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Old 08-23-2016, 06:59 AM   #1
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Septic Line Help


Hi,

We bought this house a few years ago and it was supposed to have a new septic tank and leach lines. We've had ongoing wet spots in our backyard which we now know is from the lines. We really don't know much about septic systems so this has been a learning process. For many months now, one line seems to be completely saturated in the backyard. There is a lot of discharge above the ground going in a perfect line down the back. It smells awful in the backyard and the dirt is completely black and sludgy where this line runs. It is only wet where this line runs, it is not wet anywhere else. We are not sure how to fix it. Everything seems to be draining fine in the house but the drains do smell like septic sometimes.

We are going to try to find where the distribution box is so we can dig it up and check for any issues inside. What would be the best solution for this? We know that if we have someone come in and take a look it is going to cost thousands of dollars and that is just impossible for us right now.
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Old 08-23-2016, 07:22 AM   #2
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Re: Septic Line Help


What's a few years ago?
Was the tank pumped out when you bought the home?
In most case's you should have been given a copy of the set of plans for that septic when you bought the house.
If not your local health dept. will have them.
Not sure where you are with location mentioned, but around here you can not repair or make changes on your own septic system, only a licenced installer can be used.
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Old 08-23-2016, 07:54 AM   #3
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Re: Septic Line Help


I agree with Joe, not much diy on a septic system. You need to call and have the system evaluated by a pro. Hopefully you only need it pumped, the leach lines jetted and some caustic soda put in the d box.

Based on your story, I think you only have the one leach line working (the one that is wet) and the others are plugged.
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:02 AM   #4
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Re: Septic Line Help


The tank and lines were supposed to be new in 2009. We had the tank pumped last summer when the lines started acting up, but even then they said it didn't really need pumped. So it is definitely not full. We are hoping it is just a matter of the other lines being clogged. We just weren't sure what to do with the one that is now leaking. If we are able to have the new lines opened back up, the soil is still definitely shot where it is currently leaking.
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:26 AM   #5
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Re: Septic Line Help


Need to figure out why possibly the others are restricted. Could be tree root invasion, crushed leach lines or the outlet baffle. The baffle keeps the solids in the tank and only allows the liquids to your d box.
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:28 AM   #6
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Re: Septic Line Help


Septic tank lines are typically 4 inch diameter perforated PVC pipe, so they are supposed to "leak". The lines are typically buried anywhere from 8 to 36 inches below ground, the exact burial depth is determined by the designer of the system, if there was a designer. There is supposed by be a distribution box, again with no information about your system, it is possible the installer did not put in a distribution box.

The effluent leaches out of the holes in the bottom of the lines, and is supposed to percolate into the ground. If the groundwater level is too high, or the soil is not permeable enough, the effluent simply runs out onto the ground, which sounds like what may be happening in your case.

As with all projects, the solution depends on a complete understanding of the problem. You need to bring in an experienced inspector, who will understand the process of inspecting your system, and determining what is wrong with it. Typically not DIY, the inspector is usually licensed, and will submit a report to the Board of Health. From the sounds of your post, you did not have an inspection done at the time of purchase, so there may be little history to go on. The Board of Health may have records of the design and installation, that is a good place to start.

I understand you lack the money to repair the system, but unfortunately this is a critical health problem, and there are no easy DIY solutions. Best of luck with your situation.
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Old 08-23-2016, 10:53 AM   #7
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Re: Septic Line Help


Quote:
We had the tank pumped last summer when the lines started acting up, but even then they said it didn't really need pumped. So it is definitely not full.
Septic tanks are always full. They don't begin to work until they are full. Waste waste from your house flows to the septic tank. There it sits while bacteria dissolve and liquefy the solids. The grey water flows out the distribution lines which are just below the inflow lines from the house. Therefore the tank is always full. You don't pump a tank because it is full. You periodically pump it to remove the solids that don't dissolve and settle to the bottom of the tank over time.
This is also why you "Don't put anything down the toilet you haven't eaten first."

The line where you have the saturated and stinky soil is apparently working, just over loaded. Getting more water than can be absorbed by the soil and evaporated by the sun.

Not much point in you trying to locate other lines (if you have other lines). You can't do anything about them if they have stop working. Right now it sounds like you really don't know if you have other lines. How many lines you have and how long they are depends primarily on soil type and conditions.

Only thing you can do is call the septic tank man and let him replace or put in additional lines.
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:38 PM   #8
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Re: Septic Line Help


Are you getting a decent amount of sun over that area during the day? multiple things could be happening but like most of the guys are saying best to bring in an expert before the system goes dead all together, unfortunately these system will require some labor to get them checked out,$$$ hard to say what's going on just by standing over it and looking at the ground.
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Old 08-24-2016, 05:11 PM   #9
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Re: Septic Line Help


If I couldn't afford help, I would learn as much as possible about septic and try to figure out what was going on. Is water just sitting because the soil isn't permeable enough (e.g. do you have more people than you've had in the past, are you using more water, or is there more rain than there was)? Has there been any recent construction or change to the underground water flow nearby? Are there tree branches overhead (which might suggest roots underneath)? Is a pipe crushed? Did an outflow baffle fall off inside the tank, or is one visible?
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