Slightly Less Stinky

Brooke here:

As this post deals mainly with physics, there are two things you should bear in mind.  The first is a previous post when I threw in an offhand comment about the waste water plumbing for the washing machine, and the second is that I have almost no sense of smell.   So while I am rather frighteningly obsessed with cleaning, I missed the gradual but pervasive stench of unwashed laundry.  Such things were especially frustrating as I was actually doing laundry.


Had Brown not noticed the smell, things would likely have gotten pretty bad.  As it was, we caught the problem before the towels got too crusty.  We weren’t really sure what was causing it but we had a pretty good idea that the washer wasn’t draining its waste water properly.  It was draining, obviously, as a full load of laundry generates around 45 gallons of waste water and you’d likely notice something was amiss as you splashed your way through the basement to add the fabric softener.*  But there was a definitely a problem.

I threw environmentalism to the wind and ran the same load of laundry four times.  I added detergent at the beginning of the first cycle and then let it run without soap for the other three.  At the end of the experiment, the laundry was still full of suds.  And dirt.  And dog hair.  And … moving on.

Thus, one of two problems.  Either the washer is busted or the waste water discharge plumbing is faulty.  In most households it’s usually the former but… well, we’ve got a This:

Where the previous image ends is where this one begins. You have now journeyed into a filthy, filthy Narnia.

I decided to err on the side of physics and called a plumber first.  He came out, poked at some stuff, and said the This wasn’t too unusual but was not recommended and was certainly not up to code.  The quickest solution was to unhook the waste water from the This, which was connected to the city sewers, and run it into the septic tank.

A little history on the septic tank is needed.  When we made an offer on the house, we were told the septic tank had not been used in ten years.  We said we wanted it inspected anyhow.  They said they had lost the septic tank.  We said how do you lose a septic tank it is a giant metal vat filled with poo.  They said shit happens.  We said hardy-har find it and inspect it, k thx.  So they hired a septic tank inspector who ran a specialized poo-camera through the pipes, located the tank, and said it was in great shape.  So we’ve got that going for us.  Which is nice.

Back in our present fiasco, the plumber checked the condition of the old pipe that ran from the washer to the septic tank.  He gave it a clean bill of health and said the This was most likely installed at the same time the entire house was converted from septic to sewer, not because the waste water pipe leading to the septic tank was damaged.   The plumber ran a few test loads, said that everything looked fine, then capped the top of the This so any sewage line mishaps wouldn’t splash all over the clean laundry.

There’s still the chance that there is a problem in the pipe or the line, but we’ll know only after water backs up and floods the basement.  A washer repairman coming Friday to see if the problem is washer-related, but I’ve run a few loads since we bypassed the This and things seem okay.  Time will tell.

* I loathe fabric softener.

4 thoughts on “Slightly Less Stinky

  1. Yeah, unless you’ve got a good pump on that, it won’t work. If you do have a good pump, it’ll break regularly and your first clue will be when it…stops working. And now you need to pay for sewer and maintain a septic tank. Fun.

  2. 9′ is tough for a sump pump. Insane.

    On a related note: Be careful with the dryer vent. Does it have to travel a long distance. Hard pipe it and clean on a regular basis.

    P.S. Fabric Softener called: It doesn’t think much of you either 😛 .

  3. My mother swears by the new fabric softener dryer bar.

    I could care less about it, so I rarely use fabric softener unless the majority of the contents are synthetic blends or its the pants that wrinkle when you so much as look at them.

    The hardest part is, of course finding ones that don’t have “designer fragrance” cr@p added in.

    You may want to check to see if you have hard water. We went through 3 washers and 4 dishwashers in 7 years due to all the lime & calcium buildups.

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