The Mystery of the Basement Burial Mound — sticks and stones, bricks and bones (and now cat poop!): what do I do about a giant pile of rocks and debris in my basement?
We just recently (April) bought a house, and in one corner of the basement is a sort of raised alcove that is about half-filled with dry, dusty dirt and what, after a bit of digging, appears to be large animal (I hope!) bones along with bricks and rocks. The alcove is probably around 3 feet wide and at least 8 feet deep.
I was not overly concerned about this giant pile of dirt (I was going to get to it eventually, but after I'd taken care of other things around the house).
The snag is, our two kitties have taken it upon themselves to begin using it as one giant litterbox. So now we've made the basement temporarily off-limits until we can figure out how to get rid of all the dirt and debris.
There are a couple of considerations before I just grab a shovel and dig in myself, however:
- The bones
- There are a lot of bones in this pile of dirt. Of course they're not human -- of course! -- but what if they are?? These are large bones; not the bones of a chicken or even a pet. I'm really wondering what bones are even doing in a pile of dirt in the basement (directly beneath the kitchen, no less). There's also a wee bit of sanitary concerns as who knows what else might turn up.
- Sewage pipes
- The city of Philadelphia installed a giant plastic sewage pipe that cuts right through the alcove. It rests on the pile of dirt. I am concerned that digging the dirt out will cause the pipe to move and perhaps even break, spilling yucky sewage all over the basement.
- Mystery contents
- Who knows what else could be in this pile? It's an old house. Could there be stuff that is dangerous/toxic in there, like lead dust or worse?
I'm thinking it might be better to bring in the professionals on this one, but I'm not even sure who a "professional" would be in these circumstances, or what they would do.