As mentioned before, my family and I recently moved into a little house in the country. The place is pretty awesome; lots of bedrooms to put stuff in, a finished basement with wet bar, a large garage for the workshop, and a portal that leads directly to hell.
Since we are out in the country, we have a septic tank. At the start of this little tale, we had not yet found its location and half the plumbing was something of a mystery. All we knew was things went down the drain and we tried not to think about it much as the house is old and old houses usually mean old plumbing which then leads to untold horrors down the road.
The day of the infamous friend’s crap moving shenanigans, I managed to clog the toilet in my bathroom. Naturally, it was an embarrassing clog and I was not about to let anyone else see my horror and shame. I put off fixing it until later that evening when I realized one working bathroom was going to rapidly become a problem. So I braced myself, grabbed the plunger, and got to work.
The clog would not be plunged. Naturally, I decided the best thing to do would be to auger it myself, so I hopped on down to Walmart at 10:30pm and bought a toilet auger.
The toilet auger turned out to be far too short to do the job. So I got a longer drain snake, hoping that would fix it. Naturally, the drain snake was too flimsy and couldn’t even get around the bends in the pipe. That’s when I decided not to wait until the next morning for a plumber, oh no. I decided it’s time to pour the most caustic, evil substance I could find down the toilet.
I got a bottle of drain opener that had the most dire warnings on its label. It swore that in 20 minutes, everything would be flowing like magic and by the way, if this stuff is left in the toilet for more than 20 minutes ZOMG your house will catch on fire!!
Of course 20 minutes later, the toilet was still clogged. On top of that, the bowl was filled with a horrible brew of sulfuric acid and human waste horror.
I still refused to call a plumber. I decided best to wait until morning and see if it had drained, then go from there. So I settled down onto the couch with my laptop, fully intending to surf the internet until I was sleepy. Everyone else was happily snoozing away, unaware of the horrors yet to come.
Despite my initial confidence everything was fine, I began to worry about the toxic horror sitting in the toilet and (presumably) somewhere in the pipes. I tried to shake it off, but it kept creeping into my head. Finally, I decided it was time for bed. I zipped downstairs to use the other bathroom and that’s when it hit me: the stench of sulfur gas.
Oh my god, what have I done!? I panicked, searching the ceiling for signs of acid leaks. I could not find the source of the stench. It wasn’t coming from any of the more obvious places, like the downstairs bathroom, floor drain in the utility room, or anywhere in the ceiling. Finally, I tracked it to a covered hole in the floor that houses some sort of strange plumbing device we’ve pretended isn’t there.
Satisfied the floor wasn’t being eaten away by toilet unclogger, I went to bed, thinking maybe tomorrow I’ll call a plumber.
A little while later, the household woke up to the choking stench of hell permeating every inch of the house. This is when it was decided a plumber should come right now.
When the plumber arrived, we had reached the point where our noses had just given up the fight. Despite the freezing cold outside, every window was open and we were shivering on the porch, trying to breathe. We took him downstairs where he examined the (now uncovered) gaping cavity from which the stench emanated. This is when we learned those strange pipes were part of the septic pump. Oh goody, it’s not just a satanic pipe of hellish death residing next to our books and guitars, it’s a satanic shit pipe of hellish death residing next to our books and guitars.
The plumber examined every pipe, every cleanout, every random little bit of plumbing and could not figure out what was going on. He unclogged the toilet, assured me that I did not kill our pipes, and the Cleaner of Sulfuric Death was actually really wimpy.
That’s when the hellish stench nightmare subsided. For no apparent reason, the brimstone gases stopped pouring out of the basement. It made no sense by any such plumbing logic and the plumber could not offer any suggestion. No dry traps, no issues with the septic tank needing pumped, nothing that indicated a plumbing problem. I grew up with a septic system and if this had ever happened in childhood, I would certainly have remembered.
The plumber left and we all went about trying to vent the residual horror from the house, wondering if and when the next attack would occur.
After some discussion, we concluded the only logical cause for all of this was demonic possession of the septic tank. Fortunately, I happen to have some holy water downstairs, so I promptly flushed some drops and prayers down the toilet in the hopes it would immunize the plumbing from further demonic possession.
I really hope God understands that I was merely engaging in preventative maintenance, not intending to commit any spiritual blasphemy.