Need septic tank/leeching pipe advice

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by SD44, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    well i'm alittle embarassed because you city guys won't understand that things are different for people that live deep in the country, we don't have a city sewer system like you guys, lol.

    Okay, I live in a very rural area, you could say I live in the sticks, lol. anyways, My septic tank is right behind my house, underneath the ground obviously. It has about 500 ft. of 4" leeching pipe that goes out into a wooded area and is open on the end, letting drainage go into the woods. The problem is, my neighbor has asked me to do something about the drainage that's going into his woods.

    My question is.................since there is sooo much length with the leeching pipe (500 ft), and the pipe was laid on a bd of gravel, would I not be okay to just cap off the end of the pipe? Wouldn't that force the water to go through the holes in the bottom of the pipe? My septic tank is vented with a pipe running through the roof, so there shouldn't be a vacumm/air lock problem.

    I know that the water would probably build up some in the pipe if it were sealed off at the end, but shouldn't it eventually seep into the ground through the holes? We're not in a rainy area, I'd say we're probably average in national rainfall.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
  2. Drainplug

    Drainplug retired Industrial Arts teacher

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Maryland
    Hello,
    I am not a city folk by any means, but I have never heard of having the drainage pipe open on the end and having fluid running out into the open. I grew up on a septic system, I also have one now and the drain field has always been completely underground. So, if you cap off the pipe, it would just be like all the systems that I am familiar with. I would think that the water would be forced out the holes in the pipe. Maybe I am missing something here...I would like to hear more comments on this.
  3. No septic drainage discharge or drainfield pipes should be above ground whatsoever. This system has been improperly installed.
    You can cap off the ends of the lines, but all lines need to be buried.
    If it were me, I would call out the Health Department to inspect the system, and recommend a proper solution. My guess is that that they will require a permit and inspection for you to bury the system under a certain amount of sand, maybe at least 18" or more.
    Good luck!
    Mike
  4. Raucina

    Raucina Previous member

    Messages:
    515
    Think yourself very lucky the neighbor didnt call the county already. The last thing you want is to turn yourself in for a bad septic.

    May we assume that your system is on a slope and one pipe comes out to daylight? That may have been an inspection port-cleanout that someone opened and did not close. It may have been opened because the system was backing up and that "fixed" it. Or maybe the kids opened it.

    You have a lot of leach field, so just cap it off and see what happens. If your house backs up in a week or so you probably need a new system. THEN call a septic pro, and still not the county. Find out your options before getting big brother involved. How many lines of what length do you have? How old is the system?

    If the house backs up, however, you will probably need to open that cap again, and then your neighbor will get a shot of a few thousand gallons of effluent, so at that point he probably WILL call the county.
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Not knowing the # of people using the home...if 500' of leach line is not enough to drain the water coming from the tank before it reaches the end of the 500' then I am going to guess that the field is in failure now.

    I would just call a pro or 2 in to inspect and tell me what was going on.
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I would agree with this.... If the water has not soaked into the gravel bed by the end of 500' you are in failure already.
  7. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Yes, and like Raucina said, research your options before visiting the permit palace. Being out in the boonies, you will likely find a little "repair work" much more convenient and less expensive.
  8. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Oh, the open end of the pipe is in a wooded/unused area way off behind my neighbor and my house. It's nowhere close to his home or yard. He owns the land behind my house, that's why this is an issue.

    The land gradually degrades downwards as you head towards the end of the pipe. so the pipe is buried about 4 ft. deep behind the house, but is only about a foot deep at the end. The pipe isn't sticking up out of the ground, as stated it's about 1 ft. deep at the end and where it comes out at is a puddle. I thought about simply filling in the puddle/hole, but i figured that probably wouldn't stop it.


    Worst case scenario, if I capped it off and it eventually backed up at the house.......couldn't I just occasionally get the septic tank drained? I've never had to do that with the leech pipe being open, but it's not uncommon for many people to have to have their septic tanks drained occasionally.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  9. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    septic tanks should be pumped every 2-4 years depending on the amount of use they get, their size and their age.

    The frequency of pumping will be directly connected to how long the field lasts.
  10. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Sure, every time it fills up again, but it would not take long for that cost to add up to more than that of a new drain field.

    If your tank's discharge is making it out to the end of the pipe, then that pipe must not be too terribly plugged or filled with roots or whatever. All considered, I would go out and dig a hole at the end of that pipe and install a chamber system. How large that should be would depend upon a variety of things, but the cost for even a relatively large area would not be prohibitive.

