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  • Drain field issues

    My septic tank backed up and I ended up with a mess in the showers, I'm sure you know the drill. I just got done digging up the tank lid so we can have it pumped in the morning. I noticed some soggy ground near the tank last week, but thought it was form the kids running the garden hose. When I was outside digging up the lid, the whole area on the down hill side of the tank was soggy, but the dirt on top of the tank was dry, all the way down to within an inch of the lid. When the folks come to pump it out, do pumpers normally carry cameras?? If so, should I request to have them run a camera down the discharge side of the tank piping???

  • #2
    Re: Drain field issues

    Originally posted by bml View Post
    My septic tank backed up and I ended up with a mess in the showers, I'm sure you know the drill. I just got done digging up the tank lid so we can have it pumped in the morning. I noticed some soggy ground near the tank last week, but thought it was form the kids running the garden hose. When I was outside digging up the lid, the whole area on the down hill side of the tank was soggy, but the dirt on top of the tank was dry, all the way down to within an inch of the lid. When the folks come to pump it out, do pumpers normally carry cameras?? If so, should I request to have them run a camera down the discharge side of the tank piping???
    Depends on the area. Here, no pumper carries one that I'm aware of.

    And many pumpers do only that.....PUMP. They have no desire or knowledge about troubleshooting a septic system.

    And many septic contractors only install. Others install & repair. No pumping for either of them.


    My Pops and I do all of the above.

    If you're lucky, you have a blockage or damaged pipe just outside of the tank outlet. That can often be corrected fairly quickly and not give a problem again provided the tank is maintained.

    If you're not so lucky then you can have blockage/damage further out in one line, many lines, and/or a distribution box.

    Both can exhibit the exact same symptom as you describe.

    In my opinion, a camera does not provide much help for these problems.


    J.C.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Drain field issues

      Well, you may have just saved me some time trying to find a guy with a camera then.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Drain field issues

        What about snaking or jetting, if they try to sell me on that??

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Drain field issues

          We do pumping and service work, no installs. If you know where your distribution box or first drop box is, dig that up. If that box is full of water, most likely you are looking at a new drainfield. You can try to jet it, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. If you do have it jetted make sure they pump the water out of the drainfield as they are jetting it. If the box is not full to the top with "water", then the line from the tank to the box may be plugged or damaged. If it is cast iron or orangeburg pipe the best fix is to replace it all the way to the tank. If the outlet baffle in the tank is cast iron, replace it too. Cast iron "collects" peices of material that leave the tank and eventually plugs the pipe. It only takes 6" of cast iron to plug up. I've seen it happen. Ask your pumper about a bio filter or screen in the outlet baffle. They are cheap insurance for your drainfield.

          Be carefull of some pumper/installers. Some of them like to earn a drainfield replacement job by telling you your repairable problem requires a major fix.
          www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Drain field issues

            Originally posted by bml View Post
            What about snaking or jetting, if they try to sell me on that??
            Never snake. Jet....maybe. Most of the time I would say not. Be there when they pump the tank.

            They should pump both ends.

            Watch the outlet end of the tank while pumping. You get alot of water coming in from the drainfield....you've got bigger problems.

            Don't get much...smaller problem.


            J.C.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Drain field issues

              Ok, when you say pump both ends, what exactly do you mean?? I have only witnessed one tank being pumped, and that was years ago. IIRC, they just dropped the hose in the tank, sucked it up, and left.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Drain field issues

                Originally posted by Trent2 View Post
                Be carefull of some pumper/installers. Some of them like to earn a drainfield replacement job by telling you your repairable problem requires a major fix.

                Thats what Im afraid of running into.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Drain field issues

                  Originally posted by bml View Post
                  Ok, when you say pump both ends, what exactly do you mean?? I have only witnessed one tank being pumped, and that was years ago. IIRC, they just dropped the hose in the tank, sucked it up, and left.
                  That's a pumper out for the $$$ more than wanting to do a good job. A tank will typically have two sides internally with some sort of baffle. Holds solids on the house side, lets effluent pass to the exit side and into the field.

