It had only been about a year since the dastardly deed had been done, so imagine my surprise when I heard strange gurgling noises coming from the plumbing.
A few days later, Honey came screaming into the bedroom at 4:30 in the morning, “The water won’t go down in the shower and the toilet won’t flush.”
It’s 4:30 in the morning, I can’t deal with this. “Get the plunger!”
Finally, the water went down and things returned to normal for a day, but a few days after that we had a repeat performance. This time the water ran over onto the floor.
It’s time to call the plumber.
I envisioned the worst possible scenario — septic tank failure.
Those of us who live in the suburbs without city sewers have to deal with the grossest of tasks called “getting the septic tank pumped.” Since it had been only a year since it was cleaned, there must be something dreadful going on.
City dwellers have not the foggiest notion what I’m talking about, so let me tell you. A septic tank is sort of a mini household sewage treatment plant. From what I’ve read, about 25% of American households are on a septic system.
No shower and no flushing for me that morning.
My daughter was off work, so she agreed to call the septic service. I left a blank check for her to pay them — envisioning my bank account going down the toilet, if you’ll pardon the expression.
All day long, I bit my fingernails, getting periodical calls from my daughter. “I’ve called and left a message.” “They called back.” “They are on a big job today.” Finally, at 4 PM after waiting all day, “They are on the way.”
By that time, I was off work. When I arrived home, the tank trunk was in the driveway and my daughter was running from room to room turning the water on and flushing. I don’t know what the septic guy was doing and was afraid to look.
Eventually, he came to the door and I went outside so he would not have to come in. I introduced myself but did not offer to shake hands. I hope he understood.
“It was just a plugged up tee,” he said.
“Oh,” I replied, wondering what a tee is and trying not to look as stupid as I am.
“Sometimes the solids pile up at the end of the line and block it,” he said, writing out a bill for $125.
“You can just open up the tank and push the stuff down with a stick to clear it if it happens again.”
“I think I would rather pay you $100 to come and do it,” I joked.
He laughed. I guess he must hear a lot of very tasteless jokes about his line of work, so I tried to avoid saying anything obnoxious. I was just relieved that it was not as bad as I expected.
Most things as expensive as a septic system come with an owner’s manual, but not the septic tank. It is a mystery, so I decided to read up on the subject on the internet.
Suffice it to say, what should go into a septic tank is the obvious. What should not is anything else from kitchen, bath, nursery, or laundry, whether it says flushable or not. I already knew that.
I decided that my selection of TP was probably the culprit. What seems “charming” to people, is not so charming to the septic tank.
I visited my favorite discount store for a supply of scratchy toilet paper that says “septic safe,” and liquid detergent for clothes washing and dishwasher.
I’ve become a septic use expert.
Honey has been in the shower long enough. He is flooding the system. I’m knocking on the door. He may have to go to work with shampoo in his hair today.