6-Sep-2022 (Tue) Wherein Poseidon has been mollified

Well, that took two weeks, but we have toilets again. It took a while to find a plumber who was both willing and able to do the work, since this involved quite a lot of excavation. To speed things up we even did a bunch of work in parallel, starting the process of getting permits and approvals on our own before having the contractor. When you need to get those "call before you dig" summoning glyphs drawn onto you sidewalk there are like six different city departments who have to come out and cast the runes. Then the contractor says, "Oh, you're excavating a sidewalk and that sidewalk is a bus stop? Ohhhhhh.... Hmmmmmm... Dealing with MUNI is a whole other thing..."

Pictured here are the wards and summoning grids, or at least the first batch of them. I think more may have been added after this photo was taken. If anyone can translate those, I'd be curious to know what they say.

Since everything in our neighborhood is built on top of sand and the burned lumber of earlier civilizations, excavating anything is a challenge; you need to shore up the sides or the sand just spills right out.

"Well there's your problem right there..." this is the "lateral" that was supposed to be connected to the sewer. And once they dug that out, they discovered that the pipe further upstream was also full of leaks, meaning much of it was squirting out into the sand rather than going into the sewer, which aside from being gross, means the pressure is reduced, making clogs more likely.

So that meant they had to extend the hole (tunnel, really) all the way to the front wall of the building. So now something like 6'x6'x10' (360 cubic feet) of sand and dirt had to come out, and then go back in. "Son, what's your dirt doing in Boss's hole? Well git it out!"

This vertical pipe is the new sidewalk-accessible clean-out port that connects near where our 6" lateral meets the 36" sewer. This is where you insert the power snake when the floor drains start poopin'. It's closer to the curb than the old one, which was right in the middle of the sidewalk. It was there because that had been the curb line back before our sidewalk was widened from 6' to 12' back in 2016.

Aside from the fact that the lateral was leaking into the sand and turning to dust, the contractors also described that old pipe as "a Mikey Mouse crazy-straw". Apparently the various and sundry history of work on this line had resulted in it having a bunch of unnecessary 45° and 90° turns in it, with the obvious impact on clogs and snake-ability. So they straighted that out while they were at it, to make it more of a poop slip-n-slide and less of a poop obstacle course.

Anyway, this latest surprise disaster cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000. And it's not like we had the option of saying, "Nah, that's too much, let's just not have toilets." Won't you consider a donation to the DNA Lounge Adopt-a-Sewer program? We thank you for your support and Poseidon thanks you for your tribute.

18 Responses:

  1. How is that excavated sand not pure biohazard, considering what's been leaking into it? Did they just dump that in a pile on the street?

    • jwz says:

      They put it in a dumpster, then put it back in the hole.

    • cmt says:

      "It's all organic!"

    • Andrew Klossner says:

      It's the same material that flows into a septic tank and then out into a leach field in places not served by sewer, like my house. Not a hazard so long as it doesn't come in contact with the water supply. I don't imagine there are water wells in SoMa. (Unlike London in 1854.)

      • MattyJ says:

        That shit, literally, spends some time in the tank being eaten by bacteria and enzymes before seeping out into the leach field. Probably not exactly the same, unless there also happened to be a natural pool/cistern down there.

  2. CSL3 says:

    Get to know yer city's plummin'... By the way, did the parklet figure into their work at all? The photos above look like they worked on the other side of the Above DNA entrance (where the Port-O-Potties were), so I'm guessing not?

    I ask both due to curiosity of the geography of the pipes, and because Breed's admin. is cracking down on parklets as part of their libertarian caveman logic ("But if in parc-lett, then not inside. Inside where money is! We say COVID over! Go inside and spend monies!")

    • andrew says:

      I believe the DNA parklet is an old-style Public Parklet, not a COVID era Shared Space, so it should be fine.

  3. Carlos says:

    I'm glad you got it fixed.  I'm sad it cost you so much.

    The service-marking you describe sounds awfully primitive.  Where I live is pretty much "the sticks" but even here, there's a single number to call, and then a single worker comes out and marks everything -- electricity, gas, phone/fiber, cable, water, sewer ... I think that's all of them.  Much faster, and much more cost efficient for the utilities.

    The hole-side-reinforcement, however, is not a surprise here.  The workplace safety regulations mean any hole that a worker has to go down into has to have a man-rated support structure lowered into the hole first - and our dirt is basically concrete when it's dry, so the collapse risk is minimal to start with.


  4. a_0001 says:

    If anyone can translate those, I'd be curious to know what they say.

    Underground service markings follow a uniform color code. In your photo, we see:

    • White markings for the limits of the proposed excavation.
    • Yellow markings for a half-inch plastic (½ PL) gas (G) line in a 1-1/4" steel casing (1¼" SR) owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE).
    • Red markings for an electric (E) line.
    • Orange markings for two (2) conduits with telecommunications lines.
    • Nick Lamb says:

      Interesting. The colour mapping is identical in the UK, but varies somewhat in other countries (green = shit / blue = drinking water does seem to be common though)

  5. David Konerding says:

    I got totally the wrong impression from reading Underground by David Macauley as a kid.  I thought all this stuff was really clean!

    • jwz says:

      I love that book!

      • David Konerding says:

        Yes, I do too (your photos remind me of the book), along with all the old-school others (Unbuilding is another good one).  Have you read Motel of the Mysteries?  

  6. db48x says:

    The wards say CAUTION.

  7. Jon says:

    ♫ I like the way you work it, much diggity... ♫

  8. Anonymous says:

    A 6" lateral? How is a party of intrepid adventurers supposed to use that to access the undercity? I bet you didn't even spring for little perpetually lit torches lining the sides of the interior. People just have no respect for the classics anymore.

    At least it's easy for a grown man to belly crawl silently through your ventilation ducts, right? Right?

  9. Kris says:

    wait, so generations of DNA lounge patrons have been peeing/pooping in the dirt?

    • jwz says:

      No, the pipe only fully collapsed recently. The sand can absorb a little without backing up, but not that much.

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