Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Luck and Bad Luck

I knew exactly what it was Saturday morning when I came back from walking the dogs. There's no other sound just like it and few sounds more sickening. Nevertheless, I put my boots back on and tramped through the foot-deep snow to the space underneath the house where the sewage lift pump resides.

Amazing, isn't it? You know what the sound is; you know its origin; you hear it get louder as you approach the space; and yet you are still hoping that somehow, someway it's something else. Nope, it was the sewage pump alarm. Traipsing back upstairs to the garage to turn off the breaker to stop the alarming, I noticed the breaker to the pump was tripped.

Hey...maybe that's it. Just a tripped breaker. That could be it, couldn't it? So I flipped the breaker to "off" and then to "on" at which time it immediately tripped again. So much for hopeful thinking. Oh, did I mention it was on Saturday morning with a foot of snow on the ground (and on the roads)? I gathered my courage, smiled faintly and told my husband that we had a little problem. I sounded a little less calm than the folks who said, "Houston, we have a problem."

The details you can imagine. All service folks were snowed in. One service finally made it out to us on Sunday afternoon, but did not have a new pump on his truck. He promised to get a pump and come back today.

So, for two full days (and working on a third) we have not run any water down any drains since they are all connected to the pump station, and we are flushing VERY sparingly. I feel like the old pioneer woman, running a little water in a basin to "wash up," then pouring it off the deck onto the back yard. Our neighbors have offered to allow us to shower in their homes and while it sounds so tempting, one of us can't leave the house and the other would never be so selfish as to take advantage of a shower. (But give me one more day and see how charitable I still am.)

So yet another stoke of totally unexpected bad luck. Our daughter asked if we had any idea which Deity we might have angered so we could try to make amends. But in the scope of the world's problems, ours are small and insignificant. We're still smiling and laughing since the other alternative is to cry.

We are more fortunate than the thousands here in western NC who are still without power. At least we do have access to hot's just that we can't pour any of it down the drain. We have plenty of food and two dishwasher drawers. I've started washing plates as we use them so at least we don't have to use the good china. Would you believe we don't have a paper/plastic plate in the house?

And I totally believed Arnold (the plumber) who assured me that as soon as the vans were running and he found a pump he would be at my house. After all, it's only 11:00, and I know he will fix everything. It's only 11:00 so I'm sure he is getting things ready. After all, it's only 11:00, right? After he is finished, I'll clean the dishes and tonight I'll have a hot soak with the jets surging. Because Arnold just didn't look like the type to disappoint me.

Meanwhile I have two lovely dogs to cheer my up. And today we have a Purple Finch visiting us in the bright sunshine. The birds are flocking to the feeders as the snow has covered a lot of their natural food.

I finally assembled our little artificial tree and it's not such a bad little tree after all. So life is good. And it's only a little after 11:00.


Busy Bee Suz said...

You are just the funniest. I hope that Arnold comes through for you today. I can tell you that we have lived with similar problems, usually after hurricanes we have no electric and living with a well, then we have NO water. lucky for us, we have the pool water. (picture the clampitts)

ps. I have no paper plates in my house either...just the real stuff.
Let us know about Arnold!!

Anonymous said...

Hope you are all set now - we did not lose power but many did. Just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Kim said...

What a bummer. I had a hot water heater go on me and didn't have hot water for days and it was paralyzing! I hope you get your problem fixed soon and can enjoy the holidays.

kks said...

wow, when it rains it pours! hope the crisis is over soon!

The Duchess of Wessex said...

Bravo you!, for smiling through it. Truthfully, I didn't know what a septic system was until we moved to NC! In all my years, I never considered where what we flush or drain goes. When we were told the house we loved was on septic, I had to Google it.

Then, I had to decide if we still really wanted to buy the house. We did - but we had the old owner's, "stuff" pumped from the tank. Doing otherwise seemed too creepy to me.

4 months after we moved in we contracted to have a pool installed. The electrician responsbile for wiring the pool to the electric for the house hit our septic tail line - but he didn't tell us - he only told us about hitting the power & phone line, and probably only told us that much because those were obvious!

Duke energy came out to repair the electrical & we thought that was that. However, 3 months later the power to the house went out again. We asked Duke if this could have something to do with the repair that was made so when they came out, they immediately located the old repair & found raw sewage filled the hole as fast as they could dig it.

They told us the ground saturation (almost to the surface) and the fact that the repair was corroded through by the sewage/water meant that the septic tail line was likely hit when the electrical was hit by that electrician. All this had to be documented to get the electrician to FINALLY accept responsbility!

