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Old 02-08-2014, 06:58 PM   #11
TimC
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Default Exactly my concern....

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That is or looks like the outlet pipe from the tank. The water should be towards the bottom of the horizontal pipe. His evidence is likely that the pipe is not clean meaning at one time the sewage was above the outlet pipe.

At some point there was either a blockage or the leach lines were full and things were not perking properly. Pumping the tank more often would not help what happened. Could be as simple as a wet winter where the ground is saturated.


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See, that's exactly my concern with this inspection report. There is evidence of something happening at some time, but we lived there for 12 years and never had an issue. I'm told that septic systems don't fail suddenly. So, what happened and when did it happen? Is this evidence of a one-time thing or an on-going thing? We don't know because the report included no notes other than one sentence with the photo saying this was evidence of backup. No explanations, no suggestions, just unacceptable. The rest of the report was just checking the little check boxes on the forms.

Anyhow, we've got a 2nd inspection scheduled for Monday, 2/10/2014. This guys got knowledge, education and experience in the field so if nothing else we should get some answers.

Thanks for the help,


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Old 02-08-2014, 07:26 PM   #12
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It looks like from the picture you do have a problem

The water level should be below or at the bottom of the horizontal pipe.
Yeah, the crud level has been too high at some point, but when was that? Is the crud on top of the pipe fresh or fossilized? What is the crud on top of the pipe? Is it sewage or paper debris that floated on top of the water? There's just too many unanswered questions to go straight to replacing all the lateral lines, which is what the prospective buyers have asked for.

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Is the pipe in the pic. a inlet or outlet pipe ?
Good question. Nothing in the report to indicate which.

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Did you get it pumped before or after the inspection ?
We had it pumped after the inspection.

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If the house is vacant & you had it pumped before the inspection you have a problem, because there should
no water in the tank.

If your tank does have a drainage problem it may be just a blockage between the D-box & the tank.

If you need to someone to look at your system you can contact the local NOWRA assoc. @ http://www.mosmallflows.org/index.htm they should be able to recommend several companies that should be able to help you out.
Thank you for this web address. We've got a highly regarded and qualified guy coming out on Monday for a 2nd inspection. But, I'm going to hang onto this address for future reference. Thanks,


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Old 02-08-2014, 08:06 PM   #13
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Default Thank you Zanne,

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Hmm.. That looks like a cleanout or inspection port (I know some septic systems have inspection ports). I don't know on which end though.
I'm not sure. We had a cleanout installed to the top of the tank some years ago to make it easier to pump the tank. I haven't seen inside the tank since then and don't remember how things were laid out. My guess is that the photo shows either the inlet or outlet pipe. Unfortunately, no notes in the report.

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The crud all over the pipe reminds me of barnacles on a ship. I wonder if its just sediment that built up on the outside over the years. It sort of looks like mud to me. Not sure what the white powdery stuff is. I'm not expert so this is beyond my knowledge though.
I have a suspicion of what the crud might be but you'll have to be sworn to secrecy first. Raise your right hand and repeat after me, "I solemnly promise and swear never to repeat or reveal the following..."
Okay, our septic guy once told me that we were heavy paper users and I suspect we (meaning me) may have stopped up the lower end of the inlet pipe forcing the crud up and over the top of the pipe. Either that, or there was a layer of paper floating on top that stuck to the pipe.

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There are various reasons for something to have overflowed and sometimes it could have been during extreme weather conditions.
Extreme weather is a very real possibility. We've certainly had our share in the last dozen years that we lived there.

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If your drain field runs along the slope and the slope is visible then I would think it might be too steep. However, its possible that the drain field runs perpendicular to the slope instead. I guess it also depends on your local codes and the type of drain field that you have.
Unfortunately, I don't know. The county building codes were implemented after this house was built so there aren't any documents, that I know of, showing the placement or design of the system.

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I imagine the higher cost of having a septic tank drained in another state had to do with the disposal. The guy who drains my tank used to charge a LOT less, but allegedly he was dumping the waste illegally (some people said he was trespassing on lands owned by the timber company and dumping in the nearby river-- once the timber company put up locking gates to block access, he had to find other places to dump and his prices almost tripled). Some waste trucks have to drive farther to dispose of the waste and that costs $ for gas.
Yeah, having it pumped every year was way too much anyway. If we have this one pumped every five or so years it will work out to about the same expense.

