Friday, November 4, 2011

Everything You Didn't Want to Know About my Septic System

First the furnace a few weeks ago, then last night the septic system. I was in bed about midnight, sound asleep, when I heard my husband yell at our oldest daughter, "Get out of the shower!" She'd just come home from college for the weekend (which means laundry and a long hot shower, first thing.) Well, the water from both was all spraying all over the cellar. I knew the tank didn't need pumping, so that meant another plug like the one I unplugged myself last summer.

So lying in bed after my husband and daughter had cleaned up the mess, I realized that if I didn't go out there right then and see what was going on, by the time I got home from school, it was going to be too late in the day to call anybody, and that would mean all weekend without being able to flush. Or shower. And since I have distant mermaid ancestry, if I don't get a shower every morning, well, it's really not going to be a good day.

So at two in the morning, I went outside and dug up the tank. (Hey, I'm a rugged lady. I write fiction. I work with high school kids. I can dig up a septic tank by flashlight!) I found the little square cover on my first try. (I'm also a dowser, so no surprise there. I don't know how it works, but it's an awfully handy talent for this kind of thing.) I pried the lid up. Sure enough, the old iron pipe was well plugged again. Holding the light in one hand and a long stick in the other, I spent ten minutes of real unpleasantness getting absolutely no results.

So, sputtering, I went back to bed and lay there until the alarm went off at 5:30. Shower time. A couple weeks ago, I had several days of icy cold ones. Today I had a warm one, but I had to keep turning the water off between each soaping cycle, so to speak. And in a cold house, that got chilly fast. Urg.

We called our favorite septic people (I went to high school with the owners) and a nice guy showed up ten minutes ago and unplugged us.The system is working fine, just too much paper going down. Ah, teenage daughters. Oh, well, it could have been the leach field. And now I'm happily doing laundry and looking forward to a long, hot shower to make up for this morning.

But you know, it was kind of nice being outside at two o'clock in the morning in late fall all by myself. Orion was beautiful and sparkly, it was perfectly quiet, and no Bigfoot lurked anywhere. Heck, if he'd come by, I'd have handed him the shovel.


  1. Impressive! Our recent septic troubles were not faced so fearlessly..,

  2. Sorry to hear you've been having septic troubles, too. A whole lot of not fun. But fear not! Just take on that tank with shovel, flashlight, and stick next time! They are easily cowed.

  3. Ha! The one thing that ended up working WAS to whack a certain pipe with a shovel!!!!

  4. Ah, then you clearly have an excellent technique. There is something most rewarding about whacking things with shovels.