Modern Problems

March 16, 2022


A couple of nights ago, I walked into my garage, and there was a couple of inches of standing water. I swore.

At about the same time, Garris told me his bathroom floor was flooded. I swore again. Not at him, of course.

And I wasn’t exactly angry. I was frustrated.

For the second time in a week, I used every available towel in the house to sop up water in his bathroom. The first time, I thought there was an issue with the toilet and had shut off the water supply to it. He wasn’t home at the time, and I decided to wait for another day to deal with the problem.

But I realized that night, I probably had a backed up septic. Of course, it was too late to call anyone at ten o’clock.

Last week, there was water in the garage, but I thought it was a fluke. I couldn’t find any leaks in the pipes. I couldn’t find a reason for the water and figured the drain was plugged or that it was a result of my doing a load of laundry. It didn’t dawn on me that the septic might be backed up.

First thing yesterday morning, I called a septic pumping service, and waited until about three o’clock for him to show up. Those things always run later than you plan. In the meantime, I told my mom and Garris that we couldn’t use any water. No flushing. No showers. No laundry. Nothing. I was just happy he could make it out the same day. It took him maybe a half hour to pump the tanks. And to my shock, they were full to the lids.

I had just had them pumped three years ago; it was on my calendar to have it done this summer. And I was told they needed to be pumped every five to seven years. Since there are only two of us living here, I didn’t think it was close to needing done again.

What he told me was that a lot of the pumping companies don’t ‘mix’ the tanks before pumping them. They just pump out the liquid, the solids fall to the bottom, and the tanks get full quickly and/or plug up.

As soon as he moved the sludge around a little bit, water started flowing in, alleviating the problem in my garage. Yeah, gross. So was the filter that he pulled out of the solids tank. I have a lot of respect for the people who pump septic tanks. I couldn’t stomach that smell all day. I can see how people die quickly when they fall into septic tanks. The fumes overwhelm almost immediately.

After he was done, I turned the water back on to the basement toilet and held my breath, waiting to see if any water was leaking around the bowl. Nope. So, I cleaned his shower and gathered up all the wet towels. I’m very thankful that was the issue. I was dreading calling a plumber to come look at the toilet, afraid of the cost of that visit.

I checked his toilet again this morning. Dry floor. I checked the garage this morning and all the water was gone. Of course, there is still the matter of a soaked indoor/outdoor carpet that I will need to air out. The garage door is open now, with a fan blowing air on the carpet. If three freezers weren’t sitting on that carpet, I would have dragged it outside already.

I’m running all the towels through the washing machine today. I’m flushing toilets, giddy that the action won’t cause any more issues in the basement.

And I am laughing at myself. What a small and simple thing to be happy about. My septic system is working. I don’t have to call a plumber.

And it makes me realize just how much we take for granted in today’s world. I don’t think about how my electricity works. How the propane gets into the house. How the septic system drains water. How my well pumps. I don’t think about my appliances working. I don’t think about the horses’ water running. I don’t worry about the pipes in my house holding water. When a problem crops up, I deal with it. And most of the time, the problems are pretty simple and pretty fixable.

I’ve become fairly handy at fixing some things. I can use a hammer and screwdriver. I’ve learned how to run many powers tools. And I try to solve my own problems. I feel empowered when I can put up cupboards. Or make some countertops out of barn wood. Or replace old caulking around my tub. I figured out how to put caulking inside a toilet tank to prevent leaks. I’ve replaced the guts of a toilet tank. I’ve learned to check the breaker boxes if I lose power in the house or barn. I learned how to put down laminate flooring and make door trim. I even went up on the roof a few weeks ago to nail down some loose shingles. So, whenever possible, I try to solve my own problems before I reach out for assistance.

Especially now that my house is boy-free. I used to ask my kids for help on some things, and I still ask for help with some of the power tools. But I have forced myself to be a little more self-sufficient and figure out how to fix ‘smaller’ things.

I am still irritated that the garage flooded. But it could have been so much worse. If it had been a blown pipe, who knows how much of my house would have been damaged. Right now, I may have to throw out a couple of carpets and replace some baseboard trim in his bathroom that got wet and has swollen and misshapen now. But those things are pretty minor.

My biggest lesson? Have my septic pumped every other year, whether it’s scheduled or not. What’s that saying? An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

I like it when my house runs along the way it’s supposed to. And I try to do needed maintenance to keep it that way. I don’t ever want to step into another flooded garage or sop up a bathroom floor, wondering exactly what I’m soaking up with the water.

So, for today, I’ll enjoy that my house is running the way it should. And try to appreciate just how spoiled I am, living in this moment in time.


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