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  • Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

    Calling pros to solve a mystery that I or a plumber with 20 years of experience could not solve.
    We bought a house over a year ago. The owner passed away, some time ago, so we were not able to ask questions that could have helped solving this.
    We live on a mountain. Gravity fed septic system. Recently we had snow thaw and a lot of water came from the mountain. Basement was dry, but I was able to hear the water running inside the main sewer pipe even when nobody was using water. All the plumbing seems to be standard except for one instance, which is completely driving me nuts. Please see photo.
    There is a sealed sump pump and pipe running in a "T" from it. One end runs along garage wall on a slope and through the wall and connects to an elbow of rain gutter pipe that exits about 25 feet from the house to the rain drainage. And then the second end of the "T" (which is MOST likely my mystery) goes up through garage wall and connects to an extension that is used only by a small laundry sink. When laundry sink is used, water flows through the main sewage line. Sump pump is dead, it never worked, but when I started investigating where water was entering sewer pipe I went to that pump and could feel that water was running through the pipe, as it seemed to me was circulating in that T fitting and if I am not mistaken was going up, as if pressure was pushing it up to the sewer line. Again, sump did not work and the peat where the sump pump is located was dry.
    The only probable cause that I could think of is that previous owner had buried drainage that somehow connected to the gutter runoff pipe and the pressure was so great (our mountain is steep) that it pushed water up the gutter runoff pipe into the pipe that runs through our garage, entered "T" fitting circulated there, went 4 feet up and entered sewer line. I am sorry for the long essay, but I would sincerely appriciate if somebody can shine a light for me on two questions.
    1) why would somebody connect the second end of T from sump to the sewer?
    2) Could I be right about under-ground water that could have pushed itself up the slope?

    I included a photo of the setup
    Attachment Attachment
    Please help.
    Thank you,
    Mike.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by bluebeat; 02-17-2013, 09:20 AM. Reason: additional photo

  • #2
    Re: Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

    What caused you to notice water running in the pipe? where you having some sort of back up/slow drains?
    When you say "septic system" you are talking about a septic tank and leach field and not town sewer correct?
    INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
    Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

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    • #3
      Re: Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

      it looks like it flows away (down) my guess is some one was trying to put in a (over flow or stopage detector), so the sewage would run back out the gutter and the tee looks so it was put to direct the water from the sump to the gutter, and also the laundry would or could go either direction, but if the line froze or some thing it then could be put to the septic, and or that was his way of venting the line, jsut some guesses,

      the down spout at the pvc conection does not look that tight, and if water was coming back up I would think one would be able to see water squirting from the down spout /pvc conection, if it had the force to back up an aditional 4 foot of line to get to the main,

      could the septic system been over flowed by rain water, and full and sewage was backing up and out the line to the rain drain?

      I have seen places, (clean out with a hole in them, outside) and tee or so on, so one can tell if the main line to the septic is pluged before it reaches the inside plumbing and starts to back up) this could be one of those situations,

      unless one knows which way the water was flowing it is hard to tell?
      Last edited by BHD; 02-19-2013, 12:22 PM.
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      • #4
        Re: Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

        Thats kind of what i was thinking, maybe the flowing water is due to the leach field being saturated...
        kind of an odd set up. I've never seen rain gutters tied into a septic system here. Heck I've even toilets not tied in before
        INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
        Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

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        • #5
          Re: Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

          You definately have an odd set up there. The sum pump would be pumping water out of the gutter side due to the plumbing configuration. If the intent was to sump roof drainage to the septic then re-plumbing the tee and adding a check valve would be the solution however i do not understand why you would want to flood your septic system with roof run-off.

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          • #6
            Re: Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

            Septic systems are designed to handle 'X' amount of household water. Your local health department office should be able to tell you what the system was designed for. Flooding the tank causes the beneficial bacteria to become disrupted. Worse yet, particulates may be pushed into the leach lines, plugging them off. Leach bed saturation is the least of your worries. This can be a VERY expensive fix.

            Septic systems are not meant to handle drainage (storm) runoff from gutters. In some municipalities it is not legal to tie drainage lines to the septic (or sanitary sewer if in the city). On the flip side, sewage should never exit any drain runoff pipe. This would be a blatant violation of the health code.

            Also, while having a grey water sink connected to a storm water drain is sensibly OK, it really should be tied to the septic tank. Any storm piping connected to the septic needs to be removed and routed to a separate exit. If water is running back to the sump pump I highly suggest you cut the pipe and hard cap it. Some day that check valve will fail or somehow become non-operable. Next time the water gets high the cellar will flood.

            Simply put - the septic system needs to be a complete and distinct plumbing system from the storm sewer.
            ~~

            ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

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            • #7
              Re: Mystery plumbing connection / excess water to septic tank. Please help.

              The water could definitely push its way back up through the slope. There are a lot of systems out there (be it right or wrong) that have the laundry system separated from the septic. The thought process is gray water system without the treatment tank. I have seen many done due to poor soil conditions fro septic tanks. If you have a family of 4 using an older septic system, you will fill the septic tank quickly with loads of wash and ruin your system. He probably tied it into the gutter to help wash out any nasty water that was setting on the ground. It would be better to tie the sink into the septic system and not have it run outside, (if that is what it is doing) or you could add a check valve in the system to prevent water from coming back in. FYI, I have seen heavy rain water from house gutter push upwards of 25 feet on a sloped line that was clogged.
              "don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where it's been"

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