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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Spray of Sewage

 Who likes limited warrantees, raise your hand!  You won't be able to see, but my hand is NOT raised.  Although I'm still waiting to hear back on our 2 year old broken sewer pump to know whether it is covered under the 5 year limited warranty, I can say that warrantys are a load of... hooey!  But this post isn't about warranties, it's about Sewage. 

One evening as I was going to bed I heard our sewer pump making strange noises  like it was struggling to work.  There is an alarm that is supposed to sound if the sewer tank is getting too full (like if the pump stops working), but no alarm ever sounded, so Steve and I decided to check on it in the morning.   Morning came, Steve left to work and that meant I had to check on the pump that I knew zilch about.  I called my step-dad over and he braved the crawlspace with me.  We ran the water in the kitchen sink and sat and waited for something to sound wrong.  The sewer pump sounded fine.  But we heard another noise, a dripping noise coming from a different location and we discovered that the kitchen faucet was leaking into the basement.  Tom went upstairs and helped me tighten the screws on the faucet and the leak stopped.  Thank goodness.  Then he left for work.

I was still unsure about the sewer pump working, so I decided to run a test of my own.  I had Amara stand by the tub and had her listen for me to yell up to her to turn it off.  I then grabbed a flashlight and went to look that the pump again.  This was around lunch time.  That's when I noticed that the soil around the pump was wet.  I found a leak and I yelled up to Amara to stop the water.  That's when I called the sewer pump company and a plumber.

This photo shows the connection that was leaking.

The sewer pump guys gave us a bunch of things to try to see if we could "fix" the problem.  As soon as Steve got home, we headed to the crawlspace and started trying to figure out what the problem was in the first place.  That's when we opened the lid and found that there was sewage leaking out of the top.  EEW!  We had to use the wet/dry vac to suck up sewage, then attempt to drain the sewage tank doing the same thing, according the sewer pump guy's instructions.  When the vac would get about 1/2 full, we'd carry it hunched over because we're in a crawlspace and hold our breathe to preserve our brain cells, all the while trying to minimize the sloshing in the bucket, then lift it out into the garage, and wheel it to the dumping zone.  This method would have surely taken us a decade since the tank is 60 or so gallons and we were maybe emptying one gallon at a time. 

My mom came over after work and offered her small sump pump to us.  We jimmy-rigged one of our garden hoses to the end of it and attempted to pump sewage out that way.  That was also taking a lifetime. 

It was dark and passed dinner time when the plumber showed up to offer help.  He was there to look for the leak in the plumbing where it attaches into the sewer unit.  He had us run the bathtub so he could see the leak.  I went upstairs, turned on the tub for a minute then heard 3 adults yelling "Turn it off!" over and over again!  I turned it off and went down to see where the leak was and Steve told me that they were getting sprayed with sewage out of the top of the unit (not the leak I had found around lunchtime).   So now we had a full tank of sewage again, but the plumber helped us get the tank drained by using a manual pump button found on the sewer pump (why the sewer-tech guy didn't have us use that in the first place is beyond me!). 

In the picture below you can see the sewer pump.  The pump is that big black mass in the middle.  When you lift it out it's about 3 feet long, weighs close to 280 million pounds and it grinds up sewage while pumping it out to the city sewer.  The sewage was spraying out where that pump drops down into the tank.

After the tank was finally mostly drained, we went "fishing" with one of the kid's butterfly nets to try to see if there were any toys or rocks or things that could have gone down the drain in our house without our knowledge.  With the plumber as our witness, there was nothing but sewage in that tank (so with fingers crossed, hopefully it's a manufacturer's defect and we don't have to pay for the new pump).

Speaking of a new pump, after spending the weekend without use of sewer or water (for the most part, we did use a little since we could manually pump the sewer by going back into the crawlspace and pushing the button), the sewer-tech and his boss decided that they needed to have the sewer-tech come over and install a new pump and I would have to pay for him to travel out to rural-ville.  That was a trip with a $500.00 price tag, excluding the cost of the pump (another $1,300.00 if old pump isn't warrantied).  He was reasonable and came out and installed the refurbished pump that has a one year warranty (yay?).

It feels good to have a sewer that works again.  It was nice to have it installed before Thanksgiving so that Steve's parents could travel up here and join us.  AND  This Thanksgiving I was most grateful that I listened to that still small voice that told me to double check on that pump, even though no alarm ever sounded.  That prompting saved us a complete catastrophe in our crawlspace!  The alarm is now fixed by the way.  I had to have an electrician come over and spend 2 minutes running a 4 inch wire to a hub that was never connected in the first place.

See the wet soil around the tank?
The power cord to the pump

The alarm box


Bobbie said...

Boy, this post 'stinks'!! This is one pre-Thanksgiving weekend I wouldn't want you guys to live over again. ugh. It was fun with that plumber who was cracking jokes! You missed a lot of them hibernating upstairs waiting to turn the water off and on. I had no clue your 5 yr. old warranty dribbled down to 1 year?!! Cheap skates. ugh again. I can't wait to deal with them when we build and own their pump. I hope we won't have to own their pump, cuz it stinks!!

Amanda Lauret said...

Oh no! So sorry you had to deal with this! No fun at all. :(