Thursday, February 13, 2014

Turns Out, an Overflowing Septic Tank Wasn't My Worst Problem of the Day, 7QT

Poo got real at the coop today.

I have been writing this post all day.  Something ridiculous would happen, I'd try to sit down to start the post, but before I could get 5 sentences written, something else would happen.  I'll break it down for you in the quick takes.

************** 1 **********

Monday afternoon I noticed a bare spot in the back yard.  When one's entire world is covered in almost a foot of snow, one notices a bare spot in the backyard.  Upon further inspection, I realized it was our septic tank.  A septic tank which was part of the system we completely overhauled 4 1/2 years ago. The overflowing "liquid" had melted all the snow.

I called a septic company to discuss the situation.  They didn't have a hose long enough to reach to the tank, so were going to have to wait until the snow melted and dried out before they could come. Since it did seem to be clear liquid and wasn't coming back into the house, we chose not to track down an expensive emergency company with enough hose.  (And crossed out fingers that Mother Nature was listening and would end this miserable winter.)

************** 2 ************

Thursday morning, like every morning, I did some laundry.  When I went to the basement to put the clothes in the dryer, I discovered the floor covered in water and the utility sink which the washer dumps into full of cloudy water.  Panic set in.

************** 3 **************

With a touch of hysteria, I explained to our septic guy that we were now in emergency mode.  The tank was backing up into our house, and it needed emptied pronto.  I was given the name of another company who might have a hose long enough to reach the back yard.  Fortunately, they did, and they could make it to our house by noon.  I put the boys and me on lock-down.  No one was to pee, wash clothes, wash dishes, wash hands, or scrub any floors until the tank was emptied.  (Truth be told, I wasn't really too upset about any of that except the peeing and hand washing.  As soon as I was told, albeit by myself, that I couldn't go to the bathroom, my body filled my bladder to the breaking point.)

*********** 4 ***********

The septic guy got here, set up, and lifted the tank's lid.  It was filled to the brim with what looked to be clean water.  I was horrified.  He was perplexed.  Apparently, all that water isn't normal in a working tank.  At one point he reached into the tank, twisted something, and pulled out a long, nasty, red...thing, and said, "You have a filter in here!"   Funny, I didn't know septic tanks had filters.  Apparently, it was something they started putting in somewhat recently.  Like 4 and a half years ago, when we got our new system.  You'd think the guy would have told us that back when the tank was installed.

Septic guy:  That filter needs cleaned once a year.  All that gunk clogging the filter is your problem.  The water can't get to the fingers, so fills up the tank.  You're lucky your lid is above ground and it could just go out into the yard instead of into your house.  Just a run under your garden hose will do the trick.

Me: "Don't know if you noticed, but we're in the middle of a Polar Vortex.  The outside spigots were emptied and turned off long ago."  (See!  We aren't completely incompetent when it comes to home maintenance!)

Septic guy:

Me:  I'll take care of it.

Yes, I took care of the nastiness by first scraping off as much as I could with a stick and snow.  I then had to bring the thing into the house (Never been more thankful for that mud room utility sink!) and hold back the vomit (Oh, the smell!) while cleaning it out.  A gallon of bleach took care of the smell and the germs.

********************** 5 **************

The tank was emptied without further incident.  1400 gallons of...gross...was now in the truck.  He loaded up the hose, I paid him, and we made our goodbyes.

A few minutes later, I glanced outside to see that the truck was still there, just moved a bit.  I went out to investigate and found that he was stuck.  In my driveway.  Blocking my van, which I had previously moved out of the way, so he could get around the circle drive.

The day is over.  It's dark outside.  I can't take a photo of the actual drive and draw in the vehicles.  I'll try to add it in the morning.
 We decided I would move my van the other way, going up the incline and get around his truck.  He would then pull into the area I was currently in to get back on gravel.

We found the one flaw in the plan when my van got stuck, too.

While he himmed and hawed and didn't do much of anything, I worked my tail off finding a way to get my van out of that mess.  

In short, I spent 45 minutes shoveling gravel from one area of the drive, transferring it to another part, and making a new track for my van to use.  After every few feet I'd drive, I'd get stuck again and have to shovel the same gravel into another spot.  But, I did get myself out of there while the septic guy watched.

