Hazards of Rural Living

We bought this house way back in ’92. And, in all that time, we’ve never had the septic tank emptied. Granted, with just two of us, it’s not high on the priority list but lately, whenever we shower, the toilet flushes itself and the sink gurgles. Not good. It’s either the septic tank or the bathroom plumbing is haunted. Really, it could go either way.

So since it has been 19 years and since we don’t know how long it was prior to that, we decided it was time. Houses that are not connected to city sewage systems have septic tanks and leach fields. Stuff goes in one end, heavy stuff settles, liquid stuff flows to the other half, then drains out the exit pipe leading to the leach field where Mama Nature does her thing. Over time, the heavy stuff needs to be removed. We add bacteria stuff to the system every month but even that is just prolonging the inevitable.

We have friends (yes, we have them) and Christie and Jack are two of them. They’re this cute het couple but we like them anyway. Jack is doing some work for us and one of the things I listed as needing to be done is finding an digging up the lid to the septic tank. Taking care of that part first saves us $50-90. So Monday, after several loads to the dump, Jack decides to do the septic location. He is a Jack of All Trades, literally. He had a job putting in septic tanks so he is very familiar with them. As most things with this house, nothing goes as planned.

Most tanks have two, smallish lids, roughly 2’x2′, one over the incoming pipe and one over the outgoing pipe. Jack locates the tank (yay!) then starts digging around looking for the lid. He said that the grass dying in that spot was because gasses leak from the lid and kills the grass. Not a good thing. He told me the size of the lid and I said the dead spot was much bigger than that. He digs down to the tank, figures out about where he is, then goes to the other end to dig out the incoming lid (the one that needs to be removed). He finds the edge finally. Finds the handle finally. But can’t find the other edges. After much digging, he finds another handle. Our lid is 4’x4′, half the size of the tank itself (which means, according to Jack, it was put in place in the ’70s). We just saved ourselves even more money because a lid that big would have cost even more to dig up, although it is less than a foot down.

Tomorrow morning, the septic suck ’em up guy comes and does his thing (for $185). We did as Jack said and told them how big the lid was and to bring an extra guy. Then Jack will come back on Friday and fill the hole back in. The Rose Room window overlooks this hole and I will have a good look at what they are doing from here. Not sure I want to, though.

Today, Jack and Lorna did another dump run or 2 and picked up a truck load of mulch. It was steaming as they unloaded it. They’ll pick up another load Friday I think. The list of stuff for Jack to do is long. And, the more we realize he actually knows what he is doing, the longer that list gets. We may actually get a front door!

View from the Rose Room/Office
view of septic tank from inside house

The lid and it’s two massive handles
view of septic tank handles

View toward the house. I took this one so we’d remember in 20yrs where it is.
view of septic tank looking toward the house

Steaming, black mulch. And Jack.
pic of the steam coming off the mulch as Jack unloads it


  1. Wish I had been smart enough to take a picture of where our septic tank is. I know what side of the house its on. But that’s about it. And I want to plant some vegies on the sunny side! Maybe digging around isn’t such a bad thing.

  2. We have this really heavy metal pole. Jack used it to punch the ground with. When he found the tank, it was a dull thud we felt through our feet! We knew immediately it wasn’t just a rock. They usually are just a foot deep with the end closest to the house being deeper. Or so says Jack. If you need it, we can bring it over and use it to find it for you. Or, rather, you and I will watch Lorna pretend to be a squirrel who can’t find the nut she buried last fall.

Comments are closed.