March 8 has been my birthday for as long as I can remember. Probably since I was born, in fact. Today's my 40th. And unfortunately, it's not like the day is having a great start.
About two weeks ago
It was just a normal evening. Girlfriend hit the shower, doggy was sleeping on the couch and our little girl was happily playing with her toys. All of the sudden I had this "I need to go to the bathroom NOW" moments. Seeing how my girl wasn't in any dangerous situation, I quickly went. I mean...what could possibly go wrong?
When I got back, she had scuddled over to the kitchen (note: our baby doesn't do crawling...she kind of sits on her butt and does forward hip movement shakes to go forward). She was playing happily...in the massive pool of water that had erupted from the sink.
I moved in a blaze. Baby in her chair, dog dragged into her bench, checking the origin. It came from under the sink, alright. It was lukewarm and with bubbles as if soapy. My girlfriend had just finished her shower. I dragged some buckets into it and started mopping. Ideas started dawning on what the origin had to be...
About 1.5 years ago
I won't go over all the home renovation. Suffice here that we've completely redone the drainage pipes. The bathroom upstairs has two cranes and the bath 'exit' come together, then straight down in a pipe behind the wall. Underneath the floor it is joined by the kitchen sink and the dishwasher. Then, still underneath the floor, it passes underneath two other rooms to finally exit in an old water well.
I was opposed to the connection of the water well, but at that point I conceded that leading it to the toilet exhaust would give other issues (there's a reason it was to be seperate). That old water well is a cylinder of about 0.75m diameter and somewhere 1.5-2 meters deep (I suck at estimations on that). When we bought the house, it was the exit of roughly half of the rain pipes from the roof. We saw the entrance of it, and an exit that had some sort of hose-filter on it. So our reasoning was that this was used as an overflow : once it got above that level, it would flow through the hose-filter into the sewer. In that same reasoning, it'd be okay to lead all those earlier mentioned pipes in there.
On hindsight, that was a disaster.
Since that connection, our bath never really ran out of water. No...wait: somewhere just before or after making that connection, I manually used buckets of water to empty the well. In about a week, the problem returned. Basically: every time we take a bath or even a shower, the water remains in the tub. At a same level, curiously enough (at around 4 cm high). So if we put 10 cm water in the tub, it sinks to 4cm, then just sits there and VEEEERRRRRYYY slowly drains. Of course, our reasoning was that the hose was too small so it can't process all the water at the same time. Worse: because the water's not clean (not truly dirty, but certainly not clean) the well would faster fill up than drain out, flowing over.
Back to two weeks ago
Since then, we've come to accept that the bath doesn't drain fast enough. We even warn each other, so we keep the garden door closed when taking a bath because it creates a small river of dirty water. The idea was that somewhere in the future (after other projects), we'd break open the pavement and redo it properly.
This, of course, changed dramatically when we realised that the pipes had clogged up. Since then, it became a recurring thing. Turning up the dishwasher filled the kitchen sink. Taking a shower or bath had to be drained out gradually. And soon that failed as well to prevent overflow.
About ten days ago
My father-in-law is pretty handy on many things. He rented what can best be described as a full force garden hose. You put it in a pipe exit (the pipe leading into the well, in this case), push it through as far as possible and pour water into it with high pressure.
Lemme tell you: that was a DIRTY job. Working on the toilet stank more, but that's only a mild comfort. It was wet, dirty and had us walking all through the house. My girlfriend assisted us in giving us dirty looks, as if she had no intention of taking care of her house (aside from telling us we stank, that we needed to pull up our trousers and "motivational" stuff like that ). But after that, it was all...
About eight days ago
Wait...no. Nope: same situation: kitchen overflow. Which was extra weird, as in the process of the former I had drained the well at least to below the line where the water entered.
At first I couldn't figure it out. At the end of that session, we had clear water running from the well all the way to the kitchen sink (yeah...it was a powerfull water garden hose thingy). My girlfriend rightfully argued that there must've been another clog somewhere in the section between the two floors. The one or two days of using water upstairs must've pushed it below somewhat.
Granted: the second time we flushed out things, this worked. This time it wasn't just tiny pieces of food disposal (like mini chopped up carrot pieces) but some chalk-ish soaplike substance. Probably toothpaste and shampoo gelled together. Also extra weird because before my father-in-law could lend the hose again, I had used some drainage products to no avail. Was this product really worthless?
It wasn't. It was worse. After cleaning, we decided we had enough of the hose-tube in the well. We cut it and put that hose-thing in it. Was there a clogging up somewhere between there and the sewer as well?
The water exited almost in a fountain way less than a meter from us. It was a little hose, stuck in the debris in the ground there. I had never noticed it before. Why did it exit there?
Suddenly a very grim prospect dawned on me. I quickly filled a bucket and poured it into that tiny hole. It exited in the well immediately.
The well wasn't connected to the sewer.
There are times you want to blame the universe for existing in the way it does. This was one of them. I really punched it (well...part of it, anyway), but the universe didn't seem particularly impressed. Fuck.
Anyhow...it's a grim and certainly EMBARRASSING realisation that we've basically dumped our kitchen and bathroom water over our garden for the last 14 months or so (only 'filtered' by a well that went from 'pretty clear water' all the way to 'river Styx water' in that time). But it also gave perspective: THIS was the reason our bath never ran through quickly (check physics in the "communicating vats" section...the water equalizes on the ground level). And it more than likely has both increased the chance of clogging up and the strange smell we had when draining the bath: our underground pipes were just that: UNDER the ground...so they've been filled with water since the beginning.
