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Flushing the lines

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  • #16
    Re: Flushing the lines

    Originally posted by Glynda View Post
    You are probably right about staying away from the company because he also suggested a second option of replacing the pipes running to the septic from bathrooms because new pipe would be smoother on the inside than the pipe I have and would cut down on what would stick to the sides. of course it will be even more money.
    There are two of us in the house. We don't use a lot of water, we work all day and aren't usually home. Our plumber also said that might aggravate the problem.
    The system was built with the house in 1986. In 2005 we had jetting machine ran to the outlet side of septic to clear field lines and video inspection to determine reason for another blockage. They said it
    revealed paper and septage in field lines and since have been using Rid x and have been pretty much problem free. From 03 to 05 it seemed we were pumping often.

    With this blockage or slowdown, the actual tank hasn't been dug up yet. The junk I saw was at the top of a maybe 6 inch pipe sticking out of the ground above the septic tank. He onscrewed a lid on it and i could see inside.
    I am learning alot from this and appreciate the feedback

    I am in Chatsworth, Ga about 1 hr 10 minutes north of Atlanta.
    Glad we could help. Let us know how it turns out for you. You indeed may need jetting or a sewer replacement as the company suggested, but it never hurts to get a second opinion on these matters. Especially if you are uncertain about the honesty of the company in question.
    Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information


    • #17
      Re: Flushing the lines

      Glynda, Septic tanks are always full. Usually of water, with a thick scum on the top lots of water in the middle and very little solid at the bottom.
      The first thing to do, is check the depth of the solids.
      In all probability there is very little in the tank.
      We have all had a lot of rain recently - it is possible that the water level in your area is high and that the liquid in the drain field cannot get away as quickly as normal.
      Find a pole about 10 feet long and push it down through the floating scum, it will go through quite easily, feel for the top of the solid waste at the bottom, it will feel soft but firm.
      Provided you have at least 12 inches of clear liquid below the bottom of the outlet Tee, then you don't need to have it emptied.

      Always make sure that you and your family only put into the tank things you have already eaten. Water from washing. NO SALT/SODIUM or alcohol.
      No oil/fat/grease/lard or chemicals.


      • #18
        Re: Flushing the lines

        Glynda, check your PM

        In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!


        • #19
          Re: Flushing the lines

          Not going to talk about the septic tank cause everyone already gave great advice. The price to jet and camera is on the high side but isn't excessive and is cheaper than many places around here. I still wouldn't go with this company because of the same reasons service guy said.
          Buy cheap, buy twice.


          • #20
            Re: Flushing the lines

            If the tank is not pumped on a regular basis the solids that are to be removed by the tank will over flow into the drain bed and then you will be looking at replacing the drain field with a new one as the solids have plugged up the drain field, and that will be big bucks,

            if it has not been pumped in the last 5 years pump it,

            some info on septic tanks and maintenance of the system




            and if you want more

            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
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            • #21
              Re: Flushing the lines

              Based on your second post of information, I'm steering toward you having a problem on the outlet side of the septic tank. However, I'm not there looking at it.

              Call a recommended septic tank contractor that does pumping, installation, repair/replacement. Even local plumbers usually can recommend one as they are not in competition.

              Have them pump the tank and verify that the water & waste is leaving your home. Easy to do. Run water everywhere while they have the tank open and pumped. We do it EVERY time the customer says they are having drainage problems. My father's company has been installing, repairing, pumping for over 30 years.

              Have the pumper check the outlet side of the tank also. The outlet pipe/filter could be damaged or in need of service.

              If your plumbing is draining properly after the pumping, and the outlet pipe of your tank is in good working order, AND the problem returns, then percentage wise you probably have a problem in the septic field or the outlet pipe of the tank.

              I'm a licensed plumber and would call the "recommended" septic tank contractor. I emphasize recommended because that's always better than one with a big yellow page ad in my experience. (No offense to the good guys that use the yellow pages)

              If you have a problem on the outlet side of the tank, no amount of jetting or cabling will correct the problem for the longterm. It would be a waste in my opinion.

