Surprise; an Intermezzo Blog about our “DOP”

Recall that two weeks ago I posted an “Intermezzo Blog” about the surprising miracle of skidding across a highway at 70mph (110kph) in front of a semi only to land in a puff of snow without any damage to our car or our bodies. (

Well, surprises keep on coming! When we returned from out trip back west to see kids and families, our “DOP” struck again. Our “Demon Of Plumbing” has been frustrated ever since after a 2008 fiasco that he caused, we always turn off our water when leaving for any length of time. This time, though, he found our drain lines!! We had just arrived home on Tuesday, and were settling back into our routines by Thursday, when I flushed a toilet and water began gurgling up from our first floor shower, the lowest drain in the house.

IMG_2764IMG_2766There was enough “clean water” in the lines from other uses such as tooth-brushing, showers, dish washing, etc, so no sewage came up, but it was enough of a surprise to make us wonder what was happening. I pulled open the clean-out plug in our back yard and, swoosh, the patio under our deck was flooded with all the water in our basement pipes below the first floor, including the sewage. But fortunately it was all outside the domicile, so easy to brush out into the yard.

However, the reason for the blockage had to be discovered, and we needed professional help for that. A call to Roto-Rooter in Lexington brought a technician out in less than 30 minutes, and he ran his massive one-inch-diameter drain snake about 60 feet out (18+ meters) and found the offending blockage . . . which broke the drain snake!!  This snake is coiled steel with a saw blade on the business end, and breaking it is not easy. The blade obviously grabbed something tougher than the snake.

A team that arrived to assess the reason for the break came with a camera that was attached to a cable as long as the snake, and they ran it out to see the problem. Something had “moved” our house drain where it joined the city sewer, about 60 feet behind the house; IMG_2761it had broken the elbow and we could see on the camera about a two to three inch overlap at the break. So sometime in the past weeks, it had become clogged and had backed up all the way into the house. When the first technician had tried to clear the clog, his saw had become stuck in the crack, and unable to move, this had caused the line to break.

Well, so now the new team had to clear the blockage, but also had to retrieve the broken snake. They did this by cleverly wrapping the second snake around the broken line and slowly bringing it back through the cleanout.

This did not solve the problem of the broken pipe, however. Billy gave us an estimate of . . . well, let’s just say we gulped and hoped our homeowner’s insurance would cover it; . . . it did not. So we contracted with Roto-Rooter to come back and fix the broken pipe on our dime (multiplied by many thousands of dimes), but they were going to handle the whole shebang of calling Kentucky Dig to identify where buried electrical, gas, water and cable lines were, and scheduled us for Monday.

IMG_2561Billy and Sean arrived Monday morning, and seeing where the electrical and cable lines were so close to the break identified on the camera, they decided to “hand-dig” the three and to three and a half feet (~1 meter) they expected to have to dig to replace the broken elbow.

IMG_2562IMG_2564Very professional, obviously congenial coworkers, they peeled back the grass, and began the hole. About two feet (0.6 m) down, they encountered a very large stone, weighing about 400-500 pounds (180-225 kg)!  We thought that must be the culprit that broke the elbow. So they called in a small backhoe with a claw attachment and hauled the stone out of the way and continued digging.

IMG_2570IMG_2586But another 20 inches lower (0.5 m), they encountered another rock lying directly against the broken elbow. But this one was not a measly 400 pounds!! After exploring the edges of it, and calling again for the backhoe, they literally wrestled with it for about 30 minutes with the backhoe, to extract a huge arrowhead shaped stone weighing an estimated 1800-2000 pounds (800-900 kg) !!! Four times the size of the “big rock” we had found earlier! My observation was that we should be thankful it had been buried with the wider edge up, and not down!

IMG_2601IMG_2606This massive stone stone was lying directly against the broken elbow and vertical sewer tap which was supposed to have been covered with pea-gravel. Very probably it had cause a slight crack in the pipe 20 years ago when we built the house, and shifting from settling and temperature changes had pushed it against the pipe; the smaller “big-rock” meanwhile held the horizontal main line from the house in place. Either stone by itself might not have caused the break, but combined, the drain pipe and the sewer tap did not stand a chance.  Over the years, stuff had accumulated till the horizontal main house drain was plugged.

IMG_2633IMG_2636  IMG_2650      Very smoothly, once the pipe was exposed, Billy and Sean replaced the broken elbow, filled in the hole with the remaining dirt, and covered the area with grass seed and straw. We expect the hole to “drop” a little since loose fill will not take up as much room as the two huge rocks that were removed, but we can always add some dirt later in the spring. In the meantime, it makes me wonder if our DOP has been planning some other nefarious scheme for 20 years.

  IMG_2652    IMG_2655    IMG_2659

IMG_2662      IMG_2767       IMG_2663

So surprises keep on coming, but none of them surprise our Lord. So we’ll see what He wants us to do with the next surprise.

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