City DPW crews in Pittsfield have been a little busy the past couple of days dealing with the city’s sewage system, which has been either overtaxed or blocked-up somewhere along the line. And yours truly and family was an unwitting participant in the fun.

I’m glad you asked… here’s what happened. We first noticed on Saturday that the pipe in which our sump pump is draining into was sputtering water every time it kicked on. I’m not sure it’s exactly legal, but it’s not like we're stealing money from children or something.

Anyway, there was a little water in the corner where groundwater or rainwater sometimes pools, especially in the winter. We figured that the sewer might have been working extra hard, so we gave it a day to subside. Hey, it’s happened before. It didn’t. So, now we were worried that there may be some blockage in our sewer main or further out in the line. This being the case, I called one of the local “rooter” services. It was a day’s wait for them to come out and when they did, they quickly determined that there was no blockage in my pipe, but that the issue was along the line somewhere in the neighborhood. It was apparently a pretty big problem, as we were told the water was only inches from the manhole cover opening. At this point the plumbing tech called the city, we paid him, and he went on his way. That’s where the fun began!

As we were waiting for the city pump truck to arrive, the system must have been really working hard, because sewage began to shoot out from the top of the sump pump pipe and other places where the pipes were connected. It was spewing in all directions. We had to break out a couple of large storage containers to try and contain it until the city arrived. I had a lot of fun hauling them up and down my basement stairs to empty them out in the back yard. The smell was horrendous as you could well imagine. Eventually, the city crew arrived and quickly got the issue cleared up. What a mess we were left with though. Yikes!

This is where the lesson is. The city guys told us that whenever your sewer is backed up, the very first thing you should do is to call the city. They are 24/7 and have to come out when an issue is reported. This is information that would have come in handy, had we known it before-hand. It would have saved us $200 – the fee for the “rooter” guy to come out and tell us that the city needed to deal with it. Not that we didn’t appreciate him coming. We did.

We’re not sure that we have any recourse to get reimbursement from the city. We're not blaming anyone, but the City of Pittsfield website didn’t say anything about calling them before calling a plumber.

Apparently, we weren’t the only Pittsfield residents that had this issue. I’ve seen the pump trucks around town. Just Monday morning they were in front of Big Y on West Street pumping away… and oh that familiar smell…

Is our money down the drain, so to speak? Anyone? Bueller? ---

Bueller?