Thursday, May 8, 2008

Die Grosse Scheisse

I cooked broccoli for dinner tonight. Afterward, once the kids were in bed, I noticed the house was stinky. Too stinky to be just the broccoli, actually. My husband went down to the basement to check, and sure enough: "Grosse Scheisse!" (He's German, so that's how the swear words naturally come out.)

It was indeed - literally - a big shit. Our basement was flooded with sewage. Or rather, the sewage had flowed in and more or less flowed out again, leaving behind its bits of poopy flotsam and jetsam.

Now, if anyone had noticed it when it first started happening, we could've dealt with it easily. Last November we had a similar diluvian experience, and we bought a pump to cope with it. But a pump can't do much if no one's there to turn it on. I guess the broccoli smells must've masked the problem, and then everyone was upstairs getting the kids tucked in.

Here's what it looked like last fall. Since the water was mostly gone, I don't have any pictures from tonight. But it apparently wasn't quite as deep this time, though we did end up carving away another piece of the old carpet that was on the floor.

Like the first time around, this flooding occurred during a rainstorm. Last fall, city workers came out and reamed out both the sewage main and the pipes running into our house. They didn't find a plug, so the theory is that whatever got stuck in the pipe under the street must have eventually been pushed farther down the line as the pressure built up behind it. My husband installed a valve shortly after that, which we think minimized the poopiness but couldn't halt the backflow altogether. We're pretty sure we don't have a tree root problem, since everything drains fine otherwise.

We have some dozens of boxes down there, filled mostly with books (what else?) that don't have a proper home. Tonight, like last fall, I was scrambling to rescue some that weren't on quite high enough ground. We didn't lose much, so I'm grateful for that. Moral of the story: I need to hold a garage sale - or haul some of the old baby clothes and cheap paperbacks to whatever thrift store will take it - or start looking into blueprints for an ark.

(Rain is still falling steadily; I'm hoping there won't be any more crappy surprises in the morning.)


Sugarmag said...

Yuck, Sungold! That bites. We have tree roots, so I feel your pain. Nothing worse than losing books and baby clothes. I am so sentimental about my kids' baby clothes. I donated most of them to a garage sale and it made me so sad!

Sungold said...

Thanks, Sugar Mag. I think lots of us who love old houses have these problems. My house has this wonderful old oak trim that no one ever painted over, lots of windows - and 80-year-old plumbing.

I didn't actually *lose* any baby clothes - last time around, I had to run some through the washer. But really, there's no reason to keep all of those things that someone else could be using (though I'll keep a couple favorites just as a memento). The problem is finding a chunk of time when I can sort through all the stuff.