Septic Tank Problem

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by jrm747, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    We live in a subdivision that initially put in septic tanks and then decided to run city sewage. So we have a tank, but instead of a drain field we have a central pump that pumps from our tanks. Im not sure how often it does this. Our problem is that our tank is up to the covers. Its just My fiancee and I. I have grown up in houses that we had septic tanks. I have dug up and installed new drain fields, I have been around having to dig up the lids to have them pumped. I know that usually if your tank is full, you have a drain field problem. We noticed water coming out of the inspection pipe between the house and the tank. contacted the owner of the subdivision and was told that the tank just needed pumping and that was that. I feel that the problem lies on the outgoing side of the tank tho. Not sure how to go about this. Yes, I can pay $250 to have it pumped, but Im not sure this is my main problem. The full tank is the problem from there being a different problem. Looking for some input from people who would know what the problem may be or how to go about having the problem fixed? Dont know if I should pay to get it pumped then have the owner of the subdivision check out their end? Looking for advise. I am not trying to get out of paying for what is my responsibility, just dont want to pay for something because its the fault of somethingelse
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,980
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I don't know how a bunch of strangers on the internet would know more than the owner of the subdivision. If you think the owner is lying to you, get the opinion of your neighbors or the city sewer or planning department. Surely the city would have some sort of record on how the subdivision sewer was installed.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,636
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I am confused by your description of the system. If it goes to a city sewer, there should be no reason to have the tank, or at least the tank should NEVER have water in it as long as the pump is working.
  4. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I wouldn't trust a word that subdivision owner tells you about septic tank .
    if there is a widespread problem he might just be biding his time until your warranty or some statute of limitations expires so that he is no longer responsible for fixing what could be subdivision wide problem .
    how long have you lived there ?
    how old is the house ?
    how old is a septic?
    new construction is required to have some sort of warranty I almost every state.
    in New Jersey is 10 years four major structural defects .
    I'm not sure but I think a a failed septic system would be considered a major defect .
    if I understand your septic system correctly you have a tank to collect the solid and then some sort of subdivision wide drainage system that collect the effluent ?
    if you grew up around septic tanks and replace drainage field you probably know about as much as most septic installers do . it's not rocket science . however if your tank is full and some float ables clogged up the outlet. that might cause a probled
    Don't expect the subdivision owner to give you an honest answer about something that is going to cost 10,000 possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,980
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Let the conjecture begin. Forget due process and innocent until proven guilty. LOL

    [​IMG]
  6. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    The owner is not the contractor or builder. Our new owner is an insurance salesman for statefarm insurance. I guess the insurance world pays well..... A bunch of strangers that know plumbing should know more about it than a him. Its not a matter of I think he is lying, just that he doesnt want to shell out money if he can convince me that pumping my tank is the answer.
  7. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    the way I understand it is like this, when the first few stage of homes were built in my neighborhood, they planned on each house having a tank and drain field. Im guess that didnt work well because A) there is not enough yard on a .25 of an acre to put a house, driveway, a septic tank and a drain field and B) were this subdivision is, used to me a swamp for the most part. Before they developed this subdivison I remember it being low and holding water. The filled it in to build here. So, if I dig down 2-3 ft, the hole I dig will start to fill with water. So what I have is a septic tank that is roughly 15-20 ft from the road. There is no drain field

    here is a very rough diagram of what I have:
    [​IMG]

    Dont take my post the wrong way. I am not a mordern day prissy man that will not fix it myself nor pay for it if it is my problem/fault. I am not trying to get everyone on my side to help me battle. I am trying to research what the problem may be and if it is my responsibility to fix it. To my knowledge, from the sept tank to the house its my problem, after that its their system. I could pump the system, then if there is a problem in their side, being pumping it in a few months. They told my fiancee on the phone that we should have out tank pumped once a year. I was at work and have not talked to them yet. No one is answering today.
  8. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    We have lived here for 3 yrs.
    These houses are around 10-12 years old.
    Septic is original, 10-12 yrs
    I dont have a warranty.

