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Old 08-09-2017, 12:50 PM   #1
jesserae88
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Default Possible Failing Septic System

Hello,

I signed up for this forum to look for other opinions regarding our household septic system. We purchased the home in 2014 and it was built in 1997 with the septic system being as old as the house. It is a conventional trench septic system. Anyways onto the problem..

In april 2016 we had the tank pumped. All seemed to be in functioning order afterwards. Up until early Wednesday Morning of August 2nd, I went to flush a toilet and it wouldn't flush. Tried the other toilet. Wouldn't flush. Water was also coming back up into the bathroom tubs and sinks were gurgling. We called our local septic pumper who worked passed his due hours to make sure he got to us before the days end. We pumped it out and had a rather large plug in our baffle coming from the house into the tank. The problem comes after he pumped the tank and noticed it was mostly water, very little solids and it was predy much full to the brim. After the tank was pumped water continued to gush back from the drainfield for a considerable amount of time as if somebody had a hose open at full blast, which is never a good sign.
It back filled the 1000 gallon tank maybe quarter of the way before it stopped. Since then I have been in touch with several contractors as well as applying for a permit to dig from our local county water conservation district. The problem is our county no longer allows trench systems, they are out of date. One contractor we had out states that due to a high water table in our area (Except this summer has been extremelly dry, the drainfield should work fine with no issue), county ordinances and our soil is terrible. About 6 inches down while he was digging, it's nothing but clay. We would have to build a mound septic system. I've had a couple say they could possibly jet the system, but if anything it would only buy us some time, or do no good at all. But living in Minnesota with winter right around the corner I need to act fast and decide what I need to do and at this point I am just looking for other opinions before I bit the bullet of 7-10K.

Thanks to the responses in advance.



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Old 08-11-2017, 04:43 PM   #2
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No one? Well I guess it was worth a try.


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Old 08-12-2017, 02:53 AM   #3
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Hang in there. We have a few septic experts, but they only pop in here when they have time. Check back in 24-48 hours, and I'm sure you will get some responses. I have absolutely no knowledge with septic systems except for the dumb septic sprinkler I broke last week at my ex wife's house. Never again for me!
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Old 08-12-2017, 03:57 AM   #4
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Did any septic guys do any testing of anything? It does sound like a saturated leech line. Obviously it worked fine for the last 10 years so I am wondering why now?
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Old 08-12-2017, 07:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Did any septic guys do any testing of anything? It does sound like a saturated leech line. Obviously it worked fine for the last 10 years so I am wondering why now?
Thanks for the response. No. They just figure failing field due to extremely dry weather that they say there should be no reason the field shouldn't be able to handle the intake of water. We have a inspector coming out to do a soil boring study to try give us some answers. They believe the problem is due to aging of the system and the soil around the system isn't able to handle water percolation like it used to.. I never realized before having a septic that when something goes wrong it would be so difficult to figure out why.
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Old 08-12-2017, 08:28 PM   #6
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Here I don't know if these may offer some ideas and suggestions but..

http://imgur.com/9b5PzAE

http://imgur.com/PjXOzx5
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:20 PM   #7
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UPDATE OUR SOLUTION:
So we had an inspector come out. He did a soil boring study in 2 different spots. He says the soil is terrible. Due to iron deposits in the soil about a foot down he believes our drainfield most likely suffers from ground water due to it being close to or in the water table at certain times of the year, if not all year. Just not currently because we are in a drought. He believes the system was put in illegally. We have the guys name who did it back in 1997 but neither the previous owners or the county have any documentation of the system. To say the least, that guy lost his license awhile ago. But unfortunately we have suffered part of his poor services when it comes to septic installations of the past.

The inspector says we need to look into a new system. He says this one is functional when it can be drainfield wise. We bought the house in 2014 and the home owners didn't mention any issues with the system in the paperwork. Just who installed it, when and how often they get it pumped. He said there is no way they didn't have any issues with the system as it has been the past 20 years. So I went to the county, they won't help. He believes the state wont help either. We could try high a real estate attorney and go after the previous owners he says, but we like the previous owners and it would also be a costly process that might not accomplish anything.

So when it comes right down to it. We need a new system. Living where we live winter is around the corner so hopefully it holds up for another 10 months or so until fall and winter pass.
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Old 09-17-2017, 11:13 PM   #8
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Was the system not required to be inspected when the property was sold? I would think Minnesota would require that for all the 10,000 lakes it has.

Clay soil is the worst for drainage. Well, an impermeable rock layer would be worst, but you know. Here's a fun fact that nobody with a septic system in clay soil will appreciate, but clay actually has more pore space than sand and can hold more water. But that's the problem, it just holds on to the water and won't let it drain. Does a really good job of filtering water, though, if you can force it through.

Legal enforcement on something like that is difficult. At most, action against the installer would result in fines and loss of license. Since he no longer has a license, then just fines, but I'm pretty sure 20 years is beyond the statute of limitations in Minnesota. And I'd bet it would be quite difficult to legally prove negligence or malfeasance on part of the previous owners.

Unfortunately, these situations happen and more often than they should. Someone ends up with an illegally installed or previously failing system that no one ever said or knew anything about, and that someone has to take on the entire burden themselves. Out of sight, out of mind, until you end up being the one paying the bill for someone else's mess.

You mentioned a local water conservation district. I know there are some government grants and programs that aid people in replacing septic systems. I think those are usually for low-income households but maybe you're in a sensitive watershed or something? Might be something to look in to.

And good luck with winter. I used to live in Minnesota and South Dakota. I don't miss it.
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Old 09-18-2017, 05:00 PM   #9
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Minnesota state law does not require a compliance inspection of the septic tank before property is transferred to the buyer and even when it is requested, it is often no more than walking around the property looking for soggy spots in the yard. As crazy as that sounds.
Also, yea we are over the income scale on getting any grants. But we are able to get a low interest loan. Right now we found a contractor who will do the job under $8K we're just waiting for a gopher call to find out where all the cable and electric lines run and how much an electrician would want to wire up an alarm box for the mound system and we should have a new mound drainfield within the next 3 weeks... It's been a nightmare, but for the most part I think it's almost over. I feel for anybody who has to deal with this situation



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