Thursday, January 24, 2013

Toil and trouble....

*warning...this is mostly a complaining type post. If you'd like to skip it, feel free =) *

We thought we were doing pretty well with water conservation before, but now we've taken it to an entirely different level.  Well, not that we really meant to.

This past weekend Mandy called me to let me know that the toilets were "burping" after they were flushed.  Both of them...  And sure enough when I got home, we confirmed that we had a near complete blockage in the main sewage line (angina fecalis I guess would be the medical term).  Why is it that things like this always have to happen at the start of a three day weekend? And home warranty service does not respond until "regular business hours" i.e. at least monday if not tuesday.  I took this time to search for the elusive cleanout drain that we were told about before we bought the house, but after several hours of digging and about ten buckets of dirt, it was definitely not where the sewage scope guy had predicted it would be. Argh...

The plumber was able to make it out to our property yesterday and promptly told us that without a ground level cleanout, they couldn't do anything as their insurance does not allow them to go up on the roof and cleanout the pipe through a roof vent.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, the other part of our plumbing problem is that on Monday after doing some dishes in the sink, the water I drained started coming out from around the base of the toilet!  After talking with the plumber, it seems that when there is pressure buildup, the wax ring where the toilet connects to the sewage line can break and water will exit there. 

The good news is that while we was fixing and resetting the toilet, he was able to use a large bore auger and actually do the clean out.  The bad news, however, was that this was not covered by our home warranty because it was now an "existing problem".  Whatever, we just wanted our plumbing working again!

But it gets better... He started augering out the sewage line and got the water line to drop and improved the drainage.  But at about 75-80 feet out he encountered a wall, literally, and was unable to go any further.  From the location of the blockage, he posited that this was likely the point of junction with the city sewage line and that somehow the two had become dissociated. In order to fix this, he will need to contact the city and receive permission to work on it, but will also need to access the property line cleanout site.  (Homeownership really should come with a manual!) 

When we initially had our drains scoped back in may, the guy had mentioned that he thought he had located our property line cleanout site but that it appeared to be under the sidewalk.  Oh....great.  So this means we may need to get another scope by a sewage line guy and once we locate the property line cleanout, will need to access thatby cutting through the sidewalk and then potentially fix this apparently faulty connection between our sewage line and the city main line. Yayyyy.....

So in the meantime we've been in water conservation mode. We've become quite adept at taking three minute showers and minimizing any extra water usage (and what we can put in a container and dump on the garden we do). But sometimes you really just want to take a nice long shower!

5 comments:

Xaparro said...

Oh, Juan, what a headache! Did you call the city? aren't they responsible for the connection to your line? Check and see. I hope by the end of this, the problem really is solved and doesn't happen again!

Jen said...

oh sewage lines... we know so much about this unfortunately. more than I would care to know. hope this works out smoothly for you in the end without too much headache.

SMJFrench said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SMJFrench said...

We had our first sewer back-up in November, after 15 years, when a friend was visiting from Portland. She let the water out of the tub and the toilets started gurgling. She was wise to immediately put the plug back in the tub.

Of course, it was on a Friday. Rich tried to get a plumber and couldn't. But Teri said Roto-Rooter helped them and had been reasonable, so we went that way. Fortunately, ours was less complex than yours and we got the line cleaned out clear to the street. Rich can give you the whole story, I wasn't here. Rich is quite the handyman for most things, but knows when to call in help.

Penny said...

Isn't it amazing that we all have sewer stories, but no one tells them to prospective home owners. Our sewer backed up into the basement, multiple times, and the town would come and clean out the line, until they determined with a scope (kind of like an endoscopy) that tree roots were closing the pipes. So we had the whole thing dug up and replaced the sewer. We were responsible for part, and the town took care of some. But the company didn't backfill the whole properly so the group sunk, but our next door neighbor filled that in with ivy and dirt he had removed. And maybe someday something will grow there again.