Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh, Crap!

Before I begin, I must advise my readers that I'm not normally one to use language that would be considered profane. "Crap!" is the closest to colorful language I choose to speak. Hopefully you will not take offense to my title. Once you read on, you'll understand why I chose it for this particular post.

It was a regular Sunday night. The boys were in bed. Wayne and I were relaxing. I decided to check out the condition of the basement family room, since we've had really warm weather here over the last few days. In case you haven't read my post from a couple of weeks ago regarding my experience with water extraction, I'll fill you in a little bit.

Once the snow started to melt around the house, a high level of groundwater (we assume) began to penetrate the basement floor, thus causing wet carpet and a bad odor. What I've been doing to remedy the problem up until now is extracting water several times a day with my carpet cleaner. After the initial discovery of the problem, we seemed to have everything under control. The weather became a bit colder and therefore the melting snow wasn't as big of an issue. That is, until this past weekend. The temperatures were summer-like and although most of the snow has melted in our yard, the groundwater has not ceased its existence. Since it appeared that more water was seeping in again this weekend, I went back to my water-extraction ways in full force.

With it being a Sunday, I didn't really want to deal with water extraction. But after assessing the situation, I realized I had no choice in the matter. In order to stay one-step-ahead of the problem, I decided, at 9:00 p.m., to do a bit of water extraction. Initially, all was well. But after an hour of extracting water, carrying the container that holds the water up the stairs, dumping it in the sink, and then starting it all over again, and seemingly not making any progress, I went to check out our "water room". Our "water room" is an area in our basement where we have our pump, reverse-osmosis system, water softener, and plumbing apparatus that connects to our septic tank, which located about 10 feet from our house. The discovery was grim. At first I didn't realize exactly how grim, but once I saw the flood that was emerging from our sewage system equipment, I knew that my biggest fears about living on an acreage were about to become a reality. Our sewer had backed-up!

I called Wayne to help me. A heated discussion ensued. We both went into a bit of a panic mode. This is normal for both of us. We're both very intense (and might I add, passionate?) people, and this crisis was just a bit more than the both of use could handle at that moment in time. But, it didn't take long to calm down and set into action. We knew we had no time to waste! We had to work together as a team, or the damage would be too much to bear.

My method of extracting the flood water would no longer be effective. There was too much water. I commented to Wayne earlier that the water I was extracting out of the carpet didn't smell like it normally did. It smelled "sewery" (I know this isn't a word, but sometimes I make up words to fit the object I'm trying to describe). At the time we didn't really think too much of it, but obviously that was a warning of what was to come.

Upon inspecting the septic system, we realized that for the past hour, everything I had poured down the drain was now back where it started . . . in the basement. Talk about futility!

At this point it was 10:00 p.m. Wayne went to get his shop vac; I got as many old blankets as I could in order to soak up the water that was escaping into carpeted areas that hadn't been previously affected by the groundwater. The shop vac worked more quickly than my carpet cleaner, but I decided to keep using it because it better than nothing, and I couldn't just stand around letting Wayne do all the work.

We worked on this problem for three hours, trying our best to rid our basement of more water . . . sewer water! Yuck! Because we couldn't use our drains any longer, all of the extracted sewer water had to be hauled up the stairs and dumped outside. I'm not sure how many trips up and down the stairs I made; I think I lost count at around 25.

By 1:00 a.m. everything was back to normal as normal could be in this particular situation. We knew we'd have to wait til morning to call our insurance agent and septic tank specialist.

I woke up in the middle of the night to a horrible stench. It must have just been a bad dream or my imagination, but I wandered the house, sure of the fact that raw sewage had emerged in a new location. I checked on the boys to make sure they were safe and sound--they were. I went back to bed, praying that there would be an end in sight to this madness!

As soon as the boys awoke, I gave them the run-down: no running water down the drains; no flushing the toilet; no playing in the basement. They seemed to be interested in all that had happened in its entirety, but honestly, I did not want to re-live it, so I spared them the gory details. Now I'm re-living it by posting about it, but this is therapy for me.

Our septic system was flushed out early this morning. We can use the drainage system minimally. But I'm still carrying water out in pails after I've used it for anything, just to be on the safe side. Our septic system will be repaired either tonight or tomorrow. Until then, we live without the convenience of so-called "modern" plumbing. An insurance adjuster has already been here to assess the damage; however, he's given us no hope of having a legitimate claim. I'm not sure what his reasons are behind that, but apparently we don't have the right kind of drainage system in our basement which meets their standards for a claim. Oh, please! I'm not sure if getting an approved claim is going to be of that much benefit anyway. Our deductible is $1,000 so we've still got to dish out a lot of cash on our own before we can even get any insurance money from them. We'll know in a weeks' time whether or not our claim is valid.

