Thursday, February 16, 2012

Humiliations and General Grossness (Part 2)

Terrance said that when he was first starting out in the poo game, about the same age as his assistant, he was working on pumping out the tank of a man and wife whose septic system had become clogged. After they got the tank open and the clog roto-rooted, the man of the house came out and asked Terrance what had been causing the clog. Young Terrance said, "Condoms."

"What?" the man said.

"Condoms. You know, rubbers?"

The man of the house said that this was not possible. He and his wife didn't use condoms.

"Well, maybe they're from house guests," young Terrance reportedly had offered.

No. This wasn't likely either.

"Well, maybe it was the people who owned the place before you," Terrance said.

At this point the man of the house said, "I built the house." The man then excused himself, went inside and there shortly followed a great deal of shouting. Terrance's boss, who had been at the truck during this, came running up at the sound of the screaming from within the house and asked Terrance what he'd said to cause it. Terrance told him.

"Boy, you never tell the customer what's in the tank!" the boss said.

I laughed at this story, but within mere minutes we were to discover something of a different brand of disturbing within my own poo tank. As the level of the poo decreased within the tank, a large PVC pipe was exposed near the entrance. This was the end of the sewage pipe that ran from our plumbing beneath the house. It ended in a vertical T-joint, allowing the sewage to freely fall into the tank--at least until it had been submerged by it. Unfortunately, as the level of poo finally reached the bottom of the tank, yet another section of T-capped pipe was exposed, lying in the muck at an odd angle. It was not running from the house, but was instead broken, as evidenced by the shards of its non-T-capped end.

"Ohhhhh," Terrance said when he saw it. "If that's what I think it is then you're in for a world of shit."

"What?" I said.

Terrance borrowed my flashlight then got on his hands and knees and lowered his head down into the gates of hell for a look around. He shone the flashlight into the darkness, specifically toward the easterly end of the tank which extended several feet beneath the ground, running in front of the tree. When he came back up he looked grim.

"Yeah, you're in a world of shit."

It seems that the piece of broken pipe at the bottom of the tank was actually supposed to be connected within the other side of the tank and was the pipe that connected to the drainage field of the septic system. The way a septic system works is that all the waste from the house enters the tank where solids sink and paper and general sludge float. The solids are digested by microbes from the monthly Rid-X treatments we send down. The liquids (which include waste, but also gray water such as shower and general water runoff, fill up the tank faster until they reach the pipe leading out into the drainage field--which are a series of porous pipes running down into the yard. The pipes of the drainage field are surrounded by gravel and dirt and the whole thing acts as a filtration system, allowing the moisture to run back into soil where it is further filtered until it eventually returns to the ground water. According to Terrance, though, the broken pipe was preventing this system from working naturally and all the waste had just been building up in the tank itself. The system was broken and if not repaired would just lead to more cleanouts more frequently.

I shook my head in annoyance at this, but was not entirely surprised. After all, it's not like anything around here is ever going to be simple or go to plan. No, it all takes three times as long, cost three times as much and drives me nigh unto madness before the end of it. At least this time, though, I had two guys who were willing to return, venture into the gates of hell and fix our poo pipes. We'd be able to include their work in our packet of Cool Things We Did to Make the House a More Attractive Purchase for prospective buyers.

The poo tank assistant fished the broken pipe out of the poo tank with the poo rake and then dumped it in the yard. Terrance then picked it up and used it as a visual aid to explain the work that would need to be done, including replacing that thin chunk of pipe with much thicker modern PVC that wouldn't break. The work would involve a lot of digging--including possibly digging up the offending and dangerous tree, if we liked--to expose the other lid to the poo tank where the bulk of the work would need to be done. Until the work was done, the septic system would be inoperative and would just fill up to the gates of hell once again. It would take a while, but far sooner than if the drainage field was operational.

Knowing we couldn't rightly sell the house with a broken septic system, I agreed to the repairs. Soon the men were plugging the gates of former hell with their concrete lid again and winding their poo hoses back onto their truck. Terrance promised to return at the crack of dawn the following day.

If only the gates of hell had been the grossest thing I'd see all day.


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