Flooding of a different sort

What a wet and terrible end to the day! And it’s not over yet.

No, I’m not talking about the storm related flooding outside. Nor am I talking about the water collecting in our old basement.

No, this is a completely different sort of flooding.

I tried to do laundry.

We’ve been having issues with our laundry. A while back, we discovered that when the washer tried to drain, the water would slowly back up the drain pipe and start spilling on the floor.

Cleaning that mess when it first happened was when we discovered that the septic had backed up into the old basement, and we figured it was related.

Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

It wasn’t.

Somewhere in the pipes, there’s a bottleneck block. Wherever the block is, it’s past the T where the drain pipe from the laundry joins the main pipe from the kitchen. The plumber’s snake won’t make the bend, so we haven’t been able to clear it.

We’ve used super strong (septic safe) drain cleaner. We’ve been doing regular pipe-cleaning bacterial treatments (that are also designed to help break down the contents of the septic tank). So far, nothing has worked. In fact, it was getting worse. We’ve had to hover around the washing machine, waiting for the drain stage, listen for the water coming up the pipe, pause the machine, wait for the pipe to drain, then start it up again. Repeatedly.

The length of time it takes for the pipe to fill has been getting shorter.

Today, it got impossible. Almost as soon as the water started to drain, the pipe would fill and water would literally start shooting out the opening. Of course, it takes a moment for the water to stop flowing after the pause button is hit, so there was basically no time for there to not be water coming up the pipe.

I tried using a smaller plumber’s snake that we have – one that has a bottle brush type of end that is great for pulling cat hair out of the bathroom sink. I think I even managed to get it to bend at the T. Pulling it up, though, there was no sign of anything stuck to the bristles that would show it had brushed up against something blocking the pipe.

There was no way I was going to be able to drain the washing machine this way, and it couldn’t possibly be good on the electronics to be constantly hitting the pause button over and over. I started thinking, if I could drain it into a bucket or something, but that would take a pretty large bucket, and quite a few pauses to empty it. If only I could just drain it straight out of the house.

*lightbulb moment*

I remembered we have that spare hose for the sump pump. The washing machine is in the entry, not far from the main doors we aren’t using because of the hinge problems. If the hose were long enough, I could open the inner door and run the hose out the storm door window, which has no screen.

So I went to the sun room and got the hose. It was more than long enough. I was in the process of checking to make sure the drain hose on the washing machine would fit, when it happened.

The washing machine, which was still on pause, turned itself on, and started to drain.

I was holding the drain hose.

Water started splashing all over me, the washing machine, the dryer and the floor, with remarkable pressure.

I hit the pause button.


I hit the power button.


I kept trying to turn the machine off, but it just would not respond. Then I noticed the display showed something about the door. So I tried to lift it.

With the machine running, it should have been locked.

It opened.

Meanwhile, I was trying to hold the hose, with water spraying, away from the machines and the outlets behind them, to spray onto the floor instead, but there’s not a lot of length to work with. The machine needed to be unplugged, but I was soaking wet.

By then, I was already calling for help, and the family came running. I quickly said that someone needed to unplug the washing machine while staying dry to do it. My older daughter launched herself over the steps (there are only 2, but they were also wet) and onto the machine to reach the plug and got it done.

By this time, half the water of a very full drum was flooding the entryway and pouring down the basement steps.

Another time when I’m glad we have unfinished basements.

I asked for a broom and my younger daughter got it for me while her sister got down from the washing machine – with considerable more care than how she got on it! I started sweeping the water down the stairs, while we also tried to move various things off the sopping floor, untangle the sump pump hose, and so on. After a while, my daughter took over with the broom, and I went into the basement to see what the status was, there. The basement floor is not the least bit level, and the water was starting to run under the root cellar door and pool behind it. Nothing else in the root cellar was affected, though.

Back upstairs I went, and got our mop and bucket. My daughter started mopping up the entryway to get as much as she could, then headed into the basement to clean up as much as she could there, too. The water had continued to flow past the root cellar door and was starting to puddle about half way to the other end.

That washing machine has a huge drum. The machine adjusts the fill size automatically, based on how much is in the tub (I’m assuming by weight), and it had been full to the top. The first time I tried to stop the water, I’d accidently hit the power button instead of the pause button. That meant I had to start the load over. I think the weight of water in the drum messed things up, and it filled for a much larger load.

My daughter also adjusted the pedestal fan I had moved to help dry out the far corner of the basement that was getting damp, then set it to oscillate to try and get air circulating to both ends of the basement as much as possible.

I went back to the entryway and started drying off the washer and dryer, which also got unplugged. After a while, I got the sump pump hose again. The washing machine’s hose fit into the end, but wouldn’t stay. I ended up duct taping them together. I was then going to tape the hose to the side of the drier to hold it in place, but the duct tape wouldn’t stick to the drier. Wiping it down apparently didn’t get it dry enough. So I left it for now.

Since we were dealing with water, anyhow, I went into the old basement to sweep the standing water into the drain. As I was thinking about what happened, wondering out the machine turning itself on and not turning itself off, and why the door didn’t lock, it finally occurred to me.

Once I realised I could open the door to the washing machine, I could have aimed the drain hose into the drum. In the middle of everything going on, it just never occurred to me.


Extending the hose out the door, however, will work. Once everything is dry again, we’ll plug the dryer in. Then, after making sure the hose is set up to drain through the door, we’ll plug the washing machine in and see what happens.

Hmm… this would actually be a good time to test out the new syphon pump and drain the tub that way. The washing machine can’t be set to go straight to another part of the cycle; you can only start a full wash cycle, or pause part way through one. If we plug it in and it doesn’t, say, turn itself on again, the only way to get the machine to drain the tub would be to start a new load.

What a pain.

Meanwhile, I’m going to have to see what numbers in the budget I can juggle, so we can get a plumber in.

Not that that will happen anytime soon, with all the flooding happening right now. I had expected the main road to wash out in a particular spot, but I’ve since seen photos people shared showing that it has washed out right at the highway – and the (no longer used) church and bell tower at that intersection is completely surrounded by water.

Even if I called a plumber now, I wouldn’t expect them to have a chance to get out here for days, if not weeks. I imagine all the plumbers are insanely busy right now!

How bizarre that, with all the flooding going on around us, the flooding we’re having to deal with is from our own washing machine.

It’s past midnight now. I’m going to go to the old basement and do one more sweep before bed. I’ll leave dealing with the washing machine for day time.

What a way to end the day.

The Re-Farmer

One thought on “Flooding of a different sort

  1. Pingback: My laundry is cursed | The Re-Farmer

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