February 21, 2010 – Old House Problems

When you live in an older house, you enter in an unspoken agreement to trade old-time charm for sometimes strange features. We thought after 13 years of remodeling, we’d start to run out of surprises. We’ve replaced all the electrical wires and circuits, all the plumbing, new roof, new windows, and so on. Last spring, it was a new septic system to top it off.

So when “water” started backing up in the basement, it took me off guard. I then remembered the septic installer tell us that if we ever had problems, new systems require a filter at the outflow of the tank before it hits the drain field, and that sometimes it clogs and needs to be cleaned out. Alert to this possibility, I put a solar-powered driveway marker at the site of the lids for the septic last fall before the now flew.

So, when the “water” came up, I trudged out to the pasture to the tanks to see if the filter was clogged, grateful for the driveway marker out in the field of white snow, guiding me to the right place. After digging through the snow,I found the lid with my faithful helper Martin holding the flashlight in the darkness to guide me, we were able to get the lid off. About this time, the septic installer came to take a look as well, and we found everything was working as it should in the tank.

I’ll shorten the story here and get to the problem. Turns out that our main house drain and basement floor drains and kitchen plumbing are not connected to the septic. Evidently, when they built the house, the floor drains and kitchen were a greywater discharge and years later when they installed bathrooms, those went into a different system. So, when we installed the new system, the greywater drains must leave at a different place than the other newer system, so the upshot is we probably need to jackhammer up the basement and see if we can tie the floor drains to the septic lines, but will most likely need to install some kind of pump to lift the floor drain water to the new septic lines. An estimator is supposed to come out and look early next week. For now, our bathrooms and washer lines work, but we are washing dishes by hand in a vat in the sink.

one year ago…”Late February Snowbanks”