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Old 09-22-2010, 12:39 PM   #31
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Full Septic or Clog?


kenmac: The TOP of the septic tank was only 6 inches under the ground. Of course the rest of it is underneath it. What I was saying is that we only had to dig 6 inches to get to it.

theEplumber: The alarm does not actually work. There is a box on the side of our house next to the septic tank that says Septic Alarm and it has two buttons: Alarm and Test. Pushing either one does nothing. There are wires coming from it that go down into the ground. Basically what the inspector said is that the alarm isn't working, but that didn't really mean anything as far as the septic tank itself goes, it may have just been disconnected or damaged under the ground. The A/C condensation line was destroyed and underground as well - we're thinking someone did a very poor job mowing the lawn before they left and just hit everything. But without anything backing up and no signs of wetness or smell in the back yard, the septic seemed fine.

We are making calls to have it pumped now, but it's surprisingly pricey. Everyone is around $300. Both of our parents have had it done for less than $150.

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Old 09-22-2010, 01:20 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by breakitnmakeit View Post
kenmac: The TOP of the septic tank was only 6 inches under the ground. Of course the rest of it is underneath it. What I was saying is that we only had to dig 6 inches to get to it.

We are making calls to have it pumped now, but it's surprisingly pricey. Everyone is around $300. Both of our parents have had it done for less than $150.

6 "of cover on the top of the tank
Ok that makes sense.. It's been a while since I had mine pumped.. It was 150 then.. I heard they have gone up here but I don't know the current price
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:07 PM   #33
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I made an appointment today partially inspired by your post. It's been 4 years and should have been done sooner with four kids in the house but it's an easy thing to neglect. My price is $259.20 so $300 probably isn't out of line depending on your area. How long ago did your parents have theirs done and are they in your local? Some charge a separate disposal fee so that's something else to consider.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:13 PM   #34
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I'm no expert but if you have minimal scum floating on top then it seems like the water level should not be all the way to the top of the tank. The bottom of the 4" line to the drain field should be around 6 to 8 inches below the top of the tank and should fully drain to the leach field in a very short time when water flows into the tank from the house. So the top of the water (not the scum) should be around 6 inches below the top of the tank unless the leach field is not draining properly.

Sounds like you have a drain field issue.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:58 PM   #35
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I'm no expert but if you have minimal scum floating on top then it seems like the water level should not be all the way to the top of the tank. The bottom of the 4" line to the drain field should be around 6 to 8 inches below the top of the tank and should fully drain to the leach field in a very short time when water flows into the tank from the house. So the top of the water (not the scum) should be around 6 inches below the top of the tank unless the leach field is not draining properly.

Sounds like you have a drain field issue.
somewhere along the line the thread did get sidetracked. I agree, especially since OP said the inlet pipe was fully submerged as well.

Sounds like the drain field is saturated.

That's bad new$.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:04 AM   #36
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There seems to be nothing in the tank at all except water, and it is up to the very top. We also uncovered the distribution box and the top came off of it and it began leaking a little bit when we took the weight of the dirt off of it. Our drain field seems fine, though, from the top anyway. There is no standing water or even slight dampness, the grass is just as green and tall as the rest of the yard, and there is no smell.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:24 AM   #37
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Had the septic inspected. The tank is fine, it's just water in there and it's only a few inches too high.. The reason why it's high is the water isn't going anywhere, and our alarm didn't work is because we have a failed pump.

Basically, the septic tank is on the water table, but the drain field had to be at the same level as the tank because our table is so high, so there is a pump between the tank and the drain field (which we found out is directly under the huge tree). Well, the pump is supposed to be plugged into the alarm, but the electrician that was brought in before we bought the house plugged it directly into a socket so it just ran and ran and ran and never turned off which burned it out. As soon as we plugged it into the alarm, the alarm went off - it worked fine.

