The trials and tribulations of septic and drain repair


We thought we had finished with most of the major repairs to the new "old" house - we put in new electrical wiring, new siding, insulation, new windows, new heat (the upstairs wasn't heated and the downstairs furnace conked out) new interior plumbing in the kitchen, and upstairs bathroom - and figured we could now settle in.  Even put in back up generators on both the big house and guest house because last summer we had the big blackout and several power outages.

Boy were we wrong about being finished.    The day before we were having 20 people up here, in freezing cold February - the sinks backed up and the toilets stopped working - in both houses.

At 2 oclock in the morning called Roto-Rooter and he couldn't clear the lines.  Had a porto-potty delivered, and septic guys to come out and drain the septic tank - which was full to bursting.  That didn't help either. 

After doing some exploratory digging, and in conference with contractors we identified the problem - shoddy material used in old septic lines - wrong grade of pipe, and not buried properly either.  Consequently - over four feet of pipe had collapsed during the winter freeze.   No use patching it - it could only happen again to another section.

Only solution - dig it all up - and we did.  First try - the contractors couldn't get through the permafrost with a back hoe so they had to bring in a heavy excavator and that worked! 

Below are photos of the men at work and the chaos - from time of the pipe collapse and the time the work started - we've been a long time with no toilets or bath facilities or ability to wash dishes - except the old fashioned "trip to the outhouse" and bird baths in a basin.  Boy do I appreciate our ancestors and what they had to go through to do something simple like wash clothes or pots and pans, and carrying water heated on the stove up to a bath is a chore I'll be glad to end - hopefully soon.


back hoe & porta-potty

Billy & Josh lay pipe by the barn


Earth moved


Sun sets over the trench


Pete at work in the excavator


View  back towards the stables and septic pit


Because the ground is frozen solid, they couldn't use much of the dug up perma-frost to refill the trenches and had to bring in layers of sand and gravel to pack the new pipes safely.

And just when we thought things couldn't get any worse, the big excavator machine ripped out underground electric lines we didn't know were there.  Thankfully - two weeks ago I had back-up generators installed in both houses - never thought they would be put to the test so quickly - but they worked like a charm.

The upshot of all of this is I will now have piles of dirt to build flower beds - lots of extra rock for rock gardens, and we will not have to do as much digging in the spring to accomplish landscaping of the areas behind the house. 

In every disaster there is a silver lining - in this case it will be a flowery one....

I'm sitting here now - looking out at the disaster area - dreaming of  roses...snapdragons...lavender...




back to Saugerties House