On Monday evening, I noticed a gurgling sound from my shower, after running the sink. I have unfortunate associations with this gurgling sound: it seems every couple of years, the main line between my house and septic tank clogs up. The last three times, I've called Snake 'n Rooter -- my first experience with them was not optimal, but they've gotten it fixed every time since.
This time, the technician they sent out late Monday night did not have the proper equipment to resolve the problem. Fortunately, since I had jumped at the first sign of a problem instead of waiting until every drain in the house was backed up, the plumbing is still draining (slowly). It doesn't back up into the basement unless we run the water for an extra long time. So it wasn't a disaster. Yet.
Tuesday morning, the technician they sent out decided to check the septic tank.
The septic tank has apparently been eaten by a tree.
I haven't looked at it myself, but Lut described that, when they removed the cover, they found it led into a solid layer of dirt and tree roots instead of a septic tank.
So early Tuesday morning, I called the company that pumped the tank in 2004, Alton Septic, and asked them to send someone out. The receptionist said they were very busy this week, but someone would call me back to let me know if they could get there after their morning job. At noon, I called again to ask if they'd figured out if they could get there or not. She said I'd get a call by 1PM.
At 2PM, I gave up waiting for Alton Septic to call and tried A-1 Sewer & Septic. They referred me to Genesis Plumbing. Genesis Plumbing sent someone out that afternoon. He confirmed that the septic tank needs to be replaced, not pumped. There was nothing he could do to make it work properly, even temporarily. He said that his boss would come by first thing Wednesday morning to give us an estimate on the replacement cost. He also suggested we get a competing bid or two, which was awfully decent of him.
Around 3:30PM on Tuesday, Alton Septic called back. "We'll send someone by tonight to give you an estimate."
As of about 2PM today, Wednesday, no one had (a) showed up or (b) called to reschedule. I decided this was a Sign that I probably did not want to pay either of these companies several thousand dollars to do this work. I understand that jobs run into overtime and sometimes workmen can't show up promptly, or even at all. But if I'm going to pay you, it shouldn't be my responsibility to keep calling you and find out why you're not doing what you told me you would.
So I started calling every septic company in the area that Google could find. Somewhere, somehow, I would find someone who (a) replaced septic tanks (b) in my area, (c) would answer the phone or return a message and (d) would show up.
I've contacted nine companies total now, I think. Three did not do (a), two did not do (b), one is failing at (c) (but I left , and two have failed at (d). One, Michael with Piping Solutions, has accomplished (a) through (c), and has agreed to (d) at 9AM on Friday.
If Michael manages (d), he may win the bid by default.
I have a couple more numbers I'll try tomorrow: one of the companies that doesn't do (a) referred them to me. To make all this even more fun, I'm flying to Seattle now. I don't know that this will be a whole lot different from me calling contractors from work while Lut deals with them when they come to the house anyway, but still.
One of the other annoying parts of all this is that I've known, since 2004, that there were problems with tree roots and the septic tank. The reason I never tried to get it fixed before now is that in 2003, when I bought the house, the city was planning to run sewer lines to my neighborhood. There was a lien on the house for $4000 from the city, to be paid off in $400 installments over 10 years, starting when the sewer was installed.
In the nine years since then, the city has periodically done surveys and sent out maps of easements and other such things to make me think that, hey, maybe they really will. There's a waterpark across the street from me, which has to be on sewer lines (albeit possibly a private one that they paid for, who knows?). The bank I work at, less than a mile away, has gone to sewer lines from septic since then.
But my neighborhood? Still no sewer system.
So now I get to spend several thousand dollars on a new septic tank. At which point, no doubt sewer service will abruptly materialize three months later. :P