After calling school to let them know I'd be late, thanks to the septic tank truck stuck in my driveway, I went back to shoveling gravel to get his 10 ton truck moving.

Finally, finally, after over an hour, we got his truck out of my driveway.

********** 6 *********

I then went around the house, running water all over the place.  I started the dishwasher.  I peed.  I washed my hands.  I went to do more laundry.

When I got downstairs, I was happy to see the floor no longer had water and the sink had drained completely.

But something wasn't quite right.

There, in the drain hole, was a sock.

Seems one of the kids had at one point dropped a sock in the sink, and when the washing machine drained, the sock got jammed in the drain hole.

The freakin' septic had never backed up after all!!!  I didn't have to find an emergency septic service!!!  I didn't have to hold my pee for 7 hours!!!  I didn't have to clean a poop-covered filter inside my house!!!  I didn't have to practically kill myself digging a 12-passenger van and a 10 ton septic truck out of my driveway!!!  All I had to do was pull a sock out of the drain!!!!!

Have I mentioned home ownership bites?

**************** 7 ************

Since we're on the topic of poo and I have one extra take left, I shall add this.

Lately, Cuckoo has been enlightening us with the multitude of ways to use the word "poopyhead".  Here I thought the only way to use it was as a retort when a brother did something you didn't like, as in, "You're a poopyhead!"  I was wrong.  "That's a poopyheaded hat!" and "Poopyhead on your poopyhead" are also acceptable ways of using the word.

Let me rephrase..."All I had to poopydo was pull a poopyheaded sock out of the poopyheaded drain!"

Head on over to Jen's to find lots of quick takes that have nothing to do with poo.

Have a lovely day!


  1. I'm speechless. I would have cried when I realized I went through all that for nothing. YOU really, really, really can't make this shit up...really!! Here's to a better day tomorrow! :P (My busted water heater and overflowed toilet floods don't seem so bad now.)

    1. People have asked the kids if I exaggerate in my posts. They always answered no. Honestly, there is no need to exaggerate when crap like this happens.
      (Um, your overflowed toilet was way worse. That caused damage to the house! Ours was just some damage to an already messed up driveway.)

  2. I suppose you could say you had a really shit day :)

    What a shame that you went through all that for nothing - I presume you haven't yet identified and killed the kid responsible for the sock in the drain hole?! On the plus side though, at least you now know there's a filter in your septic tank and it won't need cleaning again for quite a while!

    Here's hoping you have a much better day tomorrow :)

    1. I could and I did. :)

      I have not identified the child. I'm afraid what I would do to him.

      So far, so good. Although, it has been snowing like crazy for two hours, and I have to leave to get the kids from school soon. Still plenty of chances for the day to go sour.

  3. Ohhhh I'm so sorry for your awful day and that I nearly died laughing when I read the ending.....oh MAN!!!! I assume it's gonna be several mi before the owner of that sock makes the top of your favourites list again. Good GRIEF but your life seems out to get you sometimes.

    Fortunately (for us) you're a good sport and a hilarious writer and we benefit from your day of knock-on catastrophe.

    But ack!!!

    *HUGEHUGS* ♡

    1. You should apologize! How dare you laugh at my bad day! ;)

      I don't know which child it was, so they are safe. I'm just lumping them all together and putting them all at the bottom of the list.


  4. That's quite the pricey sock! I suppose this will be one of those stories you will laugh at later. I'm laughing now, but if I had your week, I probably wouldn't be laughing yet.

    1. It could go in the World Record Book for highest priced sock.

      Not laughing, but I am finding it a bit amusing. I'll get there. :)

  5. Boy. You know how to have fun! Lol! I had a similar experience once, when my husband was in Holland. There was absolutely nothing he could do, except send me a diagram of the septic system. Which made me want to strangle him. Yep.

    1. Don't I? :)

      A diagram? That didn't make you fall all over in gratitude?? Hahaha!

      Fortunately, I was here when the new system went in, so I knew where all the underground parts of the system are.

  6. Usually I am beyond jealous of people who have houses. Thank you for reminding me there are reasons not to be so envious. :)

  7. Oh no!
    They just talked about people having septic tanks freezing up here--and backing up because of it. Crazy!
    Plumbing issues are the WORST.
    And some darn sock. Sheesh.

    1. The first question I asked the septic guy was about the chances of the lines being frozen. That scared me the most.

      Stupid sock.

