Sunday, June 12, 2016

Code Brown: The Septic Back Up

"I didn't sign up for this," my handy and very sexy boyfriend said as he came out of the laundry room with a putty knife in his hand. He'd been using it to scrape linoleum glue off the floor. We had to rip the linoleum up after our septic tank backed up all over the floor. There are no words to describe the utter level of grossness I feel right now.

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Every now and again, I hear people talking about so and so's septic backing up. It never happens to anyone you know directly. It's always the guy down the street from your work friend or the illusive Great Aunt Marge. Your mom remembers Marge from way back when, but the last time you met her, you were wearing diapers. People talk about septic back ups the way they do about rare diseases. It's done in whispers and a look heavenward with the hopes that the evil septic spirits will visit someone else, but not you. Dear God, not you! If you're Catholic, you quickly give the sign of the cross when the words "septic back up" are spoken. 

The laundry room floor and a small bit of carpet in our finished basement were sacrificed to the septic gods on this fine June Sunday. I was doing a load of laundry, went down to check it's progress, only to find what I thought was a washing machine malfunction. Upon closer inspection, I saw evidence that the problem was a bit more serious. Specifically, pieces of poo and toilet paper floating in an inch of standing water on the linoleum. My first thought was "how the heck am I going to get the laundry done?" I spent the next two hours in the laundromat while my handy boyfriend was at his parents' house installing a screen door. He got home before I did.

"Ok. We've got some issues here," he texted me as soon as he got home and surveyed the damage.

We made arrangements for the boys to spend the night at their dad's house. Then we started calling emergency plumbers. Call number one couldn't be here until tomorrow between 10:00 and 12:00. That's not good enough when the toilets won't flush. Call number two was very helpful, but he thought we might need our septic tank pumped and he didn't have the ability to do that. We struck gold with call number 3. He'd be here in an hour with equipment. He could pump and snake our main line, if needed.

The boyfriend and the two septic guys talked guy talk. I heard the f-bomb dropped a few times. By the time they left, I had working toilets, was a little poorer, and had gotten some advice on a long-time plumbing problem that we'll fix by moving our washer and dryer to another part of the basement. (Basically, the pipe the washer drains into is too small. It needs a 4-inch pipe, but only has the 2-inch pipe that was standard in the 1960s when my house was built.)

The septic work was pretty cheap as far as these things go. I'd braced myself for major work costing thousands of dollars. I was thinking about loans and the fact that I have a child starting college in a year. I was getting ready to check Pinterest for outhouse plans (who needs indoor plumbing anyway?), when the fabulous septic guys gave me the good news.

The septic problem is fixed and you don't have to re-mortgage your house!

We're left with major clean up duties in the laundry room. Linoleum has been pulled up. Sexy boyfriend and I have scraped linoleum glue off the concrete. He's pulled down old, water-stained ceiling tiles (not stained by the septic back-up, but a leaky tub in the upstairs bathroom years ago)  and ripped off a piece of 1970s paneling just to see what's beneath it. A laundry room makeover was on our long-term list of home fix-it projects. With the septic back up of 2016, it's moved to the top of the list. If we're going to do a part of it, we're doing it all. That's the way he rolls.

Stay tuned for laundry room updates. Our goal: utter grossness will be transformed to the nicest room in the house. It'll no longer be a laundry room, but rather, it will be our half-bath with a good-sized storage closest.

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