Graywater saga – part 6

At some point in the colorful history of our home, someone had a septic tank installed.  It’s just outside the laundry room door and its leach field is also there in the side yard, roughly between Jessica’s bedroom and the plum trees along Coffee Road.  We bought the house 15 years ago, and at that time, and until some time that was probably about eight years ago, ALL the discharge water from our house (showers, tubs, toilets, sinks of all persuasions, and washing machine) all went directly into the septic tank.  The solids sank, the liquids went out into the leach field, and all was well – most of the time.

Every three years, like clockwork, sewage would – very suddenly and with no warning – back up into Jessica’s bathtub.  This was not a pleasing experience, to say the least.  It would stink, we would panic, Scott would call a pumping service (I don’t know if it was a nasty Christian one or a kind other one or not), they would pump it out, and we would pay the bill and clean up the mess.

Then there was the issue of the ditch.  It happened, as challenging things usually do, while Scott was away on an extended business trip.  I don’t remember the details now of exactly what went wrong, but it had to do with the pipe behind the kitchen that drains all the water from the kitchen sink and the laundry room.  At that time, as previously stated, all that water went – with all the bathroom waters – into the septic tank.

Something serious happened that made me call a plumber, and at that time, the plumber I called was Jay Ruby (who also happened to be Josiah’s Cub Scout leader).  He came out and determined that there was a blockage somewhere after the vertical pipe.  That pipe comes out of the back of the house several feet off the ground, runs down into the ground, goes through a 90 degree elbow (underground) and then runs along the back of the house, turns somewhere, and ultimately empties into the septic tank outside the laundry room door.

Mr. Ruby figured he’d need to cut some pipe to clear the blockage (and then replace the pipe), but since the blockage was in a section of pipe that was underground, the pipe would have to be dug up to locate the problem.  THAT lovely little chore fell to the kids and me.  Mr. Ruby plumbs, but he doesn’t dig.  Of course, I probably could have hired someone with a backhoe to unearth the pipe, but I didn’t know who to call for such a task, I couldn’t reach Scott, I didn’t think he’d want to pay a backhoe fee, and I’m stubborn and bull-headed.  If a ditch had to be dug, surely the kids and I could do it.  Ha.

It was summer, it was hot, the ground was hard, and our attempts to make headway with shovel and trowels was pathetic.  We kept it up for a couple days, working in shifts.  No one was having fun.  We did eventually get down to the pipe and I gleefully called Mr. Ruby  to tell him we were done, but he informed me that we had to dig the pipe completely out – as in, excavate all the way UNDER the entire length of it.  Sheesh.

I can’t tell you how discouraging and draining this task was.  To make matters worse, we ran into roots, the bane of all underground plumbing events.  Despite heroic efforts with a standard big saw, a hacksaw, and some other little rusty saw that I don’t know the name of, it was just too hard to wedge a saw down into the trench at the right angle to make any significant progress.  I called Bill for help.

Bill is our neighbor down the road who can fix anything.  They moved into the area a few years before we did, and their family has always been a huge blessing to us.  I knew that if anyone could get through those roots, it would be Bill.  He came down with his teenage son and a Sawz-All, and did major root damage in just a few moments.  Whew!  But when he saw the whole project we were involved in, the two of them went home for more shovels and came back and helped us finish the ditch.

(to be continued. . . )

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