Slow drains and burping toilets

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by 08fx4, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. 08fx4

    08fx4 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Last night my TV viewing was interupted by a gurgling sink, followed by three burping toilets. Let me give you some background to the story ...

    I live in a 2100sf ranch on a slab, 2 1/2 baths, it's just me and the wife. We have a septic tank that is approx 1 1/2 yrs old and was installed when the house was built. We have had zero issue or reasons for concern so far.

    Over the past week, we have done quite a bit of laundry as well as quite a few loads of dishes in the dishwasher. We have had approx 2 inches of rain over the past 3 days. Last night, we did two loads of laundry back to back and my wife soaked in the garden tub, the tub was emptied as the second load finished up.

    Here is where the fun starts, after the burping and gurgling I stared hopelessly at my toilet and realized the water in the bowl was leaving the bowl without being flushed. This appeared to be happening to all three toilets as the washing machine hit its final spin cycle and was pumping the excess water out. Upon trying to flush the toilet, the bowl filled but drained very slow. I went outside to check the " clean out" in the yard and noticed the water was standing still and was backed up in the cleanout an inch or so.

    I searched the internet for clues ... then after 30 mins I checked the " clean out " again and it looked dry. Toilets flushed fine and everything seems back to normal. My gut is telling me there is more to it .. ( clogged vent pipe on the roof, clogged pipe from house to the tank ) It just seems real odd that all of the sudden we have this issue with no sign of trouble.

    Any thoughts ??
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    When was your septic tank last pumped? The tank may be full and clogged. Your the drain field could be saturated or the sewer line may have a clog. The problem arising after a heavy rain makes me think of the tank or leach field. You should contact a septic service company who does not have the word "Rooter" in his business name to inspect your system.
  3. 08fx4

    08fx4 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    The tank has never been pumped as it is only 1 1/2 yrs old with two people using it.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,279
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    1. You have to realize that your septic tank is a two way device. The water can exit it and flow into the ground, BUT, the water can also flow out of the ground into the tank during periods of excessive rainfall. The fact that the water rises in the cleanout then drains down quickly could be an indication of that problem. If not, then your tank, or the pipe to, or from it could be partially obstructed.
  5. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    I gotta go with Gary on this one. Have the septic tank pumped.
  6. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Your field system was simply overloaded for a time, then it recovered. If this becomes a recurring problem, you might need a field system with a larger capacity ... and chamber systems are often the better choice. But on top of all that and apart from the rain, you might be overworking your septic tank since too much volume going into and through it dilutes its content too much and disrupts the bacterial breakdown of solids ... and that could mean your field system is slowly being choked. For sure, and to protect your field system, you should have an outlet filter inside your septic tank.
  7. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    A quick way to check if there is a blockage in the system is open the clean out and open the inspection hole on the septic tank. Run water till lit starts to back up in the clean out to the top. Then check to see if the septic is just as full. If it is not as full there is a blockage between the clean out and the tank. If the tank does fill up along with the clean out then the issue is with the tank or the seepage field. It would not hurt to have it pumped out a good septic company will be able to unclog the drain between the house and tank if it needs it.
  8. 08fx4

    08fx4 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Update ...

    Ok ... I snaked out the clean out and everything seemed clear. No problems after that, mulitple loads of laundry and dish washer runs = no problems. Fast forward to yesterday ... after a day full of rain ( 1.5" to 2.5" ) the problem comes back. I examined the yard above where my tank and first drain is located. This is an area where groundwater runoff will accumulate during a storm ...always has. My new thought is that the ground has become so saturated in this area during heavy rains that it is causing the tank and field to drain slowly. I am guessing a "french drain" in this area may help to resolve the problem,but I am just a DIY'r ...what do you pro's think ?
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Before I went crazy installing drainage in the yard I would check the function of the tank. Areas of concern would be the inlet baffle area, sludge level, and the outlet. Some tanks have a filter on the outlet that require periodic cleaning. Any of these can restrict the flow through the tank.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    If you have standing water in your leach field from rain, there is no place for the water to leach into when you run something down the drain. If you can direct runoff from the roof elsewhere, you've got a chance of resolving this...Keep in mind that the septic tank normally is full - solids fall to the bottom, but the liquids overflow out into the leach field. So, basically it is always full of something. If it gets too full of solids, then those can get washed out into the leach field which will clog it up. If the ground water level gets high enough, it can back up into the tank and the drain line going to it - there'd be no place for anything new to go.
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Still I would check the tank first.
    I have seen standing water on the surface yet below the surface a dry well or, leaching field was still functioning well.
    I have also seen saturated fields with a puddle on the surface as well.
    You don't know anything until you check the tank!
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