Saturday, February 03, 2007

Plumbing Problems

Oh for Pete's Sake.

I live in the house my father built in 1949, using these 'how-to-build-your-house' books produced by the U.S. Army for all those WW II vets pursuing the American Dream. Overall, pretty good. No complaints.

However, the fact that my father has memories of setting the studs, hanging the drywall, laying the foundation, running the wires for electric, nailing down the shingles on the roof... it makes him prone to this mindset that nothing will ever go wrong. He remembers the painstaking care he took in putting the place together, and feels certain this means that it will never ever fall apart.

Back over the summer, I started noticing problems with the drainage--or lack thereof--in my bathroom. So what do you do when the water is backed up in the shower and seems to be seeping out from the base of the toilet all over the bathroom floor? You call the plumber. "The plumber," in this case, is a family friend. Or more accurately, the son of a family friend. I called and told him the problem, and he said, "It sounds to me like you don't need a plumber, what you need is to get your septic system cleaned out."

Right.

Cool!

I let my fingers do the walking, found a local guy (the euphemism for the trade is 'honey dipper'), and we were good to go.

He showed up and spent a couple of hours "reaming out my pipes" (as he described his work).

He told me that the problem was that pipes corrode not on the outside, but on the inside, and as they corrode, the space that the water and sewage has to pass through gets smaller and smaller. So, all it takes is one good dump and there's a blocked sewer line.

Like... uh oh.

And sure enough, not a week passed when water was once again backing up in my bathroom.

This time, I headed to the local hardware store. My thinking was to by some Dran-O like product. But the guys at the hardware store advised against that. A septic system, it seems, depends on micro-organisms to bio-degrade the... uh... "solid material" that you flush or rinse down the drain. A chemical drain un-clogger would wipe all of those little guys out.

Instead, they turned me onto a product called Rid-X. It's the equivalent of eating a lot of yogurt after you've been on anti-biotics. After flushing a couple of boxes of Rid-X down the toilet, the water flowed down the drain... well, like water flowing down the drain.

Since then, I have been religious about dosing my septic system with Rid-X every two weeks. And things have been copascetic.

Until now.

It's back.

Big time.

It's been getting slower and slower, despite my dumping a $7.99 box of Rid-X down the toilet on an almost nightly basis.

With all the stress I've been under, this is really the last thing I needed. So there I was, raging away about the injustice of it all, plunging furiously in the shower the other day.

Today, just now, was The Last Straw.

I've got a date. Maybe just for coffee. Maybe a little more. (He pursued me; I didn't pursue him; my New Years Resolution is inviolate.)

And of course, before I head off on my date, I want to clean out.

Since the drainage is so lethargic right now, I carefully laid a plan.

I would jump in the shower just to douche out my hole, and then head off to the gym for a "real" shower and shave. (The straight suburban dads and local high school jocks who go to my gym are tolerant of my traipsing around the locker room with my big stainless steel cockring, but if I were to use the gang shower for douching out my asshole, there would probably be some complaints. Puritans! Breeders! Oppressors!)

So I go into the bathroom, strip down, turn on the shower, and as soon as the water is warm enough, jump in and squirt it up in me. No sooner had I... um... expelled, then there was a gurgling in the drain, and I had a shower back up.

Yep.

You guessed it.

Turds in the shower that aren't going anywhere.

And I have no confidence that I'm thoroughly cleaned out.

So I've had it.

On Monday, I'm gonna call John the plumber, and as his recommendation for a good septic system guy. If our pipes are the problem, then I want new pipes. If it's the septic system as a whole that's failing, then I want a new one.

My father, of course, will protest mightily.

Tough.

If I can't clean out, then that's a serious problem.

1 comment:

Ames said...

I had a similar problem down at the lake. Even though we poured tons of RidX down the pipes, the problem was that little tiny tree roots had broken through and were living large in the septic pipe... who'd blame 'em right. So the solution is $80 foaming chemical that has to be poured down the drain at just the right moment. It foams up and kills the baby tree roots, which otherwise are just a net for anything going down the drain. Also, using a grey water line (shower) for septic waste is not the best idea... it's just not made for it.