Let me back my story back up a bit.
My house doesn't (didn't) have a "clean out" for the sewer line. It's a convenient access point outside of a house that a plumber can use to run their snake-thing into your sewer line to unclog it. It makes unclogging a sewer line something that takes no more, generally speaking, than half an hour. Most houses have them and all houses should but, of course, mine did not. So, on Monday, when the plumber had been out to clear our sewer line, his 20-minute job turned into something that took more than two hours and didn't really work, anyway, because he had to use his small snake that would fit down the sink pipe rather than the big one he could have run directly down into the sewer line through a clean out. A good portion of that time was spent trying the small snake in different locations trying to find one that would work to reach the blockage.
Thursday morning, when the plumber arrived to, again, clear the sewer line -- Or, actually, clear it at all, because it wasn't a new blockage but the same one resealed. He had only put a hole or something in it with his small snake and, now, that hole was plugged, too -- he went straight to the access point in the sink, that being the only one that really worked. We both thought this was going to be a quick and easy process now that he knew where to go in.
Let me just remind you of the state of things when the plumber got there:
There was a "healthy turd" floating in the toilet. It was not stopping up the toilet because the toilet hadn't flushed. There was a tiny amount of water standing in the bathtub, but it wasn't enough to even reach both sides of the tub. The other bathroom seemed normal: no water in the tub and a normal level of water in the toilet. That's how things were when the plumber arrived.
Here's the thing:
Since we both expected this to be a relatively quick and easy job, I went off to work on some stuff I needed to do. I was not actually a witness to what happened next.
However, I knew things were going poorly when the cursing began. A lot of cursing. I know two things:
1. At one point, the plumber resorted to "mad plunging." Or, maybe, "furious plunging" is a better way to put it. Have you ever done that? I have not. On the occasions when I need to use a plunger, I go with a very slow and steady pace. If you go too fast, the toilet water can splash up out of the toilet and the thought of being splashed with toilet water, even "clean" toilet water, makes my skin crawl. [My wife says I have... issues.] This is what caused the "shit explosion" in the bathroom because, yes, indeed, toilet water had gone... well, there were pieces of turd... Look, you can imagine it, okay. It was horrifying, to say the least.
2. When he was through, both bathtubs were about 1/3 full of brown sewage water, but the bathtub in my wife and my bathroom also was full of thick poop sludge. Oh, and both toilets were full to the top. Where did all of this water come from? It boggles my mind.
Look, I get that it got drawn up out of the sewer line at some point in whatever he was doing, but it didn't go back down! At all! For two days! Whhhyyy?!?! I mean, it came from somewhere, right? Why didn't it drain back down into the line? Unless he somehow sucked the blockage up, too. I don't know!
And the smell... Okay, we're not going to talk about the smell.
After the furious plunging episode, the plumber came to me and said, "Andrew, I can't do this anymore." I think my brain might have switched off at that point. I just... I mean...
It was a matter of degree, the degree the problem had escalated from whatever he had done. All I could think was something along the lines of, "What the fuck am I supposed to do about this?"
Remember (last post), my wife and I had an opera to go to that night. I needed to do some laundry, and I needed to take a shower.
He went to explain that the next thing for him to do would be to "pull a toilet" so that he could get a bigger snake down in the sewer line.
[Do I really need to explain the mechanics, here? How both toilets were full up and all of that water/poop sludge would have to go somewhere, including all of the water from the tubs. It would take him all day to get all of that water out of the house even if he had somewhere to put it, and that would be before pulling the toilet and cleaning the sewer line.]
I needed someone with "bigger guns" than him. And more men. It wasn't just a one-man job anymore.
My brain was still at, "What the fuck am I supposed to do about this?"
So he left...
Needless to say, I did not get any laundry done or take a shower before the opera. Oh, and my kids were super pissed at not being able to run any water all night while we were gone. Oh, yes, we still went to the opera; we had the tickets, but the opera is another story altogether. However, at the time, we were looking forward to it as a pleasurable break from the shit storm at our house.
Oh, what did I do about the sewer line? I called someone else, of course.
They sent someone out to do an estimate because it was too late in the day for anything else. The new guy suggested having a clean out put in. This was turning into a very expensive clog! But the cost from these guys to clear the sewer line was almost three times as much as my plumber and, if the line got clogged again, say, the next week, we'd have to pay that full price again.
But this is where I feel kind of bad, because I could have had my plumbing guy install the clean out -- we'd talked about it -- but we'd decided against it because this was the first sewer line clog we've had the whole time we've lived here. He figured it was an aberration and that we didn't need to spend the money on it. Considering the state of things as I was talking to the new guy on Thursday afternoon, I opted for the clean out.
If only it had been that easy...