In which it is shown that I am the Queen of Poo

It's like instant karma, only a little delayed.
I got my — yay — TIG for expostulating upon kitty litters and the properties thereof.
And now, in related news….well, let's just say I've had to expand my area of expertise a little.

Following subliminal promptings that I am certain were yeemed at me by The Batcat, for no particular reason I went into the Basement of Doom last night and looked around,
At 12:15, alone in the dark, with a less-than energetic flashlight,
At the gleam of dark, still waters on the floor.

So I did what any reasonable person would do.
I waited until the morning to announce this, and call in the rootering people.
Sadly, they know us well.

The previous owner did the new foundation: a pretty good job, except for a few oddities.
His new cement floor doesn't drain into the sump pump well, which is instead placed at the highest point of the floor.
What use is the sump pump then? I hear you ask.
Well, he routed all the roof gutters into the basement sump pump well, where all the water that hits the roof is then pumped out to the storm sewer by the electric sump pump.
Unless the power goes out, as it sometimes does when it rains, in which case all that rain floods into the Basement of Doom — where it overflows the cemented half-basement and creates the scenic Bottomless Sea of Mud between us and the circuit-breakers and furnace.

Anyway, at the same time he set this up, he worked on the sewer lines.
He left the 1950's line from the in-law unit in back, though it has issues with an avocado tree.
This way the tenants can have their own sewer backups into the laundry room.
He left the front section alone, on the theory that the city is responsible for clearing the first thirty feet.
He did replace the middle section that runs along the side of the house: this way when there is a problem it can  all backup efficiently through the new pipe.

Anyway, the city will indeed come by once a year and snake out from the street.
As far as they feel like.
Sort of.
("Lady, that block's too far back for us to get for you.")
Then they offer to come back later for cash, and actually clear it.
And leave.
The pipe he didn't replace is an original historic clay pipe (1891), and the new pipe he added is now offset from it and grows fierce tree roots.
The non-city guy comes out about every six months and clears it all out, and reminds us we really need to get this fixed.
This time the guy's rooter thingy got jammed and he couldn't get it out.
He had to call someone else out to remove his blade thingy and the roots.
(I really, really think it is time to fix this sewer line.)

At least the line is open again, but now the side yard is a toxic waste site.
The working theory is that the pipe to the basement, which has no function except to flood the basement, may be very full of crud, because for some reason the sewer line prefers to back up higher than the basement, through the cleanout in the side yard.
Into the jungle, where no one normally goes.
Or at least, my guess, where no one has gone for at least two full days.
At this point I would trade for a dozen litter boxes.

I'm a little baffled about what to do next, but I'm winging it.
Basically there's just a brick sidewalk, with lots of weeds and ferns.
My best idea for cleanup is just to spray at it relentlessly until I have disintegrated stuff down to its constituent molecules.
I can't deal with trying to remove it — there's at least two buckets-full of assorted solids spread that I am just not about to get near.
Half an hour of careful spraying has reduced it by perhaps half.
Now there is only a papiermache-like residue that I am trying to chase under the weeds.
Maybe I'll just drop a mess of mulch over the last of it, and pretend it's composting.

In the interest of everyone's well-being, I post no photos.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. This is an awful situation. major yuck. A total new line is probably the only answer and $$$$$$ to the max. ((Hugs)) yuck


  2. My ex and I had much the same thing happen as far as tree roots screwing up the plumbing line. The basement toilet was forever overflowing and it started backing up to the bathroom upstairs even into the our BATHTUB. We had to battle with the city as to who would be responsible for the plumbing charges being it was on our property, However, the roots stretched out from a tree that was on public property. We finally got it straight, but we went thru that 3 times in 10 years!


  3. oh yikes! icky. i wish i could send the Batcat to help cleanup, but I guess once the disaster has struck there's not much he can do. :(amazingly enough, in all my years in China the sewer never backed up. it's an experience i've been spared. so thanks for not posting photos to preserve my innocence a little while longer…


  4. This sucks. Plain and simple. The sump is installed incorrect and it sounds as if it is connected to the sewer instead of daylighting or into the storm drain. Sadly, this can be costly to fix. Also, all the roof drains should daylight. You don't want all that water returning into the house, it needs to go away from the house. Find a good plumber/plumbing company, talk it over with them as how to keep this from happening. If they are good, they'll have ideas.Tree roots, well, they just are what they are and you have to have the line cleared every 6 months to a year. If they have damaged the line, sounds like they have, you'll have to replace it. Maybe insurance would cover it?Good luck my friend.


  5. Actually the sump is even odder than that.It doesn't connect to the sewer line.They put in a cheezy plastic tubing pipe thing as part of the foundation work.It runs parallel to the sewer line, and it used to go under the sidewalk and empty onto the street.But then the city redid a hunk of the curb when they replaced the city's sewer line.And they cemented over the outlet to the street.So now the sump punp empties mysteriously underground, somewhere between the sidewalk and the curb.But I have disconnected most of the roof gutters from the system.There are a couple left that are cemented in that I haven't taken on yet, but I'll try to get to them before the next winter rains.


  6. Oh my. I know this doesn't make you feel any better, but THANK YOU. Every time I think about complaining about something (like the leak in my basement stairwell every time it rains, because my similarly mysteriously-destined sump pump drain gets backed up), I just need to remember that many, many people have much worse situations. I feel lucky today, and I wish for you a relatively inexpensive and relatively painless solution.


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