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Old 01-22-2011, 03:42 PM   #1
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Water backing up into house


Hello.

I have a question regarding a septic system.

I was in my basement and heard our toilet bubbling a little bit. At the same time someone upstairs flushed a toilet and someone else just finished a shower about 15 minutes prior. So at the same time our drain near our laundry area released some water up through it.

Basically it was probably about 2-3 cups of water coming up from the floor drain when the upstairs toilet flushed and the downstairs toilet started making a bubbling sound.

My wife said the same bubbling sound came from the floor.

I noticed a few weeks ago a little dampness so this problem may have been going on for some time now.

It's currently 22 degrees outside. Could that have something to do with this?

I also want to mention that our septic system outside is about 30 years old and probably needs replacement.

Can you tell us what we should do and what the risks are right now (like backing up into house majorly, etc.)?

Thanks for your help.

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Old 01-22-2011, 03:53 PM   #2
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Water backing up into house


Ayuh,... Sounds like your tank needs Pumping...

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Old 01-22-2011, 04:11 PM   #3
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Pumping your tank right now will definitely give you instant relief, but if part of the problem is due to the low temperatures outside or maybe an older leaching field becoming saturated or possibly partially blocked by solids getting out of the septic tank then you should also include adding a gallon of septic tank bactieria and a gallon of septic tank & system cleaner bactieria to the newly pumped tank. Roebic makes just such bactieria solutions and they can simply be dumped into a toilet and flushed into the tank. If all you needed was a pump out you should notice steam coming out of your roof vent in about a week and it will continue into the spring. Then, once a year, add a half a gallon to a gallon of the septic tank bactieria to a toilet -not all of them- and you should be in good shape for a long time to come.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:53 AM   #4
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Water backing up into house


How often do you pump the tank?

When was it pumped last?

Do you know where the lid(s) are?
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:46 PM   #5
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Hi. I had the tank pumped probably 3-4 years ago. I guess there's no way around having it pumped right? Does it sound like the tank is full? When this happened there were freezing temps outside and a temporary surge of heavy water usage in the house. No problems since then...

This drain is right next to our laundry unit and laundry was going on around the time this happened as well.

Thanks.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:42 AM   #6
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How many people use your facilities on a daily basis? If you haven't had any problems since the sub-freezing temperatures I would treat the situation as a warning sign that the tank is not generating enough heat (or microbiotic reaction) to keep the system running at par, year round. The simplest answer at this point would be to pour a gallon of septic tank bacteria into a toilet Immediately, last thing before you go to bed so it can start cooking during a quiet time. Then just use the system normally, remembering not to flush vegetable or food scraps or grease and oil down the drain and you should be alright.
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Old 01-24-2011, 10:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIY_Help View Post
Hi. I had the tank pumped probably 3-4 years ago. I guess there's no way around having it pumped right? Does it sound like the tank is full? When this happened there were freezing temps outside and a temporary surge of heavy water usage in the house. No problems since then...

This drain is right next to our laundry unit and laundry was going on around the time this happened as well.

Thanks.
22 degrees isn't that cold. The freezing temps shouldn't effect it. It's most likely 3+' deep. A large volume of water however, can temporarily overwhelm (saturate) the system. I suggest having the tank pumped every 3-5 years for a typical household. Really depends on the usage and/or neglect. It could also be a partial blockage or sludge buildup in either the septic line between the house and the tank or the inlet baffle. Are there any trees or shrubs near the line, tank, or drainfield?

Again, do you know where the tank is located? Are there risers over the lids? Do you have an outside cleanout for the septic line?

If you have an outside cleanout, open the cap and shine a flashlight. You shouldn't see any water standing at the bottom of the WYE. I would then expose the tank, open it up and see what it looks like. Inspect the inlet and outlet baffles, level of the tank, etc.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:21 PM   #8
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Who said anything about 22 degrees? A septic field, if properly sized, shouldn't be over whelmed by simply water unless you are looking right down the gut of a tsunami. Freezing temperatures on the other hand does make otherwise perkable ground less acceptable to recieving septic effluents unless they are warm to hot.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Grampa Bud View Post
Who said anything about 22 degrees? A septic field, if properly sized, shouldn't be over whelmed by simply water unless you are looking right down the gut of a tsunami. Freezing temperatures on the other hand does make otherwise perkable ground less acceptable to recieving septic effluents unless they are warm to hot.
That really depends on the soil conditions regardless of the size of the tank or field. The original poster mentioned it was 22 degrees. Go back and re-read it instead of assuming I'm making things up. I've been on far more jobs where the field was overly saturated. I'm not sure where you live, but frost line is around 32" here. Most septic systems are 3-5' deep. Thus, below the frost line.

Edit: Just read your profile. I now know you're from Northern Illinois. So not much different than here. Maybe a bit colder at times.
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Old 01-25-2011, 02:22 AM   #10
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I just found out we have a bath tub faucet that is leaking pretty significantly. Not a drip, drip.... But a constant small stream. Enough drips to create a constant stream if that makes sense.

This has probably been happening for a while.

How likely is this the cause of the septic tank being full? We haven't had any more problem with the drain since it was real cold.

It has been 4 years since pumped... Do you think I can just get the leak fixed and skip the pumping for now?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-25-2011, 09:04 AM   #11
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What they mean by full is when there are solids at a level higher than the outlet of the tank. Then there is very scant space for the breaking down of incoming sewage. If it were all liquid the tank could be full of liquid and the rest would flow right on through much like an overflowing glass of water, but if the inlet should ever get restricted with solids you will see water start backing up through drains on the lowest level above the pipe level going to the tank.. If the tank is cold or inactive due to low levels of bacteria, water sitting on top of the sludge and in the inlet will start freezing and give the appearance of a full tank or a blocked pipe. If you have had no simular incidents since, I would say you could just add the gallon of bacteria to a toilet and watch your drains untill warmer weather.

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