Down The Drain, In A Good Way

Surprise! The projects have begun, a little earlier than expected.

I was supposed to be a passenger on a road trip this week. All I was gonna do was sit. But over the weekend, I realized I really shouldn’t. It’s too early to be traveling, with the recovery and all. So I planned to plan.

Then I figured with DH gone for some days, it would be a good time to have one project addressed, one which he has been mentioning for quite some time. So I did some research, and made a call, et voila!

The problem: mysterious, infrequent basement drain issues; sour smells; dried splashes at the drain but no actual backing up.  The background: We had one incident years ago with a backup. The plumber then used a camera to lodge the thing loose, because a look-see was cheaper than snaking (believe it or not!). He showed us that there was a “bend” in the sewer line on our side of the public line, and said we might get clogged up from time to time. He also said there were roots in the line and eventually we would have to have it addressed. Yes, there is a silver maple tree above the sewer line, and, well, their roots are known to aggressively invade sewer drains.

I had already started research, and planned to sometime this spring have a company come out to snake, and, if necessary, have trenchless replacement. Given our experience with other major systems in this house, I was prepared to face the worst case scenario. But last week the odors were pretty invasive, and permeated the whole house, so I had a guy come out today. Y’know, since I wasn’t going anywhere exciting after all.

I don’t know where I first heard of this company, but I did find Major Drain online, and liked what I saw. I remember that whomever mentioned them really liked their service. The office staff understood my issue and could talk intelligently about it, and the services they could provide, depending on what results they got each step of the way. They even quoted prices over the phone. Their web site states $130 + tax for drain cleaning (“cabling” they called it on the phone). Since I knew I wouldn’t be doing anything other than having DS#2 move boxes and clean up Nerf bullets in the basement, it was good timing.

Actually, I braced myself for the worst case scenario: cabling, then hydro-jetting the roots away, then Oblitaroot foaming root deterrent to prevent more roots, about $575. And I braced for the hard sell of sewer line replacement later in the year.

Well, that didn’t hold water.

One of the owners, Shawn, was here himself. He said if he got any root, we’d talk about what to do next, but that he didn’t want to have to do and charge more than what was needed. Wow! Awesome. He was quick and professional, and told me it was just buildup (sparing you details), no roots. Not one little piece of root. Wow, again. The work is guaranteed 2 months, which is nice, and he said if we start to get the same symptoms, he’ll use the camera and go from there.

$139 (with taxes) for a clear drain. No roots. No replacement. Fears allayed. At 25% of what I expected I would have to dish out, this was well worth it.

When I asked how often this buildup should be cleared, Shawn said only when we have a problem. I’ll bet a lot of other repairmen would have suggested every year or two. I liked that Shawn was honest, and tried to ease my angst, not play off it. Maybe I could have had the line cleared for less. But I wasn’t sure that was all I needed. I liked knowing what it all might cost me, depending on the situation. And maybe another company would not have been as professional and up-front with everything. Major Drain made me feel valued as a customer.

One project down! I am still making my list.

Meanwhile, leaking brakes in our ’98 beater that DS#2 drives, not good. Those are being addressed right now and will be about $900. Safety issues don’t get delayed.

Happy Spring! New Projects

Happy spring! 82 degrees on the last day of winter…whaaatt?! A harbinger of a hot summer, I’m afraid.

It’s time to plan projects for the next few months. And we have monkey wrenches already.

We had two major goals for this year: a bucket list vacation to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and addressing the retaining wall on the south side of the garage. Weeelll, wouldn’t you know it?

During a ROUTINE ANNUAL EXAM, a tumor was found, in my abdomen, which required major surgery to remove. I cannot stress enough the value of such exams. It had been two and a half years since I’d been to the doctor, and this thing developed during that time, with no symptoms! Sometimes we think since we’re feeling fine, our bodies are fine. But things happen when you don’t even know it, and the doctors’ jobs are to be aware and find these things while they can still be taken care of. It was ultimately benign, I thank God, but the size of a large, unripe pear. It and the obsolete organ it invaded were removed. There will be a scar, a very large scar. Which no one but my husband and me will see. I’m okay with that.

Without getting political, I have a pre-ACA health insurance policy, with excellent coverage, and my out of pocket cost will be quite manageable, although a big part of our savings. I know the dollar amount, and we are just waiting for the bills to roll in. I’m keeping track of the EOBs online. I have several weeks of recovery ahead of me, doing quite well, thank you. I am trying to learn to “be still.” I have more time to plan, less time to work, and less funds. Challenge accepted!

First of all, we’ve scratched the retaining wall project. My spidey sense is telling me it will cost much more than my marked up estimate. (I usually add 15% to what early research indicates.) While this does need to be done, there are also neighbor factors involved (they have their own issues this year), and more thoughtful planning required (electric supply lines run through the area). This is not something I want to tackle this year, especially since it would take several months from first calls to completion, and be angst-ridden the whole time.

My health issue brought to mind that our self-promised vacation should be a priority for us right now. Since we’ve already saved for it, even with the medical bills, we’re going for it. We may revise our itinerary a bit, but we’ve decided to go.

Meanwhile, the funds will grow for the retaining wall project, while this year we focus on more mundane and less costly maintenance. I will be using service professionals for most, if not all, of my projects this year. My body needs to heal, and the projects are very specific. Plus, I don’t have the equipment. Landscaping will probably not be a big thing this year, except for general cleanup. I’m still developing the list, and hope to get started implementing right after Easter. I’ll be back to share that.

What projects are you planning this year? How have financial surprises changed your list?