              Even at a discount.

              Good luck and keep us posted!

              J.C. in N.C.


              • #22
                Re: Flushing the lines

                Glynda, the web sites indicated by BHD are full of useful information. But, they don't give you the facts you need.
                Re your blog 27th.

                A septic system used as intended.

                Used ONLY FOR THINGS YOU HAVE ALREADY EATEN, plus waste water from washing and the washing machine, has nothing to stick to the pipes - therefore the pipes do not block up.

                A septic system where the waste disposal and toilet are used to dump rubbish, will fill at an alarming rate.

                As you will have read the minimum size of septic tank is 1000 gallons, history has shown that this is enough space for the average family of four without a waste disposal unit and with the average amount of neglect it will last them for about a year before it needs to be emptied.

                It follows from this that your tank should need emptying every two years minimum.

                On the other hand, if you use it as intended, it will go on for years.

                From what you write, I am reaching the opinion that the people you have been using are only interested in how much money they can make from you.

                Before you spend any more, try to learn as much as possible about septic tanks
                so that you understand what they mean, and always ask them to show you what the problem is.

                I've written a few notes to get you started.

                Average person produces 50 to 75 gallons of waste water each per day.

                If you follow three simple rules, then your septic tank and drain field will give you years of un-noticed service.

                One. Only put into the septic tank things you have eaten or drank.

                Two. Use the septic tank for waste water from washing and the washing machine.

                Three. Use the septic tank for washing up water - making sure that all utensils have grease, oil, fat, lard and salt wiped off before washing.

                Make sure your family and visitors understand whats required.

                Take a look at history to see what other people have done in the past.

                I've put some notes together that you may find interesting, these may help you to avoid future problems.

                Like, is my tank full? A tank is always full! Of water, with a crust on top a lot of water in the middle and usually a very small amount of solids unseen at the bottom.

                The main thing to note is that a septic tank used as intended, will probably never need to be emptied. Nor require any maintenance.

                The septic tank was invented by a Frenchman John Louis Mauras who in the 1860's built the first septic tank/ brick pond.

                On opening it after 12 years he was surprised to find it almost empty. John patented his invention on the 2/9/1881.

                The first real septic tank was designed by Donald Cameron and built in Exeter, England in 1895 it was 64 feet long 18 feet wide and between 7 and 10 feet deep. It had a surface area of 3600 square feet and served 30 houses and a large reformatory. It could process 90,000 gallons a day.

                After 13 months it was opened and found to be almost clean, apart from some gravel washed in by the rain.

                Septic tanks work by anaerobic (air less) process of de -composition turning our toilet into mainly methane, hydrogen sulphides, ammonia and carbon dioxide in an oxygen free process.

                This process can be stopped by salt, bleach and other chemicals that kill the bacteria, causing the tank to quickly fill, costing you money.

                Generally speaking, you can use most household cleaners that are labeled "Septic tank friendly" in moderation, provided they are used in accordance with the makers’ instructions and stipulated concentrations, but don’t use excessive amounts of detergent or bleach – it’ll upset the natural balance of the system and cause it to smell.

                Never pour neat disinfectant or bleach down the sink or outside drains – they will kill the friendly bacteria that make the tank work. Always dilute well and use sparingly

                Our toilet is 70% water so the solids are very little and after process they more or less disappear.(see below)

                The system works by separation, the oils and buoyant things like grease float to the top, there is a built in space for floating substances oil/grease/lard.

                Don't ever put oil/grease/lard down the kitchen sink.

                Once the reserved space for oil/grease/lard is full, the oil will flow into the drain field and bring the whole system to a stop, requiring an expensive total refurbishment.

                Restaurants, hotels and similar who do a lot of cooking find it helpful to fit a grease/oil trap between the sink and tank.

                All oils/grease/lard should be collected and placed in the rubbish bin/waste.

