Friday, December 9, 2011

Summer homestead flashback: Draining issues

  Probably the biggest issue we faced this summer was a total drain blockage in our farmhouse.  We had planned for a lot of issues and upgrades but this one hit us from out of left field.  You can have all the pressurized water in the world but if it has nowhere to go, you're in big trouble!

Everyday mundane activities that become nearly impossible include bathing, washing dishes, cleaning house, doing laundry and of course anything to do with the toilet.

  Before tackling the house's lack of drainage, we addressed how to work around our family's needs.  First of all, all housecleaning, dishes and a little laundry were done with tubs or buckets that could be hauled outside to dump.  We then made an hour and a half drive to the nearest Walmart and bought a port-a-potty.  The last and most difficult fix was the construction of an outside shower stall built around our Sun Shower.  I've always thought these were neat and figured that I'd be building one eventually anyhow.

  This was version number one and it went through numerous improvements over the summer.  It was really nice to take a shower in if you knocked off work early enough to beat the skeeters.  *E* was a different issue.  He was too small to shower in the stall so DW came up with an ingenious solution...

With all of our needs band-aided, we moved on to solving the plugged drains.

  My dad came to stay with us for a few days and was the real brains behind Operation Mudslide.  First thing we did was locate the septic tank and pop off the inspection hatch.  We dipped the level and found that the tank was nowhere near full.

Incidentally, the dipper was forever known as the "dookie stick" after this.  This told us that the blockage was in the pipes.  The house pipes were a combination of PVC, cast iron and copper; all connected with rubber sleeves.  We started disconnecting joints on the second floor to drain the system and inspected for blockage.  This was an absolutely HORRENDOUS job.  We eventually tracked the issue to the second-to-last elbow before the pipe exited the basement.  I hammered a steel rod into the blockage from the top while my dad did the same from the bottom.  We worked for about twenty minutes before we started getting chunks of concrete to come out.  CONCRETE?!!!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  We knew that there was a mobile home next to the house at one time and finally figured out that they dumped Quickrete into the drain when they attached the trailer house's septic into the farmhouse's tank.  This was to keep sewage from flowing back into the house if the septic tank filled up.  We finally got it all cleared out and I'm happy to report that water (along with other less pleasant things) is flowing again.

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