Well, didn’t we have a rousing good time writing about Mr. Numptee, the bumbling red-lipped character in Yorkshire Water’s “Bin In, Don’t Flush It” campaign. Mr. Numptee finds himself in a constant state of sewer overflow because, again and again, he puts inappropriate items down the drain. His adventures are super funny to me because WE’RE not Numptees, we know better!
Or do we? Above, here’s Mr. Numptee in MY basement on Saturday night, after the panic of pumping out the sewer water that covered by basement floor. Below, the floor drain. If any water went down the waste pipes or a toilet was flushed, it all came bubbling up here. Gross! That white-ish stuff is TOILET PAPER!
We cancelled our dinner plans and hit the Yellow Pages…at 7:30 pm Saturday. To our great relief, Pat from At Your Service told us he was on the way over. (Now there’s a well-named business!) After what seemed an eternity, but was actually just 30 minutes, the truck arrives.
They unload a monster of a machine. which looks small here, but is one giant hunk of metal. A hydraulic lift lowered in out onto the driveway.
Pat brought his helper Dan (above); it only takes one guy to do the actual unclogging, but it took both of them to get the “Spartan 1065” down the basement stairs. If this machine could talk…I’ll bet it would have some incredibly bad breath!
Through the clean-out opening of the nearby waste stack, Pat started feeding the Spartan’s snake through the line. The end of the snake has a disk-shaped tool that rotates and cuts its way through the sewer line. Below, Pat patiently feeds the line as all of us watch the drain anxiously. “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever taken out of a sewer line,” I ask. “Feminine Products,” he says. “Tampons. That happens a lot.” Pat says he nearly always clears the obstruction within 100 feet. (The Spartan’s limit is 125 feet.)
“That’s it.” We all look as the water drains from the floor, off to the wastewater stream where it belongs. Believe it or not, the photo below depicts a beautiful sight that brought me great happiness!
So what caused it? Tree roots? No, Pat says our home is too new for that; roots are a common problem with homes that older than 40 years. In fact, our clog was caused by “feminine products.”
WHAT! Yes, the clog was caused by tampons. Now, there are 3 women in this household and I promise you, we knew that “sanitary products” or “feminine products” were verboten to flush, but for as much information as we’ve read on this topic, we thought they meant sanitary napkins, not little bitty tampons. Manufacturers help perpetuate the myth. From the Tampax website, you will read…
Tampax tampons can be flushed in toilets connected to city sewer systems. Frequent flushing of tampons is not recommended for septic systems.
Along with the misinformation, another problem is the silly modesty of terming these products “feminine care.” If you mean tampons, say so!
So now we know. Here’s Pat and Dan, undoubtedly smiling because they’re done at my house and can go home and enjoy what’s left of their Saturday night. (I’m smiling too, at least until I have to face the prospect of cleaning up after a sewage overflow into my basement.)
I never expected see Mr. Numptee at my house, or a truck like this in my driveway. So let me state this directly: do not flush tampons. Also: according to Pat, who should know, do not flush baby wipes. Even the type that claim to be “flushable” are definitely not. As the truck leaves, I notice one awesome thing: the “lucky” shamrocks on the truck are made of reflective material, so I see them shining until the truck goes out of sight. And armed with a little more knowledge, I expect to be luckier in the future as far as sewer blockages go.