Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Poo Chronicles

Alaskans have unique relationship to their waste stream. And sewage in particular. I was recently at an all women's dinner party where the topic of sewage captivated the crowd for a good 20 minutes; one woman, an engineer in designer jeans claimed 'I LOVE inspecting people's septic tanks.' Really. Keeping one's systems 'a go' during the long winter is a huge challenge. Like several other homes on our block, we have a personal sized, above ground 'Extreme Sewage Treatment Plant' (ExtremeSTP). This is pretty much what it sounds like. Bad stuff goes in, good stuff goes out. The ground is simply too frozen for a septic tank.

Well, we didn't quite get around to checking all of our plumbing heat trace over the summer and we're paying the price now. A few weeks ago we replaced the ~40feet of output pipe from the STP because it was entirely blocked with ice. All of this at -40 in the dark. The bathroom sink hot water invariably freezes every night and must be thawed every morning. Finally, this last week, the entire toilet line froze. So it was a matter of thawing the contents, tearing out the old insulation, adding a functional heat trace, and replacing the insulation. Pretty awful. But we learned a lot about our house in the process!

1 comment:

abmatic said...

ooff. I guess you are really learning what it means to be homeowners...