What’s a little raw sewage between friends?

OK–nasty subject–I get that, but what is an inspector to do?

These sorts of issues are considered life/safety issues and the purpose of modern plumbing is to keep “stuff” where it belongs.  We like it when the drinking water stays in the pipes, the waste stuff stays in the pipes and the two don’t get mixed together.

ejectorpump1This sounds like a good plan.

I don’t like sewage ejector pumps–but they exist so I have to deal with them occasionally.  They are common whenever you have plumbing fixtures that cannot drain by gravity.  The effluent has to be pumped up to a level where it can drain by gravity.

Homeowner installation of these devices is almost always obvious and tragic.  At a recent inspection I found one in the basement of a home where a non-conforming kitchen and bathroom had been added.  The bathroom properly drained to the sump below the surface of the basement floor.

The kitchen sink drain however was tied into what amounted to the vent pipe for the unit (the lower pipe that runs off to the right).  However, because there was a big hole cut in the sump cover, no vent was really necessary for the pump to function.  The vent is there because under normal operation a vacuum would be created if it was not there.  A vacuum could suck the water out of the traps of the fixtures it was servicing.  The hole in the cover eliminates any possibility of there ever being a vacuum created.

There also has to be a check valve to prevent water that has been pumped out from draining back into the sump.  There also has to be a gate valve and unions so that the unit can be taken apart to be serviced.  Most importantly there HAS TO BE A SEALED LID!

ejectorpump2

Without a sealed lid the sewage could flood the basement if the pump were to fail–not to mention the likely continual odors of sewage that would be present.

I can only guess why anyone would destroy a perfectly good lid to create this health and safety issue.

The installation needs a new lid—but more importantly it needs a licensed plumber.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Why does it sound like someone is peeing in my crawl space?

Before I can answer that question I would have to know “who” was down in the crawl space at the time?

Nobody you say?

Oh—that’s right you said “sounds” like someone was!

When I entered the crawl space I could hear the all too common ticking sound of water dripping on the plastic ground cover.  I could see it dripping off the bottom of a pipe right under the dining room area.  It was the drain from the kitchen and the laundry beyond the kitchen. 

Looking back at the crawl space entrance I could see my client peering in after me so I asked him to go and turn the kitchen sink on.

I waited a few seconds. 

Pretty soon it became quite obvious why it did indeed sound like someone was peeing in the crawl space.

peeingincrawl1

A closer view of the bottom side of the pipe revealed a rather large hole that would allow “zero” water to actually go down the drain—but instead dumped it all right in the crawl space.

peeingincrawl2

I cannot imagine what could create such a big hole in this drain pipe.

Regardless the drain needs a plumber–and right now!

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Functional? Really?

This post is the first in a series of posts that wants to get at the real question of the day.

How did we get “here”—and from “where” did we come?

forclosureThis is not simply about “directions,” although in a twisted way maybe that is what it is all about. Garmins and TomToms will not provide the real directions or answers here—they can still be a case of garbage in, garbage out. And there I go again, figuring it out ahead of where it is supposed to all come together at the end of the post.

Perhaps it is all about garbage in, garbage out—then again, perhaps not.

What I am trying to get at is more about the metaphorical “here” and the metaphorical “we” and the metaphorical “where.”

Therefore, if anything, it is about garbage other than what buried the entire house.

It is not just about the pathetic, the unfortunate, or those that made poor choices. It is not about genetics, economic disparity or “tinkle-down” economics (now there is a topic that could piss off almost anyone–or more accurately, leave someone feeling tinkled on).

This post could just as easily be about sleazy landlords as it is about sloven tenants. Both of which were some mother’s and father’s “most-adorable-babies-in-the-whole-wide-world.”

This is also not about how this could “never happen to me”—or to you, my reader, because I know that it could. This stuff happens to people that say that it could never happen to them! It happens to good people every day of the week. Of course I do realize that is “them” and not me and you–so we are saved for the moment.

Everyone knows about the best laid plans of mice and men however.

This is a story of not how one person could come to this position in life but about how three people all in one house, all at the same time, got to this position. They surely cannot be alone in these United States.

It is a story about a house too. It is a house with no functional toilets–at least not in the normal sense of “functional.” One toilet was truly not functional, as flushing it allowed water to squirt out of a hole in the side of the toilet all over the wall and floor. Based on the amount of dust on the cover, I am guessing that a decision was made to not use this toilet. Evidence that “decisions” were still being made on some level.

sloven1

The second toilet was apparently being flushed by filling the tank with water as necessary. (And one has to admire the towel covered cardboard lid.)

sloven2

There was one “functional” shower in the home. By functional I mean to say that you could stand under the shower head, water would come out of the shower head, and a good percentage of the water would go down the drain.

sloven3

The fact that the wall tiles were nearly entirely missing and the entire floor around the toilet and tub was rotten apparently did not lessen the obvious functional daily use of the shower.

sloven4

The moldy wallpaper and moldy ceiling only adds to the ambiance.

sloven5

Next time we will talk about where all that water was “really” going.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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