In the meantime, we've been advised to have the carpets professionally extracted and cleaned, plus we've got to remove the lower 2 feet of drywall from around most of the perimeter of our basement and replace it. I'm expecting a complete carpet replacement as well sometime in the future, but with such a high deductible and not a lot of extra cash flow right now, we may have to suffer with the musty smell and damp carpets for a while. I know, I know, it's not healthy. Trust me, I've done my share of Internet research on the risks of a damp basement.

Now, I know this is a really long post, but I must end with this morsel of a story. Our sermon in church yesterday was entitled, "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" I really enjoyed this sermon. At the time of its delivery, I was soaking it all in. So was Wayne. Little did we know what was about to ensue less than 24 hours later!

I don't consider myself to be good. Well, not good enough to be spared from life's problems. I've always accepted adversity to be God's way of building my character. But having the words of the sermon run through my mind as I was cleaning up sewage water in my basement (of a house we just moved into 4 short months ago), was God's way of helping me through it all. One thought in particular was, "Recognize who is giving us our blessings. Look at the source." Basically what that means is, that even though trouble comes our way, blessings still abound. Yes, the house is causing us difficulty right now, but right before supper last night, Wayne and I were discussing how happy we all are to live on an acreage, and how much fun the boys are having. We affirmed each other in our decision to move out here. Four hours later I was on the verge of cursing the very house that I had just been praising.

To conclude this post, I'm going to provide you with the seven points from the sermon. Without going into any detail (that would be a whole 25-minute sermon to write out--I don't think so), here they are:
1. Who are Good people? ~ Romans 3:23-24; Romans 7:18-20
2. Veiled Blessings ~ James 1:2-6; 1 Peter 1:6-7
3. Sin and Suffering ~ Romans 5:12
4. So that God's Glory might be revealed ~ John 9:1-5
5. Valleys often lead to the mountaintops
6. Keeps us from thinking we can do it by ourselves ~ Exodus 14:13-14
7. Faith is believing God is sovereign even when we don't know why bad things happen
~Book of Job; 2 Corinthians 12:8-10


Dari-Lynn said...

:( I'm sorry you had/are having such a "crappy" time, pardon the pun. :(

I really hope things get worked out for you. We used to get water in the basement all the time, but not sewage problems. I can't even imagine.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this might find it useful to take the central/south american approach to toilet paper...into the trash rather than the is easier on the septic system. Also there are some odour pucks you can get at Coop (I think) that really help with the smell.
Good luck!

Chris said...

hoo-boy. I think James describes the blessing of adversity and perseverance well, but I'm sorry it had to happen to you. How maddening. It reminds me of two instances in my not too distant past (in late Mar, early apr). The first is tripping over a ladder with a paint can in my hand on the newly installed carpet. Yup. Shop-vac and garden hose through the window. The second was a tap that had not been properly shut off. It leaked over the counter onto the new tile floor and down the wall onto the new gyproc ceiling in the basement laundry room AFTER it had just been painted.

It's not sewer, so therefore not quite comparable. But I do feel for you, and I hope you get to the point where you can shake your head and laugh about it soon.

Kimmy said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the tip. Our sewer septic professional already informed us of the fact that toilet paper (and feminine products--we already knew this) are damaging to a septic system. I buy toilet paper that is "septic-tank friendly" but perhaps not friendly enough. We are actually implementing a new rule at our house . . . toilet paper in the garbage for people who call this place home; for guests, we're not going to get that extreme. Since we're the main "users" of the toilet, just us cutting back on toilet paper deposits will help. And I'll definitely be looking into the odour pucks. Thanks!

Amy said...

I am so sorry this happened, but God was preparing you with that wonderful sermon, wasn't He? It is a good reminder for all of right now!

Thank you for sharing it Kim!

Beba said...

Fist i am sorry to read all of these things that had happen to you and your family. I will pray for extra money and extra patience as we always need it, in situations like yours now.
Second, i grew up in the area of the city where those under water are normal thing... Too normal. We had similar expiriance as yours and know how bad it could be. My parents, this summer, have to rebuild front wall of our house...
God luck honey and hold on....