Septic problems after pumping, twice!

Discussion in 'Septic Tanks' started by kleake, Feb 6, 2020.

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  1. Feb 6, 2020 #1

    kleake

    kleake

    kleake

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    We built our house and had 2 adults and 4 kids in the house, and never had the septic pumped in 15 years. It eventually filled up and I had to have it pumped. I didn't think much of it and felt pretty lucky to make it that long. The pumper said the tank was just full, but otherwise looked fine. Fast forward just under 2 years later with only 3 of us left in the household and it's full again. I suspected maybe the lines had gotten clogged with it filled up the first time, so I paid $1600 and had the lines jetted and all checked out fine. They said there were a few things in there, but nothing critical and all looked fine. Only the first line was black, the others were just brown and he said I'm not even utilizing half of my leech field. All was pumped, cleaned and put back together. That was exactly 3 months ago and my plumbing is backing up again.... During the 15 years we never put any kind of additives in, but after pumping the first time they recommended "Honeyzyme" so I used it. Not every month like they recommended, but about every 3-4 months thinking just a boost should be fine since it lasted 15 years without it. Since it backed up within 2 years, after the second pumping I definitely have been following the once a month thing. Why is it backing up again within 3 months of being pumped when we only have 3 in the household? We have had a few guests over once in a while, but nothing that should be causing this. Does my tank need a kick start, or do I need to quit putting additives in it? And is there anything I can do to recover it without pumping a 3rd time already?
     
  2. Feb 7, 2020 #2

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Are you absolutely sure it is flowing out to the leaching field, as it's suppose to?

    The effluent level is lower than the influent level, so an experienced septic tank pumper should be able to tell if the tank level is above where it should be.

    Typically that's what can happen when you don't pump all that scum and solids out of tank for 15 years. It finds its way out of the tank and slows down the leaching process.
     
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  3. Feb 7, 2020 #3

    kleake

    kleake

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    Well, no I really can't tell for sure, but physically nothing has changed other than it being pumped and the lines jetted. I just went out a dug the access into the tank and as I loosened the access hole, water started flowing out, so I can assume water is getting into the tank, but just not getting out. We have had a lot of rain this year and the yard hasn't had a chance to dry out really at all. So I guess i'm wondering if my lines are just not able to drain the water out fast enough. I haven't pulled the access yet as I had about a foot of water in my hole above the tank. I dug a trench to drain that out to the side so I can get in and check it for sure.
     
  4. Feb 7, 2020 #4

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Well obviously it's not leaching out as it's suppose to do.

    Now whether it's the ground water that's causing it or maybe just contributing to the poor leaching. That's the question.
     
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  5. Feb 7, 2020 #5

    kleake

    kleake

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    Yep, so i'm going to let it drain off enough I can get the covers off to inspect. I'll know pretty quickly if the sludge is causing anything, but i'm not exactly sure how to tell if the ground just isn't letting it drain. I know the lines were pretty clean last time, with the exception of a small amount of wax buildup from the years, but they jetted all of that off. Maybe I'll find something plugging the exit. That actually would be nice to find.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2020 #6

    kleake

    kleake

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    Ok, well I pulled the inlet cover since it's easiest and found the inlet pipe clogged. I couldn't reach more than about 4ft deep and there wasn't anything so I know it's not full of sludge, just a clog on the inlet side. As soon as I cleared that, all water from the house lines came bursting into the tank.

    Next question though, what "should" the water level be in the tank? Mine is completely full, but my drain from the house is now draining like it should. I'm concerned it's not draining properly, and that may be what caused the clog? I may pull the exit side tomorrow just so I can look there too, but I know my yard is pretty level from there out to the lines. Maybe it just pushes water out as water comes in?
     
  7. Feb 7, 2020 #7

    Jeff Handy

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    The tank has to be pretty full of liquid to operate properly.
    The tank acts like a filter, paper and poop and other solids will drop to the tank bottom.

    Some of it will break down from bacteria, and can be flushed up and flow out to the field and finish breaking down there.

    The pee and lighter compounds will flow out from near the top of the tank, and into the leach field, which is usually buried just below the surface of the lawn, maybe a foot deep or so.
    But they can be several feet deep.

    Make sure you don’t have a groundwater sump pump dumping into that system.
    Also no rain gutters or other surface water getting in there.

    You can possibly divert your washing machine water, and maybe shower and bath water, to other areas in the yard, if your area allows gray water to be dumped like that.
    Into garden beds, under trees, on grass, etc.

