31 March 2007

Pipe Fu

or, A Sunday Visit from Roto-Rooter.

Things smelt rotten in our back yard last Sunday. Inspired by the nice weather to finally mow the lawn, Chris got out the lawnmower and stuck his head upstairs long enough to let me know that I was to stop washing dishes RIGHT NOW. Curious, as he was transmitting information in a clipped, military, need-to-know sort of way, I turned off the water, wandered down the cellar steps and looked out the basement door, into the swamp of sewage around the two-and-a-half foot tall vent pipe.

Chis points and says: "that's why I told you to stop."
I say some things that don't belong in print. I mutter something about "...not n the budget" and "first it won't come in and now it won't go out..." and then come to my senses and thank whoever blessed this house that the sewage backup was outside and not inside. Chris gets out the little bitty pipe snake and discovers this ain't so easy to fix, then we look up Roto-rooter (really the only game in town) and I call my mother and cry (actually bitch, but cry sounds more poetic) about sewage in my yard and a second lack of flushing toilet facilities that week. Then we call the Roto-Rooter guy.

Roto-rooter man comes, gets out the Big Motorize Pipe Snake, spends 3.5 hours drilling through a blockage in the pipe that is apparently composed of plaster and tampons, and clears it, leaving with $280 and an admonition to replace our old sewage line, as it's falling apart (not really news). The good news is that the line is straight to the road, and runs across an area devoid of trees, bushes and other people's foundations. The bad news is that some kids apparently enjoyed stuffing an entire box of tampons (No, I don't flush the things - I grew up with a septic tank that spewed like kid from the exorcist when overloeaded by holiday visits..), plus at least part of the dried plaster slurry from our tool cleaning bucket (that's where the slurry cake that vanished from the back porch must have got to...) down the knee-high vent pipe.

The weird news is that there are two vent pipes. One is under the porch, and, yes, it's connected to the same sewer line. No, we don't know why. Probably nobody now living has any idea. Other good news, I suppose, is that there is some kind of trap preventing backflow to the cellar. I guess we'll find out how that works when we dig up our yard.

Too bad I didn't get pictures of the vent pipe fountaining sewage. It was spectacular, yet disgusting.

23 March 2007

water, water...

Not as bad as it could be. The water main broke, so we (and everyone else here) were without water for a day.

Annoying, since it happened just as I was running a bath, and I'd put the dishes off until after FX was in bed. Inconvenient, since I had to use my bottled water to make coffee this morning. At least the soaking water for those dishes I couldn't rinse was useful ... for flushing the toilet.

I'll admit though, that first thought when I turned the tap and it was dry was, "Okay, what's broken in our plumbing?"

So glad it wasn't us!