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-   -   Full Septic or Clog? (http://www.diychatroom.com/f7/full-septic-clog-81733/)

breakitnmakeit 09-18-2010 05:18 PM

Full Septic or Clog?
 
We recently bought a foreclosure that had apparently been sitting for a while. We've lived in it for a month with no problems. Then, one day I did a large load of laundry, and the tub in the bathroom farthest from our septic tank backed up with some gray/brown water and the toilets in both bathrooms emptied. We figured it was a clog since the water didn't smell very bad.

We took up the toilet in the farthest bathroom and ran a 50' pipe snake down the drain. We got some resistance, but eventually cleared it out. The next time I ran a large load, it backed up even worse in that tub, and a little bit in our second bathroom (which is between the septic and the washer and both are between the septic and the first bathroom).

We poured some liquid pipe snake down the washer drain pipe, both tubs, and the kitchen sink to attack it from all angles and left it overnight. The next morning, we put on all the faucets on hot water, and it didn't drain in the tubs. We plunged it out.

We then took up the toilet in the second bathroom, ran the same pipe snake through it, got resistance again, but pushed through it.

I ran another large load of laundry, and both tubs backed up just a little bit, but the water that comes up now smells very bad. It's only backing up into the tubs maybe an inch and it only happens when I run a large load of laundry (medium and small are fine).

Is this a clog or a full septic tank? Unfortunately, we can't find a cleanout line outside. We've checked the ground where the septic is, and it is perfectly dry and just as green (or not green) as the rest of the yard.

kenmac 09-18-2010 05:46 PM

sounds like the tank & field lines maybe full of sludge.. Time for the pumper truck. Or, as they call it here ... The honey waggon

nap 09-18-2010 06:43 PM

I would suggest finding the tank and opening the lids. Then watch to see if fluid comes in when you use the drains in the house.

If no movement in the tank, sounds like a clog. If the tank overflows on the "in" side, sounds like the tank is full of sludge. Then, put the lid back on the "in" side of the tank. Run more water. If the tank overflows on the "out" side, the line to the field is blocked or the field will not take anymore liquid.

nothing guaranteed 100% but I have had fair success with that method.

the_man 09-18-2010 07:52 PM

there really isn't such a thing as a full tank. Dig up the inlet and outlet. Run water inside. If it's not coming into the inlet, sewer pipe is blocked. If it's getting to the tank, but not leaving the tank, leach pipes are blocked. If the solids level in the tank is over 12", get it pumped

breakitnmakeit 09-18-2010 08:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the_man (Post 503514)
If it's getting to the tank, but not leaving the tank, leach pipes are blocked. If the solids level in the tank is over 12", get it pumped


Forgive the ignorance of a first time home owner... what is a leach pipe and how can we tell if the solids level is over 12"? won't there be a layer of scum on the top that blocks the view?

DangerMouse 09-18-2010 08:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by breakitnmakeit (Post 503516)
what is a leach pipe and how can we tell if the solids level is over 12"?

Invite that butthead neighbor of yours over for a beer, push him into the tank.
If it's above his knees, it's time to pump it.

DM

nap 09-18-2010 08:19 PM

Quote:

=the_man;503514]there really isn't such a thing as a full tank.
apparently you have never seen a tank that was ignored for way too long. Yes, there is such thing as a full tank.


breakit

here is a link to a site that give a very good explanation the tank, how it works, and even how to measure your solids and sludge.


http://www.inspectapedia.com/septic/...ge.htm#sludge1

and in case you do not see the link to the recommended pumping schedule:

http://www.inspectapedia.com/septic/tankpump.htm

kenmac 09-18-2010 08:19 PM

leach lines field lines same

the_man 09-18-2010 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nap (Post 503524)
apparently you have never seen a tank that was ignored for way too long. Yes, there is such thing as a full tank.

look at the last thing I said.... more than 12 inches of solid material on top=pump it out. Of course I've seen tanks with too much solid material in it, saying it like that gets past the questions "How much is too much" and "Do I have to get it pumped yet?" Just trying to expedite the questions a bit :laughing:

kenmac 09-18-2010 09:32 PM

It is a foreclosure.. God & the previous owners only knows what's in there

the_man 09-18-2010 09:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by breakitnmakeit (Post 503516)
Forgive the ignorance of a first time home owner... what is a leach pipe and how can we tell if the solids level is over 12"? won't there be a layer of scum on the top that blocks the view?

The solids that float on top are what I'm referring to. Use a shovel to break it apart a bit to get an idea how thick it is. Doesn't hurt to pump it, might be a good idea regardless.

nap 09-18-2010 09:44 PM

the link I provided explains how to measure sludge and scum.

I would suggest pumping the tank anyway.

kenmac 09-18-2010 09:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nap (Post 503569)
the link I provided explains how to measure sludge and scum.

I would suggest pumping the tank anyway.



The Honey Waggon man:yes:

breakitnmakeit 09-18-2010 10:03 PM

I appreciate all your answers. I would love to get it pumped, but I was hoping to not have to do it immediately as we are extremely tight on money at the moment. (long story... but have to wait for court date to get it back to good..)

I do have another question, though.. I've been reading up a lot about septic systems and it seems that our property is kinda, shall we say, screwed.

There is a very large, very old tree about 20 feet from the septic system, although the house is 20 years old and this tree is definitely older than that... The ground here is also very sandy, though and there is a slight downslope leading toward the house, over the septic. But our property also ends on a lake, which is maybe 50 feet from the septic system - could the drain field be in or under the lake, or would it have to do into dirt somewhere?

What is the chance we going to have to replace the whole system?

nap 09-18-2010 10:15 PM

if it is in the lake, it isn't a legal leachfield. It wouldn't be under the lake either. It needs to be in relatively dry soil that percolates (drains) well.

Given the new info, you might simply have a failed leachfield or whatever type of leaching system you have. Lake property is notorious for having problems due to all the water.

now, this isn't to say it doesn't simply dump into the lake. You wouldn't be the first house to have a direct line into a lake or river.



Quote:

What is the chance we going to have to replace the whole system?
It wouldn't surprise me at all to have to replace the entire system.


I would start with talking to the neighbors to see what types of systems everybody else has. I would also ask the very close neighbors if they have any information that might help you. Sometimes they have all the answers you are looking for.

Then I would talk to the government entity that controls septic systems in your area. See what they have to say about the area and if there have been any common problems with systems in the area.


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