Thursday, September 09, 2010

The revenge of the turds

I promise, if it weren’t for the sewer backup, I wouldn’t be talking about poo again this week.

I can't even bear to draw the scenario. And after this, I seriously might be done talking about it for life.

OK. Unlikely.


The horrifying possibility that the DC sewer is somehow shoving sewage back towards our house, instead of it flowing the proper direction – which is OUT and AWAY and FAR FROM US AND OUR BASEMENT is currently dominating our lives.

We're operating on high alert. Code Brown.

Because when your tenant-in-the-basement emails to say, “Hey, we can’t flush the toilet. It doesn’t go down.” And then the drains out front and back overflow and you become terrified that the basement will flood, it kind of becomes the Biggest. Deal. Ever.

So Nick and the Roto Rooter man - the $550 Roto Rooter man - were up until 12:30 am on Wednesday night snaking the pipe. And we’d thought it was fixed until the drains backed up again last night, making us all hysterical. But then the water went down again.

Plus our tenants couldn't deal with another middle of the night Roto Rooting.

So currently we're all on water lockdown with no laundry no dishwasher 30 second showers minimal flushing.

Mr. Roto Rooter is going to come out tomorrow morning and stick a video camera through the drain and figure out where the problem is. Kind of like a colonoscopy.

Nick had tried snaking the drain himself early Wednesday evening, before we realized how serious it was and that we needed professional help and a much longer snake than Nick’s.

No snickering. That’s what it’s called. It’s an industry term.

On a side bar: In my Match profile I’d mentioned that the ability to use power tools impresses me no end. And let me tell you, Nick can do everything. Electricity. Plumbing. Dry wall. It was all those summers working construction with ex-convicts in NJ. I find it incredibly hot.

End side bar. Because here’s where it deviates from any possible hotness and devolves into completely disgusting.

You’re warned.

So after unsuccessfully snaking the drain and then using the Shop-Vac (and if you don’t have one, these things are amazing. They pick up water and gravel and all kinds of stuff.) to suck up all the grit and debris, Nick stripped off his gloves and clothes out back, walked in and dumped the clothing in the washing machine, and asked me to turn it on the hottest setting possible.

I said I was going to get more clothes to stick in, and he said, “Don’t add anything. Just boil them.”

He then went upstairs and scoured himself.


What he didn’t tell us until late last night, when we'd had a couple of glasses of wine, was this. And I almost hate to write it. But it’s too horrifying not to share.

When he was emptying the Shop-Vac, one of the things that he dumped out was a poo. A whole poo.

After Betty and I got done doing an icky icky squeamy dance, I had to ask.

“Do you think it came from inside? Or up the pipes from outside?”

Nick said, “Jesus. I hope it was one of ours.”

And I know this sounds weird, but wouldn’t you rather have it be someone you knew?


  1. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

    Watch out for Roto Rooter. We had a plumbing leak and went with them because everyone told us that we'd need some fancy leak detection thingamajig because we're on a slab. Those bitches came out, cut a huge ugly hole in my bedroom wall, SAWED OFF A PIPE, said "yep, that's the leak", and charged us $3000 for it. I mean, obviously plumbers deal with some gross conditions (their job is shit, pretty much) and I'm all for them being well compensated, but Roto Rooter is ridiculous.

    Whew. Sorry to get all ranty up in your comments.

  2. Ay yi yi. Words fail me.

  3. I broke our plunger last night. enough said...

  4. Lisa - Ugh. I hate hearing this. I already hate that they have to come back and determine if the issue is with us or DC. I'm hoping it's DC so they have to pay to fix it.

    Wendy - I know. So foul.

    Sophie - Yikes. Pregnancy poo?

  5. Yes-knowing the originator of the poo is much better. We had a problem with the city sewer backing up into our house once. Beyond disgusting. I'd rather clean up poo from the alley any day over that! By the way, catching up on your posts....I can see where a seat-less chair could look inviting to a person that just had to go? Clever. :)

  6. nope, just a really low toilet with a small diameter exit and low flow water, we've had issues for years with it. I'm pretty close to losing my marbles on Sean so we can get a new one. Until then I went and bought TWO plungers today, one can never be too prepared!

  7. My house in Colorado "100 year old house" had this problem recently. I went through the same investigative tatics as Nick. In the end, I brought the very expensive plumbers out again with some space age sonar equipment. They were able to track the leak to an old broken clay drainage pipe that ran about 6 feet under ground. The pipe had collapsed in on itself. The solution was the plumbing company sent out a crew of $10/hour laborers to dig up and replace the pipe segment and get approval fom a City Inspector. The charge was about 4k.

