Been There, Done That

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We have really been put through the wringer at my house lately with water problems. Like they say, if ain't one thing, it's another. Which is actually sort of an oxymoron. If it isn't one, it has to be another, but why does it all have to be bad?

It started a couple of months ago. We've gotten used to living without an oven. That's been a couple of years or so now. We're hillbillies, we can work around it. And we learned to deal with no furnace. Oh, the furnace works fine, or would work rather, if it had any fuel oil in the tank. But we don't have $600 just sitting around so that tank is bone dry.

We have small electric heaters placed strategically throughout the house. That's not to keep every nook and cranny warm -- that's to keep from blowing the breakers. Too many things plugged in on one circuit and we're resetting all the clocks yet again.

We live by the adage of "If you're cold, then get a blanket or get up and do something." A hillbilly can survive, but when we ended up with no water, that's when I lost my mind.

I noticed the water pressure had been bad for a few days, but was totally unprepared when it just stopped. Completely. I have always pretty much taken for granted that when I turn the knob, water comes out of the spigot. Yeah well, there was no water.

So, I called the plumber. He said we didn't need a plumber. We needed a well guy. The well guy said we needed a new pump in the well. That can't be right. We already replaced that 10 years ago. Guess what the lifespan of a pump is. About 10 years.

After three days of begging and borrowing, we finally came up with the $1,000 it cost to replace it and had water again. No more cold sponge baths and flushing the toilet with a bucket. Our problems were over.

Yeah, sure they were. The next thing you know, the drains weren't working. None of them. They only thing that sent water out of the house was the downstairs toilet. So, I called the plumber. He said to call a different plumber because it sounded like the problem was the main drain coming out of the house and he didn't have the equipment for that.

A hundred bucks or so later and we were back in business. We had water and the drains were working again.

You'd think we'd be used to problems like that by now. When we lived in our little 1963 single-wide trailer 25 years ago, we had the same problems. Trailers are notorious for water pipes freezing and leaving you high and dry. If by some miracle we had running water, the drains were frozen.

And our fuel oil furnace back then usually had fuel in it, but rarely stayed running long enough to use it. I left half a glass of water on the coffee table overnight once and was pretty shocked to see it iced over in the morning. Who knew it was that cold in there?

I guess I thought we'd be in better shape now or at the very least we'd have different problems than we had 25 years ago. You know, give me something new, a game I haven't played before.

So the Fates granted that wish and took the downstairs toilet out of commission. It just stopped flushing.

So we tried plunging it. That didn't work. We tried putting Rid-X in it and forcing that down with buckets of water. That was my idea. I figured if it eats the yucky stuff in the septic system, it would eat whatever was clogging the toilet. That didn't work either.

I even asked the guy at the hardware store for some kind of Draino for toilets. He laughed a while and then said there's no such thing. You have to "snake" the toilet. So we tried running a snake through it. That didn't work either.

So, I called the plumber. He said he could be over first thing the next morning. I told him not to rush, it had been about a month already. He said I was very patient. I said we were just too poor to call a plumber.

Besides, look at all the exercise we were getting by using the upstairs bathroom. The tough part was when I was out in the garage and Nature came to call. Then I had to put on my coat and gloves and trudge up through the backyard, across the back porch, through the kitchen and living room and up the stairs I'd go. Usually in time.

When the plumber did come, he tried snaking the toilet, too, with the same results. Then he wanted to know how old the toilet was. It was here 17 years ago when we moved in. Guess what the lifespan of a toilet is. Yeah, oddly it's right around 17 years or so.

So, our oldest son set about tearing the old one out and putting the new one in -- three days later when we came up with the money. We don't have $100 just sitting around either.

Now our problem is what to do with the old toilet. We can't set it out for the trash man. There's no toilet junkyard and they won't take it at the recycling center.

We thought about turning it into a planter in the flower bed over the septic system, but even we're not redneck enough for that.

Copyright 2013 Laura Nethken

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