Graywater saga – part 9

So we brought YMA our hose, and he began hosing down the sides of tank #1.  I could tell it was very important to him to get the tank as sparkling clean as possible.  With all the grease that had been in it, I was only sorry that my hose didn’t dispense scalding hot soapy water.  = )

Oh, I forgot to mention that YMA had taken the caps off both tanks before he began pumping, and after he heard my explanation of how the gray water had been divided from the black a few years back, he asked me to go inside and flush the toilet, so he could see if tank #1 bubbled.  (He wanted to make sure I had my story straight and that our “black” bathroom water wasn’t actually going into tank #1.  I flushed, it did not bubble, and I was vindicated.  Whew!)

Eventually, with the full audience watching closely – Bob, Jodi, Andrew, YMA’s girlfriend, Mr. R&H and I – YWA completed his work on tank #1 and moved his pumping hose over to tank #2.  Thankfully, although it did stink to high heaven, the water in tank #2 wasn’t near as nasty as the water in tank #1 had been.

Mr. R&H then reiterated to me his suspicion that grease and/or food may have migrated into tank #2 and thence out to our leach field, which could have been fatally compromised.  I understood, but what could I say to that?  If, indeed, a dead leach field was what we were looking at I only hoped I could get Mr. R&H to break the news to Scott, rather than me.

Staring at the gradually descending level in tank #2, Mr. R&H suddenly called out, “There’s a wire!!!”

Like much of the commentation offered that day, that sentence did not convey an inordinate amount of information to me.  “There’s a WIRE!” he repeated, almost shouting.  Wow.  Evidently this wire had some significance.  Pointing, he asked, “Do you see that wire?”  Well, yes, I did.  He continued, “There’s no pump mounted here, and no junction box.  Do you have a pump?”  Now, that was a question I had no idea how to answer.  I tried to sound intelligent as I said, “Um. . . I don’t really know if I have a pump.”

He then asked me where the leach field for the gray water tank ran, and (with all that Friendly Plumbing fiasco gradually coming back to me) I told him that it wasn’t actually a field, but just a long straight line, and I pointed to where the line ran, along the trees.  Mr. R& H became more animated.  “Ma’am,” he said, “maybe the leach line wasn’t laid far enough below this outflow pipe,” (he pointed to it and I saw it)  for gravity to do its thing, so maybe they installed a pump to pump the water out of the tank and into the leach line.  That would explain why there’s a wire going down into this tank.”

I could follow that logic, and, come to think of it, I did vaguely recall something about a pump.  Hmmm. . . think, think, think. . . now what was the deal with a pump?  Oh, for more fully functional gray cells!

Mr. R&H continued, “Assuming there is a pump down there, there are several possibilities of what has caused this problem.  It could be that some grease or food from tank #1 got over into tank #2 and burned out the pump.  It’s designed to pump liquids, not solids, you know.  It could be that the pump just died for some other reason.  It could be that there’s a float on the pump that has gone bad, so the pump’s just not turning on.  Or it could be something unrelated to the pump – like the leach pipe is plugged up with grease and food and so the water is backflowing from the leach line into tank #2 and there’s nowhere else for it to go, so it spewed out the top of the tank.”

My brain can be a little slow, so it took me a moment to process the ramifications of the various options.  He sure was doing a lot of detective work for a guy who had just dropped by and wasn’t on the clock!

Mr. R&H’s next comment was to tell me to go turn off the power to the pump.  At that point, I looked helplessly at Bob.  Sensing my uncertainty, Mr. R&H said, “Just go turn off the breaker for the pump.”  At least I knew that the breaker box was in the laundry room.   I asked Bob to come help me.  Bob knows everything about home repair stuff (he used to be a maintenance man for a hotel in town), and surely he would know how to turn off the proper breaker.

There were a lot of breakers in that box, but most of them weren’t labeled.

(to be continued. . .)

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