                Things like frying pans and other oily/greasy kitchen things should be wiped dry with paper towels prior to washing and the towels dropped in the waste bin.

                The same treatment for plates etc; sprinkled with salt. (Sodium chloride)

                The use of dishwashers and water softeners should be avoided in hard water areas as these use salt (Sodium chloride) as water softeners.

                Salt is an antiseptic and over time it builds up in the drain field and stops it working. It blocks the soil pores and slows or even stops the flow of water from the drain field.

                Under this is a layer of water based liquids with a suspension of tiny solids that gradually fall to the bottom, to de-compose. At the bottom the compact sludge.

                Experience suggests that the longer the time the suspended solids have to settle and the larger the volume of free water/liquid the better the tank works. The best transit time seems to be between 36 and 48 hours and is best accomplished by a journey of around 8 feet.(Across the tank.)

                One could also say that the timing of the days events and the order of process will have an effect. The smaller the transit space the quicker the fluids and suspended solids will pass through it into the drain field.

                One should aim to let the drain field dry out over night. (8 hours of none use if possible.)

                The liquid effluent from the septic tank flows by gravity or is pumped to a drain field/leach field for disposal. The wastewater effluent is absorbed by soil particles and moves both horizontally and vertically through the soil pores. The dissolved organic material in the effluent is removed by an aerobic process, bacteria which live in the top ten feet of the soil. As the effluent moves through the soil, the temperature and chemical characteristics of the wastewater change and create an unfavorable habitat for most bacteria and viruses. Therefore, as the septic tank effluent moves through the soil, organic material and microorganisms are removed. The wastewater generally percolates downward through soil and eventually enters a groundwater aquifer. A portion of the wastewater moves upwards by capillary action and is removed at the ground surface by evaporation and transpiration of plants.

                RV Toilet Chemicals.
                If you are still using Thetford Aqua-Kem Blue This is a strong poison and antiseptic! Do not empty your toilet tank into your septic tank on arriving home, Aqua-Kem contains formaldehyde which is an antiseptic, more powerful than Sodium. It will kill the process in your septic tank, that may not restart and will required emptying.

                Thetford Aqua-Kem-Green is OK.

                If you look on the net you will find that there are many people who have not emptied their septic tanks in 30 years and yes like mine fitted in 1985 they a still OK and going strong and trouble free, free flowing clear liquid and a nice crust on the top.

                Some people recommend empty every year, this is trotted out regardless of the size of tank and drain field or the number of people using it. Or indeed if it is used or not!

                When to empty, in practice waiting until you have a minimum of 12 inches /30cms of clear water/liquid between the top of the sludge and the bottom of the outlet pipe Tee seems to work.

                However, keep in mind the build up of oil/grease/lard if your housekeeping is not up to standard.

                If your tank is designed to serve four people and it is only used by two people, then emptying it every year is a nonsense.

                It is a good idea to make a pole about 10 feet long with a plastic bottle on the end that can be passed down inside the tank to ascertain the remaining space on top of the sludge. Do this through the inlet pipe.

                The sludge is quite firm and a plastic bottle small enough to go down a 4 inch pipe will do the trick.
                You will feel the top of the sludge without problem.

                The secret of longevity is : Control the things you put into the tank. Toilet paper is not a problem.

                Nappies, sanitary items and condoms should not be disposed of into the system.

                Don’t use the toilet or kitchen sink as a rubbish bin – never dispose of chemicals, pesticides, paints and the like into the tank.

                Never put alcohol products down the sink, alcohol is an antiseptic and will kill the process.

                Use other methods to dispose of other things.

                Keep in mind that the process requires and generates its own heat, avoid letting cold rainwater get into the tank, expect the process to slow in the cold of winter and to flourish in the warmth of summer.

                If you live in a cold part of the country consider covering the inspection covers with 5 inches of polystyrene to keep the cold out, make sure the pipe to the tank, the tank and drain field are below the frost line.

                It is good practice to limit the amount and volume of cold water entering the tank, as large volumes of water will wash the suspended solids through the system into the drain field and stop it from working.

