The Septic Saga

Before mass destruction…

Way back in December 2009, I was spending a marathon baking day when disaster struck.

Taking a minute while cookies were in the oven, I ran to the laundry room to throw another load of clothes in the washer. Only when I ran past our bathroom door, I stepped on water-soaked carpet and discovered the bathroom was flooded.

Not sure what to think of it and so annoyed at the mess, I cleaned it up, put fans and heaters on the carpet outside the bathroom door and went on with my baking.

Randomly, we’d have the same problem for the next year. We thought it was the septic tank and had it pumped. We tried dumping junk down the drain to improve the drain field, assuming all was fine.

In December 2010, just days before I was hosting a house full of company we had the same problem, only this time the shower backed up, the sinks wouldn’t drain and things at my house came to a screeching halt. Calling the plumber in a panic, he came out, argued about where the septic tank was located and proceeded to run a snake the wrong direction and back up everything worse than it was.

The second plumber I called spent hours cleaning out the lines, and we thought our problems were miraculously solved. We had no more trouble until July when I found myself standing in a shower stall full of water one morning. Captain Cavedweller dug up the septic tank, found a plug and all was right one again. Until December when once again my bathroom flooded, the sinks backed up and we finally admitted we had a problem. A big problem.

Having a plumber came take a look, we  were told we had a failed drain system. I’m pretty sure that is right up there with being told your foundation needs replaced or your house has termites. Replacing your entire septic system is a huge, expensive, most unpleasant experience. To make matters even better, our backyard, where the system had to stay contained, wasn’t big enough for a traditional drainage system and too close to the neighbor’s wells.

So, we ended up with some fancy-schmancy system that I’ve been told should last us twenty to thirty years. Fabulous. I hope I’m living in a different zip code before I have to go through the replacement process again.

To start with, we couldn’t find anyone in January who wanted to take on the project. It was March before we got someone fully committed. Then we had to go through the paperwork process, followed by test holes, the loss of our storage shed, the decimation of our lawn and the destruction of any hope I had of seeing anything but dirt out my back door. They broke ground in May when the tulips were just blooming. After ripping up anything that remotely looked like a living plant, and digging dirt from one edge of our property line to the other, they dug a hole large enough to park a truck in and buried the new septic tank. We got to be homeless during this part of the project since no water could come out of the house into the backyard. So we spent three days at a hotel.
The digging process also broke most of our underground sprinklers, terrorized our cats and the neighbor’s dogs and filled my house with so much dirt, you could have planted an indoor garden in any room of the house.

After the septic tank was installed, they buried drain lines. Then another humungous hole consumed the rest of what used to be the back yard where the sand-filtration system was installed. I’m fairly certain it looked like we were installing an underground pool at one point.
When the pumps were in place and the lines all connected, we had to wait for an inspection and then another inspection and then another. By mid-July, we’d finally had the last inspection. A few weeks ago, I got the last of the paperwork from the DEQ.
The guys who installed the system were nice and knowledgeable and did a great job, although I really, really hope I never have a need to do business with them again. Ever.
Doing this once in a lifetime is more than plenty for me!
For the cost of a system like this, you could take an extended luxury vacation, purchase a pretty nice brand-new vehicle or … I try not to think about it too much. Captain Cavedweller keeps reminding me how grateful I should be that I can flush the toilet, take a shower and run the washer without worrying about what is going to happen.

The storage shed before it had to be taken down. Which resulted in hastily piled treasures and a big yard sale.
Broken sprinkler pipe – all the white pipes sticking up.





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