    Attached Files:

  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,653
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    septic

    If the leach line is plugged and you capped the end of it, you would have to pump the tank EVERY time once you used about 1,000 gallons of water, or whatever the capacity of the tank plus the pipe is.
  12. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Here's the situation - we are selling the house. We already have buyers, my neighbor asked me to fix this problem before i leave. I want to do what's right for everybody, but obviously I don't want to sink a ton of cash into something i'm not going to be using a month from now (like a $3000-5000 treatment system).

    As stated, we've never had the septic tank pumped since we've been here, for 8 years. I told the buyers that I'd have it pumped before we leave, but they may have to get it pumped every few years. They are okay with this. What worries me is that the tank doesn't appear to have a valve or anything above ground where it can be pumped. Is it normal that you have to dig down to the tank to pump it? Did some older tanks not have the ability to be pumped? What is the average cost to have a tank pumped?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  13. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Well if that is the case, then it appears to me that the leach line is useless, right??:confused: Why even use leach line why not just use regular pipe with no holes?

    Surely some of the water is being leached out through the holes in the pipe.
  14. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    I know not all tank covers are above ground. You could have it raised, but If your moving don't bother. I have seen pipes like your pipe coming out of the ground and they were not for gray water. The pipe could be ground water run off.
    Like others have said that is a very long leach field. I would have somebody check the line. You might be able to test it by flushing toilets and running laundry. Then see if the water starts to move faster or stops when you have nothing running at all.
  15. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    good septic person can look at the way the line comes out of the house, and with a probe, figure out the most likely place for the lid, then they start digging - either with a small (towable) excuvator, or by hand. they get an extra $100+ or so for digging - $300 or more for the pump out in NJ. if spackle knives or paint brushes were cleaned in the sink, this really adds to the problem!

    ask the new owners if they would like to foot the bill for putting a ground level cover in - another $600, but it saves on the digging expense the next time. on the other hand, they will now know where the underground cover is. there may also be an inspection/clean-out at the other end of the tank - depends on type

    any home inspector who can smell will find the end of the pipe if there is a puddle. if the tank was full, you may have ended up with solids going down the leach pipe. i think they can clear that with a power washer. Leading to patrick88s point - if it doesn't smell horrible, it aint effluent.
  16. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    I'm lucky my covers are on the surface. The jetting machine does wonders to the leach field, but is really a temp fix. I have customers(I'm not a septic guy)That only call for a pumping when the tank backs up. They call the Co. I work for because they think it is just a main drain back up. I love when they say it was just pumped last year. Then they show you the bill and it was 3 years ago.
  17. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    The leach pipe we use here is 4" thinwall PVC, with 1/2" hole drilled along the length, it is "supposed" to be installed with the holes oposite each other level with the ground, and the pipe is level, not sloped 1/4"/foot (or at least that's what I remember).

    So without a cap, you may still have a viable leach field since the water probably did not flood out high enough to leach thru the holes.

    I vote, cap it off, pump the tank, and sell the house.

    Rancher
  18. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    depends on how far you are moving, and if you related to the neighbor :D
    but to the point, add a vote for pump/cap/sell.
  19. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    well i just got - what i think - is some good news. Turns out, that end was capped off for many years. About 10 years ago, when a farmer owned that land, he was plowing it up for a garden and struck the end of the pipe that was capped off, and tore the end off. That's why I have this present problem. So in my opinion, If it was capped off before and didn't give problems, then re-capping it again shouldn't give problems.

    I've been working on it this morning. I came about 30 foot back up the pipe towards the house and dug down to the pipe there, since I have so much pipe to work with. The water table was about a foot down (we've gotten a ton of rain here the past couple of weeks, way more than normal) and the pipe was about 1 1/2 ft. down. I sawed about a 10" section out of the pipe (underwater). I have went and bought two caps, I'm not going to use glue, I'm going to put a cap on each open end and bury it again. The gravel/dirt that I dug out should keep the cap in place.

    Obviously, you would think that if the pipe was below the water line that we would be having problems back at the house. But we're not, and never do; I can't explain why. But, as stated earlier, we have gotten way above our average rainfall the past couple weeks, there's alot of standing water on top of the ground everywhere. Most of the time you have to dig down about 4 or 5 ft. before you hit the water table, when we have our normal dry periods.
  20. SD44

    SD44 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    Mississippi
    well it's done.

    I capped off the end towards the house, and just for peace of mind i capped off the end going to the open end. There was about a 1" thick bed of sediment/rock inside the pipe; i figure that's probably pretty normal. I didn't use glue, in case i have to go back and undo it, but the cap was 2" deep, and i shucked it on all the way; the pipe was slightly warped, so when i got the cap on that warped pressure should hold it in place. Plus, I made sure i put the gravel back in first, it and the dirt should hold the caps in place.

    I'll check back in a couple days and give an update. Thanks to all of you for your help, I do sincerely appreciate it.
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