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Old 12-03-2012, 01:53 PM   #1
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Septic - Future Nightmares


My wife and I purchased our house about 6 months ago. House was built in 1937 and is on Septic and city water. When we bought the house, one thing that we took great care on was making sure that everything was okay with the septic system. We had it pumped, inspected, the whole bit. Even made the previous owners foot the bill on some repairs. However, I'm pretty sure it's a ticking time bomb. The system is ooooold. The tank is brick and mortar construction with slab tops, distribution box is somewhat newer and of cinder block construction, and if I recall, the lines were all terracotta. It was given a good bill of health, for the most part, after some repairs to the brick and mortar were made up towards the top. (precautionary) No soil contamination, or anything. It is also considered to be a large enough system for the house and is working just fine, as far as I can tell.

Here's the best part, though. Sometime during the life of the house, probably in the 50's, an addition was made to the house. It was very well built except for one minor detail... They built it over PART of the septic tank. Sort of an indoor-outdoor septic tank, if you will! No idea how this could have gone down or who thought it was a good idea, but obviously it will have to be addressed at some point. Especially since we're planning on adding a second floor to that room. I have not laid eyes on the interior of the tank itself. Maybe they actually added structure INSIDE the tank and made it part of the foundation, but I doubt it. No signs of any settling in that part of the house, though.

Anyway, have you guys ever heard of something like this happening? Also, what should I expect from a brick and mortar septic tank? Obviously all that "stuff" (sniff sniff) occupying that tank will eat at the brick and mortar over time. I'm surprised it's made it this long.

I'm having the people that did the work come back out in the next couple weeks to talk to me about it in person and also discuss future septic improvements. I would just like to be a little more educated on the situation I have laying underground, before they start feeding me their "poop" on what "needs" to be done. Sorry for the pun...

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Old 12-03-2012, 02:53 PM   #2
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Septic - Future Nightmares


I actually had a similar problem. My family lived in a house when I was younger that had the foundation for the deck built on the top of the septic tank.

Several years after we moved in, the tank began to leak due to a crack from the extra load placed on top of it.

We had to have a new tank placed elsewhere on the property and the old one was pumped empty and filled in.

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Old 12-03-2012, 03:07 PM   #3
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Septic - Future Nightmares


Question... We have a pretty good sized piece of property. How far from the house can a tank be put before there are flow issues between the main waist line from the house and the entrance to the tank? Also, how much room is needed for the field itself?

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Originally Posted by sgip2000 View Post
I actually had a similar problem. My family lived in a house when I was younger that had the foundation for the deck built on the top of the septic tank.

Several years after we moved in, the tank began to leak due to a crack from the extra load placed on top of it.
That's what I'm worried about, as well.
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:26 PM   #4
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Septic - Future Nightmares


Design of a septic system is typically controlled by either State or local regulations. The required size of the system usually depends on the number of bedrooms in the house (this determines the design flow rate), and percolation rate of the soil (determined by a test), and the depth below grade of the seasonal high groundwater table. The design may also be controlled by minimum offsets to specific features such as a well, foundations, lot lines, buildings, and walls.

All of the factors must be accounted for, which is why the design of a septic system is normally done by a licensed professional, either an engineer or a sanitarian. Unfortunately it is impossible for someone on an internet chat forum to answer specific questions about design of a septic system accurately unless they have specific knowledge of your location and your local regulations. I recommend that you discuss your situation with the local official in charge of septic system design. In my town, the Board of Health handles all septic issues, and they are very willing to discuss design issues with local homeowners.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:11 AM   #5
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Septic - Future Nightmares


I would plan on extra expense to move the tank for the addition
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:06 AM   #6
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Septic - Future Nightmares


If you can't access the septic tank hatches to pump out the tank then you will have to put in a new septic tank sooner or later, probably quite soon. Otherwise this is not an emergency.

If you are going to build a second floor or otherwise expand the house, you will need a new septic tank size calculation which may call for a new septic tank anyway.

Don't forget, the leach field does not have to be replaced with a septic tank unless it is failing although it may need to be expanded if the septic tank size calculation calls for that too.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:47 AM   #7
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Septic - Future Nightmares


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Design of a septic system is typically controlled by either State or local regulations. The required size of the system usually depends on the number of bedrooms in the house (this determines the design flow rate), and percolation rate of the soil (determined by a test), and the depth below grade of the seasonal high groundwater table. The design may also be controlled by minimum offsets to specific features such as a well, foundations, lot lines, buildings, and walls.

All of the factors must be accounted for, which is why the design of a septic system is normally done by a licensed professional, either an engineer or a sanitarian. Unfortunately it is impossible for someone on an internet chat forum to answer specific questions about design of a septic system accurately unless they have specific knowledge of your location and your local regulations. I recommend that you discuss your situation with the local official in charge of septic system design. In my town, the Board of Health handles all septic issues, and they are very willing to discuss design issues with local homeowners.
Oh no! I realize that, and I wouldn't think for even a second to try and tackle something like this. Not even the calculations. Was just hoping for some general conversation. Internet information should not really be considered "fact", but more so a guide to finding the facts associated with the topic at hand. And I fully agree with what you're saying. Just curious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plumberinlaw
I would plan on extra expense to move the tank for the addition
Without a doubt! I hate the idea of it even being that close to the house, let alone UNDER the house. It will be moved. The pros will tell me how much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenJ
If you can't access the septic tank hatches to pump out the tank then you will have to put in a new septic tank sooner or later, probably quite soon. Otherwise this is not an emergency.

If you are going to build a second floor or otherwise expand the house, you will need a new septic tank size calculation which may call for a new septic tank anyway.

Don't forget, the leach field does not have to be replaced with a septic tank unless it is failing although it may need to be expanded if the septic tank size calculation calls for that too.
It can be accessed from both the crawl space and immediately outside. No quick inspection cover, so digging down to the covers is required each time, but it is accessible.

The additional room for the house will not have a bathroom and/or any plumbing associated with it. We're just changing things up and expanding the size of one of the bedrooms.

Thanks for the input folks. This is not something that I'm going to tackle myself, just trying to get an education on what I have. Just seems very strange that a room was built partially over the septic. And the brick seems like it would be problematic. Although, doing a general search on Google, I see that brick septic tanks appear to be common in Europe and even in the NE part of the country. Interesting.

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