It was Sunday morning when we received a call from a customer that she had sewage overflowing out of her floor drain in the downstairs bathroom. I told her to make sure that they did not flush or use any plumbing fixtures and that we would be there within 30mins.
When I greeted her at the front door I was in the process of putting my boot covers on, she simply said “don’t worry about putting those on because there is shit everywhere!”. As we walked to the bathroom there were towels laid out everywhere and the smell was bloody horrible. When we arrived at the bathroom sure enough there was shit bubbling up through her floor drain. I asked her if she had a dishwasher or washing machine running and she replied indignantly “no”. At that point she did not realise what was happening but I sure did and it was not good!
I quickly ran out side and looked for her “Overflow Relief Gully” (ORG) and saw that the grate was jammed in position and had not popped off and was blocked with waste. I quickly sprinted to the van grabbed the crow bar and came back to the ORG and smashed the black grate and let it completely flow out in all its glory (I can’t think of a more descriptive way of putting this but shit went everywhere). I walked back inside to check the bathroom floor waste and as expected the sewage had stopped overflowing into the property.
Now for those of you that don’t know what an ORG is, it is an overflow relief point on your drain line, every property has to have one. Its job is to allow sewage to discharge from it if there is a blockage on the councils main drain line or your privately owned drain line. It stops sewage from entering your property if there is a blockage on the main line.
It was unfortunate for our customer that their property was at the bottom of the hill and what was even more unfortunate was that all that sewage that was overflowing into her house was her neighbours waste!!!
I grabbed my Ridgid CCTV camera from the back on the van and put it down the drain line. I had over 40m of camera cable down the drain and it was obvious that the blockage was not located on her property but out past the neighbouring blocks. I contacted the council and gave them the news and requested one of their trucks to come to the property ASAP to clear the blockage.
The worst part was letting the customer know that all her neighbours sewage had been flowing out into her house. It took a little while for it to register but the look on her face was one of utter disbelief. It had gone out through the bathroom into the living area and into the carpet of the theatre room, the kids study room was off to the side of the bathroom and it had all flooded into there as well and all the cables on the ground were nicely soaked with waste.
The customer had told me that the night before she flushed the downstairs toilet and it had taken a while to drain away. She thought nothing of it and just wanted to sort it out the following morning. That was a sign that the drain line was fully blocked already. By the morning the damage had been done as it was overflowing by the time she woke up.
If that wasn’t bad enough outside where the ORG was located it had been seeping sewage for a number of hours as well and had all gone into her veggie garden. Now most people have a veggie garden in a couple of small confined garden beds but this lady must have been an avid gardener because hers was huge and it was completely swamped. She looked near to tears when she realised it was all ruined. My comment of ‘manure being good for the soil’ wasn’t received well. She said she would rip it all out and start again. I myself would not be too keen eating anything that would be regrown in that spot, I would rather stick to Woolies and Coles.
The council workers arrived pretty swiftly and got to work and cleared the blockage. I gave my condolences to the customer and wished her all the best. To be honest I didn’t really know what to say to her, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
The first thing I did when I got home was checked my own ORG grate and made sure it came loose freely.