And I've got to applaud my father-in-law for his discovery at the end of the day: the sewer entrance. We knew one near the street (about 25 meters away from the well), but this connection hub (also with the neighbors) is 5.5 meters away. That's...doable.
A week ago
Similar to this, our daughter slowly got fever-ish. At first I didn't pay attention (or rather: my attention went to the above). This was put back in focus when her fever got so high (above 38°C) that we couldn't get her to the daycare center anymore. This certainly complicated things. I had my job (mostly teleworking) that required attention, I had to work on the above and now our darling as well?
Luckily, both my mother and girlfriend's mother helped out tremendously on that part. Well...the taking care of her, that is. Unfortunately, her condition didn't improve. I went to the docter last tuesday and then again on thursday. On this latter day, I started developing symptoms as well (I think my girlfriend as well, though she often "one ups" everything whenever I say anything about myself, so I wasn't sure(1) ). And especially her refusal to eat or drink became a worry. I mean...by thursday she was just passively 'being' there, only showing any activity when we tried to feed her anything. She clearly had trouble swallowing. And because it pained her, she refused eating.
It had gone too far. Girlfriend warned me that she could be going to the hospital. I was more cautious, but it turned out to be right. The same docter advised me (well...us: girlfriend was on the phone with us) to get her there. At first I still held the hope that it would 'just' be revitalizing her, but this hope was quickly crushed: she wasn't just dehydrated, but her infection needed more attention than the mere medicine we had for her. She (and girlfriend) slept over in the hospital.
Saturday & sunday
I didn't feel well...which extended to yesterday and today. But that earlier drainage problem wasn't fixed. But it needed to. It's unfortunate, but her brother was unavailable to help, and my brother...erm...like my father, I'd rather not have him around. He's better at listening, but last time he helped, his main assistance was unintentional(2). But I've got to admit: working with father-in-law works great. I tore up the asphalt, he shoveled it away, as well as the ditch for the pipes. Somewhere in the afternoon, we drained the well as good as we could.
On sunday, we broke down said well on the side (the line of pipes now go directly through it). We had some pipework laying around from last year. Enough to create a watertight line all the way to the sewer(3). Hooray! Yesterday I was able to take a shower and see the water drain the whole time. It was almost scary.
I also visited the hospital, of course. It goes fairly well with our child. That is to say: she's fully monitored, meaning that she has all sorts of wires connected to her. While she leaves them alone, it limits her freedom. Since saturday, she has increased liveliness. I've got no doubt she wants to hop around the room, explore every cranny and play with things. But currently, her only games are throwing her dolls out of the bed. We can't really discourage her as she almost literally has nothing else to do.
And while I'm not feeling well, girlfriend is probably worse. For three reasons.
Main one is obviously our child. It's pretty exhausting, both mentally and physically to be locked in a room with a baby you can barely entertain (television can only do so much). But there's more.
For one, she had her first covid-shot friday. Was a bit unclear whether that should continue since she's not feeling well, but it was granted regardless. So...yeey?
The other thing is, in the long run, the most painfull one. I mentioned she worked at the hospital, right? (in fact, the same one baby and her currently are). The thing is...when she applied there last year, they couldn't decide who to hire from two candidates. So they decided to hire them both for the duration of the year, with the best one being allowed to stay. This had been a source of stress for her. Oh, she got a glowing review about a month ago. Thing is: so did her colleague. And when was this decision made? Friday evening. After the corona shot. And in the middle of our baby being ill and the drainage problem situation (though the hospital obviously didn't know that). They choose the other candidate.
(no, I honestly never expected that. In fact, it had all the indications the hospital was going to hire them both somehow. Sucks that I not only was wrong but that she wasn't choosen either)
So...what happens today? Well, with girlfriend and baby in the hospital, friends socially distanced and me feeling under the weather: not much in terms of celebrations. In a few moments, father-in-law stops by, we'll buy the remaining pipes for the roof rainpipes, lead those to the sewer entrance, brick up that entrance segment (it's currently too small to have two extra pipes on the level we need them to be so the water can flow into it), close up the ditch with sand and put tiles on top (in somewhat of luck, father-in-law has those in the size of our bricks). It's a rush job in the sense that it sticks out, but that'll be okay. It'll be one problem down. Then once our illnesses go down we'll have a small celebration (in about a week? ). And I'm planning a 'real' celebration in 6 months, when this whole covid-thing has blown over.
Special thanks @alexander1970 for congratulating me. And best of luck out there.
(1): not sure if other couples have it, but I've seen this behavior before. As soon as you (as male) open up to something uncomfortable, she immediately develops something worse. "Oh, YOU had a bad day at work? MY day was much worse! You see, <rant of half an hour>". That kind of thing. It's annoying, but I've learned to not share anything, which in a way means her days are now overall better somehow...
(2): my girlfriend often shies away from household work. But she doesn't want others to know, so when others come over she suddenly has no excuses and helps without me whining. It's...strange. I'd say something about it but I don't want fights over these sorts of things
(3): because we're not TOTAL idiots, we created a Y-split at the start, on which we'll put a lid. That way, when it clogs up again we can work from this halfway point.banjo2 likes this.
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