calling all septic experts - best opinion needed
I have a toilet and shower and sink in my basement bathroom. The drain line is in the basement floor. About 20-25 feet away, the main house drain comes down a wall and into the slab.
Outside on the patio, there is a washout in the main drain that leads to the septic tank about 25 feet out away from the house.
So - somewhere under my basement floor the basement drain line and the main drain line must meet up.
During times when the ground is saturated and during heavier overall home water use, the basement toilet burps, doesn't flush, and backed up once (not overflowed). We do nothing, and in a day, everything works 100% - and will continue to work perfect for pretty much 363 days a year.
Unfortunately, this problem always happens around Chistmas when it rains in Atlanta, when we have tons of family visiting (and flushing, showering) and we ourselves are washing lots of sheets.
The rest of the plumbing in the house always continues to work 100%.
I suspect that the saturated fields cannot purge off any more liquid, the tank fills and things back up. The basement toilet then "slows" or won't flush because the continued water use from the house isn't going into the tank any longer, but instead taking the path of least resistance and going back towards the basement toilet.
Would you all agree that this is the case?
I suspect that if we had no plumbing in the basement, the main drain(s) would fill up in the walls, but they could probably hold a good bit of waste - and the weight might squeeze it into the septic tank/fields. Or, by that time, gallons do in fact purge off from the fields as the overall system rights itself. So all this could happen and we'd never know it.
But we have the basement toilet - so we do notice.
Strangely, when we have issue, I open the washout and can see waste and water in there - but it doesn't overflow. I usually panic and leave the cover off/loose just in case.
Also - if we do nothing, the water level in the basement toilet will actually drop down to almost nothing - like water is being sucked out of it.
So is there really nothing I can do? Is this just a product of my house having the basement drain line meeting up with the main house drain under the slab somewhere?
And - if everything I said above is true/logical - then I simply just need to be extra cautious with water use during times of rain? That's all?
I should note the tank and fields were inspected less than a year ago and tank emptied. 100% good. Outlet filter clean, everything in good shape.
But we've had this same issue for 3 years. Emptying the tank is good I know, but it had a neutral effect.
Sure sounds like all the signs of a failing leach field, partly plug up line to it or a messed up distribution box.
How did they "inspect" it?
Unless they dig up the D box and removed the lid or ran a camera down the lines all they did was look for standing water on top of the ground.
It's called a clean out, not a wash out, and there never should be standing water in it.
I believe I asked you this question before, where you there when they pumped out the tank? A sure sign of a fail leach field is as there pumping it out water comes rushing out of the over flow back into the tank from the leach field.
It was common years ago for them to use what's called Orangeberg or even terracota clay tiles for the leach fields, both are subject to damage and roots could just grow right into them.
As for my fields - actually - I have two fields. The previous owner had a new, "state of the art", larger field installed. He claimed it was to increase capacity since his family grew and he finished the basement (which has the bathroom). I spoke with the man who did that work and he confirmed that this was in fact the reason for the upgrade.
I've always suspected the old field failed and they just left it.
Regardless, I have a diverter valve. So I can switch between fields, and was told to do so about once a year. I have. This problem happens regardless of which field I'm on. Everything otherwise works 99% of the time, except during the situations I noted.
The guys who emptied the tank - they did not techincally dig up the field or portions of it. The balance of solids and water in the two-chambered tank was in check, and the filter in the outlet was like new. I guess they also gave the fields an "AOK" based on my verbal description.
The last owner also put in several french drains in the backyard and regraded everthing - but during big rains, water still stands in some places.
I do understand how fields are supposed to work. The paperwork shows my soil being ideal. But regardless, common sense says when there is extreme rain for days, the ground just cannot take anymore water.
And this problem only happens when the ground is saturated.
In the end - I'm looking for a "solution". But my point is that perhaps there isn't really one. My whole system is just a cup that holds only so much, and the basement toilet takes the hit on the rare occasions that cup is full.
From everything I've read - it seems like not even the very best septic system can take both heavy rain AND heavy water use at the same time.
Assuming everything is AOK and this is just the nature of my system - I wonder if combining my two fields into one would help. Then again - regardless of whether I'm filling the fields from the tank or they are wet from the rain - wouldn't they both be saturated whether in use on not?
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