Graywater saga – part 8

The gray water leach line is very long and very straight, and the pipe is very big – maybe almost a foot in diameter(?) – with holes drilled into the whole length of it every few inches on one side.  Once the gravel was down in the trench, the Friendly Plumbing guys had laid the pipe on the gravel.  It was late in the afternoon, and they had actually left for the day and I guess were planning to shovel the dirt back in the next day, when I happened to go out to survey our kingdom.

Now, I am most definitely not a plumber, but when I looked that that pipe down in that trench, there was one thing I could not figure out.  The holes were running all along the top of the pipe.  It seemed to me that it would be awfully hard for the water to run out the top of the pipe. . .

We ended up calling a friend who does excavation and asking him about it, and he showed us that not only had they laid the pipe upside down, they had not dug the trench properly to have it drain correctly!  So much for Friendly Plumbing!  For a small fee, our friend fixed the problem, we called a different plumber to finish up the job, and we were good to go.

We’ve been good to go ever since, and now I think I have finally given our reader(s) enough historical background for them to grasp the full significance of what happened next in our recent saga.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

So, I was standing a little ways off (because the ACME suction pump was so noisy), having just been told by Mr. (intelligent-looking-but not-on-the-clock) R&H – who, by the way, had nothing to gain by giving me this advice, since his company emphatically doesn’t pump – that I should really have my tank(s) pumped out every four years.

I was also still on the phone with Scott, who had finally reached me from Who Knows Where in the boonies of eastern Taney County.  I had just finished explaining the whole thing to him, and I had asked him what he wanted me to do.  He, being the consensus king, asked what I thought ought to be done, and I merely said that since the gang was all at our house, and since the tanks were supposed to be pumped out every four years, and since they hadn’t been pumped out in eight years, and since the gray water tank had just overflowed rather violently, I thought we should go just ahead, cough up whatever it would cost, and have both tanks pumped out while the manpower and super-sucking ACME vacuum pump were both on premises.

He told me to do whatever I thought was best, and then, to his credit, he did apologize profusely for leaving me to have to deal with all of it.

We hung up and I returned to the scene of the crime.  The level of muck in the first side of the tank (that would be the side that the kitchen and laundry waters go into first) was steadily decreasing, and Young Mr. ACME (YMA) told me that there was more grease in our “gray” water tank than in the worst restaurant grease trap he had ever cleaned.  Talk about making a housewife feel like a failure!

Mr. R&H then pulled me aside and asked about our wastewater configuration.  I told him essentially the background I just gave our reader(s) in part seven – BUT, you must remember that at that time, I didn’t really remember all those details.  All I told him was that ALL the water from the house used to go into the septic tank (and it overflowed and had to be pumped out every three years), that we had had problems about eight(?) years ago and had a separate tank for graywater (kitchen and laundry room) installed, that we hadn’t had any problems since then, and that neither tank had been pumped since then.  That was the sum total of what I remembered, and, as mentioned earlier, the Only One who might have remembered more was away and inaccessible.

Mr. R&H kindly told me that if there was food waste going into the tank – which there obviously was – then it wasn’t technically a gray water tank.  I guess “gray” water is ONLY laundry room water.  He said that our “gray water” tank was actually functioning as a septic tank, and that that was probably why they had installed a two-chambered tank.  The water (including food waste) would go into tank #1 and settle, allowing the actual water to rise and overflow into tank #2 and then flow (as far Mr. R&H knew and as far as I remembered at the time) out into the leach line.

Mr. YMA overheard us and commented again that there was an AWFUL lot of grease and Rid-X in tank #1.   He told me that I should NEVER put grease down my drain.  Mr. R&H agreed, stating that NOTHING greasy should EVER go down the drain, because if the grease happened to overflow out of tank #1 and into tank #2, it could flow out into the leach line, where it would plug the holes and render the whole system useless, possibly even causing water to backflow into tank #2!  In addition, grease and/or food in the leach line would gun up the whole leach system, and the only way to fix that would be to dig it all up and re-lay new pipe.  Mr. R&H was quite concerned that those disasters may already have occurred.  I really did not want to think about those possibilities, and especially about the possibility of my having to tell Scott that that was what had happened.

I did venture to display my full ignorance and ask how, if I couldn’t rinse anything greasy down my drain, I was to wash dishes.  After all, half of what we eat leaves grease on a plate.  Mr. R&H said that at his house, all dishes were scraped off into a trash can and then wiped off with a paper towel before they ever went into the sink to be washed.  Sheesh!  I cannot imagine doing all that extra work!  But I didn’t say that to him.  I just nodded knowingly and thanked him for the advice.

At that point, Mr. YWA chimed in to say that some people even put disposals on septic systems!  Perish the thought!  I chose not to tell him that we’ve had a disposal on our system since we bought the house.  He went on to say that dispoals are really bad, because they grind the food up small, but then it can still go out and gum up the leach lines.  Of course, in our two-tank system, in theory that would not be a problem, because all the food stuff would stay in tank #1 and be pumped out every four years, LONG before it every overflowed into tank #2 and potentially went out to the leach field.

But obviously SOMETHING had gone very wrong to cause that nasty water to shoot out so violently a couple hours earlier.  Hmmm. . .

Mr. YWA had been pumping tank #1 for over thirty minutes, and he was finally getting near the bottom.  Did I have a garden hose he could use, he wanted to know?

(to be continued. . . )

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