Earlier this week, my wife reported a “sulfur smell” in parts of the house. I was busy, so I didn’t do much more than check in the basement to see if there was anything obvious.

It smelled bad, nothing obvious.

Yesterday, the smell was gone. It seemed like it had gotten better as the rain stopped.

I’m at my desk working, trying to get stdObj’s to do the right thing in the right places, when I expect arrays, and I am getting something else. A frustrating day of digging through my code, trying to finish things up so that everything gets easier.

In perspective, as a programmer, there are things that I know that computers do better than me. I also know that teaching them how to do those things is sometimes painful and time-consuming. When I started doing the legal analysis articles, I would use the <quote> element. But that was designed for something else, and it made everything bold and italic.

This made it hard to read and almost impossible to indicate proper references to cases. I started adding “inline CSS” to each paragraph in a quote to make it look “ok”. It wasn’t great, still it was better.

After a while, I got tired of having to type a long line of stuff each time I wanted to use a quote. I figured out the WordPress methodology for handling site wide CSS. So now I use <div class=”quote”> to get my quotes. I reworked the CSS for the <aside> tag and added a <div class=”aside”>. This has made it much faster to do my articles.

Back to the frustration, I’m writing a plugin for WordPress that does the things I want it to well. Lots of good code to work from, documentation is acceptable. But a new framework for me.

It is frustrating but ok.

Back to the smell, I’m deep in thought, trying to make things work when a pump comes on. That’s to be expected, we have the sump and the pooper shooter (sewage ejector). The pooper shooter is only a couple of years old. We paid a couple of grand to have it replaced a few years ago. It should be just fine.

It isn’t. Normally, it fires off, you hear it. And less than 15 seconds later, it stops.

For those that don’t understand, shit flows down hill. It doesn’t like to go up hill. There are specifications to make sure that the people who install the pipes in your home have all the sewage pipes pointing down hill.

If there isn’t enough slope, things will get stuck in the pipes. Not fun.

The sewage connection point for our house is in the southeast corner. Nice flow from the master bathroom and where the old kitchen used to be. The new kitchen is in the middle of the house, about 50ft from that connection. The slope is a little weak, but it gets the water out of the house.

The “new” bathroom is further west of the kitchen. It is also down three steps from the kitchen. There is no way for the shit to flow down hill from that bathroom to the other side of the house.

The fix for this is a sewage ejector. These are also used if your basement is below grade for the city sewage.

Regardless, this is a plastic/rubber tub, about 40 gallons in size. Poop flows into this. When the tub fills to about the 1/3 or 1/2 level, a pump comes on. It eats whatever solids are in there and shoves it up a 3 in PVC pipe to the floor joists. There it can flow down hill to the other side of the house and out.

The damn thing stopped ejecting.

This means that it filled up.

It filled up with yucky stuff.

When its pump fired off, I had to rush downstairs to figure things out.

It sounded bad. I turned it off and realized that the smell was coming from the fact that the damn thing had overflowed. Not horribly, but enough.

So, this afternoon and evening I was down in the basement with my son trying to get things to work. It is just so much joy when you know that pulling a pipe apart is going to release gross water. It is a dark gray. Not only that, but it has plenty of suspended solids. It stinks. And it splashes.

My son and I did get splashed. It is gross. We tried to pull the check valve. That failed because they did not leave enough space to remove it when they installed it. None of the pipes from the ejector outward are stopped up. It is inside that nasty tub.

Oh, did you notice this is Memorial Day weekend? I can get a plumber out here tomorrow on an emergency call out. Those start at around $300.

For the moment, we’ve put half the house off limit for water usage. Tuesday we’ll get the plumber out here and see what they can do.

The good news is that the stink will go away. The bad news… Yeah, it still smells, and we are washing dishes manually to make sure nothing goes down that pipe.

Hopefully, I’ll get some success today.

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By awa

7 thoughts on “Being a home owner…”
  1. It’s always something. We have well water. Wife left a hose running so when I went to take a shower and one of the kids were washing some dishes, it sucked a bunch of debris into the lines, completely clogging the softener system. Had a guy come out and, while he was working on it, a rusty spot on the pressure tank gave out and it burst.

  2. man, that sounds like a shitty day! sorry… at least tomorrow you will have a better chance of collecting your poop in a pile…

  3. … yeh, I got nothin. Sorry, man.
    Being a homeowner sucks when a critical piece of kit craps out. (Or, doesn’t, as the case may be…) Still, I prefer it to renting, though, even though renting is supposed to come with a phone number for such situations…

  4. Had a similar situation.
    Problem was not the pump, but the float switch got stuck in the down position. (Float rises with the black water level, and switches the pump on.) The pump had an integrated float.
    Got rid of the pump, and installed a new pump and a new separate float switch. The new system has a switch that turns the power on to the pump when it rises. It plugs into the wall, the pump plugs into it. IF this float ever gets bogged down, I can bypass the switch and run the pump manually. That will allow a short shower, several flushes and hand washes between pump runs.
    Similar to this:
    Added bonus, you should clean out the basin at least once a year. Not tough. Pull the cover, put the sewer line back on, and hose it down. Stinks, but also ensures it does not get stuck…

  5. The only relationship I have with such a subject as shit management, is when I was between the ages of 8-16, every summer I would make a trip up into northern Ontario to our family’s resort to work from the day after school let out for summer vacation to a few days before the new school year started. Every three years I had to dig a new out-house location and sanitize the old one and cover it. And we had to dig a new well twice. After doing that type of work, sanding and refinishing some our older boats each year was a much-coveted job.

  6. Got to help my dad unclog our septic tank one year. That’s also when I learned why the cellar under one of our outbuildings was always wet and off limits. Let’s just say the outflow pipe could have been 10′ farther away.

  7. Try getting a plumber on Christmas eve and a furnace part over the long holiday weekend!
    I feel your poop water filled pain.
    Good luck!

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