    We had this problem a couple months ago and it stopped. Was working a lot at the time so i didnt get to uncover the tank for a few days. The problem went away. I kind of had and idea then, but once it stoped I didnt think about it. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the yard and decided to take the access cover off and have a look (dont have to dig it up, there are two plastic covers). Looked fine, I could see the pipe coming from the house and all looked normal. Now it started back up.
  9. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    This makes no sense. I am not trying to run off a werewolf or burn down the system. A lot of the time, due process has nothing to do when all your being told is "not our problem, its on you" I have a problem with someone telling me they will do nothing to correct something without even sending someone to look at the problem. If I were to look for the problem, I would have to inspect the side of the system that runs under the street or under the sidewalk in our neighborhood. Thats a little out of my know how.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,980
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    That was a reply to CanOfWorms.
  11. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    oops, sorry
  12. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,980
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    All septic tanks will build up sludge and require periodic pumping. Have you ever had it pumped? Has the previous owner ever had it pumped?

    There are a lot of factors determining the frequency and the previous owner's lifestyle may be an unknown.

    http://inspectapedia.com/septic/tankpump.htm

    If the tank has never been pumped in 12 years or lifestyle negatively impacted the health of the system, the outflow could have been plugged by sludge or other debris.
  13. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    Ok, but it would have to be clogged leaving the tank right? thats the end that I cant repair. It would be connected to the "grid" that leads to the pump
  14. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    622
    Location:
    NC
    Are you having any plumbing problems in the house?

    I would think the drain pipe from the house would flow by gravity to the pump station that pumps to the city sewer. The old septic tank may have been by passed and has nothing to do with your drain pipe. In that case it might just be ground water with no where to go during wet periods. It is possible that the waste water flows through the old septic tank and then into a pump tank or maybe just a pump tank on your property. In that case you would have a pump and that could be your problem. You need to find out how it is set up.
  15. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    From what I was told, we have one pump station for the whole neighborhood. It pulls from the septic tank. It doesnt bypass it. We arent having any problems inside, yet, But I think that is because I have the inspection pipe open and its flowing out into the back yard
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,980
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I highly doubt it can actually pull from your tank. The discharge on a conventional tank is near the top so your tank has to use gravity to send it downstream to the pump.

    If your tank suffered from neglect and plugged the discharge, I would think that it would be your responsibility to fix the source of the blockage before the actual blockage is removed.

    Also, I would expect that the blockage would be snaked or jetted out from your tank unless there is a distribution box somewhere closer to the blockage. None the less, the source of the blockage needs to be addressed first, otherwise it is likely to block again.

    The vacuum line on the pumper can be loosely coupled onto the discharge port to try and suck it back but extreme care must be taken not to collapse the line.
  17. jrm747

    jrm747 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Effingham County GA
    ok, Thats just what we were told. They said it pumps from our tanks. Its a weird set up to me. I guess I will have it pumped and go from there. May get someone to look at it because I have no idea what the system looks like once it leaves the tank. Thanks
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,980
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Often there may be a Tee protruding into the tank on the discharge port. Other times it is a baffle formed into the tank structure. If it is a Tee, plug the bottom of it with a toilet plunger or a test plug and run water into the top of the Tee to see if the discharge is plugged. If it is, then it needs to be snaked or scoped.
  19. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,135
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    You probable have a bad pump in Tank #2. Tank #1 will have solids.

    Systems that close to each other can not use field line so they normally chlorinate the water in tank #2 or #3 on 3 tank systems, and water the grass with the water.

    In your case the pump should be pumping from the last tank into the city sewer.

    The pump in your tank should have a high water level switch, that turns it on when the level gets high.

    You may want to check the breaker that feeds the pump, and determine why the pump is not running / Pumping.


    Good Luck
  20. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Conjecture..!!??
    Try head in the sand?
    There is no law against him giving you the run-around.
    If there was a law against it all insurance companies would be guilty.
    He's not going to spend money unless he has to.

    That being said.
    Get it pumped and be there when you do. Ask the guy who pumps it how much solids there are.
    If it is all water its the system. If it is all solids you needed to get it pumped.

    If it was installed incorrectly you likely have no legal recourse after 10 years.

    Another thing!!!
    If there is water 2-3 feet down and you pump the tank dry there is a chance it will float if you get a heavy rain fall. I used to live in a flood zone and thats what the installer told me. "If you get this pumped dry and it floods before it fills with water it may float"
    Ask the pumper guy.
    It seems to me that the tank should always have water up level of the outlet line.
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