(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 25

Thread: Septic tank questions

  1. #1
    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    durham, nc
    Posts
    82

    Default Septic tank questions

    Before I post my questions, I want to make sure this is the appropriate forum... I didn't see any other forum with septic tank in the title. Thanks

  2. #2
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    Posts
    2,474

    Default

    Ah, just go ahead and a moderator can move it if necessary!

  3. #3
    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    durham, nc
    Posts
    82

    Default septic tank

    Several questions concerning my septic system:

    We are in a dry spell. The shape of my septic tank is outlined in a perfect square with lush green grass surrounded by browner, less lush veg. I anticipate this is fluids coming up from the tank. Is this typical or should I be on the phone right now with a septic tank pump company? There is no odor, the toilet flushes fine and all drains have no back-up. Also, it did the same thing last summer.

    General Maintenance:
    1) How often should it be pumped? 1, 2 years?
    2) How much does it cost, <ballpark> for pumping?
    3) Is it worth using products like rid-x? (i anticipate a multitude of mixed feelings on this matter!)
    4) Lastly, there is a 4" stick up capped pvc "cleanout" located some distance away from the tank. I don't think its in the leachfield. The previous owner told me before I bought the house that I need to drop chlorine tabs into every six months. Why is this AND where in the heck can I find those in a small amount? I can only find them in huge amounts, like 20 year supplies.

    Much thanks for input on these matters!

  4. #4

    Default

    I'm no pro, so caveat reader:

    I don't think your tank is leaking. The same thing happens on mine, and it was just pumped and inspected this spring. I wonder if the breakdown in the tank causes higher levels of nitrogen outside of the tank that superfertilizes the grass above.

    1) It depends on the size of yr tank and how many people live in the house. Typically, it's 2-3 years.
    2) $300-500 in my area of NJ.
    3) I was told no. The key to good septic operation and life is not overloading yr tank with too much water (more than 1-2 loads laundry a day etc), not using a garbage disposer, and not putting undilutables (like sanitary napkins) in there.
    4) See 3.
    Last edited by prashster; 06-27-2007 at 06:54 AM.
    (important note: I'm not a pro)

  5. #5
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    Posts
    2,474

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    The shape of my septic tank is outlined in a perfect square with lush green grass surrounded by browner, less lush veg. I anticipate this is fluids coming up from the tank. Is this typical ...
    According to Erma Bombeck, the grasss is *always* greener over the septic tank!

    My guess is that you have a two-piece tank and simply that the two halves are not sealed perfectly. Hence, some drainage could be seeping out all around the tank and watering the nearby grass. Unless you have a shallow (ground water) well too close to the tank, I would not worry about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    How often should it be pumped? 1, 2 years?
    As often as it takes to keep any crust (if there even is any) from becoming too thick and hardened on top, and to keep sludge (settled solids) at the bottom knocked down. And of course, the size of the tank, the demand placed upoin it and various other factors play in here.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    How much does it cost, <ballpark> for pumping?
    A reputable and nearby pumper will likely come out and inspect your system, pump the tank and explain everything to you for possibly something like $100.00 or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    Is it worth using products like rid-x? (i anticipate a multitude of mixed feelings on this matter!)
    Unless you are running a lot of wash water (gray water) into a too-small septic tank, there should already be plenty of stuff in there to break everything down. And if there is not, it would be far more effective to re-direct the wash water elsewhere than to dump boxes of dollars into the tank.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    Lastly, there is a 4" stick up capped pvc "cleanout" located some distance away from the tank. I don't think its in the leachfield.
    It could be an inspection hole above the distribution box.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    The previous owner told me before I bought the house that I need to drop chlorine tabs into every six months ...
    I have never heard of any such thing, but maybe someone told him that would somehow help the leach field.

