Our Blocked Sewer
Wednesday March 19th 2008, 9:34 am

I love that today is the last day of winter and spring will start tomorrow. I don’t like winter and could live without snow, even though I know it is necessary. By comparison to most of eastern Canada, the Halifax area didn’t have such a bad winter. The snow started earlier than normal, but we avoided most of the heavy snow which other areas received. We actually had no snow on the ground until last week, when we got 10 to 15 cm, which is still there due to the colder than normal temperatures recently.

We are still painting and renovating our house. All the ceramic tiles have been removed from the bathroom walls. We are waiting for the new tiles to be installed in the shower before the tub surround is removed, hopefully within the next few days. We will probably be without a shower for a few days but that pales in comparison to our situation last weekend.

Last Friday morning I noticed that our sink in the basement laundry room was full of brown water. My husband was unable to unplug it, and we realized that the block was outside our house in the sewer line, so I called a plumber. The plumber’s snake got stuck in the sewer line which runs from our basement to the street, so they put a camera into the line in order to locate the block. It is important to know exactly where the sewer is blocked because if it is on our property, we would have to hire a contractor and pay to have the sewer line repaired ourselves. Luckily for us, the problem was on the municipality’s side of the line. We own 50 feet from our house to the street, and the municipality owns the rest. Unfortunately, they don’t work on the weekend, and by the time they received the video evidence, it was late Friday afternoon. They told us that the work couldn’t be done until Monday morning, and we couldn’t flush anything down the drain. No showers, no washing of dishes, no flushing of toilets for three days.

We were able to take sponge baths and wash the dishes using plastic basins so the water could be thrown outside into our backyard, but the toilet part was the most difficult. We ate a lot of meals in restaurants, and spent time in shopping malls where we could use their bathroom facilities. We could have gone to a hotel but we have two small dogs. It felt like we were camping in our own house. It could have been worse because at least we had water and electricity. It is better to look on the bright side of things like this because it could have been much worse. If I hadn’t noticed the plugged sink, we would have continued to flush etc, and our basement could have been flooded with sewage.

It was such a relief to be able to get a shower, use the dishwasher, washer and toilets again on Monday morning. We take these things for granted because we are so used to having these conveniences, and few of us have contingency plans when we don’t have these things. According to the contractor, this is a common problem with older streets, but the sewer on our street is only thirty years old. Our neighbour had the same problem a few years ago.

We haven’t received the bill from the plumber yet, but apparently, the municipality will pay part of the bill for situations like this. The municipal council must have received several complaints in the past for them to be paying part of these bills. I think they should pay the entire bill so I may contact my councillor to see what he can do.

Have a great end of winter day,