Ahh, the wonderful septic tank. The big concrete (or plastic) apparatus that lies beneath the ground that’s rarely, if ever, thought of. The contraption people keep talking about and that people warn others about, but that few ever pay attention to. When was the last time you had your septic tank pumped? Last year, 5 years ago, 10 years ago…never? Who knows and who cares.
We got here in November of 2013. I knew we had to clean out the septic tank. I have no idea when the last time the previous owners completed this task. I do know the septic works and that nothing is backed up, which is good. Other than the upstairs toilet needing a new wax base seal, all the plumbing in this house works just dandily. I think I’d like to get ahead of the curve though and keep things in prevention mode. If I could do that and avoid unnecessary repairs down the road, it’ll keep the drama down in the future.
I finally found a guy in our area who pumps septic tanks. There are two, I believe. Only one answers the phone though. I got in touch with that one yesterday and asked for a price to clean out our tank. He told me that he charged $250. I didn’t think that was too bad, so I asked when he could do it. He asked if the covers were uncovered (dug up). I said no, but that I could get that done for him. He told me that after I do that to give him a call and he’ll be here in a day or two. That sounded good, so I headed outside with my shovel.
I remember reading on the disclosure report I was given before the house purchase that the tank was 20 feet out from the front door. Easy enough. I grabbed my tape measure and measured a distance of 20 feet from the front door and began digging to China. Well, unfortunately, I dug and dug and dug and didn’t hit anything. By the time I was at the bottom of that very deep first hole, Sam from up the road pulled in the driveway with his newly repaired ATV and started helping me. I sometimes thank my lucky stars for Sam. He’ll pretty much help me with anything I’m doing whenever I need assistance. I just have to be sure to feed the kid. He likes food. As a reward for his work yesterday, I gave him a chocolate milk that Laura’s brother left behind after his weekend visit.
To make a long story short, the septic tank is not 20 feet from the front door. Sam and I dug no fewer than 7 holes and didn’t hit a damn thing. If you look closely at the picture below, you’ll see the messed up dirt of the holes we dug and then filled back in.
I have to tell you that digging holes in an effort to locate something you aren’t sure is there is an idiotic endeavor. When I came to realize that poor Sam and I were digging in circles, I halted the operation. I suggested that we dig closer to the house – in an area I was almost certain the exit pipe would be. If we could find the pipe, we could follow it to the tank. What a great idea because no more than 10 minutes after we began that task, I hit the pipe. Do you have any idea how good a feeling it is to hear a low “thud” when in search for something underground? It’s like getting a piece of sand out of your eye. It feels pretty good.
To make a long story short again, Sam and I dug three more holes and trailed the drainage pipe all the way to the tank. We found the cement and started poking around until we unearthed one of the septic tank caps. Sam was manning the pickaxe and I manned the shovel. Unfortunately, once the cover was brushed off, neither Sam nor I were able to remove it from its receptacle. We left it alone and I told Sam that I would need to look online to see if anyone had any good ideas regarding how to remove a stuck Septic tank cap. He left and I looked for a while, finding nothing.
What I did find though was a few clear pictures of septic tanks. And those pictures showed three caps in the septic tank, not just one. After discovering that we may indeed have two more caps, my heart sank and was lifted simultaneously. I would have to continue digging (bad), but perhaps one of those additional caps would wiggle free (good).
This morning, I dug. I found three caps that looked similar to the pictures of the caps in the tanks I found online. Just for giggles, I dropped the butt of the pickaxe on one of the covers a few times and noticed that as I did this, the edges of the cap began to show itself more clearly. I dropped the pickaxe a few more times and then slid the more narrow point of it under the cap handle and pulled. Low and behold, the cap popped right out. I moved to the remaining two caps and did the same thing. Within a minute, all the caps were loosened enough to lift out, bare handed and bare chested.
After I removed the caps, I peeked inside the tank. Guess what? It looks like a septic tank in there. Ugly. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I suppose it was as good as any other tank. And what’s even better is that the pipe that exits the tank and heads into the leach fields is visible and liquid is able to run into it. So it’s not clogged, which is nice.
I just called the septic tank pumping guy and he said he’ll call me back. He told me that he’ll most likely be able to get over here on Wednesday. I think that’ll be good so we can put this project behind us. I’ve been thinking of it before we even moved into this house. And with just Laura and me living here, another pumping is a long way off.
This last picture is a good visible remembrance of where the tank is located. Even though I’m going to mark the hell out of the front lawn so no one on earth ever forgets where these caps are, I’ll still have something to look at when I get lonely on a cold winter’s night.