Clean up: old basement. It begins!

Photo heavy post ahead! 🙂

Today, I started cleaning up in the old part basement. Since I would have to move things to clean under them anyhow, I decided it was time to finally do the proper clean up I was intending to do, later in the year.

I started in the half of the basement near the septic pump, since that’s where the biggest mess was. Slowly, I’ll work my way over to the other half, where the tanks, well- and sump-pumps are, as well as the space that used to hold firewood. There are now two broken hot water tanks stored on that side, so while there’s less there to clean up, it’s got the big stuff.

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It’s finally done!

I am thrilled to say, the problem with our septic has been dealt with AND the pump itself still works! We’re still not sure why it stopped pumping completely. More on that later.

The whole job was much, much bigger than we expected.

Also, my brother is a saint. God bless him! I don’t know how we would have managed without his help!

Let’s back up a bit.

This is what we had to work with.

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Morning progress

We’ve had a bit of progress regarding our septic pump problems so far.

This morning, bathing involved using basins, then tossing the water outside. Meanwhile, I did my rounds, as usual.

Check this out.

See that dark spot in the middle of the bird bath?

That’s water that isn’t frozen! 😀

Some of the water that got into the basement drained into the sump pump reservoir enough to trigger it. Which means that, outside, there’s a melted patch in the snow.

The cats like it.

Beep Beep tucked herself right in there, and Two-Face came over to investigate. Beep Beep didn’t like that!

Who won?

Two-Face won! 😀

I also called the septic company again. While talking to the guy, he asked where we were, including our driveway marker number.

I drew a complete blank. I couldn’t remember our own driveway marker number! I could sort of remember it, but not really…

Only later, when driving past it and looking, did I realize I had the numbers reversed. The cross road number is at the beginning, not the end.

Still, he had no problem finding us. He’s been here a few times before. I had time to drive my daughter to work, get some cash to pay him, and even start shoveling a bit before he arrived. Thankfully, that big, heavy truck can go through pretty deep snow without getting stuck, though I did shovel a couple of paths while I was there.

While he was pumping out the tank, I talked to him about what was happening. He could see no problems off hand. I even remembered to ask about the float, since one possibility is that the float was stuck, but it was working fine.

So that is all done.

I later went into the basement, which is drying quite nicely right now. One of the things I noticed last night was that the old laundry sink was full of water, so I made a point of checking it.

Sure enough, it was slowly draining.

Gosh, that’s disgusting.

Now, with the tank empty, we actually need to get water in there for the weight. While I was downstairs, my husband flushed the toilet – and I saw water burbling up into the sink!

Nothing came out of that pipe, though.

So what it looks like is that water first started backing up into this sink, while the laundry was being done. Then, when it filled to a certain point, it started backing up out of the pipe, instead.

If there is a clog causing this, it’s somewhere near the pump.

But why would a clog in the pipe cause the pump to stop working? It gets triggered by the float outside.

I don’t know, but when my brother gets here to replace the well pump, we’ll be able to look more closely.

Fingers crossed, it’s just a relatively minor fix that we can take care of ourselves!

The Re-Farmer


This evening, I got a call from my brother, saying he would be coming over tomorrow to install the new well pump he found for us. Yay! He would need to pick something up along the way, though, and could I get measurements of the pipes for him?

So I went into the basement to see if I could get that for him and…

There was water, all over half the basement.


The side of the basement where the laundry used to be has a drain in the floor, but it was covered over with plastic, so I took that out and water started to slowly drain into there. Unfortunately, there was also mostly dissolved toilet paper in the water (no solids, thankfully), and I didn’t want that getting in there. So we had to be careful.

Where, however, did the water come from?


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I got you covered!

Something very disorienting happened today.

There was a knock at the door.

Which is one of those things that is so unexpected, it takes a moment for my brain to clue in and say, “oh… there’s a person at the door.” 😀

Turns out, it was the guy delivering the straw bale we had ordered. He had to leave the tractor in the driveway, hop the locked gate, and come knocking.

There’s a reason I asked for a call first! 😀 The guy delivering the bale was not the guy I bought it from, so he probably didn’t have my number. Not that he could have called us from his tractor, anyhow. 😉

I was really happy to see him, that’s for sure! It’s been snowing off and on, and the temperatures are dropping, so I really wanted to get that septic tank covered!

This time, I asked him to drop it off in the old garden area. You can see that the bale has been sitting for a year! After unwrapping it, I started trying to pull the straw down near that dark area, and found it half frozen and very wet.

Which is great, because the wet straw that’s already starting to decompose went straight onto the garden area, and some of the compost, right away. I even found a worm in it. LOL

This is where our septic tank is. Our system is very different from what is usual; instead of a gravity based system, ours has a smaller tank and pumps. There are pipes leading from the basement to the left of the tank in this photo. The tank has two chambers. Everything goes into the first chamber, then when it fills with liquid, there is an overflow chamber. When that fills, the liquid is pumped to a field out by the barn. The pipe for the outflow runs under the old kitchen, which is behind the septic lid in the photo.

All of these pipes are buried deep and, theoretically, we could go without covering any of this at all, but it’s not something we want to take a chance with. An extreme winter could freeze the ground far enough that the pipes would freeze, and if that happened, it could get really nasty in our basement! It would also cost many thousands of dollars to get it fixed. So spending $25 on a bale and covering it is really cheap insurance! 😉

Here is now it looks now! I added extra along the old kitchen foundation, just for a bit of extra insulation.

I’m leaving the tools with the bale for now, as we’ll be using it to insulate the old dog houses, probably in a couple of days.

While working on this, I had several very curious kitties checking things out. I expect the bale will also serve throughout the winter to keep little paws warm, and for burrowed nests, as well. 🙂 They were already quite keen on getting into it.

When I was done, I got a selfie with Susan.

She was not co-operative. LOL

Another thing off the list of things to get done before winter! 🙂

The Re-Farmer