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Old 08-09-2010, 09:33 PM   #1
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


Ok soi bought a home and in december the septic backed up, I had the tank pumped and then now it backed up again and was clogged under the home, the problem is there is always water in thec leanout pipe going from the home to the septic tank, this should be somewhat dry? correct? it always has about 3/4 of an inch of water in the pipe, so when the septic matter comes down towards the tank it hits this water and stops eventually causing a clog in teh pipe under the home in the piping
could this be caused by the drain field being messed up or blocked, there seems to be a tree in teh path of the leach field from the diagram of when the home was built. I am thinking either hte drain field is clogged, the drain field goes up hill, or the septic tank is lower on the home side of the tank and doesnt drain enough off the home side of the tank causing it to hold water
let me know if anyone has an idea of what to check next? should I dig up and find the drain field line of the tank and cut the pipe to make sure its draining correctly?
Thanks

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Old 08-09-2010, 10:31 PM   #2
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


Under normal operation the septic tank remains about 85% full, which usually brings the liquid level to less than a foot from the top. If the level gets to within 2 inches of the top then you have a blockage further on out such as a failed or otherwise saturated leach field.

Depending on the exact slope of the outlet pipe from the house to the inlet of the tank, the end of the pipe entering the tank may be partly full of water.

You will want to trace the tank outlet to the next point of interest which is a junction box where the single tank outlet pipe branches into several leach field lines (fingers).

Pumping the tank a second time in quick succession accomplishes nothing other than spend money, unless you had a need to climb down into the tank to fix something.

Both the tank inlet and the tank outlet must be baffled; incoming water must first move down, and exiting water must come up from below. In the case of the outlet, the baffle prevents grease floating on the water from going out to the leach field which would render the leach field non-absorbent in short order. Sometimes the baffle is in the form of an elbow pointing down.

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Old 08-10-2010, 06:46 AM   #3
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


do all septic systems have fingers that come out? by the diagraham mine looks to go out and have a outlet every 20 feet or something, one line comes out from the tank and looks to go about 50 feet, then it turns back, near a tree it looks to be and then come back about 50 feet and has one more turn if im not mistaken, I cant seem to see grass grwoing real green or anything to see the actual line, How far from the tank do you think the junction box would be from the tank?

Thanks for your help

by the way the tank seems to come up to teh top or alteast in december when the lid was pulled it was at the top, there is always about 3/4 of an inch of water deep in the pipe from the house to the tank, you look down the cleanout and you always see water there

Thanks a bunch you dont know how much i appreciate your response
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:26 AM   #4
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


It could be one or more problems based on what you've explained. You need to have a video inspection of the line from the house to the tank to determine whether that line is broken, bellied, or offset. Many times settling occurs and the pipe going to the inlet will pull out and drop down below the inlet leaving a large offset at the baffle.

The tank should have a large lid for pumping and two small inspection lids over the inlet and outlet baffles. Are the lids buried or do you have risers bringing it to ground level? If you open the lid and the water/effluent is above the level of the inlet and/or outlet that would indicate there's a problem with the drainfield, but may not necessarily eliminate a potential problem with the line from the house to the tank.

If there's a problem with the drainfield, a video inspection and locate can also help you determine where the lines run, how deep, and save you time from digging aimlessly. If the drainfield is overly saturated there may be solutions before replacing.

When was the system put in? What type of system is it? Infiltrator, etc., what kind of pipe is it? Are there baffles (sanitary tees) at the inlet and outlet of the tank? What are the soil conditions? I'm guessing it's fairly new considering you have an outside cleanout. If you can post any pictures of the layout that may help some also.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:30 PM   #5
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


It is possible to have a single leach field line that zigzags back and forth instead of a junction box with multiple fingers. But this has a disadvantage that a clog near the start of the line stops the whole flow.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:00 PM   #6
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


Im going to attempt to go to the heatlh department and get a diagraham of the septic system
My father has told me I should dig up the lid of the liquid side and look ato see what level the liquid is at, if its at or below the drain field line, I will know the problem is the line to the tank or the tank level itself, if the water is any part above the drain field line then I will know the problem is with the drain field itsself
This seems like a very smart thing to do that might only take 30 mins or so to dig by a shovel
would you suggest this as a good starting point, he said then I know what im dealing with and what kind of company I will need to call and get a estimate, plus then i might know if the whole septic system needs to be redone or just the drain field
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:27 PM   #7
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would you suggest this as a good starting point, he said then I know what im dealing with and what kind of company I will need to call and get a estimate, plus then i might know if the whole septic system needs to be redone or just the drain field
Yes, that's a good starting point. You need to expose the lids and inspect it yourself. Post pictures if you can once you have it exposed.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:53 PM   #8
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


