The Joys of Living in Greece With a Septic Tank

Manure happens
Manure happens

Life with a septic tank is never dull, well, not with our septic tank anyway, 
it has a life and a mind of its own.

For about twenty years it behaved itself, we never gave it a second thought.

The first time it flooded, we brought the experts to sort it out, which they did and we promptly forgot all about it again.

Septic tank experts
Septic tank experts

Then of course, as was sure to happen, it flooded again.

MGG (My Greek God) had carefully observed how the experts had unblocked it and decided that he could fix it himself.

Of course the experts had all the appropriate tools, very long telescopic rods to be precise.

MGG  thought that the garden hose would do the job so he pushed it down one end, water going full blast, while I was the" Look out" at the other end, ready to alert him when the water flowed through.

We had no flow!

MGG had a big think, he needed a rod but where to find one?

A brain wave, he would find the nearest building under construction, a concrete reinforcement rod would do the trick.

Off he went, he did find one but because of the length no way would it fit in a car: He walked home with it!

Concrete reinforcement rods
Concrete reinforcement rods

Once home he got down to the task in hand and managed to unblock the pipe.

We rested easy: for a very short time, it happened again and became a regular occurrence, MGG became very good at unblocking pipes!

I was always the helper, waiting for the water to flow through, that meant the operation had been a success.

I can't describe the smell to you during this process, we could have done with wearing a gas mask, I hear people have actually died from methane fumes coming from septic tanks!

MGG ready for action
MGG ready for action

Then someone told MGG that putting yeast in the tank helped things along, off went MGG to our local bakers and came back with six large brick-sized blocks of yeast and chucked them in.


I had  visions of the whole house exploding beneath us!
It did seem to prolong the gaps in between flooding though.

When it first began its shenanigans, we did have warning when the tank was about to overflow, the loos wouldn't flush properly and there were ominous rumblings in the pipes.

We had it looked at by the experts again as it was becoming such a frequent problem.

After a lot of head scratching and rubbing of chins the solution was to have it emptied.

Tanker to empty septic tank
Tanker to empty septic tank
( In our family known as the cr-p cart )

This was a trial in itself, a paper had to be acquired from the local water board, more or less stating that we had permission the empty the tank.

If it was a particularly busy time, you were given a date sometimes as much as a week away, not good in an emergency!

Man at work
Men at work

Things became worse and worse, it was flooding about once a month now, with no warning whatsoever!

If we didn't see it we knew anyway because of the sudden terrible stench.

The evil septic tank
The evil septic tank

It was sheer bedlam if it happened and the tanker couldn't come right then and there.

The tanker arrives
The tanker arrives

When the tank decides to overflow, it means not using the washing machine, no dishwasher, five second showers, doing anything with water in a large plastic bowl, hand washing, washing up, brushing teeth etc, and throwing the dirty water on the garden so as to have as little water as possible going into the septic tank.

Useful plastic bowl
Useful plastic bowl

By the way, a large plastic bowl is a useful thing for any family to have!

They have a thousand and one uses.

From washing the dog, my granddaughter and spinach when I make spanokorizo, (Spinach and rice dish)).

Melina loves the useful plastic bowl!
Melina loves the useful plastic bowl!

All this I could bear:  but the loo, oh the loo!

We had to flush it as seldom as possible, when any of us went to the loo the whole family were asked if they wanted to "go" : the last one flushed!

When things were really bad it was a case of:

"If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down"

Here is the hilarious scene from the film "Meet The Fokkers" where Dustin Hoffman says just that!

We lived this in reality!

Then the worst thing that could happen happened!

The septic tank flooded while we had friends from England staying with us and we couldn't get a quick date for emptying!

We had to put "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" into action!

If we didn't there was the fear of the waste backtracking and coming back up out of the lavatory.

Now Greeks know all about septic tanks, our friends had no experience of one, it was an eye-opener for them!

I'm sure they had many anecdotes to tell back in England!

After this palaver, we had the experts back again, it is better but we still need to empty it regularly.

It still decides to give us nasty surprises from time to time.

Emptying the septic tank
Emptying the septic tank

MGG is now on permanent septic tank patrol, this involves removing the covers every so often to check whats going on down there.

When it looks dangerously full, we have it emptied.

Septic tank patrol
Septic tank patrol

It has no rhyme or reason, it can go for six months at a time, or it can flood after only one month.

I do consider us to be  rather lucky though, our friends who have the same problem, well, their tank floods inside their house!

Oh the joys of Greek plumbing.

It does add a bit of spice to life!

Meraki: Greek Word of the day; Doing it with love, passion and a lot of soul;

Meraki:  Doing things with love, passion and a lot of soul. Greek ranks as the richest language in the world; Europe’s oldest, with f...

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