh*

This shouldn’t be happening. When I was growing up here, there was 7 of us, and that tank got emptied only once a year. We’ve been getting it emptied twice a year. It’s been just under 6 months since we had it last done. It should not be this full.

On the plus side, it is backing up through the drain in the floor, and not doing what it did last time, which was backing up into the laundry sink, then splashing out the P trap, all over the septic pump. The floor drain was full of roots and silt. Now that it’s clear, the tank is backing up through there, instead, making much less of a mess than the last couple of times we’ve found with it.

Still. It shouldn’t be happening at all.

I don’t get it.

Anyhow.

Hopefully, the renters will be able to clear the snow for us, and we’ll have the septic guy back in tomorrow.

What a pain. :-/

The Re-Farmer

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