Going through the motions

There can be few tasks more pleasurable for the homeowner than clearing a blocked sewer.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed to my delight that the toilet wasn't flushing properly.  Well, it was flushing all right, but as the flush progressed so the level of liquid rose giving that glorious moment of anticipation where I may witness the contents of the bowl overflowing onto the jax floor.

Unfortunately, I was denied that pleasure, as the bowl would proceed to empty before it reached its climax.  Obviously there was a blockage, but in some mysterious fashion, only a partial blockage.  I decided to leave it and gave it two options – either let it block up completely or else let the passing of time flush the obstruction.

Neither happened.  Each time I flushed, it rose half way up and then subsided again.  Sometimes it even flushed normally which was a little strange.

I decided the time had come to do something.

The problem with the drains in this house is that they feed underneath the back yard.  And the back yard is not for the fainthearted.  I had to spend the best part of an afternoon hacking down small trees, hacking back weeds, brambles and ivy and removing half a ton of old junk such as the garden table and chairs which haven't been used since we moved here, and old television aerials which just sort of got dumped.

I eventually mined my way down to ground level and there was the little inspection hatch.  The anticipation was almost unbearable.  I gently prised open the lid and removed it and there, exceeding all my expectations was the cause of the problem – the junction was half blocked with a dam of…..  well…. I'll leave that to your imagination, but it was almost rock hard and almost completely blocking the pipework.  Joy of joys!

I spent a semi-delirious half hour prodding and poking the dam, trying to break it up.  It was a bugger to shift.  A couple of times I tried nipping into the jax for a flush and a couple of times I heard that glorious hollow echoey "slung" noise as another mass of solid careered off on its path through the pipes, but each time the bulk remained stuck steadfast in the pipework.

In the end, I decided that the only way was to pressure hose the stuff.  That meant running the hose from one side of the house to the other through open windows and doors.  It took ages to squirt the water as the mains pressure is absolute shit here but I managed in the end.  After another hour's work the entire solidified mass had disappeared off on its journey through the pipes to God knows where, probably the local river.

The system is working properly now which is a bit of an anti-climax.  I'm going to have to increase the amount of cabbage, onion and beans that I use in my recipes, so that I can once again experience the joys of shoveling shit.

Can anyone think of a better way to spend an afternoon?

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Going through the motions — 9 Comments

  1. Ah, my favourite job. I have fond memories of the last house I had in UK, which had a septic tank system. The septic tank in fact worked very well, but the pipework just wasn't up to the task of dealing with the stuff that three women (wife and two teenage daughters) inflicted upon it. So on a regular basis, the cry would come; "Daaad, the shit pipe is blocked again…". It never occurred to any of them that since it was always the garbage that they flushed down the loo that blocked the pipes, perhaps it was them who should unblock it. No, no. That was dad's job.

    The pleasures of being a homeowner…

  2. All part of life's rich tapestry…  

    Fortunately I have not had to use our rods for a while, but I do remember the very satisfying whooshing suction when it finally cleared.  Nearly pulled the rods out of my hands. Lovely!  

    • Great buzz, eh?

      When I was living there (Cotswolds), I had a pub friend (in the days when pubs were real meeting places, and you had friends you'd only see in your local, unlike the doctor's waiting rooms they've turned into since the smoking ban) who used to drive a shit truck. He was a real character, a real Wiltshire country boy with a strong Wiltshire drawl; not educated, but very bright, (and in his own way, very articulate) and many an evening he would regale and amuse us with tales of his varied encounters with other people's cesspits. A great topic of conversation over a few beers! Made me glad I've never driven a shit truck! That is to say, I've driven shit trucks, but I've never driven shit trucks. If you know what I mean…

      • A couple of years ago the neighbours were getting their septic tank demolished/filled in.  There was a knock on the door – a bloke standing there stinking to high heaven and holding out a very large dripping lump of shit.

        "This yours?"  says he.

        "What the fuck?" says I.

        "It's a dog" says he.  "It fell into the tank we're clearing out".

        The massive lump of shit squirmed and wagged its tail at me.

        Fortunately, it wasn't our dog.  The stench was something else!

  3. The last time I had this enjoyable chore with a metre deep manhole overflowing smellily down the drive I found the trouble to be an almost complete brick, which I had to buy more rods to push it through to the next manhole in order to remove it.The strange thing was a careful inspection of the 'upriver' manholes failed to find any sign of a missing brick. The house is 60 years old -so had the brick always been there?

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