Please Diagnose - Rainfall Causes Backup - See Video

Discussion in 'Septic Tanks' started by Jonathan Zaremba, Jan 12, 2019.

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  1. Jan 12, 2019 #1

    Jonathan Zaremba

    Jonathan Zaremba

    Jonathan Zaremba

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    Link to video explaining the issue:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jZnq8Gqi5cyuK6h8bwLAvj8LHxvXSjNB/view?usp=drivesdk

    Description:

    No issues with my septic except when it rains hard for extended periods. When that happens, water backs up through the tank and house drain making it impossible to flush toilet etc... When rain stops, issue resolves itself after about 10 or 12 hours.

    110 feet of conventional and 110 feet of ez flow (peanuts) stuff. Installed 2005. Got copy of map from county to see where everything is. Tank pumped a year ago.

    I live far from everything and have had difficulties getting a pro out here to diagnose the problem. Talked to a few on the phone...some said that I ought to just live with it because soil here doesn't drain well. Some said that a series of French drains may be needed. Others said that the type of septic installed here is cheap and prone to failure.

    Dug up the tight line to see the condition of each T fitting and connection. My gut tells me that the fittings after the tight line are the source of my trouble but want the opinion of someone with more experience. So I filmed a quick video to show what I have.

    Can you take a look and let me know what you think is the issue and the least expensive way to fix it properly?

    Here is the video:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jZnq8Gqi5cyuK6h8bwLAvj8LHxvXSjNB/view?usp=drivesdk
     
  2. Jan 13, 2019 #2

    Diehard

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Well I am no expert nor have any ongoing experience with septic systems, besides my own. But it would seem to me that it's a ground water level problem, which of course changes with weather conditions.

    I expect that a percolation test was made back when the system was designed and installed. Not sure what the detail requirements are for what time of year the percolation tests are made, etc. The system should be designed based on results of percolation tests and ideally during the wet weather season.(In my mind.)

    I have been noticing a lot more system, when being redone or new, are being designed and installed using the "Mound System". Which effectively raises the leaching field higher and requires the wastewater be pumped from the septic tank or an intermediate tank, up to the leaching field elevation. In other words higher above the average ground water level.

    I'm sorry I don't have the knowledge to have a suggested fix for you situation.

    I may be all wet(pun intended) but it would seem to me that if there were some way possible to reduce the amount of rainwater entering that general area of the leaching field, like some type of channeling of the surface water. Or some type of storm water collection to divert it elsewhere, would be a big help. But that's probably not the best of ideas, just the first thing that comes to mind.

    Or maybe a small 2nd septic tank set up in such a way as to only be allowed to take wastewater when your current system is temporarily unusable. Ask your local septic companies about the feasibility of installing a back water valve on the outlet line of your existing to prevent that from backflow/surcharging you present septic tank. That would allow you to pump or divert the contents of the existing tank to the emergency smaller tank, sized for the typical downtime needs.

    In other words, in the absence of a fix maybe a work around to take care of your immediate needs for a day or two.
     
  3. Jan 13, 2019 #3

    Jonathan Zaremba

    Jonathan Zaremba

    Jonathan Zaremba

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    Thanks for the response. I haven't considered the 2nd tank like you mentioned. That's an interesting idea. The trouble is that there aren't any local septic companies here. Strange, but true. And those that are somewhat nearby (30-45 mins away) have not been interested in taking my money. But i'll keep trying and if i can get someone to actually come out here, i'll talk to them about a 2nd tank.

    There are 2 people on my street and neither of then needed a 2nd tank. They both have conventional PVC/gravel systems installed, one of which has a curtain drain that runs parallel to it.
     
  4. Jan 13, 2019 #4

    Diehard

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Ask that person for their experience with that curtain drain. e.g.-Purpose and before and after results, or whatever.
     
  5. Jan 16, 2019 #5

    SHEPLMBR

    SHEPLMBR

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    I can't see the video (drone computers at work). Are your lids above ground? Are your risers sealed?
     
  6. Jan 16, 2019 #6

    Diehard

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    The video shows sections of the leaching field piping and a lot of standing water, at a few feet below grade. Appears that it can't leave the tank by gravity due to leaching being in the water table.
     
  7. Jan 20, 2019 #7

    Jonathan Zaremba

    Jonathan Zaremba

    Jonathan Zaremba

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    Thanks for all of your responses. Sorry for my delay in replying. To answer some of the questions that were raised:
    • Don't want to do a mound system because i'll never have that much money and nobody else around here seems to need them.
    • The guy down the road who just put in the french drain did it when he built his house. So we don't have a before/after scenario to compare. But he hasn't had any issues with his septic and he's actually lower than me in elevation.
    • Installing a 2nd tank is an idea i didn't really think of. Having it as a reserve would be good. I'm going to consider that if nothing else becomes viable.
    Soooo....we had almost 24 hours of rain and the whole yard is a mess again. I recorded a video update showing the condition of the septic system when i'm unable to flush inside. Please take a look by clicking here (on youtube now):



    I think my ultimate question is this:
    • Will adding onto the drainage lines with another 100' help? Or does my yard become so saturated with rainwater that no amount of lines will make a difference?
    • Or, is the solution to add a curtain or french drain parallel to each leach line to divert the water before it backs up into the system?
    And if you were unable to see the original video (showing the yard when dry), here it is:


    Sorry for the long response, but thanks again for your help and insight!!!

    - Jon Z.
     
  8. Mar 2, 2019 #8

    haloflood

    haloflood

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    When the amount of rainfall exceeds the drainage and storage capacities of the soil, the soil becomes saturated and cannot take any more water. This will result in standing water, or surface runoff. At that point, the lateral lines are essentially underwater and they will not drain (or drain very slowly) until the soil starts to dry out.

    I'm not sure a french drain would help because if the soil is full of water, then where is the water in the drain going to go? And I'd think you would almost have to surround the lateral lines with the drains to have an effect. A drain only on one side wouldn't stop water from flowing through the soil from the other side where there isn't a drain.

    Another tank would give you some extra water storage before it started backing up, though I'm not sure how much extra time or extra flushes that might give you. It would depend on the size of the tank and eventually it would backup, too, given enough rainfall.

    Have you always had this problem when it rains a lot or is this recent? What is your system setup currently? Just a single tank? How big is the house in square footage and number of bedrooms? Also, that second junction between the ez-flow and standard line does look messed up. There are adapters and fittings for those different kinds of pipes to allow for a proper fitting and that doesn't look proper. And why is there one line that is pipe and gravel, and another line that is ez-flow?
     
  9. Mar 2, 2019 #9

    Diehard

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    It's really too bad that there aren't any local septic companies but you really need a professional to analyze the situation and advise. Actually I'm not convinced that the average septic company would necessarily have the expertise to analyze and/or design systems.

    My gut feeling on adding another 100' of drainage lines is it's not going to help when everything is that saturated. But I would think a couple of 4 foot deep test holes in the area of the potential added drain lines would tell the story during those rainy periods, before putting any piping in.

    I do feel that open trenches to drain the surface water off would help providing you have the topography to allow it to flow somewhere away from your area.
     
  10. Mar 2, 2019 #10

    sawguy50

    sawguy50

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    It appears that you have a lot of clay soil. I have the same problem with my septic system during rainy periods especially in the spring with not only rain but melting snow. We have to limit our use of water during these times. You might have to go the 'mound' route with yours. Your lot looks very flat also ( not much run off ).
     
  11. Mar 3, 2019 #11

    Ryan

    Ryan

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    Hi, I own my own septic company and septic system work has been my only profession my whole life, and have personally repaired thousands of systems with your type of problem. I will try to address each of your concerns. First off the major issue wich is beyond your control is the type of soil you are stuck with. Your soil is mostly clay and once clay gets saturated it turns into soggy muck allowing little if any liquid to saturate through. I am assuming the system has had lines added before since you have two different types, ez flow and rock bed. Your connections are fine, if they weren't you wouldn't see any water in the hole you dug farther down the line and even if something was a little off with the connection the rock picks up the liquid anyhow. In Most conventional systems, wich you have, the majority of the rock is under the pipe and close to even with the top. French drains can help some but the focus should be running water off your yard as a whole, not around the lines itself. You dont want any sewage seeping through to a french drain if you happened to place them near the drainfields and running to a place you wouldnt want sewage and if you were going through the trouble you might as well be adding additional drainlines to the tank instead anyhow. You are correct in the fact that your system could greatly benefit from an additional 100 foot of lines. Once your ground is saturated near the leechfield itself over years of use running additional lines into a fresh area to divert liquid is the best option. However, with that being said a cheaper option that could possibly correct the issue for much less money would be to first, if possible consider taking your washing machine off the tank and running it off to an area thats out the way. Ditch, woods, you can do this most places bc its only grey water, not sewage. This takes alot of stress off the system. Second, you can find the end of each of your drainlines and dig a pit. This is a very deep hole that you fill with rock and run a pipe into. The soil alot of times changes in layers the deeper you go although if the water table is high in your area this can be less affective. If it was mine i would try this option first but it does look like you are going to need an additional 100 foot at some time. I hope this was helpful. Do you mind if I ask where you are located? I think its sad you cant get a professional out to you!
     
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