Pump it! Trust me!
Ah, the joys of home ownership. Those little details that escape you over the years come back to bite you in the end.
We have a septic system. We have been lax, I admit, about having it pumped. We have done so a couple of times, but we have lived here 18 years. Today my son was showering upstairs and I discovered the downstairs bathroom had significant water on the floor. Also, the toilet was making gurgling noises like a possessed fish and the water was drained out of the bowl. I ran up the stairs and told my son to turn off the shower, NOW, which he did. Towels went down on the bathroom floor. I went in the cellar and found that water had dripped from the pipes onto some items stored underneath them. Not tons, but a good amount nonetheless. I immediately called my husband, who said "we need to call a plumber." Like who? We have never needed one.
I chose someone out of the phone book, for lack of a better idea. Luckily, he came right out and was courteous, nice, and helpful. Unfortunately, of course, we could not reproduce the problem, and after a pretty good amount of time, he determined that it wasn't something he could fix. He felt it was a clog in the main line out of the house to the septic tank. This was disappointing, to say the least. In my mind, septic problems = $$$. Even though it was nearly 7 p.m., I called the company the plumber recommended to me and they said they would come out right away. At night! My brain was seeing $$$$ floating all over the place, but there was no help for it if we wanted to shower or flush again.
The septic man came out and was digging a hole in our yard by 8:30. He was very nice, courteous, and conscientious as well. He laid our sod (I use term loosely, mind you) gently to the side of the hole. Sure enough, the line was blocked inside the tank. In addition, boy, was that tank FULL!!! Within a half hour, it was unblocked and emptied out and functiona! To add to the excitement, it didn't cost much at all, no more than would be expected for a scheduled pumping. Plus (and this is important) he was actually pretty handsome.
We were lucky that the water backed up from the shower, inside the house. I shudder to think of how it could have unfolded otherwise. Yuck! Anyway, I hope you can benefit from this story - if you have a septic system, make sure you get it pumped regularly! It's been an educational day, but I could have done without the stress of the last 5 hours or so...