[Now aren't those words to strike fear into the heart of every homeowner? Don't worry - this story has a happy ending.]
Today was an exciting day at Mucky Boots. Today was the day we had our septic tank pumped. Are you excited? We were.
The excitement lasted about half an hour, once Robb from A-1 Septic Service (motto: "we leave you smelling like a rose") arrived, at which point he called me over with the words nobody wants to hear when their septic covers are off: "We have a problem."
Problem? What problem? We hadn't been experiencing any problems, at least in the septic department. But according to Robb our pump wasn't working, and as far as he could tell, it hadn't been working for quite some time.
If any of you out there are Septic Novices, this is how a septic system works. Water (and other stuff) from toilets, showers, washing machines and faucets leaves the house and is deposited into a tank. Liquid eventually makes its way into a pump chamber where the pump moves it out to the septic field to be absorbed by the earth. The solids stay behind in the tank, breaking down slowly and eventually moving along, but sooner or later the tank will fill up and need to be pumped.
So what happens when your pump doesn't work? The tank fills up. The pump chamber fills up. And then things start backing up into the house. But that never happened for us, so what the heck happened to all that liquid? According to Robb, it was probably leaching out into the surrounding ground. (Fortunately there aren't any neighbours or vegetables in the immediate vicinity...)
What to do? Clearly we needed a new pump. But who could do that for us on the spot? Super Plumber, of course (their motto: "to the rescue!"). Brody happened to be finishing up a job nearby, came right over and did a lot to calm down two slightly freaked out women. New pump: no problem. But maybe, he suggested, we should think about replacing the covers to the two tank chambers and the pump chamber. The existing wooden ones had absorbed an awful lot of - ahem - septic liquid, and in any case, like any wood underfoot they were a slippery hazard in the rainy winter.
So while Kim and I played lumberjack in the woods (we're in the middle of clearing out small trees and brush), Brody dug out the old covers and replaced them with brand-spanking new ones.
They're not as picturesque as the old ones, and the pump chamber needs a lid, but they're very practical. And best of all, under one of them is a shiny new (well, maybe not shiny anymore...) beautifully pumping pump.
And that was our septic adventure.