                  Now keep in mind that tanks & systems have been around and different everywhere. So you may not have a baffle. But the idea is no matter what empty the tank.

                  Just tell the pumper/contractor what's going on. If they don't want to or have resistance to pumping both ends, then they may not be the person you want working for you.

                  But you want to keep your eye on the outlet end. See if water covers the outlet pipe. As they pump it down do you get alot of water coming back out of the lines? I've seen 500 gallons or more come back.

                  Water over outlet, get a good amount of water back, problems down the line and/or at the distribution box.

                  Water over outlet, get a little water back, clog or damage could be close to the tank.

                  Make sense?


                  J.C.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Drain field issues

                    Some tanks are two compartment tanks, in which case you want to make sure they pump both sides of the tank. Most in my area are one compartment. When they pump the tank there should be basically nothing left in the bottom of the tank. Maybe an inch or two at most. All of the solids should be pumped out with the exception of things like rocks and sticks.

                    If you are concerned about getting ripped off, take some pictures of what you find and post them here. One or more of us will give you our opinion based on what we see.

                    When you say "the whole area on the down hill side of the tank was soggy", what are the dimensions of that area? Also how old is the system?

                    Sometimes it's pretty easy to make assumptions about what kind of system you have without thinking about all the possibilities.
                    www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Drain field issues

                      Im with ya man. Im gonna knock off work early so I can come home and watch the whole thing. I'm gonna go to the health department and get a copy of the original set of permitted plans for my septic system to get a better idea of where things are, and what type of system I have.



                      If there is a clog between the tank and the distribution box, will a jetter be the best way to remove it??

                      Thanks for the help.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Drain field issues

                        Originally posted by Trent2 View Post
                        Some tanks are two compartment tanks, in which case you want to make sure they pump both sides of the tank. Most in my area are one compartment. When they pump the tank there should be basically nothing left in the bottom of the tank. Maybe an inch or two at most. All of the solids should be pumped out with the exception of things like rocks and sticks.

                        If you are concerned about getting ripped off, take some pictures of what you find and post them here. One or more of us will give you our opinion based on what we see.

                        When you say "the whole area on the down hill side of the tank was soggy", what are the dimensions of that area? Also how old is the system?

                        Sometimes it's pretty easy to make assumptions about what kind of system you have without thinking about all the possibilities.
                        I may just video the whole thing and put it on Youtube lol.


                        I may have been a bit misleading in describing the lay of the land, now that I think about it. The down hill area I refer to is about a 15' square area that is to the side of my tank, and has a bit of down hill slope, but not downstream from the tank.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Drain field issues

                          Usually, yes. Again, if the pipe is cast iron you might as well replace it. You can jet it but sooner or later it will plug up on you again. Or you could have a cleanout installed and plan on jetting it now and then. You can snake a cast iron line and get it clean, it just takes time and paitience. Some water flowing through the line helps a bunch too.

                          Another thing to consider is if the drainfield is down slope alot from the tank, it may not flow backward into the tank even if it is failing.

                          Something else you can do before the pumper gets there is to dig at the most upslope point where the soggy ground starts. You may find the source of the problem yourself. It could be a broken pipe. It could be that the pipe has come loose from the tank or seperated at a joint. It might be worth coming home a little earlier and doing some digging before the pumper gets there.
                          www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Drain field issues

                            Remember too that you may just have fatigued your system or that it is inadequate.

                            Lots of rain, snow, or water usage can cause things to back up & seep out of the ground without a clog or damaged pipe anywhere.

                            Seen that too.

                            So much to think about.


                            J.C.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Drain field issues

                              Originally posted by bml View Post
                              I may just video the whole thing and put it on Youtube lol.


                              I may have been a bit misleading in describing the lay of the land, now that I think about it. The down hill area I refer to is about a 15' square area that is to the side of my tank, and has a bit of down hill slope, but not downstream from the tank.
                              This wet spot originates near the outlet end of the tank?

                              Did you take the lid off the tank? If so, was the sewage level all the way to the top of the tank?
                              www.ClinkscalesSeptic.com

                              Comment

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