We have “stinky sewer days” here in Latin America. Somedays the wind is blowing just right (or wrong) and we get toxic fumes wafting into the house. On those days, we have to close all the drains and bathroom doors and windows. The stink just seems to come from everywhere!
But recently we developed a worse problem at our house. One day I was doing the dishes when it seemed like someone threw a stink bomb right in the middle of our house! It was the worst stink I’ve ever experienced. Describing it as a combination of vomit and poop would seem too organically generous. This was the incarnate of putrescence. The odor was evil itself! We shut all the drains, windows and doors… then we were trapped inside with the hellish aroma. Where was it coming from?? I wondered.
After a while the fumes cleared, and then rose up again, and cleared and returned… I couldn’t find the source of the stink. Of course my husband has been gone all week long, so I couldn’t confer with him about the plausible sources of the odor nor the potential solutions to our problem. So instead I bought a few new air fresheners to tide us over until Monday when we could call a plumber.
Just on the off chance that someone had some experience with wicked stenches, we asked one of our friends for advice. Being very experienced with the mundane requirements of living in Latin America, our friend asked us if we had cleaned out the grease traps lately. The what?? The grease traps. Apparently there is a cement box out in the yard a few feet from the house that contains a trap. We knew where the box was since we sort of ignored it every time we worked in the yard. So this trap is supposed to keep RATS from coming up the sewer into your house. Supposedly it also helps cut down on the stinky sewer days… I’m not sure how. This is why you can not flush the toilet paper in Latin America. I gunks up the traps.
Our friend told us that every 6 months you are supposed to open the box and scoop out the poop and food and toilet paper stuck in there! I screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” when he told us that. We have lived in this house for over 2 years and we’ve never cleaned the poop out of the grease traps. No wonder the sewer was smelling badly! I thought, “Oh dear Lord, please say this is a job that we can PAY someone to do.” Otherwise it would be the worst Barf-O-Rama we’ve ever experienced.
So yesterday at 10am, a very unfortunate plumber was made $50 richer and I am an incredibly happy girl with clean grease traps. Good bye $50, I have never been so happy part with you before. And good bye stinky sewer smell.