Septic Tank-possible problem.

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by cgray21, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. cgray21

    cgray21 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    California
    Okay, we have slow draining toilets that recently pretty much stopped draining fast enough to get rid of solid waste. So, we had the septic tank pumped (I inherited the house from dad after I came in to take care of mom before she died (dementia and stroke-- never a good combo). So, it turns out the tank likely hadn't been pumped for at least 10 years, but it was pumped out. Unfortunately, two days later, the problem returns.

    Now, sadly, we don't have the money to easily take care of this professionally, so at the very least I'm trying to eliminate all the likely problems, so that if I do have to get a specialist, they don't have to dig up (and I don't have to pay for), more than needed.

    1. Dead leach field. I don't think so-- the fact is that water was going into the septic tank, and it's supposed to look full, but it hasn't overflowed, nor have we found wet patches on the property-- so the water, at least some of it, is leaving the tank.

    2. Problems with the line. This is actually my main thought right now. dad, bless his heart, used ah, friends, reccomended by friends, who were not licensed nor overly skilled in this area. I say this, because I dug up part of the line, (PVC) and found that right now, the line from the house to the tank in some places either has no slope, or the slope is about .5 degree in the wrong direction. The area was also heavily watered, so while I'm not certain, there may be parts of the pipe that are actually sagging. This right now is my hope-- because you can fix that with a lot of elbow grease and cussing, since the problem would be solids collecting in the line-- and using enzyme cleaners and such as i have been doing wouldn't really fix things-- you'd still have places where sludge collects.

    3. Septic tank problems. I haven't been able to yet get the lids off, but looking through the pump holes, the tank doesn't look too bad-- no roots or such. However, i'm not certain if it has a filter on it. (it's a gravity tank). There could be an accumulation around the liquid side slowing flow into the distribution box or from there. Gotta find it.*

    *Do your heirs a favor, if you have them-- make certain to have information where the septic tank is readily available.

    Now, is there anything else that might be going wrong, and if so, can anyone suggest what to do about it? Like I said, I'm mildly optimistic that there is a flow, albeit slow and we haven't found any wet spots on the property, indicating that the tank is intact and the leachfield is functioning. Also, this is in California, and the house is on a hill, so there are no water table issues right now.
  2. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,441
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    You may want to check your toilet fill valves.

    If one is sticking it could fill the tank faster than the output can handle.


    Good Luck.
  3. cgray21

    cgray21 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    California
    That was part ofthe problem I think-- I replaced the fill valves however, so that's over. Also, the sytem isn't fed from the showers/sinks-- our area permits the discharge of gray water as non-potable irrigation, so that goes into the backyard to water the trees, not into the tank, so the total amount of water should be pretty low compared to the original capacity of the tank. However, if it was due to the fill valve filling the tank, about how long should I wait to see if the tank goes back to its original level.

    The big thing is that it's not overflowing, so the water is going into the leachfield and the leachfield is at least partially functional, which is, I suppose, very good news.
  4. thassler

    thassler New Member

    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Sounds like a blockage somewhere in the pipe. I good first check would be the inlet baffle on the septic tank. There should be an access cover directly above it.
  5. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,441
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    For the Tank to be pumped and get full in 2 days would make me wonder where the water is coming from.

    How big is your tank(s) ?

    How many tanks do you have ?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  6. cgray21

    cgray21 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    California
    stuck valve on a toilet might explain that. I was gone on business right after the pumping and didn't notice it, but a toilet tank dumping for 48 hours would explain that.

    Granted, if that IS the case, it may mean that the problem will eventually rectify itself now that I've fixed the toilet. I dunno how fast drain fields are supposed to pull the water out of the tank, but that was a LOT of water going into it, so I may just have to wait.

    As for size-- I'm not certain. It was dad and mom's house (I moved back in to watch them after dad had a heart attack and mom started enduring dementia :( ) and I can't find the paperwork. I think my next step is to head over to the Riverside code enforcement office-- I think that the contracter would have filed papers with them.

    Thanks!
  7. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,441
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    Sometimes the pump truck will list how many gallons they pumped. That is normally how they charge you.

    I guess time will tell if you have a problem.


    Good Luck.
  8. The Old Maid

    The Old Maid New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Skeeter country
    We had a toilet "surprise" after moving into an estate-sale residence. It turned out to be tree roots in the lines.

    As long as you're looking at the lines, see if you have "clean-out taps" and a "back-check valve." Both are handy for keeping toilet-surprise residue on the outside of the house rather than the inside. (Although that may be a separate thread/question.)
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