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  • Septic or drain problem

    Greetings folks! First time post here. I found the forum after searching the internet on my problem...

    Thanks to some other threads, I think I understand the basics of bubbling/gurgling systems -- but I wanted to run this situation by you because it's going to be a bit until I can have a pro look at it. (Why do these things always happen around the holidays?!)

    I have a septic system pumped about 3 months ago. We recently have had a LOT of snow/rain (I live in NC), and just had relatives leave after a few day visit. Upon company leaving, my wife uses the shower when downstairs I hear the toilet (only one on the first floor and lowest fixture) bubble every few seconds (definitely a bubble and not a gurgle).

    The bubble didn't have any sulfur smell. After a bit I tried flushing the toilet but it just filled with water. At this point I'm panicking thinking there's a septic/leach field problem (more on this later). My wife told me that (somewhat embarrassingly) one guest had quite a trip to the bathroom before leaving, if you catch my meaning. Now I'm hopeful this is a partial block, so I try plunging the toilet hoping to dislodge whatever might be blocking.

    After plunging 30 seconds or so, nothing. After a minute or two of thinking, the toilet "whooshes" and empties completely. I flush it again just fine. I then take my shower with my wife watching the toilet, and she said she saw nothing.

    I'm praying this was a partial block that has been removed. Would you tend to agree?

    3 months ago, we had a problem with gurgling (and sewer gases from the empty traps) so had the tank pumped (3 years from last pump).

    I guess I'm worried I'm on borrowed time here because of the previous problem, or if it seems like a small unrelated issue... I can't get professionals out for at least a few days.

    Sorry for rambling but thank you for your advice! Happy holidays!

  • #2
    Re: Septic or drain problem

    I'm in NC. Pops has been in the Septic business going on 40 years.

    Sounds like a blockage in the plumbing and NOT the Septic area. If things are draining properly then you may not need to have any professionals to come out at all.

    J.C.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Septic or drain problem

      Originally posted by JCsPlumbing View Post
      I'm in NC. Pops has been in the Septic business going on 40 years.

      Sounds like a blockage in the plumbing and NOT the Septic area. If things are draining properly then you may not need to have any professionals to come out at all.

      J.C.
      Thanks J.C.! Makes me feel a bit better. Maybe the right course is to just wait and see before calling someone in. Are you located near Greensboro by any chance?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Septic or drain problem

        Originally posted by bhlonewolf View Post
        Thanks J.C.! Makes me feel a bit better. Maybe the right course is to just wait and see before calling someone in. Are you located near Greensboro by any chance?
        I will send you a Private Message with some info. (Over towards the right near the top. )

        J.C.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Septic or drain problem

          [QUOTE=bhlonewolf;270046]

          The bubble didn't have any sulfur smell. After a bit I tried flushing the toilet but it just filled with water. At this point I'm panicking thinking there's a septic/leach field problem (more on this later). My wife told me that (somewhat embarrassingly) one guest had quite a trip to the bathroom before leaving, if you catch my meaning. Now I'm hopeful this is a partial block, so I try plunging the toilet hoping to dislodge whatever might be blocking.

          After plunging 30 seconds or so, nothing. After a minute or two of thinking, the toilet "whooshes" and empties completely. I flush it again just fine. I then take my shower with my wife watching the toilet, and she said she saw nothing.

          I'm praying this was a partial block that has been removed. Would you tend to agree?
          QUOTE]

          i'm not a country boy, just a city slicker so i don't know septic

          but i do know stoppages

          you had a stoppage

          have a happy new years.

          rick.
          phoebe it is

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Septic or drain problem

            As a septic guy as well, it sounds like an isolated incident.

            The real test will be when you use alot of water again at one time. If it starts acting up again then, you may want to take a look at the distribution box. It may be the drainfield is inundated with water or the line from the tank to the box is plugged.

            If you have any other questions feel free to ask away.
            www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Septic or drain problem

              Thanks much everyone, I appreciate the feedback.

              I ran the dishwasher this afternoon and all was fine -- the big test was my daughter's bath this evening. I heard the water running down the pipes as the tub drained and ... no bubbling. So far, so good. Hopefully isolated -- I'll post back updates if they occur.

              Thanks again folks!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Septic or drain problem

                Well, the problem happened again this morning. Looks like it's time to get it looked at...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Septic or drain problem

                  Originally posted by bhlonewolf View Post
                  Well, the problem happened again this morning. Looks like it's time to get it looked at...
                  What exactly happened again?