In the meantime, the State of NC descended onto our property in white labcoats & with testing equipment & soon told us we could NOT flush or drain anything from the house UNLESS we were willing to have the tank pumped WEEKLY. With two small boys at home at the time, & not being able to know, how long the process of approval for a new system would take, we had the tank pumped every week for 14 weeks! As you already know, it's not a pleasant process.

It couldn't be a simple repair to the tail-line that was hit because the State said that since the, "soil perk" Laws have changed since the original system was installed (in the 70's), we needed a brand new, $18,000.00 sand-filtration septic system!

Fortunately, because the septic was damaged by a third party, (& didn't expire due to age) our insurance company covered everything.

Nevertheless, all of this happened just weeks after my husband completely landscaping the back yard so we lost all of it, including many beautiful trees and everything else we thought we were buying with this pretty piece of land.

Needless to say, this was a real nightmare and really made us question our decision to relocate to NC from CA.

Finally, after almost six months, we got everything put back together - just in time for a new development to come into our area with the offer to hook into City sewer! Which, of course, we declined since we were told this new system could last anywhere from 50-100 yrs.

Since the problems with the septic we've experienced a really nasty NC ice storm, which caused a large sycamore to come crashing into the solarium, which was the part of the house that made me want to buy it the most. USAA came through for us again and the new solarium is even better than the original one.

So hang in there and remember, you are never alone in this crazy, but fabulous State. We've been through lots of ups and downs with the weather, the people and the property laws, (we actually had to pay a lawyer to grant ourselves an easement to run the new septic from one piece of our property to the other because we technically own two lots) but all in all, we don't regret the move at all! We bought a stand-by generator, a chainsaw and installed a 350 gallon propane tank for gas logs and a gas oven/stove so now we feel like we're ready for anything North Carolina can throw our way!

Love to you!

Cicero Sings said...

Wow, it never rains but it pours! Take consolation ... they now say that too much washing isn't good for you. The skin, our largest organ, works tremendously hard to create a protective layer only to have us, all too soon, wash it off again ... so it has to work overtime at keeping us protected.

My friends had the problem of having to have water hauled into their place ... boy did you get educated toute de suite on how much water we are used to wasting! Not quite your problem but similar in that you sure learn to watch just how much goes down the drain.

Hope your plumber comes through today yet and for SURE by Christmas!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dang...and wouldn't you know it's the shortest day of the year! I hope you're not reading this because you're in the tub.
Here's a winter solstice comic that tickled me today. You could use a few laughs--besides the hysteria, I mean.

KB said...

I'm hoping that you have your pump and can flush as many times as your heart desires!!

Sorry that the storm turned into an ordeal for you. If nothing else, I'm betting that the Golden girls didn't worry about the pump and frolicked in the snow!

The Thundering Herd said...

So hope that Arnold shows and has all the right parts with him. And hope that you are digging out from the snow. We are in good shape and have been able to get off the mountain (Thank you, Jeep), but my parents are still very stranded where they are. They have power, food, and plenty of firewood - but they - and their two Sibes - are getting very stir crazy.

Twisted Fencepost said...

I am hoping by now all is well and you are soaking with the jets full blast.
We have been without hot water since Saturday. Just got it fixed today and I am hoping to be soaking tomorrow. Hopefully BEFORE the dentist appointment.

Barb said...

Arnold - I hope you've come by now so Carolyn can soak, wash, and freely flush. Happy Holidays!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Sorry Carolyn to hear of your latest problem. Glad you have such a great sense of humor --when describing it. BUT--I'll bet, deep inside, you are a 'basket case'... At least, I would be.

Hope Arnold got there -since it's still 11:00 (JUST 11 p.m. now).. ha

Merry Christmas.

Sam said...

Oh - sewage problems must be the worst! I hope it's over with by now, and I hope you will treat yourself to a long shower when everything's working again!

Jayne said...

Oh my Carolyn... when it rains, it pours, no? :c) Glad you all have maintained a sense of humor about it all... but then again, it's only 11:00? :c) Hang in there my friend.

Sam said...

Septic issues are never fun, but it sounds like you have so many other things going well! We wish you the best of luck and are keeping paws crossed that Arnold made it in time!

Sam and Cisco

robin andrea said...

I hope by now that plumber has been there and all has been restored to perfect working order. Sending best wishes.

Anonymous said...

It's 11PM. Wondering where your sewage is!

Rudee said...

Well that's a dirty have the water but be unable to use it for major things. Like flushing.

TSannie said...

Know the outcome of this - glad it's good!