There is a lot to be said for living the country life. Things go at a slower pace and beauty surrounds us in every direction. But with beauty there sometimes comes sacrifice. Most of the time the sacrifice is worth it, but sometimes you find yourself questioning the sacrifice and feeling somewhat envious of the conveniences found in cities and metro areas. This was the case with our recent search for our septic tank…
I know what you are thinking, how can we not know where the septic tank is located at our own home? Well, I will tell you. We first moved into the house we now call home as renters. The owner of the house lived out of state and the neighbor was our tour guide and our contact for rental arrangements. He was a very nice guy and told us what he could remember about the building and history of the house. He mentioned that it had a septic tank and the general location of the tank but didn’t give specifics and we didn’t ask since we were only renting. About a year later, we signed the papers to buy the house and that was over 10 years ago. The neighbor has since passed away and we have not really thought about the septic tank for all of these years. That is until the drains began to drain slower and after we had a very wet winter we had the unfortunate, yet small backup into the bathtub in our downstairs bathroom. It was then that we began to realize the importance of knowing where your access point to your septic tank is.
So the search began. First, my husband called the local septic guy and asked them to come out to empty the tank. He was told that they only run the septic truck once per week (country living at its finest) and they would call us. My husband explained that we didn’t know where the access was and was told that they would charge extra to find it and that we could take a metal detector and find it if we had one. We just happen to have a metal detector that I really love using but there are a lot of rules and laws against using them in a lot of places, but that is a story for another day. So, it is put away in our very unorganized storage room, formerly known as our daughter’s bedroom. Once the metal detector was located, off we went on our adventure to find the septic tank. And what an adventure it was.
There we were, in the side yard that the neighbor had pointed to when making his very general statement about the location of the tank. My husband, 22 year old son and I are all metal detecting and digging holes all over the yard. Until then, we didn’t realize how many screws we misplaced when rebuilding the chicken coop last spring, great news!, we found one everywhere we were digging. Note, we didn’t find the tank, only screws, nails, a piece of aluminum, you know, the usual, what seems like everything except the desired target so, we decided to leave the search to the experts. I called the local county land office to see if they had any records from when the house was built, they referred me to the county tax assessors office who in turn referred me to the county health department. I would have never thought to call the health department about septic tank locations, but they are the agency that keeps up with the perc tests (percolation test that determines the water absorption rate and is required prior to building a septic drain field) for the each county. They gave me the cell number for the person in charge of that department since she was working in the field and was out of the office that day. She said that she would check on it when she got back to the office but it might be a few days before she could get to it.
Two days later the call came from the septic guy, prior to hearing back from the county. My husband explained that we had not been successful at finding the tank and that he would have to find it. He came and didn’t have any luck finding the tank either so he called his plumber out and had him run a snake though the pipe so they could hear where the pipe ran.
In the end, it was made clear why we couldn’t find the tank…it was located under the chicken coop! Of all the places in all the world, it was under the chicken coop! The good news is that we live on very rocky, clay ground and the ground inside the chicken coop was very rich and easier to dig up. We were also lucky that it wasn’t four feet further from the house or it would have been under the outbuilding that the chicken coop is attached to. In the end we felt very blessed for many reasons and my husband is making certain that we will never have such trouble locating the access again. Since septic tanks only need to be cleaned out every seven or more years, depending on usage, there is a good chance that we could forget the exact location of the access and have to search again.
Moral of the story, ask questions when buying property. Ask if there is a septic tank, ask where it is, ask everything. Find a way to mark things or write down the location of important things like septic tank location, main water lines and shut offs, gas lines, etc. These don’t seem that important until you can’t find them when you really need to find them.
But in the end, if you find yourself in search of one of these oh so important things, no need to get frustrated or aggravated, just consider it one more of life’s little adventures. We usually don’t realize it at the time, but a life full of these little adventures is a life full of fun and learning. These are the things you can’t buy, these are only things that can be experienced and I am always happy when life invites me to another adventure!