Monday, February 20, 2006

The great unknown: our septic system

This may fall under the category of TMI! TMI!!, but it's house-related so I feel I must blog about it. Our downstairs toilet is now not flushing properly. This means we are forced to use the upstairs toilet (see the most recent prior post to see the glorious experience that must be). We used an enzyme build-up remover in it, and this has seemingly helped. But she's still not sending the water down with as much gusto as she used to. Yesterday V and I bought a closet auger and tried unsuccessfully to send that sucker down into the trap in case there's a clog. One extremely frustrating half-hour later, after having no success whatsoever with the auger, we began to despair that our toilet may just be on strike.

My fear is that it is somehow septic-system related rather than toilet/plumbing related. We don't even know quite where our septic tank is. I guess that's one negative offshoot to buying a house that's been uninhabited for so long. People are like "well, I think it might be over there" as they jerk a thumb in a far-too-general direction. We might have to shell out to have someone look for it, which I assume they can do with radar/sonar. If Ballard could find the Titanic amidst a target area of hundreds of thousands of acres of water, they can find our little septic tank located somewhere on four acres, right? I hope so.

Having grown up on a farm, I know a little bit about septic systems. I know there are certain things you just don't do--you don't use chemical cleaners because they can destroy the bacteria that you need to break down that waste. You watch what you flush, even to the brand of toilet paper. Some wad up and don't break down quite so easily as others. I have no idea what size septic tank we have, but I do know that they should be pumped out occasionally. How occasionally? I don't know that much!

If there's anyone out there with septic knowledge that's just overflowing (pun intended), please feel free to pass it along! In the meantime, we'll be using the scary bathroom.


katielady said...

Ooh, so sorry to here this, it stinks (hopefully not literally!). I grew up with a septic tank, too, and have no idea where it is in my parents' roughly 4 acres. Good luck finding it! But I do know that I'd rather have someone check it out beforehand than have serious back-up problems with it after it's too late.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the septic tank is full or plugged. You may have a connection that has "disconnected" in the septic tank. Been there, done that....just last weekend. You have to dig up the septic tank to check it out.

If you live where there is snow, sometimes it's green where the septic tank is. It is at our house. That makes it easy to find!

"All we folks with septic tanks,
Extend to you our heartfelt thanks.
For putting nothing in the pot,
That isn't guaranteed to rot.
Kleenex is bad
Gum is, too.
Feminine products are taboo!
If it's plastic, use the basket.
There's a darned good reason
why we ask it!"

Thought you might want to post this in your bathroom.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a septic pumping place years ago. The Norm for pumping is every 4 to 5 years depending on use. If you are a family of mainly females or your tank is small it might be less. You can go longer but it does put a strain on your system.