    One thing you definitely should have is a filter in the output end of your septic tank to keep solids (lint and such) from going out into the leach field, and this yellow one is the one I use in each of my tanks as well as to filter the discharge in my gray-water line:

    http://www.gag-simtech.com/passive_filters.htm
    Last edited by leejosepho; 06-27-2007 at 07:09 AM.

  6. #6
    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    durham, nc
    Posts
    82

    Default much thanks fellas!

    much appreciative, I am

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member achutch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    193

    Default

    My seasonal camp "further up the mountain" as my neighbors refer to it, has a 1000 gallon septic tank that services two 7 gallon gusher toilets and a lavatory. I have a gray water system for the kitchen and the tub and sink in the inside bathroom. The area where the tank is, is bone dry with only a little grass growing in that spot. The area across the road where the leach tank is is grass and moss covered, but is far from lush. But, there are no leaks or odors other than from the two vents, and only at certain times.

    I do use an additive, a 2-month treatment, starting May 1 through mid-October. I try not to put chlorine bleach into the septic tank, and clean the toilets with pine oil, or an acid bowl cleaner.

    I would think normal use of chlorine bleach in an occasional wash load would be OK, but I would never deliberately dose the tank or the leach lines with chlorine, as I would think that would interfere with the biological action in the tank and leach field that breaks down the waste.

    On the same line, the owner of the septic service who installed my tank told me not to put solids from the cat box down the toilet because the bacteria in the cat waste would also raise havoc with the normal bacteria in the tank. So the cat waste goes to an in ground waste disposal system rather than the toilet.


    "achutch" up here on the Spine of the Green Mountains

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    On Albemarle Sound In Northeastern NC
    Posts
    621

    Default

    North Carolina State University has done extensive research on septic systems, and recommends that tanks be pumped out at least every 5 years (I have mine pumped out each year ending with 0 or 5).
    A minimum, basic system here is a 1,000-gallon tank, a distribution box, and 210' of drainfield. For certain types of soils and increased usage (more than a 3-bedroom home), they add drainfield line length.
    NCSU research says that all of those additives are a total waste of money. Normal usage should supply all of the bacteria necessary for it to function properly. I happen to have a lot of landscaping growing over or near my drainfield, so I flush a cup or two of copper sulphate crystals down a toilet about 3 times a year to help keep the roots out.
    Here, it costs $250 to have a tank pumped and inspected.
    Try not to flush solids (cig filters, feminine products, food chunks), grease, oils, excess bleach or caustics, paint, etc. down. Personally, I wouldn't put bleach tablets into a system, even an inspection pipe (that is NOT a clean-out...clean-outs here are on tanks only).
    The best policy is to only flush human waste, waste (gray) water and toilet tissue into a septic system. We always pour grease, oils, etc. and wipe out skillets and pans into the trash, for instance.
    Contact your local Health Department permitting agency for the record of your system (design and location sketch and system description) and for local maintenance advice. It will vary from area to area.
    Good Luck!
    Mike

  9. #9
    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    durham, nc
    Posts
    82

    Default thanks

    this is all great info fellas. thanks.

    as far as contacting the local county office health dept... what if they don't have a record b/c it was done so long ago (1965) or whoever built it didn't get a permit and it was installed illegally? then i may have to pick up the costs etc..?

  10. #10
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    Posts
    2,474

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl
    as far as contacting the local county office health dept...
    I have done as Mike has suggested to you: Just go ask what records are there. In my own case, there were none ... so I just thanked them for looking and went on my way.

    If there is a record and your system seems to have been updated or changed without a permit before you came into the picture, I cannot imagine you being required to do anything other than to take care of any necessary corrections if/when you might later ask for a permit to do any work on the system (or have work done) and it is then subject to inspection.

  11. #11
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Posts
    6,790

    Default

    The grass is greener due to the tank top collecting precipitation as it percolates down through the soil and not allowing it to go deeper than the roots of the grass where they can't use it.