    That would lighten the load on your septic system.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
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  8. Feb 7, 2020 #8

    kleake

    kleake

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    I understand that, but my tank is completely full of water. If I remove the inspection cover, water fills my hole a few inches deep above the entire tank. My concern is then that some solids could get into the leach field. We have had a LOT of rain this year, and right now my yard is still very soggy and has not had time to dry out so that may be causing some issue with that. But if I understand properly, when working normal, the water level in the tank should be just below the top of the inlet or outlet T correct?
     
  9. Feb 7, 2020 #9

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Yes, the tank level should not be more than a smidge higher than the outlet.

    It might rise higher than that during marathon laundry day plus lots of showers, but should drop down as the leach field absorbs it.
     
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  10. Feb 7, 2020 #10

    kleake

    kleake

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    Ok, that's what I was suspecting. I'll take a look at the outlet side this evening and see if the level has dropped any from last night. I don't expect that it has seeing how the inlet was clogged for 24-48hrs and the tank was still full. After our rain/snow a few days ago, my yard still has water standing on it so maybe it's a combination of the excessive rains we have had as well. The last year has been hard on my yard. I can normally drive on it without issue, but for the last year it's been hard to walk on it without sloshing around.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2020 #11

    kleake

    kleake

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    I am actually starting to think that the second time we had it pumped, it may not have been full of sludge and was just clogged like it is this time. Since we have had a lot, like WAY more rain through last year than we normally do then if it's not draining as efficiently as it should, this could be contributing to the clogs on the inlet side. Because I know we used the crap out of that septic when all of the kids were at home and growing up, and to get 15 years is crazy good, so 2 just seems ridiculous to me. I'm betting the pumper just told me it was full, when it was really just full of water and very little sludge. And now, here I am again.. I probably didn't even need to spend the $1600 jetting the lines at all. It's really just the rain causing it to drain slowly, which is causing the level in the tank to be higher than it should be, causing clogs at the inlet. hmmmmm,,, i'm no expert by any means, but the pumper was awful quick to tell me "Yep, it was full again" before I could run out and see for myself.
     
  12. Feb 9, 2020 #12

    frodo

    frodo

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    Your tank has a layer of crud on the top and liquid under this layer
    the exit pipe has a baffle that sticks down below the crud.

    after a tank has been pumped out, it is common for the crud to clog the exit baffle as the tank is filling up

    crud2.png
     
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  13. Feb 9, 2020 #13

    frodo

    frodo

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    find the end of the drain field line. dig it up. cut the cap. install an elbow and a piece of pipe, cap it with a clean out cover
    if rain floods the drain field [remove cap] his will give the field relief
     
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  14. Feb 9, 2020 #14

    kleake

    kleake

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    That's not a bad plan, but I think I have found another way to help. I re-directed some runoff water that was draining across the leechfield to go around the driveway (big deep trench). This allowed the leechfield to partially dry and I no longer have a soggy surface. After checking the level in the tank last night, it had dropped to the very top of the drain baffle so I "think" the system itself is good if I can keep the other surface water from running across it. Normally that wasn't an issue, but with as much rain as we have had, there was almost always a little trickle of water feeding over the yard and it has kept it soggy most of the past 8 or 9 months. As the solution, I think I am going to put a french drain in the trench I dug which should keep that water flowing a different route. With that, maybe the tank can drain better as well. In order to do a drain on the end of the drain field, I would have to extend it about 15ft as the ground at that location is pretty flat and the line is about a 1.5ft under the surface.
     
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  15. Feb 9, 2020 #15

    frodo

    frodo

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    look at the yard topography .

    crud.png
     
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  16. Feb 10, 2020 #16

    kleake

    kleake

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    Mine is actually pretty flat from the outlet side, and out all of the laterals that feed off of it. Heading the other direction away from the laterals it starts down hill towards a creek. I would have to put a 90 on the end of the pipe, and then go about 20 feet before the line would be close to level with the ground where I could put a cap.

    The yellow arrow is where the ground runoff was going and eventually ending in the creek that is past the fence to the south. I have redirected it to go to the west around the front part of the yard. The red is the laterals. This whole area is mostly flat with just a slight drop to the creek, so any runoff was slow and it would stay pretty wet for a couple of days after a rain. The blue arrow is where I would have to put a drain if I did one. I would likely have to come out to the fence line, or maybe just past before it would be level with the surface.

    upload_2020-2-9_23-23-46.png
     

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