  8. Yikes...and for me to say "that's no fun" is so understating a poopyhead situation. Sorry about that. But now you know your filter is clean for the next year (or four)!

    Thanks again for, as always, using your good poopyhead fodder to make the rest of us realize how calm our poopyhead lives are. ;)

    1. It was all worth it, simply because I have a clean filter.

      No, it wasn't. But I'm glad to at least know it's there now.

      You're welcome. I think. :)

  9. And here I was mildly annoyed by the strapping young neighbor of the male persuasion who failed to give me a hand when he encountered me struggling to unearth my car from the snow this morning. I would have let the septic guy figure it out on his own when I saw he couldn't be bothered to help. Would have been quicker if he shoveled while you drove. What a tool! If I was you, I would have had to immediately have someone remove the offending sock from my presence before I could look at it long enough to determine its owner and throttle them. ;)

    1. I most certainly thought about leaving him to do it on his own. Unfortunately, I had 4 kids waiting for me to pick them up at school. I didn't want to leave him there while I was gone. (As I got in and out of my van, I was thinking about how much faster it would go if he started shoveling.)
      How rude of your neighbor! If I ever heard of one of my boys acting like that, I'd pop them!
      As for the sock, it wasn't necessarily the person to whom it belongs. They all do laundry from the communal basket in the bathroom. I'm kind of afraid to know who actually dropped it.

  10. OH, are so right. Homeownership does just kinda bite. I thought our no heat problem with the frozen whatever in the pipe was bad - this is worse. So sorry! It's true, though, isn't it? You can't make up stuff this good so it really all must be true. May you never find the identity of the owner of the sock. It's probably better that way! But hey, let's look at the upside - now your filter is clean and your mudroom was insanely useful.

    1. No heat and frozen whatever is bad! No heat is something that could push me to tears.

      Completely and utterly true. My imagination isn't that good.

      I will never find out. I won't even ask.

      I am glad the filter is clean. I would have preferred it was cleaned in warm weather, but, yes, it is clean.

  11. Such a great post! Oh, how I feel for you! But that mudroom. Still a dream, isn't it?

    1. Thank you!
      That mudroom is my favorite thing in my house. Even better than my bed. I don't know how I lived without it for so many years.

  12. Amazing you can write so pleasantly about something that would have sent me to the moon. Quite the ordeal to learn a feature of your new septic system, as if you're going to pull out that filter any time soon. LOL
    Hopefully you will wind up this week in a relaxing, non-chore, no homeownership catastophe way.
    May springtime come to your house first:)

    1. Thank you for saying this was written pleasantly.
      Who wants to put money on me forgetting all about that filter next year when it's supposed to be cleaned again?

      Oh, thank you for those well wishes. Crossing my fingers...

  13. OHMYGOSH I AM SO SORRY you had to go through ALL OF THAT!!!!! And I have to say, I was both laughing and in moments feeling such compassion for ya- it was so hard to stay serious with how you told this story!! And then you end it like THAT? Oh bless your heart!! You have certainly had a poopyhard week, my dear!!

    Go figure. Lesson learned? When in doubt, always know it's the kids' fault. LOL

    1. So am I! :)
      I'm glad you got a laugh out of the telling. Something good (besides a clean filter) coming out of it makes it all a little easier.

      Everything that goes wrong/gets broken is a child's fault. Always! :)

  14. No way. I'm totally not laughing at you because instead, I am very happy for you that it was only a sock.
    FREAKING YIKES though!!!

    1. Well, thank you, Kristi. You are a real friend, unlike those laughers up above. :)

  15. my daughter just bought her first house, which has a septic tank. Any tips on how to manage the thing? Do you drop a packet of yeast in the toilet once a month? That's what the installer told her helps keep the bacteria down. 1 packet, per each person, per month. Glad you found that missing sock. :-)

    1. We don't do anything to ours. Both houses we've lived in have had septic systems, and we've never done anything except have them emptied every so often. Every 3 years seems to be the norm.
      I'm confused as to why the installer said to keep the bacteria down. It's the bacteria which breaks everything down. When ours gets emptied, he leaves some "sludge" at the bottom so the tank doesn't have to start from scratch and grow new bacteria.
      She does need to see whether or not she has a filter to clean every year!


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