    That 'clean out' may be for a secondary tank. I suggest you call local septic tank pumper guys and run that pipe by them. You normally don't want or need chlorine in the septic tank or leach field.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    cold new york
    Posts
    840

    Default

    Lets get to the bottom of septic systems... Yuck!
    As we all know they are designed to filter waste so that pollution of the ground/water doesn't occur. Also, septic tanks are almost always full to the outlet with water and solids on the bottom.
    When new installations are speced out by the health dpt, they are based on the EXISTING DRAINANGE. This is very important to help you understand your septic system. For example... I know folks on gravel drainage, that have only pumped their tank once in 18 years, this is common for folks with gravel drainage around here. With a properly functioning, bacterially active septic tank, this is possible. So make sure you need to pump before you go on a schedule of spending $300/year. Now, the other extreme is clay. This is when you are required to put in extensive drainage/leach fields and absorption beds. If you do not filter the water on it's way out (like leejosepho said) you can ruin one of these 15k systems in a couple of short years. The pore spaces in the sand will become filled with solids and the sand will become useless. bye-bye 10-15k. I would play it safe with an extensive system like this in clay, and pump it as is suggested for your system.
    New York State will not guarantee the systems, they will only tell you how long they "should" last. They say around 20 years here. Even on the brand new systems here, there is expected to be damp areas at the edge of the absorption beds after alot of company. (I had my system speced for an update by a county worker 2 weeks ago, and he told me that). Also it is common to see lush grass and wet spots at the very end of the absorption beds. This too, is common, and according to the county health dpt. worker is supposed to be drinkable. Although he told me he wouldn't drink it! So what the heck is the point of the 15k system? Anyway, they are not perfect, and are all unique, knowing your ground, and existing system will help.
    As far as green grass, is it only over the tank, and nowhere else? Gary Slusser's explanation is a posibility. If you have a plugged outlet, your water could be leaking out around the tank lid as well. Stay away from the chems.

    Molo
    Last edited by molo; 07-10-2007 at 09:01 PM.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    699

    Default

    I highly recommend this 5 star book illustrated book. Great investment.


    http://www.amazon.com/Septic-System-...4968712&sr=8-3

    Mike50

  14. #14
    Rancher
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
    That 'clean out' may be for a secondary tank. I suggest you call local septic tank pumper guys and run that pipe by them.
    We were required to put in a leach field inspection pipe, I guess to see if the field was filled up with water or not. Mine got crushed by the subcontractors, it's now underground somewhere.

    Rancher

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member abikerboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    202

    Default

    Like someone else here said, I have mine pumped every year that ends in an "0" or a "5". Two full time adults, plus weekend children, and the occasional guest here. As for cost...$200 here in Va, but on the other hand, a rental house in West Va that my ex and I owned together, that one only cost me $45!!!!...however it was some backwoods pumper, and I do have the feeling that the "crap" just got dumped over some mountain somewhere instead of it being disposed of properly. As for drainfield size...that changes a lot! I have 12 lines in red clay...each line is 100 feet long. My mom, who lives directly accross the street, has 2 lines that are 25 feet long, while my neighbor next door has 3 lines that "I think" are 50 feet long., and another neighbor has 5 lines, 100 feet long. As for the cleanout after the tank...my system has 4 distribution boxes. The first box feeds the other three boxes (none of the drainfield lines feed off of this one), and the other three boxes feed the drainfield lines. The first box has a small pipe with a cap on it to inspect, and to suck out that first box. Also, chlorine is a killer of septic systems. It kills bacteria, and you need bacteria for the system to work. As for additives... in the past, I always used Rid-X, and here's what I was told: "No additive truly beneficial to a septic system has been discovered. The bacteria needed for the system to operate comes from our own bowels and waste." With keeping this in mind, I stopped using the rid-x, and stopped adding the yeast, and the last time the tank was cleaned, the pumper said that the solid layer and the scum layer measured about the same as it always has in the past.
    Last edited by abikerboy; 07-23-2007 at 03:40 AM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •