Day: July 20, 2017

Thursday, 20 July 2017

08:15 – It was 66F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0630, sunny and clear.

We didn’t get much done yesterday after I posted. The electrician showed up mid-morning. When we walked downstairs, there was a pool of sewage from the downstairs toilet overflowing. Oddly, there was no strong odor. I couldn’t smell anything. Even Barbara, with her much more sensitive, non-smoking snout, said there was a very, very slight sewage odor, but nothing she noticed until she went downstairs. I called Shaw Brothers immediately to let them know we needed help.

The toilet had suffered a volcanic eruption, spraying sewage and toilet paper all over the bathroom floor and out into the den area, where it soaked the bottom books in the many stacks of books still on the floor. Barbara bagged all those up yesterday and took them to the dump.

At that point, we were hoping that it was just the drain for that toilet that was plugged up. We’d used a bunch of old towels to soak up the sewage on the floor, and I made the mistake of carrying them upstairs and putting them in the washer, with plenty of detergent and chlorine bleach. I soon realized my error, as Barbara shouted up that the bathtub and downstairs sink was backing up. So I killed the wash cycle.

To make a very long story short, a backhoe is to show up this morning to dig up the septic tank. No matter what the problem turns out to be, I want them to pump it out as long as they have it uncovered.

When we first moved up here, I was surprised that there were no pump-out pipes sticking up on any of the septic systems we saw. Back 40+ years ago, I had many friends up in Pennsylvania who lived on rural properties. Most of them had a pipe sticking up from the septic tank. Those few that didn’t turned out to have a metal hatch cover buried under only a few inches of soil. Down here, they bury the septic tanks, and they have to be dug out when they need to be pumped.

Let that be a lesson to me. A year or more ago, I’d just about convinced myself to preemptively pump out our septic tank. But I talked to several people, who all said the same thing. That a lot of people had septic tanks that had worked just fine for 30 or 40 years. But I want this pumped out now. We’re in our early 60’s, and I don’t want to be dealing with this 10 or 20 years from now.

Fortunately, part of being prepared for things in general means we’re also prepared for this. We got the bedside commode down from the attic and set it up in the master bathroom upstairs. We have thousands of those t-shirt/thank-you bags, which fit over the bucket in the potty chair.

We can’t run any water down the drains until the situation is resolved, so Barbara brought up three of the 3-gallon dishpans from downstairs. There’s now one in each side of the kitchen sink and one on the counter to the side, so we can now wash dishes if we need to. The water still runs, but even if it didn’t we have plenty of bottled water to hold us.

The upshot is that being prepared makes this situation a lot more bearable that it might have been. We still can’t take showers, but Barbara can shower at the gym if necessary. I’ll just sponge-bathe if it comes to that.

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