Septic Tank Questions

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Spaceman Spiff, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Architect

    Messages:
    277
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Since some plumber will probably have to deal with my system someday, I'd like to do it right and hopefully make someone's job a little easier.
    The top of my septic tank ended up about 8-9' below grade with a 1/4" per foot drop on the main 4" line. My excavator wants to just bury the tank (1500 Gal) and forget about it, but I bet we'll have to pump it someday. Should I just bury it and dig to the top when I need a pump or should I install a section of 36" or 48" corrugated culvert pipe to grade? How often do these need a pump out? (City boy gettin' into septic life.) I trust my excavator on everything else, but he says that I'll never need to pump... Never is pretty strong wording.
    Next is what is the best thing to do with the back flush brine from the water softener? It'll be recharging 1-2 times per week.
    Thanks everyone!!!
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    How many people in your family will determine when you need to pump.

    How many are there?
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,292
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    cleanout

    You should extend that center opening to grade to simplify pumping it, either with a culvert pipe or a fiberglass pipe with a cap made just for that purpose. You should also extend the two cleanouts at either end of the tank's lid, since those can simplify diagnosing, and sometimes curing other problems at the tank.
  4. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Architect

    Messages:
    277
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Right now there are 2 adults and 4 kids. We may get 1-2 more adults depending on if we rent out the basement.

    Where do I start looking for culvert pipe? Would my plumbing house have it or would I need to look at the farm store?
  5. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    septic

    Check the lumber yard. You'r excavator should have access to man holes of some sort.

    But if you don't bring the lid to the surface, then mark the ground with something so you will be able to find the door when needed.

    Do not belive him when he says, never need to open it up. You should open the tank every 2 to 4 years and have it pumped out so that you don't have other problems like a field bed that won't drain anymore because it fills up with sludge.

    Don't wait till you have a problem......
  6. rshackleford

    rshackleford New Member

    Messages:
    284
    Location:
    Eastern Montana (The Bakken)
    You will probably need to pump it once a year or every other year. Not having a riser would be a bad idea. You could also talk to a local irrigation contractor, the city shop, a pipeline contractor, or a general contractor. You should be able to find a chunk of PVC pipe from a bone pile somewhere that will work just fine for you. Also talk to your precast concrete or ready mix concrete people for heavy concrete lids that won’t get knocked off. I have some drawing of this stuff if you are interested (pretty standard stuff really)
  7. citykid

    citykid New Member

    Messages:
    41
    Anyone have opnions of chemicals to flush to help maintain the septic system? Stuff like 'Rid-X' and others.
  8. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    septic tank

    In my little world there are no chemicals that will prevent you from the need to have the tank pumped on a regular basis.
  9. abikerboy

    abikerboy DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    202
    Location:
    VA
    There is a pretty good thread going on this subject in the "Pumps and Wells" forum which was started by Mike50. Also some talk about what happens if you do not pump your tank.
  10. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    You should see that thread-seriously. I was right where you are 10 days ago my friend. Pumping is the way to go.
    I'll go so far as to say that I have not read or heard about any conclusively
    convincing evidence to justify these products *necessity*.
    Any endorsements I've read are ALL anecdotal and speculative...so far anyway.
  11. citykid

    citykid New Member

    Messages:
    41
    Don't get me wrong, I plan to have it pumped regularly. Just thinking about possible preventative maintenance, that's all.
  12. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    Starting now I'm only using one ply toilet paper. My instincts tell me that will do more than any additive promises to do.

    Let me tell you about a conversation I had a couple days ago that involved
    the secretary to one of the more respected guys in that business (he was involved in gray water legislation and his family has been in the business since 1922.)

    We were discussing how she was told that in some cases too large a tank may not be good--as it can cause a lot of unneeded motion which may not be desirable.

    Anyway she also tells me she likes to take Jacuzzi baths (45 gallons) all the time. In her case-he told her NOT to add any of those products as he feared they might loosen up material which in turn could end up clogging the leach field.
    This based on a phone conversation and I cannot vouch for the veracity of these claims.
    FWIW. Take it with a grain of salt. I'm not a pro. Maybe someone will comment on this.
  13. mariner

    mariner New Member

    Messages:
    38
    Location:
    Hixon, BC
    Hi,

    I would definitely make access holes to the covers of your tank - for buth the manholes and any vents that there might be. 6 - 8ft down is a long way to dig to check out the condition of the tank (for whatever reason). You will need to monitor what is happening over time, not leave it until the tank backs up.