                Make sure the lids fit properly and that the area round them is designed to let water get away without forming a pond.

                A trench or French drain installed above the septic tank and drain field, diverting the surface water away to one side is useful.

                The tank will come to a halt when it is not used for a time and then start up again when brought back into use.


                • #23
                  Re: Flushing the lines

                  OMFG! I think I just went crosseyed!

                  Seriously though, all good information but unnecessary to the average homeowner. My father's business has worked with Septic systems for 30+ years. We have NEVER seen one working to it's scientific potential. Meaning the bacteria equaling or bettering the solid input to the system. Humans just aren't going to do it. The local health dept. (overseeing body) for our area with multiple soil scientists recommend pumping once every 5 years minimum. And yes, I have seen some that don't have there's pumped for 20 years. Very rare though.

                  I agree with you that the person she has been dealing with may be misdiagnosing or more interested in selling her something.

                  But based on the information she gave the best thing for her to do is call a reputable septic tank pumper/contractor/installer.

                  All the other information is appreciated. I learned something!



                  • #24
                    Re: Flushing the lines

                    smokin post dude, I have a new respect for the word "antiseptic"


                    • #25
                      Re: Flushing the lines

                      I appreciate all of the information because I can ask better questions and have much more knowledge about the situation.

                      I've had the same company come out today to pump and look again at it.
                      A different guy came out as he was on call for the weekend.
                      He immediately stuck the rod down and found and removed roots growing into the incoming side that seemed to be obstructing it.

                      He thought that was that and the rest of the problem is on the out going side, because while looking through the pipe while running water you could see it came in fine but rose pretty high. He said he wanted to check the filter next which I heard from a few of you so I agreed.

                      He dug to the top of the tank but couldn't lift the lid.
                      And on a Sunday couldn't get anyone else so they will come back tomorrow AM to lift the lid and check the filter,etc.
                      The only cost so far is that of digging the hole so I'll let you guys know tomorrow what happens.

                      Oh yeah, the toilet closes to the tank is flushing fine now but the farther one is still quite weak.


                      • #26
                        Re: Flushing the lines

                        Keep us posted. Filter could be clogged. Drainfield etc. Looks like you'll find out tomorrow. Good Luck! Take a digital picture or two if you can.



                        • #27
                          Re: Flushing the lines

                          I imagine by now, you have a good idea what is wrong?

                          However, I would just like to mention a few more things, that might help.

                          Since 1881 and the adoption of septic tanks in the United States, something more than 50 million people rely on them.

                          A great many people rely on them for their living as they have a very high failure rate, due principally to incorrect installation and secondly to incorrect use. Often due to mis-information.

                          As I wrote earlier, a septic tank should only be used for things that have been eaten.

                          Putting other things into a tank, especially antiseptics will bring the anaerobic process to a halt. Result it fills up and spills over into the drain field.

                          One should not bury the inspection covers as it is important that you can check the hight of the solids and arrange for it to be emptied before there is is an expensive problem.

                          Likewise, putting oil/grease/ lard down the sink and using a waste disposal unit, will cause early problems.

                          The space the manufacturers leave at the top of the tank for oil etc needs to be monitored to avoid oil getting into the drain field. You will only do this on a regular basis if you have easy access.

                          Of course not putting these things down the sink or toilet will save having to this. job.

                          You should not grow any trees or bushes on or near a drain field (or to be safe, near the sewage pipe from the home to the tank. You obviously have a good idea which tree or bush is responsible for these roots, the tree/bushes should be removed. As these pipes are relatively close to the surface, you could consider opening up the ground and removing the roots. This will cost nothing except a bit of time, but will save future problems. You can look at the joins in the pipe to see if they were made properly. Unlike the drain field the sewage pipe, should have waterproof root proof joins, if the pipes haven't been joined properly then a concrete collar round the joint should solve the problem.

                          How does the water table compare with the depth of your drain field? Is high water level slowing the flow of waste water?