Crappy Day or Money Down the Drain, you pick.

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Two years ago when we were house hunting, I wanted an older house. I grew up in a subdivision where all the houses had roughly same exterior and floorplan, and I knew I wanted a home with a little more personality and character. The first time I saw pictures of our 1950’s home, I knew it was the one. With a long front porch and two mature maple trees in the front yard, it has a cozy, friendly look to it. We put an offer on it just a few hours after touring it the first time.

Fast forward two years and my infatuation with my adorable fixer-upper craftsman has been dampened by the responsibilities of home ownership. Maintaining any home is hard work, but maintaining a home with personality and character is even harder work. After all, personality and character is earned through age, and our blessed place is starting to wrinkle…literally. She’s starting to crack and sag and clog. Yes, clog. Remember those beautiful, mature trees? Apparently their charm only masks what’s going on below the surface. Their roots system is wreaking havoc on our sewer line, and it all started with a gurgle.

Last summer, just as the bathroom renovations were coming to an end, I noticed that the nursery bathroom would bubble while I did laundry. At first I figured it was just a side effect of the renovations, but when other pipes started slowly draining, I knew it was something else. At first we tried several quick fixes - vinegar, plunging, draino - but nothing worked. It only took a few days for things to completely stop flowing, and we had to call a plumber to snake our main sewer line.

Clearing our pipe wasn’t an easy job. We spent several hours trying to locate our clean-out, before we finally determined that there wasn’t one. The plumbing service eventually removed one of our toilets, used a camera to locate the line, and used a gigantic auger to clear our pipe. Afterward, they informed us that we needed to replace the entire line and until we did it would just happen again. And eight months later, just outside our 6 month warranty, it did. Not prepared to pay for a multi-thousand dollar repair, we paid to have it snaked again and vowed to replace the line at the beginning of 2009.


When January rolled around, I convinced Chris that we should wait until it was absolutely necessary; I was hoping that we could buy some time to save up the cash. Like clockwork, the toilet started gurgling the day we filed our tax return, and within a week, the drains started slowing down. We scheduled our line replacement for the next week.

Things got a little harder over the next seven days. Desperate for some clean clothes, I ran a small load of laundry. That forced grit (from my face wash, not raw sewage) to gurgle up the shower drain. We also had to stop using the dish washer. Then the toilets wouldn’t flush and I started making runs to the nearby Mapco to go number 2. With piles of laundry and dishes all around me, I felt the walls caving in on me.

Finally, today, the line was replaced. It took out part of our driveway and some of our bushes. (We did, by the way, save the asshole tree that did this to us.) It was pretty painful to write “thousand” on a check, but it’s a lot cheaper than paying for sodas and coffee at the gas station every time I needed to poop. (I couldn’t, in good conscience, not buy anything after pooping in their potty.) To celebrate, I ran the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, and flushed a toilet.



  1. MommyAmy

    Oh lordy! I grew up in a turn of the century farm house, and remember CLEARLY raw sewage backing up into our bathtub because the septic tank needed to be replaced. GROSS!!!

    I pretty much vowed then and there to buy a new house rather than an old one. My parents spent (and still do spend) ALL their free time on repairs and/or improvements. That house IS their lifelong project, and I knew I wanted to come home and relax. Not come home and work some more.

  2. Amber

    Ugh! How frustrating!

  3. Deborah at Coco Bonbons

    That stinks.
    Pun intended.
    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    Seriously, I’m glad you are now able to use your toilet, dishwasher, etc. again. What an expensive hassle!

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