    I am in the process of trying to find out what has happened to my system due to the negligence of the previous owners. I cannot find my tank and I have dug up half of the garden down to 4ft - maybe not deep enough. However, due to other signs I am getting in a septic tank installation compant to do the inspection and location for me and, I fully expect, but do not want to, replace the whole system. In my case I expect to have to enlist the help of a local lawyer to recover the costs from the previous owner ("never had a problem in all the time we have lived here, fifteen years in all"). I too am retired and have to be careful with my money.

    Putting in the pipework so you can access your tank is doing yourself a big favour. Disregard the advice of the excavator and go with your gut instancts.

    Re water softener - if you can, try to reroute the waste flush water. If not then you will need to pump your system more frequently. Apparantly the salt does something to the soil in the drain field and affects the soild permeabilty somehow, thus reducing fields ability to process the fluids.

    mariner
  14. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    "Water softener backwash contains high levels of chlorides, which not only can kill micro-organisms in the tank,but will also interfere with sedimentation of solids. It should not be routed into the tank."

    "Septic System Owners Manual" (Kahn)
  15. It is recommended here (NC) that septic system tanks be pumped out at least every five years. Make certain that there is adequate access.
    Numerous studies have also shown that additives are useless. Normal usage should provide all of the bacteria necessary to keep one functioning properly.
    As for a water softeners, ours has been draining directly into our septic system for 29 years now with no ill effects.
    I have our tank pumped in all years ending in 5 or 0, and I flush down a cup of copper sulphate about 3 times a year for root prevention in the drainfield lines. No problems.
    Good Luck!
    Mike
  16. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    You should cite those studies Mike. That way we can file this one away on the shelf under "solved'.

    I posted the authored list of "What not to put in your septic tank" under Wells and Pumps" section.

    HTH
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
  17. auntyzoom

    auntyzoom New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Big Sur, CA
    I was able to learn the location of my (original) septic tank by going to local Health Dept., where they had a record of the permit/install. One could also try looking at records in Bldg. Dept., Assessor's Office & the like, depending on which entity issues permits for septics, etc. Might save you time, or even a little $$$

    Susy

  18. auntyzoom

    auntyzoom New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Big Sur, CA
    Septic pump truck access problem

    I know exactly where my septic tank/drainfield is, and that, from what I'm reading here, will eventually be a problem... there's no way a pump truck can get within 100+ yards of it to clean it out. I haven't a glimmer as to possible options, if any exist, in the event (when) I need to pump it out.

    House is on steep slope, with even steeper pump truck access and little turn around room for it ...and even if a truck could get to the house, it can't get either above, below or anywhere close to septic location.

    Having, so far (thankfully) had no need to pump out, hadn't given much thought to this but these posts look like a disturbing wake up call. I'm sure the pump trucks have reasonably lengthy hoses, but we're talking about more than a football field's distance from the closest point a truck can get, if it even can, to tank.

    Do I just wait until septic disaster strikes & maybe get a pump helicopter up here? Now there's a vision! :|

    I see so many inventive ideas & solutions on this forum; maybe some of y'all can come up with something creative BEFORE the need arises. Or do those trucks have inlimited miles of hose? Somehow I doubt it.

    One of my neighbors (a single lady who gratefully is not a CLOSE neighbor) uses a sump pump now & then & fertilizes her roses... Not exactly my cup of tea nor an option I'm eager to explore any further -

    Just wondering... Thanks -
    Susy
  19. abikerboy

    abikerboy DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    202
    Location:
    VA
    Pumping truck was only able to get within 150 feet of mine. Well, he could have got closer, but he said he didnt want to mess up my yard. Let them know when you call them that they cannot get very close. I would guess that they will bring extra hose along. When my mom has hers done, the truck has to go in through a gate and into a neighbors back yard. This opening is barely wide enough for me to drive my car through, or so I thought, but I watched in amazement as the pumper backed his tanker truck in the entire distance! (about 350 feet!)
    Rob
  20. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    It is easy to push water but there are physics limits on sucking it.

    If you are a long distance from the septic tank to where the tank truck has access, then you should have an access way big enough to put a sludge pump into the tank.

    The leach field is never very deep. If you move the tank to near the leach field, it should be shallower, unless you have a situation where you must pump from the tank to the leach field.

    If you need to bury the tank 10 ft deep, then you need to consider the earth weight on the top of the tank, and the earth loads on the sides of the tank. Saturated earth can easily weigh 110 or more pounds per cubic foot, which will put more than 1000 pounds per square foot on the top of a tank that is 10 ft under ground. For a tank that deep, the tank supplier should provide you with a drawing certified by a licensed engineer. They probably have a standard drawing with a stamp and certification. You should not have to pay for an engineering analysis.
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