I wrote this post three weeks ago, but never got it posted. It’s about the night the sewage backed up into my house. It’s also about a picture of Reggie backing up. Since this happened a few weeks ago, I don’t know why I’m posting it other than posterity for me and Reggie’s picture is semi-cute. I’ve put most of the post behind the cut since it is so boring!
Begin original post: Ah, the joy misery started at midnight. I was using Photoshop trying to rescue this Reggie image. The picture is of Reggie moonwalking, a.k.a. backing up, as it was too much effort for him to turn around, but in the rush to get the picture I didn’t get the camera’s exposure set correctly. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked in Photoshop and then remembered that I hadn’t run the washing machine. (The picture shown below is the work of my friend T.L. I took the picture, but gave up on my Photoshop tweaking. T.L., a Photoshop master, took over tweaking and achieved this image. THANK YOU!!)
Even though it was late, I needed to run two washes, but when I went into the utility room to put the second wash into the dryer there was water and some sewage all over the floor. It was also in the downstairs shower and on a corner of the bathroom rug.
(The following is a sad, boring, detailed, well semi-detailed, account of the sewage backup into the house. A couple of people have asked, so it’s here, but if I were you I’d stop now and find something better to do with your time. ).
I wanted to cry…I mean really cry. Like collapse to the floor and sob, but that would have added to the mess so I got busy instead. And unlike the sisters in this movie, I put on protective gear and started grabbing things to evaluate if they were savable (is that a word?) or needed to be tossed. Not a lot had to be tossed, and nothing that was thrown was of a great value. In fact the biggest loss was my spare furnace filters. A blessing in the sewage mess. It took me about two and a half hours to clear, toss and mop. I pushed water and such down into the sump pump hole and flushed it with clean water…lots of clean water, buckets and buckets of back breaking clean water. After cleaning, but not sanitizing because I didn’t have enough bleach, I went to bed, where I spent the next few hours tossing and turning, and wishing I could go to the bathroom. You know how that is…it’s the things we lose that we want the most. So since I couldn’t flush a toilet it was all I wanted to do. Well, that and freak about whether a plumber could rod out the line or if my yard was going to be dug up. Sleeplessness was rampant.
The next morning, after I canceled my 1:00 dental appointment (still need to reschedule that), my next-door neighbor suggested calling the city to see if they’d run a camera down the line for me. That at least would clarify if the problem was outside or inside the house. Since I had a backup into the house, the city sent Carl and Pete…names that bode well in my family and friends circle…came right out with a camera. The city was so eager to help because they wanted to be the ones to decide if the blockage was on my side of the sidewalk or their side. They found the blockage very quickly only about 9 feet from my house, which was certainly my side of the sidewalk. They aren’t allowed to recommend plumbers, but they told me a few they’ve had problems with and one they’ve not had problems with. Since the last plumber I dealt with was prohibitively costly, I went with Carl and Pete’s non-official suggestion.
When I called the plumbers they started trying to convince me I needed to dig up my yard and put in a new water line and valve because the clean out valve put in ten years ago was about 12 feet from the house and should have been right up by the house. Since it was a dozen feet from the house they were going to be rodding toward the house and that might not work. I was quickly losing confidence in this plumber and did finally get him to stop lecturing/selling to me and agree to send a crew to rod out the line. I also arranged to have the city send a crew to witness the work. The city agrees to do this partly as a courtesy, but also to make sure nothing happens to damage their main lines. An hour later the plumbers arrived and rodded out the line with no trouble and in less than 30 minutes. The city crew was Dan and Kirby, who actually knew one of the plumbers. The only problem was that the man hole cover over the main line was frozen so Dan used a sledge hammer to jar it lose and broke the sledge hammer. The plumbing crew spent a few minutes stressing I should have an open valve closer to the house, but said it’s cheaper to do that in the spring. Why, I don’t know, but they also said the yard recovers more quickly if it’s dug up in the winter and snow buries it. Since they were able to clear the blockage, I’m not having my yard dug up…but the line hasn’t been checked yet.
About an hour and a half after the plumbers left, Carl and Pete came back with the camera and looked down the line again. Unfortunately, they discovered a big clump of roots still in the line between the clean out valve and the house. The clump of rots is seemly lose since they could push it with the camera. They had me flush a toilet twice and they could see the clump move some, but not a lot. They couldn’t get the camera past the clump to check the pipe and its connection to the pipe coming out of the house. Carl and Pete felt the clump was lose and would eventually wash away; plus there was a good flow of water so things were clearing out. They told me to call the city again this spring or summer and they’d run the camera through the line again. Later, the first plumber I spoke to called and again started lecturing me on getting a new clean out valve installed. I suspect he’ll be calling again. (They did do a good job and cost less than the last plumber I had out for a different issue.)
Then it was time to sanitize. Such fun, but it is mostly done. The shower and the concrete floor in the utility room are sanitized and ready for use. I still have several things to carry back into the utility room, but I want to make sure the floor is completely dry. One small corner of the bathroom carpet is still a mess. It’s too small an area to have professionally cleaned, but I don’t know if I can get it cleaned and sanitized (I do have it cleaned enough that there is no odor). I’m going to try soaking it down and then attack with a wet vac. Then soaking it again with cleaner, and vacuuming again. If that doesn’t work, I make have to replace the carpet. The good thing is that it’s a small room…five feet by five feet…but I don’t know if I can buy carpeting that small. I don’t want to buy something that’s twelve feet wide. I’ll also have to try and find somebody that can measure and cut it to fit in the room with cut outs for the sink, shower, and toilet…because that is not my skill set. I have two neighbors that might be able to help with that.
So, that the stinky story. Too long, too painful, too mundane, too back breaking, too gross…but still completely nothing in comparison to Haiti’s horrible earthquake.