Have you ever had your septic tank pumped? According to my mother-in-law who will be 89 next month and has lived in the same home her husband built way back in 1966, "If a septic tank is working right, you should never have to have it pumped."

Last year I assisted my father in locating his tanks and lids, they were metal. We dug them up and waited for the gentleman with the big vacuum, kind of like a shop vac. His layer of crud was good according to the pump guy, and his septic tank was working great. So I haven't given much thought to having ours pumped.

I was over at the wood pile looking for a board I needed and I noticed my dump station cap next to the trailer was off and there was ucky stuff around the station. After two shovel loads and several gallons of bleach water it was cleaned up. What happened? I looked down the 4-inch pipe and I could see "stuff." So I went to the back of the house to look down my clean out, it was full too. I made a quick call to a local septic pumping company which was able to send someone out the next day. I was worried about putting any more water down the drain so we all shared the same tub water that night. Well, they did that 50 years ago all the time.

I thought I could save myself the $91 locate-and-dig fee and find my own lids. I went out with my metal detector and slowly crossed over every square inch of the area I expected it to be at. Then I pounded a half-inch piece of rebar down a foot or so. Ok, never mind, I'll pay the guy. So when the nice men showed up they had a more sophisticated type of poking tool, it looked to be a 3-foot long, skinny pointed nose tee handled tool. He easily went around the area until he located part of the tank. The shape wasn't quite right. Out of the truck he wheeled this roll of hose and what looked to me like a fancy metal detector. The hose has a camera at the end and since my pipe was full, they would not be able to see anything. When it hit the side of the tank he was able to use the detector to locate the side wall of the tank. A short while later he had dug two small holes in my yard. Carefully he placed the piece of sod down, and piled the dirt on a piece of plastic cloth. Up came the first lid, but it wasn't metal like my dad's, it was concrete with two metal handles. I guess that's why I didn't locate it.

The rest of the job was finished in no time. I marked on my tree map exactly where in the yard the lids are so I can dig them up myself next time. And I for sure will get my tank pumped every three years from now on. I sure would hate to have to put in a new system if I ruin mine.

Hint from the septic company: Once a month mix 1/2 cup yeast with brown sugar and water. Heat in the microwave and immediately flush down the toilet.

n Lisa Welch is a Johnson Lane resident and can be reached at 267-9350.


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