When I got home from my lunch with Luly, Mr. C announced that all four toilets in the house ~ ALL FOUR ~ were plugged up. We knew almost immediately what the trouble was; invasion of tree roots into the sewer pipes. I duly phoned Fernando; he was out of town and wouldn't be back for several hours. The person I really needed was Elias, the wizard plumber and electrician, but I didn't have his phone number nor did I know where he was currently working so I could go see him. Mañana Fernando would go get him. That's all well and good but what about hoy?
Somehow we made it through the night; I'll leave out the details. Early Friday morning Elias and Fernando showed up, ready with the solution. First, Elias opened up the rejistro. Everyone has one of these out in front of the house, on the street. It is the house's connection to the sewage line installed by the city many years ago. It can be accessed by removing the paving rocks and digging up the sand to expose the removable cement lid.
Then he had to excavate further to expose the underground PVC pipes the run from the back of the house under the garden walkways and out into the street where they join up with the city lines. There was a whole lot of sledge hammering until he got the whole thing open. Then he opened up the pipe and shoved a long, heavy wire with a hook on the end up into tube, snagged a massive clog of sand and roots, and pulled it out.
This is just part of what he removed. It's densely compacted roots, sand and soil. It had stopped any drainage. You can see the wire hook lying across the blockage.
We have four giant Almendra trees in front of the house and their roots have invaded the entire area and compromised the sewer lines. Elias also said that the conjunction of the pipes was not properly sealed so roots worked their way inside to get water. This time he applied several coats of pegamente and (we hope) made the lines water tight. When this happened a couple of years ago I asked Elias if we should have these lines cleaned every year just to keep them free of roots. He assured me it wouldn't happen again because he had rerouted the pipes. Alas. Perhaps this should be part of the usual home maintenance we go through at the start of every season.