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Old 03-16-2015, 11:33 PM   #1
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


hi all, today I had an issue with my septic drain. Toilet has been flushing great, no issues with that or with any fixtures ever. Then suddenly today the toilet bowl filled on the last flush. There was hardly any solids in the toilet - it's pushed a lot more without issue in the past. I suspected the trap might be plugged, but when I tried either the shower or the sink I get air bubbles percolating up in the toilet. From everything I read this bubbling suggests a clogged drain, with some trapped air being pushed up into the toilet as the other fixtures run.

But here's what I don't understand - the water level is 3/4 to the rim in the toilet bowl - so why is there nothing backing up into the shower drain (which is at floor level)? The standing height of the water in the bowl and no backup into the shower suggests a clogged toilet trap, but the air bubbles percolating up in the toilet when other fixtures run (sink or shower) suggest a clog farther down the drain (or that maybe the septic pump has failed and the tank is full).

Any thoughts are appreciated.... thanks

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Old 03-17-2015, 12:06 AM   #2
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


You probably have a plug further down the drain pipe. It is likely going to need to be snaked . Just a side note when was the last time the septic tank was pumped out. It is conceivable you have issues there as well. But I would bet on the clog down stream from the toilet.

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Old 03-17-2015, 12:32 AM   #3
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


the tank has not been pumped out since the system went into service |(probably @ 3 years now) so it might be due, however this system gets light weekend usage so I was thinking I might be able to push the envelope a bit.

Also wondering if my effluent pump in the tank has crapped out (pardon the pun). I should probably have the honey wagon come out and open the tank, check the pump, and pump it out while they're at it.

But only 3 years seems like a pretty short lifespan for the pump. How long do they typically last?

Thanks,
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Old 03-17-2015, 03:28 AM   #4
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


If it's on
Y 3 years old, would look for a clog somewhere.
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Old 03-17-2015, 06:07 PM   #5
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


Did you try a plunger yet?
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Old 05-15-2015, 04:20 PM   #6
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


I did try the plunger, no luck. I thought the pump might be pooched but as I was shoveling off the top of the pump tank I heard it start up.

Turns out the blockage was ice, and there was just enough of a trickle going through (over) the ice at that spot to slowly drain the backup, and trigger the pump. I happened to be close by when it turned on, saved me from pulling it out to test, etc.

The blockage was about 3 feet from the main tank, frozen almost to the top edge of the pipe but not 100%. When I opened the tank and snaked it from that end, I could not work the snake through the top of the blockage but I could turn on the hot water in the house a bit at a time, the (slow) flow of warm water over the blockage gradually melted enough to knock the rest out with the snake, and flush it with about 20 galolon of hot water to clean it right out.

I think the root cause was a combination of things.
- coldest Feb in decades
- no snow cover over that spot (I shoveled a path to the front deck over that area and kept it pretty clear). Tank was fine but just enough drain pipe under the path to freeze it up.
- low usage - weekends mostly, so any buildup could sit and freeze as system didn't get a regular flush of warm water
- slump in the pipe right at that spot - just a bit but enough to drop the last couple feet of the run where @ 1/4 " of water would settle. Perhaps foot traffic and a shallow drain was enough to push it down a bit.
- new deck / stairs at the front door - a bit larger than the old - just enough to extend to where the drain passes by underground. Less snow cover over the drain right there where the steps are, compared to previous years
- styrofoam board I put under the new deck (over the drain line) was intact but not centered properly - too far off to one side, didn't do much to keep the ground heat in the right spot.

I dug up the pipe and straightened out the run so the slope is fine now. Plan is to rearrange the entry and the steps so our winter walkway / path does not cross the drain any more. I have some large sheets of foam board that I can lay out over the run this fall as well, properly centered over the pipe run, as extra insurance.

Those foam boards (that didn't do much) actually kept the ground beneath them frozen solid long after the thaw hit this Spring. It seems that foam boards could make things worse in the Spring - keeping the ground cold when I need it to thaw, unless I can lift them out of the way. I've been advised to bury them so they don't get damaged, but I'm debating if I should just lay them on the surface in the Fall with some lumber scraps on top (ugly but effective) so that way I can remove them in the Spring.

Any advice?

Thanks....
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:54 PM   #7
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septic drain plugged (possibly)


Does your drain have any standing water in it or is it nice and dry when it's done?

If standing water then dig her up and pitch it correctly. If it's dry run a snake in the fall and don't worry about it.

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