Sunday, March 09, 2008

Can't Wait for Spring

I have spring fever, and can't wait for the snow to melt. It seems like this winter has been dragging on and on. I think it was a month ago when our toilet stopped flushing ... Not a good sign, when we are so new to all of these things. Jim and the boys did all kinds of things to figure out what was wrong, using a snake, garden hose -- you name it -- to see if something was blocking the pipe to the tank. We had the tank pumped out last May, so we didn't think that could be the problem.

Friends came over to see if they could think of anything that could be wrong. They brought over some type of equipment that is used for blockages, and it seemed to help. However, when one of the guys went out to open the cover in the area where the sewage would head to the drain field, they discovered that it was frozen! Now what? Jim contacted a guy that pumps out septic tanks, and he said he would come out the next day and do the job. I guess there have been other places out here with the same problem. We've had some very cold nights (with wind chills of -40 degrees) and the days not being much better, with not enough snow cover. I guess that makes the frost go deeper than we would like. We also should have laid more hay across the drain field last fall, as it probably mulched into the ground.

Andrew had to use the snowblower to blow enough snow out of the way so the man's truck could get to the cleanout (sorry, I'm not good with proper names of things), and after about 3 tries the truck made it up the slight incline. I find it interesting that out here it's okay to take the stuff and spread it onto any available field. We had to make sure the guy wouldn't get stuck wherever we wanted the sewage spread, so Jim had to drive around a bit to find a good spot for the deed. After all that, we were charged $95.00 -- his winter rate. We breathed a sigh of relief, and hoped for an early spring to thaw things up and get the septic system running again like it should.

Well, this weekend the toilet once again stopped flushing. There's a pipe opening just outside the bathroom window (we are still living in the basement), and we've discovered that if we take the cap off and pour some hot water down there, it will help to get the toilet flushing again. Jim went through all kinds of contortions to figure out how to do our own pumping, and got some equipment all set up. However, whatever he did wouldn't siphon anything out. His next thought was to use an extra sump pump we have, but decided to wait it out a few days and see if something would resolve itself. At least the toilet is flushing again, but we are being careful with it.

I have discovered that one very important personality trait to have when living in the country is flexibility, and the ability to roll with the punches. Another important trait to develop is a good sense of humor.


Anonymous said...

Love the story Lynn, but with sympathy. Cheer up everything will thaw out soon. Ahh- what about next winter. Hope for more snow or put more hay over the septic tank?

I think a little redesign in the vent pipe would correct the problem. Also run the gray water in there because it is generally heated water and is dumped more often than the toilet, keeping more heat in the tank and field.

My 2 cents worth.

Gp B

Scott Terry said...

Oh Bartletts, I feel your pain! This is the first winter that we kept the toilet working straight through. In the past we would lose it around middle of feb or so. We feel like we have finally reached "high society" status this year. When company comes I send them to bathroom "Go ahead flush really works! Pretty cool eh."

Last year it froze solid and broke in two!!!!

Praying for you folks. You guys are my favorite modern pioneers.

Marci said...

You are my hero Lynn. I love your ability to allow yourself to be stretched without the pity party. One day all of this will be memories that you have.

I loved the last posters comments. =)

Anonymous said...

We used to open our tank, run lots of water in and use a small extra sump pump to pump it lower when we had problems - this was in BC. In SK, Mom would sometimes have problems and it was due to trying to conserve water in drought times (we got our water from a dugout), and then the solids would get too solid and cause problems. Here every time we freeze up, it is because we use the one bathroom for toilet only and not the shower and it really needs to have extra water to keep things running. Hot water really helps also, so now I try to remember to run hot water at the end of every day to keep things thawed. :) When we moved here the sewer was full, so we borrowed the large pump from the clinic and just pumped it empty which seems to have kept things working well.
I just got our sewer pipes to the one bathroom thawed yesterday and feel spoiled to have a toilet working there. 3 weeks ago our toilet froze up and I ended up taking the toilet off and finding 6 inches of frozen . . whatever that I pounded free with a crowbar and then resealed the toilet, put it back on and felt great to have a toilet again after not having one for a week. Ben did not appreciate my 5 gallon pail, toilet lid and ashes that I thought worked great in a pinch *G*.
I also just got the sewer unfrozen yesterday from the sink to the bathtub so can actually use that again. And got cold water to the washing machine so I dont' have to haul water from the kitchen sink to wash clothes.
I sure hope the temps stay above freezing and my frozen water and sewer dilemmas are over for the year :)
I imagine you have lots of seeds started in preparation for spring?