Before we actually lived here, I spent many days cleaning and painting. During those days, I sometimes had to use the bathroom facilities. Now and again, The Mister and FIL would come to help, and sometimes, they had to use the bathroom facilities.
I noticed that the toilet in the master bedroom wasn’t — shall we say, providing a strong flush. It also had a tendency to run. So we’d fiddle with the tank, how you do, until it stopped running.
At one point, I used the master bath and FIL used the main bath, and he ended up using the plunger on both directly after. *shrugs* I thought it was just a fluke. As for the running master bath toilet, The Mister said he would replace the tank parts, no problem.
We moved in on a Monday night. We lived strangely for a few days, working on the house much more than living in it, taking showers at odd times, eating assembly food on paper plates.
By Thursday morning, life had leveled out.
I woke up, woke the girls up, and I had coffee. Sassy got into the shower, and I started to unload the dishwasher. I said to myself, “Hmm, looks like the dishwasher didn’t run properly…” closed it back up and ran it again.
Moo came out and went to the bathroom.
I made lunches.
Sometimes three people need to poop in the morning, you know…and sometimes, since they’re all female relatives, they stand around the bathroom takin turns, because no one wants to use the master bath, wait for it to start running, fiddle with the flapper that’s so old and cruddy it turns your nails black, wait for it to fill up again, to flush and wait for it to run, and fiddle with the flapper…so maybe they all just wait it out, cause they’re big girls!
*clears throat* None of the flushing worked. The plunger didn’t work, either. The toilet came close to overflow, but in a token of mercy, it stopped just short of overflow. I closed the toilet lid, and I said, “No one uses this toilet until Daddy has dealt with this.” They nodded.
The Mister got up shortly after I returned from taking the girls to school. As he ambled through the kitchen to get coffee, I walked in, stating “Imma need you to go have a looksee at the toilet,” I pointed to the main bath, “The plunger, or my plunging abilities failed.”
I went back to the sofa to read.
Next thing I know, he was swearing and stomping around. I guessed his plunging abilities weren’t quite up to snuff, either. I figured we might need to call someone to snake out the pipes.
Oh no. Oh, it couldn’t be so simple, Power of Positive Thinking! No, both toilets were overflowing, without any prompting.
So I called the plumber. The plumber came out. The plumber spent an hour inspecting pipes and vents and came to the conclusion that our problems were a result of trouble in the pipes exiting the house.
Still such a positive thinker, I presumed he would remove a clog, and voila, water restoration!
He scoped our pipes with his camera, bit like a colonoscopy for one’s literal plumbing. What he discovered was heinous.
The water leaving the house (from any source) rushed out as it should, but didn’t make it to the sewer. Oh no. It filled a hole, a belly, he called it, until that belly filled. And when the belly filled, as in when dishwashers run, everyone flushes, and someone is showering, the water has no place to go, so it makes a sort of wake and runs back into the house.
MY DISHWASHER! OMG OMG OMG Do you know how foul those dishes really were?!?
This is a common problem with old houses, whose exterior plumbing consisted of old clay pipes. The pipes weren’t supported by stone, or adhered in any way by the epoxies we use now, so the pipes cracked or fell apart from one another. Then the trees found a lovely water source, filled with vital nutrients, and the tree roots grew into the pipes creating blockages, resulting in more damaged pipes. Super for trees, not so much for people.
First, they took the clean-out lid off. This is not “to code,” because whatever water can’t make it through to the sewer will come out and hang out in the flower bed. Ewwwwwww! We had to use as little water as possible. Period.
Then, they came back and dug us a nice big hole where the decent pipes stopped. The hole would catch our “used water” until they came back out to suck it all out and pipes were to be replaced. Ewwwwwww!
For four days, we lived carefully.
Then, they excavated, creating a ditch, wherein they ripped out all the old pipes, installed all new pipes, and filled the ditch back in. ALL BETTER.
But this service, this repair, this essential home improvement, cost us many pretty pennies.
There was no estimate. It was precise. They calculated the amount of pipe and supplies, the manpower, and the length and depth of our pipes — an amount which caused my head to spin and my breathing to accelerate. An amount which caused me to, within a few minutes, thank God we could fix it and also to open a beer.
For that amount of money, we could have done so many fabulous things to our home. Things that we could SEE and ADMIRE and ENJOY.
But no, we bought a hole so we could all poop without wondering why the dishwasher didn’t run well!
People did go on quite a bit about whether this should have been found at inspection, or whether we should have sought recourse with the seller. The answer to both of those things is No. No one is to blame.
The seller hadn’t lived here in months, and when she did, she never used the volume of water that a family does.
People who live alone go years without knowing there’s a problem, only finding it when guests come to stay.
Our inspector could only find this problem if its symptoms were apparent at inspection. He did use the facilities and run appliances during the inspection, not all at once, but little by little, how inspectors do.
While we are not thrilled about it, we are still in love with our house, and we think she’s worth all those shiny pennies.
The master bath toilet never runs, because The Mister replaced all its innards.
— And I mean, really, we can flush ANY TIME we want to!