                  J.C.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Septic or drain problem

                    Originally posted by JCsPlumbing View Post
                    What exactly happened again?

                    J.C.
                    To recap last night, kids bath was fine. This morning I woke up and took my shower. Not sure if the problem was happening then or not, since no one else was listening for anything. I was downstairs when my wife took her shower, and heard a bubbling in the downstairs toilet.

                    When I got in the bathroom, the toilet looked fine so I thought it was my imagination, but then the bowl emptied.

                    I'm wondering if a vent might be contributing to the problem, but none are easy to check.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Septic or drain problem

                      Originally posted by bhlonewolf View Post
                      To recap last night, kids bath was fine. This morning I woke up and took my shower. Not sure if the problem was happening then or not, since no one else was listening for anything. I was downstairs when my wife took her shower, and heard a bubbling in the downstairs toilet.

                      When I got in the bathroom, the toilet looked fine so I thought it was my imagination, but then the bowl emptied.

                      I'm wondering if a vent might be contributing to the problem, but none are easy to check.
                      "Then the bowl emptied". If this happened all of a sudden and very rapid almost sucking all of the water out of the bowl, I'd say the clog "moved" and went out again.

                      If it emptied slower then that can point back to your septic system. Without knowing the exact particulars of your system, I'll just guess.

                      For one, if you have a filter on the outlet side of your septic tank, it should be cleaned. The pumper should know this and do it.

                      Also we've had a high degree of ground saturation with rain and recent snow which can prevent your lines from working properly. In short, they can become saturated and cause slow draining. It would probably only show at the lowest bathrooms/fixtures nearest where it leaves your house.

                      If this is the case it can correct itself as things dry and you limit water usage. NOT ALWAYS THOUGH. Sometimes the lines get to a point of failure that requires other remediation and sometimes excavation.

                      J.C.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Septic or drain problem

                        Thanks J.C.!

                        The bowl did empty fairly quick ... I'm going to see if I can look into the washout that is before the septic tank just to see if there's anything obvious...

                        I'll post back updates.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Septic or drain problem

                          Update: I opened the washout that is outside the house, about 12 feet before the tank. The pipe was a lot shallower than I thought and I could see in easily ... the pipe was clear. I turned on the shower upstairs and the rate at which water flowed through the washout was very slow. I turned on two other faucets, and same thing -- seemed the output was way too low.

                          Also, I could hear the water trickling into the tank (at least that's what it sounded like) so that's a good thing.

                          I don't think it could be a venting issue since opening the washout would solve that (I would guess) so it seems a clog is still the most likely thing. Besides a couple sinks upstairs have AAVs (why they did it this way I'm not sure).

                          I half expected the washout to be full, so I'm somewhat relieved.

                          Now, this washout that was outside was pretty easy to open. There may be some in the crawlspace I might be able to access. Are they typically sealed somehow or can I just screw them on/off?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Septic or drain problem

                            I think what you call a "washout" is what I would call a cleanout. A faucet or shower is not a high volume fixture. Combine that with 3" or larger pipe along with the distance-and the volume in the cleanout may not look to be very much.

                            If you have a tub, fill it full, then have someone let it go while you look in the cleanout. You can have them flush the toilets too while it's draining. Should give you you a higher volume to be able to tell if your plumbing is clear.

                            NOTE: IF YOU HAVE A CLOG SOMEWHERE YOU CAN FLOOD SOME AREAS OF YOUR HOME. NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY OR ANYONE'S ON THIS FORUM IF THIS IS TO OCCUR.

                            If all your plumbing continues to be clear to the cleanout, and you continue to have some issues, that leads you to the septic system.

                            Good luck.

                            J.C.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Septic or drain problem

                              Exactly -- it was a cleanout.

                              I tried the tub ... filled it, I was by the cleanout and my wife pulled the plug. The water went down the drain pretty fast (from what I heard through the phone) but really nothing through the cleanout other than a trickle.

                              The trickle started picking up about 30 to 45 seconds after she pulled the plug, but no big gush of water came. She tried flushing a couple times, no real effect. There was a stream of water in the bottom of the pipe, but about as much as you'd see coming out of a garden hose that is open just a small amount.

                              Next she tried flushing a piece of toilet paper ... same thing -- saw a trickle of water but never saw the tp pass the cleanout.

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