I’m still in South Puffin but SWMBO is up North.
“Looks like we have a bigger problem. I was doing a load of laundry and heard funny noise. The first thing I did was open the cellar door and heard water dripping, went and shut off washer, then went downstairs. Water was coming out of the big black pipe. Just tried to flush the toilet and that water is coming out of the big black pipe also. Suggestions?”
Needless to say, that got the phone lines humming.
“Sounds like your sewer pipes didn’t survive the winter,” Rufus opined. “That will be an expensive pain.”
More likely the septic tank has backed up and needs pumping (it’s only been 11 years). Still an expensive pain.
I had trouble with that, though, because the washer is supposed to go to the dry well, not the septic tank. That means she shouldn’t have a leak from the cast iron sewer drain when the washer runs.
She Dropboxed a bunch of pictures to refresh me about what pipes in the cellar connect to where.
Wonderful invention the Internoodle. I can now see exactly where the leak is and can do absolutely nothing about it online.
And rats. The washer goes to the septic tank, not the dry well.
Rufus suggest she take a bucket out to the barn.
She called Drummac. Nice folks. Local. They do line and tank hydroflushing which sounds far more intriguing than running a water hose into a tank, septic pumping and tank cleaning, sludge removal, have water jet services and rent Porta Potties. They should be there right after this appears.
The good news, if there is any, is that one “inspection port” over the tank is still accessible. The tank itself is down 4′. I hope the honey dipper is willing to pump from the front port. Or that they don’t mind digging. The real worry is that the tank isn’t full but that a root has again bent or broken the main leader into the leach field.
Just for the record, one toilet here in South Puffin has a line blockage we can’t find. That leads to an unfortunate tendency to back up in the shower.
2013: the Year of the Poop. I’m gonna have to get up North sooner than later. And I’m sure there will be more to this story.
Drummac came to the house promptly, dug out the access port in minutes, and started pumping. He says the tank looked not very full of solids and seems to be flowing into the leach field properly.
SWMBO flushed a couple of times at his instruction. No water got to the tank but no leaks. That sounded to me like a blockage in the house drain that let some water trickle through but backed up the washer flood.
Rufus may have been right that the pipe took a hit, but the hit may be what Liz Arden said about my South Puffin plumbing: the solids solidified (heh) and blocked the line since no water was flowing to keep them soft.
Drummac has a guy with an auger who can ream out the pipe from the tank side. Easier once the tank is open and pumped than fooling with a 100-year-old cleanout in the cellar.
When the nice man from Drummac finished his last bit of tank suckage, he turned the pumper hose into the sewage pipe from the house to the tank.
“All of a sudden water started filling the tank! He managed to unblock the pipe and all is working now! I can poop!” she said. He had Anne flush the toilet one last time and the water flowed out of the pipe just like it was supposed to.
Looks like my emergency return to the frozen north will be (slightly) more leisurely than first thought.
From Home Depot, I bought a 50-ft snake (aka, half-inch flexible, stainless-steel wire/hose mechanism) that can be inserted into sewer or drain pipes and turned with a handle to *allegedly* bore through stoppage. So far it has saved me multi-hundreds of dollars in plumber fees.
Unfortunately there are places in modern house piping with 90 degree turns that the snake will not negotiate. But so far, since my house is not expansive, I have been able to remove those blockages by inserting the device into drain openings on the other side of the turn.
When Ike hit us six years or seven years ago, a few subdivisions lost water/sewer service for three weeks. In that period of time, some of the solid waste hardened and refused to be dislodged when water was restored. It didn’t happen in our subdivision, but I spent a whole day helping a friend snake out the pipes to his crappers. (For toilets you have to remove the throne from the downpipe and set it aside before snaking.)
A perfumed surgical mask helps.