Swamp Thing


This was two days ago. It’s much worse today.

Our pool service fired us yesterday.

It’s ironic, because the cancellation letter they sent us came on the same day I was about to send them an email complaining about their service. They went two weeks without properly cleaning our pool—didn’t skim out the leaves/debris, only added chemicals one of the weeks—but then claimed our pool was just too hard on their equipment (too many leaves!) and basically we weren’t worth the hassle.

We started using this pool service about a month and a half ago because they have a portable vacuum. We needed that, because there’s something wrong with our intake line, so we don’t get enough suction through the skimmer port to run a vacuum directly. It’s something we need to fix, but it’s also something we can’t afford to do right now, given the rest of the nonsense we’ve been dealing with.

See, we bought a house in a lovely vintage (read: old) Las Vegas neighborhood about two months ago. The house was a flip—not a cheap flip, mind you—and the investors/sellers had done an extensive job remodeling the interior—floors, walls, a few new bathrooms, all new fixtures, finishes, etc. They half-assed a few things—our fireplace has no hearth or mantle, and none of the showers obviously designed for glass doors have glass doors—but otherwise the inside’s been all good. Nothing was done outside, and the backyard is mostly just dirt, save for a really cool redwood deck and a pretty basic swimming pool.

We knew the pool had some issues—broken light, surface wear, some cracks around the skimmer thingee (technical term)—but nothing that would need immediate attention, especially not moving into the house mid-fall. So we hired our previous pool cleaning service, who we used happily for four years at the last house we owned. But that’s when we found out about the suction issues, and paying to have the line “blown out” didn’t solve anything. They did what they could and kept it pretty well maintained, but warned that if we couldn’t run a vacuum at least weekly, the sediment and leaves that reach the bottom of the pool would end up staining it permanently. Hence the change to the service that offered a porta-vac system.

This was a minor bump compared to the problem we discovered about a week after moving into the house. Our toilets downstairs started backing up for no apparent reason—they had barely been used. We called a plumbing service, and they discovered the problem went much deeper than some backed-up toilets: The sewer line to the house was blocked up, damaged by roots from the 75-foot-tall pine tree in our front yard. It was one of those problems that a house inspector couldn’t find from a single inspection, and only became clear after regular showers, flushes, etc. Did the sellers know about it? Maybe. Doesn’t matter, though—we signed off on the inspection and closed on the house and the rest is our problem.

We got a reasonable but pricey quote (about $3600) from the plumber to replace the sewer line and the main water line (while the trench was open anyway). The service was scheduled to start a few days later, but when his supervisor came out to assess the situation, we ran into another bump: The pine tree would have to go. They couldn’t take on the liability if any of the roots they tear up while digging the trench caused the tree to, you know, fall and crush the house/cars/people. It made sense, but we really didn’t want to have to remove the tree. One, it was a 50-plus-year-old, healthy, giant pine tree you could see from anywhere in the neighborhood. And two, it would cost almost $2000 to remove it.

Sewer line replacement

Not quite the landscaping we had in mind…

So we went back and forth with tree services and other plumbing services to find other solutions. The only option that would get around removing the tree would be to do a “trenchless” dig, in which a hole is dug at either end of the line being replaced, and then some magic machine just burrows through the line underground. Or something like that. But that would have cost more than the sum total of removing the tree and our original sewer line replacement quote, so after about three weeks of sewage backing up into our front yard, we finally just emptied our bank account and had the damn tree removed and the sewer/water lines replaced by the original plumber, just in time for us to host Thanksgiving at our house.

That money was supposed to go to other things, like the aforementioned shower doors, potentially an exterior wall for security/privacy, and the fireplace hearth. Instead, we have none of these things, are relegated to using only one of our three showers (I know, I know…feel free to throw out some #firstworldproblems in the comments), and can’t afford to fix the problem with the pool, although it’s becoming a high priority now that it’s turning shades of green typically only found in Florida swamps.

But, hey, at least we have a really pretty backsplash in the kitchen, right?

Tile backsplash


  1. Martin December 31, 2014 11:42 am 

    That IS a gorgeous back-splash, though.

  2. Jason December 31, 2014 12:49 pm 

    One word: skatepark.

  3. MarilynPerez December 31, 2014 5:12 pm 

    OH CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!