Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What I Learned in my Crawlspace

I was innocently doing laundry Saturday morning when I first noticed the smell. At first I just thought Kootenai had a bad case of gas (she can clear a room quick on a good day). But then it didn't go away.

Entering my front bathroom I discovered excrement had filled my bathtub. The shower down the hall enjoyed the same fate. Delightful.

Some spelunking in the crawlspace led to the discovery of a wet spot in middle of the newest addition. Some pulaski digging under constrained conditions quickly yielded a nest of roots, a half dozen of which had a circumference that surpassed the thick end of a baseball bat some 15' from the nearest foundation wall. This is not good.

As it turned out when they built the last addition in the 1970s they decided to forgo any kind of coupler and just butted the new plastic pipe up to the old cement sewer line. Naturally, the trees were big fans of this year-round nutrient and water source.

But why stay just on the outside of the pipe when you can slip your way in and access solid material as well? And there was my problem.

Digging out the pipe and disconnecting it revealed a 12' long solid section of tree roots saturated in excrement. Now that's delightful. Especially delightful when removing this clog lets loose all the material behind it. And even more delightful when you realize the ramifications. You get to carry two gallon bucket after two gallon bucket of feces through an obstacle course of wires, pipes and cement walls to the backyard. At times the passage is less than 18" high. That's the way to spend a Saturday.

Of course no plumbing problem is ever simple, so naturally I had to wait until Monday for indoor plumbing since the connection from plastic to cement pipes requires a custom fitting that only the special plumbing supply store carries.

Top Ten Things I Learned From This Job

10.) A great appreciation for indoor plumbing.

9.) A modified bleach bottle makes a really good pooper scooper.

8.) Trees really, really like a constant supply of moisture and nutrients.

7.) Dogs and buckets of feces don't mix.

6.) My gag reflex is even better than I thought.

5.) Excrement turns black in sewer pipes (why would that be?)

4.) Exactly what happens when I flush the toilet or wash dishes.

3.) If you have to fix a sewer pipe, at least make sure you know the person intimately, for if not, you soon will.

2.) Who are my friends (after I asked to use their shower.)

1.) Why an exposed crack doesn't bother plumbers in the grand scheme of things.


Anonymous said...

Ick. Sh*t happens.

Meag said...

This? Is disgusting. Boy am I glad this was not a weekend I chose to visit Idaho.