All reasonable ideas. Just remember, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever enter a septic tank or any other closed tank for that matter, that could be a fatal error, as there are often toxic gases in the tank, even after they are pumped. Any work required inside a tank must be performed by qualified individuals who have confined space entry training and appropriate tools.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:41 PM   #9
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


ok................... so here is the damage, i can take a picture if I need too, the drain field appears to be fine, I dug up the lid on the liquid side and everything looks fine, the water is at the level of the drain field line, however there is still water in the cleanout pipe, not alot but alittle and might be what causing the problems, Im assuming now that possibly the solid side of the tank it either full ( which would make the septic tank not level) or its not and the water stays in the pipe because it goes part uphill to the tank

What would my options be now, do i need to dig up the lid on the solids part of the tank and see how far from the top the level is?
Or do i need to dig up as much of the pipe as possible going to the tank and try and get dirt out from under it and see if i can level it out or make it slightly downhill, the problem is I dont know if theres room to play because if it goes any lower I will have an issue with the drain field being too high

In detail of the lid uncovering, I opened the lid and the water is about 10 inches from the top, exactly to the bottom of the pipe leading out of the tank, i pulled a filter out of the baffle that looks to keep solids or anything from entering the drain field, I ran some water in the home and the drain field appears to be working correctly and flows water into the pipe, Baffle also works correctly

Any ideas on what to do next to figure out the problem?
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:31 PM   #10
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


Ok, so this is a 2 sided tank. Most likely the outlet (effluent) side of the tank has been pumped (who knows how frequently). Sounds as though the inlet side however, is full of solids. I would suggest digging that side up and see what it looks like. It could, and probably will be more substantial than you would think; with hardened soap scum, grease, grime, etc. It probably needs to be pumped, cleaned, scraped, etc. Additionally, the line from the house to the tank may need to be jetted. If there's still standing water in your cleanout; I would still suggest running a camera down the line to try to determine whether it's bellied, flat, negative, or broken.

On a side note, I ran into a nearly identical problem about 6 months ago on a commercial building. Backed up into the building, wasn't able to clear it with a cable, jetter, etc. Ran a camera and could see a substantial blockage at the inlet baffle. Tried jetting again and still would not clear. Dug up the lid and found it was a 2 sided tank. The outlet side was clean, and had obviously been pumped recently (within the last few months according to the owner). The inlet side of the tank was completely full of solids, like a layer of scum that was dry and hard, white in color, probably 18" thick! It was about the consistency of a bar of soap. You could literally carve it with a knife. Never seen anything like that. Stuck a probe though it and everything drained through the little hole to the bottom of the tank. Then had to clean all that hardened scum layer from the walls, baffle, etc.
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:36 PM   #11
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


yes its a 2 sided tank, both sides of the tank were just completly pumped in decemeber, theres not way the solid side is even 20% full, 2 people live at this house 4 days a week
what could be wrong with the inlet side to cause water to stay in the pipe, do you think the tank could be lower on the inlet side causing the inlet side to remail wet while the outlet side it at the bottom of the drain field line??
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:47 PM   #12
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


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what could be wrong with the inlet side to cause water to stay in the pipe, do you think the tank could be lower on the inlet side causing the inlet side to remail wet while the outlet side it at the bottom of the drain field line??
Still don't believe you ever mentioned when the system was installed?

Certainly the entire tank being negative is a possibility, but not as likely as a simple belly, break, offset, or small blockage in the line from the house to the tank or at the inlet baffle.
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:02 AM   #13
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


Are there any trees or large shrubs between where the main drain pipe exits the house, and the septic tank?

You can either start right away digging up the pipe from house to septic tank to check for vertical irregularities (including bellies), or roots, or you can have a sewer service do a video inspection of the pipe. The pipe should be about three feet below the ground surface.
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:25 PM   #14
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


yeah that pretty much sounds like my options, it doesnt seem good, I think the cleanout pipe appears to be about 4 feet deep, 3 ft at minimum
I think im going to dig the solid lid up and take a look from tehre, but I think im going to need to reset the tank alittle lower and then possibly relay the field lines, or if they make some kind of pump possibly to install between the pipe out of the house and the tank to make up for the uphill llevel of the piep to the tank
thanks for everyones help
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:54 AM   #15
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Septic Tank not flowing into leach lines or drain field


ok..... so after a bunch of diggin I have sort of figured out the problem, the pipe from under the house burried under teh home and with a conrete floor on top seems to either have settled or due to down grade is much lower than the tank coming out the house so the pipe is heading uphill when it comes out form under the house and then levels off and heads back slightly downhill to the tank itself. this leaves water in the pipe under the home and is whats causing the problem with stuff backing up in the home eventually before the tank overflows or gets full

so im asking what do i need to do now??? would it be best to get a camera to look and see where the issue may be ro ti they could even tell. Im not sure if the camera would be able to see in water or if i should attempt to cut the main line coming out from under the home and see if i can dig underneath it alittle and see if i can get it to drain the water out of the pipe, the problem is i dont know how much slope uphill the pipe goes, it may be 1 inch...maybe more, its under the home so hard to tell.. or do i just forget about the issue and plan on snaking the drain everytime I have an issue

thanks for your help. I can show pictures as well. but theres not much to show since the tank is only 10 feet from the house

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