Ever since the Great Cabbage Clog of 2012, the tub has been draining slowly. Everything else seemed fine, so we kinda pretended all was well. In hindsight, this may have been a mistake. But ignorance is bliss, and we decided to be blissful rather than proactive.
This morning the toilets backed up. And I don’t mean to imply that they uprooted themselves and moved closer to the walls behind them.
Jim went to work, of course, leaving me home alone scratching my head. Less than an hour later, I discovered something unusual in the basement – rain. Most of it was falling on Jim’s computer, so I kinda twisted my hands and walked away.
The question, of course, was why was it raining in the basement, and could it possibly have something to do with the toilets? I’m no Einstein, but I thought maybe it did.
We’d been gone for over a week. So, did the outlet freeze? Doubtful. It hasn’t been all that cold, and we have a deep snow blanket. Might there be a big clog between the toilets and the outlet? Definitely a possibility. Did the existing clog get bigger as it dried out in our absence? Did our neighbors throw a wild party while we were away, and did every single guest flush a tampon?
Or did the 72 loads of laundry I did yesterday back up the septic system?
When was the last time that sucker was pumped?
If I can’t remember, it’s probably been too long.
I can’t remember.
Plumber, Roto rooter, or septic guys? Eeny meeny miny…
If I called a plumber, and it was the septic, well, that would be a wasted call. Might as well start with the tail end of the system and cross my fingers while holding my nose.
Did I mention there’s 18″ of snow on the ground?
No problem – I have a tractor!
I called and scheduled a pumping for early afternoon. Then I hopped onto the tractor, and… it wouldn’t start. I assume this had something to do with the fact that the key was left in the on position.
So I hooked up the charger and moseyed on over to the snowblower. Jim usually snowblows – I run the tractor. So I called him at work – first day back since our vacation – and asked how to start it. His reply: “It’s still broken.”
Suddenly it was just me and a shovel.
I started at the end – dug through the snow where I hoped the access was. It used to have a stake on it, but, well, the horses were turned out there grazing in the fall, and that metal stake looked dangerous, so I took it off.
Again, my bad.
I got through the snow quickly and dug a spading fork into the ground. It hit either rock or concrete. It’s hard to know which in New Hampshire. I hoped for concrete and started shoveling, and immediately ran into trouble.
Worms. I am not a worm murderer and I refuse to let them freeze to death by digging them out of their warm burrows above the septic tank.
So I started a soil cup of worms which quickly overflowed, and I ended with a 5-gallon worm bucket. I must have 50 worms. Where’s a manure pile when you need one?
The concrete was concrete. Yay! It was the edge of the tank, but I found the round access thingy and got it all exposed and swept and clean and ready. Then I started shoveling a path through the snow back toward the driveway.
Just for fun, I tried to start the tractor again. It started! The angels sang, light shown upon me, and I sang Hallelujah.
Sadly, it refused to go straight or turn left. It was, however, happy to plow circles to the right. A challenge, but not insurmountable. Left turns were possible by backing to the right, then plowing straightish until I had a rotary plowed with multiple exits. One of those exits headed toward the septic tank.
I was ready by 11:30. The pumpers weren’t due until 1:00. I stomped into the house with frozen toes, checked the answering machine, and… the pumpers had left a message. “We’re early – see you at 11:30.” The message was still playing when they arrived.
Long story short, they pumped. The toilet flushed once, but not twice. So they shoveled off the second access (there are two?) and shoved a vacuum hose up the outlet. They sucked out “a huge ball of soap scum and grease.”
My reply: “I am married to an Italian.”
So, it’s still early afternoon, and the toilets both flush. The worms have been divided between my potted plants, and I’ve apologized for calling Jim and yelling at him even though there was nothing he could have done by rushing home to help. It’s now snowing even though weather.com says, “Chance of snow: 0%.”
Life has returned to normal, and so far 2013 looks an awful lot like 2012.