  8. A poo by any other bottom is still a poo, is it not? Um...yes and no - disgusting any way you look at it but I'd still rather it be from loved one. Thanks Lisa, I would never have thought of that if not for this post: ) Wow - Roto-Rooter is expensive - but then they're dealing with other people's poo. I don't know if I could be paid enough to do that.

  9. I totally feel your pain. On New Year's Day 2008 our toilet started behaving exactly like yours. But we have a septic system at the little shack on the prairie. So after D snaked the drain (yay menfolk dealing with awful, awful things!) it got better - for a while. Then the problem reared its ugly head again and we were on a strict 2 flushes per day regimen for a few weeks until it stopped raining long enough for a professional to examine the septic system. Whew - the problem was that the plug had simply been pushed to a downstream part of the system during D's snaking attempt. It was a small $350 fix in the end. Beats $25K for a new septic system.

    A few weeks thinking over every flush makes you seriously appreciate (functioning) indoor plumbing! Good luck solving your problem.

  10. Sorry. Can't help it. Snake longer than Nick's. Devolving into hysteria. Initiate chortling.

  11. As a safety precaution, you might want to send a nice Christmas card to the sewer cleaner outer people. Oh and they say you attract what you talk about. Start writing about something you really really want :-) Although I personally love the poo stories.

  12. Eeeeeewwwww... Wait, where did he dump out the shop-vac poo? In the street?? Ick!! Seriously, I would have puked. And not just in my mouth.

  13. Icky poo!! but ya as gross as it is I would rather a poo from a known source myself

  14. Yuck! I'd rather know it was from my family members. At least I love the people whose poo I'm picking up.

  15. Oh my God, I feel for you.
    I had not once but twice the problem of water backing up in the bathtube in 2 different appartments.
    What was the chance for it? Right. But people, here, told me it's a frequent problem, so it seems that I am not cursed ...
    The only good thing was that in the both case the toilet pipe was not touch because it was a different one,thanks God!
    Hope the problem is going to be solve very quickly.

  16. kayare - All of it is just so gross. There's been way too much poo around.

    Soph - Yah, Sean needs to get you a new toilet. Definitely.

    Rush - Ugh. Nick says that's about the cost we'll be looking at if we have to dig up the sidewalk and replace the pipe. Fingers crossed. We're still waiting for the RR and their cameras to arrive.

    Kate - Yah. I think the people who deal with the stuff others don't want to - like trash and poo - need to be well-compensated. I definitely wouldn't do it unless it were a last resort job kind of situation.

    Keenie Beanie - Definitely yay menfolk dealing with the horrendous! And holy cow - 25K for a whole new septic system would be unimaginable.

    It's true that we take indoor plumbing so for granted. And I love my hot showers. :)

    SarahLeighRabbit - I had to stop and laugh after I wrote it as well. But it's true - his snake wasn't long enough.

    Lynn - Oh, god. So I'm attracting poo. I need to stop writing about it this second.

    Luna - Yikes - noooooo, not the street! Into an industrial trash bag.

    Go-Betty - Yes. Definitely the known source.

    Grace - Totally agree. It's poo, but still.

    GaL - I think it's a lot more common than I realized. I'd never had it happen before. Here's hoping it gets solved when they come this morning!

  17. AWFUL!

    We had to replace the plumbing stack in our basement because of some similar-ish problems a couple years ago. It was part of an overall renovation we were doing. Everything has worked beautifully since then (knock on wood!).

    When we lived in an apartment complex in Atlanta there was a sewage backup/flooding problem that went on for too long because rather than apartments in the basement there was storage space. We ended up throwing out EVERYTHING we had stored there. Too gross!

  18. I hope that the problem has been fixed by now.

  19. So I'm eating my lunch right now. Chicken curry, if you're interested. And I knew as soon as I saw the title that I should stop reading. But I didn't. I have no one to blame but myself.

  20. Very late comment to this, but do you know this is probably the 3rd time I've read this post? No, you probably don't.. But the reason I've read it so often is because I work full time, go to school full time and am also a single mom.. So when I get a chance to check your blog, I end up accidentally reading far enough back to this one and then remembering, "Oh, I have read this one!" and tonight.. Tonight is the first time I realized this said Nick found "a whole poo." All this time, I was reading that Nick found a "white" poo and was thoroughly disgusted and amazed.


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