Thursday, August 12, 2010

Glug Glug Glug Went the Drainpipe

As I might have explained before, we have an outdoor shower which we use as much as possible. From April until about November, it's the only place to take a shower. That means a) very little cleaning of the tub in the warm months, b) no hair down the drain and c) lots of fabulous outdoor showers. K-ster says I must be part duck because I splash water at every sink and would in the indoor shower if I knew it wouldn't soak the floor. I love to splash around in the outdoor shower and no one cares. One would also think that this meant no problems with the cesspool. Where we live, we don't have sewer systems, we have cesspools that look like this:Kind of looks like a rabbit hole, huh? The theory is that you build two of these out of cement blocks or bricks. All of the drains go into this and then you have a pipe going to the second one for overflow. Over time, the water will drain into the soil (thus we are what we flush here) and the solids will need to be pumped at some point. Since there are just two of us and we take most showers outside and have a second toilet that is on a separate cesspool, I think we should never ever had to pump it.The system thought otherwise and about a month ago told me that something was wrong. I noticed a lot of dirt in the bathtub one day but no water and no one had taken a shower, so I chalked it up to weird. Some time later, when I was using the washing machine, I noticed that when I flushed there was a tremendous gurgling sounds in the washing machine pipes which are not really close to the toilet. I told k-ster who made a snide remark and since it didn't happen again, I wasn't too concerned.
Yesterday we had a repeat of the gurgling except this time the toilet threatened to overflow. I left k-ster a voicemail about not using the toilet and he got it too late and had to mop everything up. Then I just couldn't resist, so I flushed last night and all was well. All was not well this morning, so I called the guy to come pump. They come in a truck like this:And we've used this company for as long as I can remember. It's quite a vacuum he brings, and here are his other tools:
Yep, just a shovel and a hook. The hook lifts the cement cover(you didn't think we just had these gaping holes, did you?) This was extra fun because though 2 covers are right at ground level and easy to find, the main cover is buried so then it becomes like an easter egg hunt. Only dirty. They have a marvelous pipe you stick in the ground until you hit what sounds like cement and then you dig. Now that this will forever live in the blogosphere, I will only have to look here to remember the exact location so it won't be a needle in a haystack, or a cesspool in the lawn, as I call it.

Once he started pumping, he realized that the pipe was glogged so he needed his snake. I don't know about real snakes, but I do hate the metal kind that you have to use when snaking a drain that is clogged. I hate them because a) I think they are just so gross as they are LOADED with bacteria and b) they are completely unmanageable beasts because they are long, thin and metal. He wresteld with this for a long time but managed to stick it into the pipe, without losing his sunglasses which is a feat, and eventually unplugged it. To the tune of some kind of ridiculous money.

It's been 5 years since we've had it pumped and I remember because a friend of mine was visiting and as we were departing for the bus station, the washer backed up all over the laundry room. This guy claims we have to do this every year and when I said 5 years he was alarmed. I claim we only have to do this when there's a problem. Most people claim that pumping them regularly prevents the problems. I am all for preventive maintenance but I am also Thrifty Cheap Frugal and therefore cannot stomach paying to pump something that isn't full every year or two. If they charge whether it's full or halfway full, I say let's wait until it's full. Until everyone has arrived and is lined up to use the bathroom and now the toilet is flowing into the living room.

1 comment:

  1. We live on a well, therefore on our own version of a cesspool. In 5 years, we've needed it pumped once, which I hear is pretty good odds. :-)
    Stinky job, that.

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