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When the inspector said the system was "unacceptable" did he give any specific recommendations of what needed to be done to make it acceptable?
Nope. No recommendations, no explanations, no suggestions, no clarifications. He just checked a little box on the form that said, "Unacceptable."

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I hope that the second opinion from another inspector is in your favor.
Thank you. I hope so too. But, even if he agrees with the first inspector at least we will have answers to our questions and can move forward knowing where we stand.

Thanks for your help,
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:48 PM   #14
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Well, the 2nd septic inspector came out a week ago. Our agent, the buyer's agent, the buyer, the original inspector and some sort of civil engineer invited by the original inspector, all joined him. Sounds like it was quite a party. Wish I could've been there.

The 2nd inspector agreed that the tank had backed-up, but it seems that's where any agreement ended. Apparently there was quite a pissing contest to see who knew more about septic systems, and the civil engineer lost. I guess he designs or works on municipal systems but didn't know squat about stand alone, country systems.

The 2nd inspector determined that the cause of the back-up(s) was most likely the use of the wrong type of toilet paper and too much of it. We used Charmin with aloe for years and apparently it does not break down well. A contributing factor was that the tank was found to be about 1.5 inches off level so I guess the water had to climb higher to get out the outlet pipe. His conclusion was that the system is in good health and function.

Bottom line: After some more wrangling between the buyers, agents, and sellers we are still under contract to sell. Things have been pretty quiet for the last few days so we're keeping our fingers crossed and waiting to see what happens.

Thank you again for the knowledge and information you have shared here. You've not only shared valuable insights with me but you have given me a place to vent without collapsing the deal.

Sincerely,

TimC

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Old 02-19-2014, 01:41 AM   #15
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TimC, I'm very happy to hear that things worked out for you. I wonder if Charmin in general is not supposed to be used in septic systems, because that is what my family uses-- although we don't use the stuff with aloe.
We did use flushable wipes for awhile before we discovered that they aren't septic tank safe.

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Old 02-20-2014, 01:43 AM   #16
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TimC, I'm very happy to hear that things worked out for you. I wonder if Charmin in general is not supposed to be used in septic systems, because that is what my family uses-- although we don't use the stuff with aloe.
We did use flushable wipes for awhile before we discovered that they aren't septic tank safe.
Thank you Zanne. So far, so good.
Our inspector told me the way to test toilet paper is to take a single sheet and place it in a glass or bowl of water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then take a fork or something and stir it. It should start to disintegrate when stirred.
We are still using Charmin, although not the stuff with aloe. I first checked the packaging and saw that it stated, "Septic Safe." Then did the stir test. The Charmin took a little longer to start falling apart than another brand we had available, but it did pass the test.
Yeah, we learned about flushable wipes the hard way, too.
Thanks again,
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:36 AM   #17
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Ok. Good idea. I know that ours does disintegrate after sitting in water. When the toilet wouldn't flush, I saw that the toilet paper had disintegrated in the water. The bad part was when it stuck to the plunger.

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Old 02-21-2014, 06:26 PM   #18
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Ok. Good idea. I know that ours does disintegrate after sitting in water. When the toilet wouldn't flush, I saw that the toilet paper had disintegrated in the water. The bad part was when it stuck to the plunger.
Yeah, there is nothing fun about a stopped up toilet. I've gotten in the habit of flushing frequently. Uses more water but beats wrestling with a plunger or calling the plumber. I feel kind of silly being all decked out in my bio-hazard suit, when the septic guy just jumps right in the middle of things.
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Old 02-23-2014, 02:49 AM   #19
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Yeah, there is nothing fun about a stopped up toilet. I've gotten in the habit of flushing frequently. Uses more water but beats wrestling with a plunger or calling the plumber. I feel kind of silly being all decked out in my bio-hazard suit, when the septic guy just jumps right in the middle of things.
I've had to use the plunger frequently. Had some not-so-fun experiences when things splashed up. Fortunately there was a sink and soap nearby. I know that some leaves and stuff have gone in to my old septic tank from that 3 week period where the water pump wasn't working and we had to use rainwater from buckets to flush the toilet. It always boggles me when I see my plumber snake the drain and not use gloves (and he touches the portion of the snake that went into the sewage). He doesn't even rinse his hands afterward. I would at least use some gloves (although with my coordination I should really have some eye protection as well).


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