Dig … Dig … Dig …

A couple of weekends ago, I headed to Maine for some house hunting {and relaxation}. Before I left, my son told me there was a problem with the washing machine. The water was backing up, but while I was gone, he was going to snake the line. No problem. Fortunately it was a graywater line, not our main sewer line.

While in Maine, he texted me things weren’t going as planned {which, actually, is exactly what I had planned}. So I returned with the problem not resolved. Jay was pulling out roots and pieces of Orangeburg pipe, but couldn’t get it cleared enough for a free flow.

Not to be defeated, Jay borrowed a power snake and promptly “lost” one of the extensions somewhere in the bowels of the sewer. Town water and sewer representatives came to inform us it appeared somewhere down there, a sewer line had collapsed. The remedy was to dig down until we found the collapse, adding it was probably down by our red maple or even further down by our spreading bush.

But, the first order of business was to dig down to the sewer line, which we estimated to be about four and half to five feet down. Using town drawings, we “mapped” the line and marked the digging plan.

Next was renting a backhoe. We planned on getting it Monday, but the weather was wet, so we opted to wait until Tuesday. We picked it up and started happily digging out the trench {on a production day for me, I might add, so much of the work was done by my son, bless his heart}.

Around noon, he called me outside. He couldn’t find the sewer line out of the house and he was already about five feet deep. We checked and double checked and knew it had to be just under our rapidly growing hole.

A little while later he came it to tell me he hit the water line, so we had to call the town to turn off the water. We knew {or at least suspected} the water was about six inches above the sewer, so after the water was shut off and the hole pumped, we started digging a little deeper. Still nothing. We started prodding to the side, almost to the foundation. Still nothing. And, by now, we were running out room to put the dirt and reaching the eight foot, four inch limit of our rented backhoe.

Under the cover of darkness, illuminated by a plug-in halogen light, we opted for Plan B … call someone with a little more experience.

Jay kept telling me he was sorry, but, hey, I kind of figured we would hit water before sewer and never find any oil. It’s just the way it goes.

We were fortunate to get someone Wednesday. The game plan was to hook up the water, then return this weekend for the sewer work. We agreed on a price.

By 9 a.m., a bigger backhoe was sitting at the mouth of the hole, deftly searching for the elusive sewer pipe. Nine and a half feet down, they found it. That’s right, 9 1/2 feet down! It seems the iron pipe jutted through the foundation, took a 45 degree turn down and finally connected with the main line. They cut through the iron pipe to find the pesky break. They ran a snake through and snared only the wayward extension, which apparent went right to the road before getting hung up and twisting off. No breaks! No collapse! They re-hooked up the water line and ran water through the drain. No backup … just a steady flow that made its way to the town sewer. They cut a section of the pipe, re-fit it and we were good to go. By 10:30ish we had water and clean flowing drains and by 11ish the cavern halfway to China was filled in.

So, what lessons did we learn?

First, as a homeowner, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong … especially if you try to self-fix. I mean, how often do you hear of losing a snake extension? I mean, 4 1/2 to 5 feet really means 9 1/2 feet?

Second, as a parent and grandparent, I was proud of my family. Jay kept saying he was sorry, but I was proud of his initiative. I would never criticize him — or anyone in the family — for trying. So what, it didn’t work out as planned. It was another experience on this journey’s path. And the family rallied through the inconvenience of no running water for almost 24 hours. We had pizza for dinner … went to the local convenience store for potty breaks … and the kids took their showers at their grandma’s house.

Third, my faith was not challenged. Not once did I become upset. There was a calm, knowing in the grand scheme of things, this was nothing but a memory maker.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A leader is never certain whether others are following or chasing him.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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