He poked at the drain field and no water came out. He said that means it's fine, but I'm not sure how much water would be in the drain field to come out if the pump isn't putting any water to it. Either way, we didn't have enough money to get it replaced today (we were expecting a $250 cleaning, not a $625 pump) so we're getting it replaced on Tuesday.

I'll follow up in a few weeks and let you know what happens!!
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:42 AM   #38
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Either way, we didn't have enough money to get it replaced today (we were expecting a $250 cleaning, not a $625 pump) so we're getting it replaced on Tuesday.
!
that'a a lot less than a multi-thousand dollar drain field. Good to hear you are zeroing in on the problem and will soon have things working like they are supposed to. Hopefully the field is fine and this will be the end of things...


for awhile. Welcome to home ownership.
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:45 PM   #39
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I'm no septic/drainfield expert but.. you said the tank had only water in it. Wheres the solids? Do you have another tank without a pump in it? I'm confused
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:04 PM   #40
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I'm no septic/drainfield expert but.. you said the tank had only water in it. Wheres the solids? Do you have another tank without a pump in it? I'm confused
We didn't actually pump it, and there are solids on the bottom, but only 2 or 3 inches of it. The rest of the tank was completely full of water. There wasn't even any scum on the top of it, so it was probably either recently pumped or the solids were all broken down from sitting so long. This was a foreclosure that had been sitting for at least a year (my in-laws think longer, but who knows).
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:33 PM   #41
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Got mine opened up and pumped out today. It is a double chambered deal. The first chamber is probably 2/3 the size of the 2nd chamber. The honey stick test reveled the first chamber was pretty near full of solids. The second chamber serves as spillover for anything that gets by the first one. The second was all liquid with maybe a little sludge ans a thin layer of scum. Not sure how the little ants got in there but they were crawling over the scum in the second chamber.

The guy that cleaned it out told me he didn't see any problems. I guess four years is too long in between with six people in the house especially considering the long showers my kids like to take.
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:56 PM   #42
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the large amounts of water will not effect how often you need to pump. It is the amount of solids you introduce as well as contaminants that stop the decomposition process that breaks down the solids. Pure fluids will simply pass through the tank and to the field.

if you didn't catch it, here is a suggested schedule to pump based on number of occupants and size of tank:

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

it is only a suggestion due to the variables. You should keep a record of the conditions when your tank is pumped and then when it is pumped again, you can calculate a more accurate schedule for your system.
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Old 09-24-2010, 05:07 PM   #43
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Yep, thanks nap I've seen similar schedules on the web before. I'm definitely going to try to stick to 2 years for next time and see how it looks. That 1.5 would have me doing it in the dead of winter.

I was also under the impression that too much water had the potential to wash out some of the useful bacteria and enzymes. Either way, I will still use it to nag my kids to take shorter showers.
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Old 09-24-2010, 05:19 PM   #44
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It would take a lot of water and no other waste to remove the bacteria. The liquids tend to flow over the top and the solids settle which protects the bacteria from being washed out and the beneficial bacteria are added every time you poop as well.

Quote:
. Either way, I will still use it to nag my kids to take shorter showers
but your kids will never know so simply continue to use that as justification.

as an added, tell them they have to dipstick the tank to keep on eye on things if the wash out all of the bacteria.
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Old 09-24-2010, 06:16 PM   #45
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There has been a lot of research on the question of how often it is necessary to pump a septic tank. It is only necessary when the solids level in the tank reaches approximately 20 percent of the depth of the tank. This is easily checked with a wooden stick with a rag on the end. Interestingly enough, if you are careful about what you put down the drain (no food, no chemicals, no garbage, DO NOT use a garbage grinder) it is entirely possible to go years, perhaps decades, with absolutely no need to pump your tank. My tank has gone ten years without the need for pumping, and yes I check it regularly, there are virtually no solids in it. So it is incorrect to assume that you need to pump your tank on a specific schedule, it is totally a function of what you put into the tank, and how well the system is functioning.

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