Septic doom on the horizon ??

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Topgun510, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. Topgun510

    Topgun510 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Somewhere in Michigan
    I apologize ahead of time for this protracted post. I want to include as much info as possible so someone here can hopefully guide me in the right direction.

    We started experiencing problems with our septic a little over three weeks ago. The first indication was "gurgling" from the shower one night. It didn't happen again and all the drains appeared to work okay and we shrugged it off. A few nights later, the same thing happened. This time, it was a little worst. While I noticed that the softener/ sump pump was running seemed to coincide with the gurgling. The shower started to fill with water so I immediately ran down and unplugged the softener and sump pump.

    The last time our 1000 gal septic tank was pumped was roughly 3 years ago. Its just the wife and I and we really don't think we use water excessively. Nevertheless, I dug up the access cover the following day to have a look see and that is when I discovered exactly just how full the tank had become. The inlet from the house was submerged in gray water, so the tank was literally full to the top. I arranged to have the tank pumped asap, and we have since replaced the toilet with a ultra low flow unit that uses between 1.1 - 1.6 gals per flush. I have been running all of our laundry down to the laundromat, and there has been no softener output being dumped in. On a hunch, I didn't back fill the septic access cover because I had a feeling that wasn't going to be the end.

    Over the weekend, I lifted the cover off once again to have a look. Again, the tank is full to the top. It has only been 3 weeks since the tank was emptied. Looking at the diagram the previous owners left behind, we have a dry well and then a drain field. Does that make sense? When we purchased the house, we were told that the drain field had been replaced 10 years before, so the age of the field is roughly 15? From what I have described, what is my most likely cause of failure? I started digging around the tank yesterday in hopes of finding a clean out for the soil pipe. No such luck. Apparently there is no baffle on the outlet side of the tank either, so now might be the time to take care of this. Any advice you all have is welcomed.

    Attached Files:

  2. Topgun510

    Topgun510 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Somewhere in Michigan
    Hopefully this will offer someone in a similar predicament some encouragement. We dug up the soil pipe between the septic tank & dry well yesterday. I am relieved to say that the problem appears to be a failed soil pipe just before the dry well. About a foot from the dry well, the pipe had failed and there were some large chunks missing. The pipe was almost completely clogged with debris, roots and so on. We discovered that the dry well had a cover, and the level wasn't full enough to cause the lack of flow from the septic tank. We did replace the failed soil pipe and I have added a baffle into the septic along with a clean out.

    Attached Files:

  3. Topgun510

    Topgun510 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Somewhere in Michigan
    Here are some more photos. The ground was pretty easy to work. I had started to dig during the week. I uncovered about 1/3 of the 30' section in a few hours. With the help of my brother in law, we uncovered the rest of the damage in about 3 hours. Most if not all was sandy soil. So it made for easier digging.

    Attached Files:

  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Nice Job!

    Getting rid of that Orangeberg Pipe is a good thing!
  5. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    That's cool. Thanks for the update. I've never been involved in servicing septic. I don't think my parents or grandparents really had any idea how to properly maintain it. I did, however, help lay the field lines in a home we built when I was a boy. They worked flawlessly for about 20 years, but I'm told the subsequent owners had to rebuild the system in recent years.
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    How did you seal between the new pipe and the tank?
  7. Topgun510

    Topgun510 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Somewhere in Michigan
    I was told to use concrete by my last septic guy. I let it set up over night before I filled the trench back in
  8. Topgun510

    Topgun510 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Somewhere in Michigan
    Come spring, I am going to replace the two pipes going from the house to the septic tank. Call it a preemptive strike, but I have a feeling its orangeberg as well and I want to replace them before they become a problem. Hopefully I can plan for it as opposed to having to alter my schedule to its liking. There are cleanouts in the basement and both are iron, but I have a feeling they aren't iron pipes all the way to the septic tank. When I do replace the pipes, should I also use an elbow going into the septic tank as well to act as a baffle ??
  9. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    So, that's what it looks like? Neat. Heard about it. Never seen it.

    Jason
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