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Thread: Need septic tank/leeching pipe advice

  1. #1
    DIY Member SD44's Avatar
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    Default Need septic tank/leeching pipe advice

    well i'm alittle embarassed because you city guys won't understand that things are different for people that live deep in the country, we don't have a city sewer system like you guys, lol.

    Okay, I live in a very rural area, you could say I live in the sticks, lol. anyways, My septic tank is right behind my house, underneath the ground obviously. It has about 500 ft. of 4" leeching pipe that goes out into a wooded area and is open on the end, letting drainage go into the woods. The problem is, my neighbor has asked me to do something about the drainage that's going into his woods.

    My question is.................since there is sooo much length with the leeching pipe (500 ft), and the pipe was laid on a bd of gravel, would I not be okay to just cap off the end of the pipe? Wouldn't that force the water to go through the holes in the bottom of the pipe? My septic tank is vented with a pipe running through the roof, so there shouldn't be a vacumm/air lock problem.

    I know that the water would probably build up some in the pipe if it were sealed off at the end, but shouldn't it eventually seep into the ground through the holes? We're not in a rainy area, I'd say we're probably average in national rainfall.
    Last edited by SD44; 02-08-2008 at 08:49 PM.

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    retired Industrial Arts teacher Drainplug's Avatar
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    Hello,
    I am not a city folk by any means, but I have never heard of having the drainage pipe open on the end and having fluid running out into the open. I grew up on a septic system, I also have one now and the drain field has always been completely underground. So, if you cap off the pipe, it would just be like all the systems that I am familiar with. I would think that the water would be forced out the holes in the pipe. Maybe I am missing something here...I would like to hear more comments on this.

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    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    No septic drainage discharge or drainfield pipes should be above ground whatsoever. This system has been improperly installed.
    You can cap off the ends of the lines, but all lines need to be buried.
    If it were me, I would call out the Health Department to inspect the system, and recommend a proper solution. My guess is that that they will require a permit and inspection for you to bury the system under a certain amount of sand, maybe at least 18" or more.
    Good luck!
    Mike

  4. #4

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    Think yourself very lucky the neighbor didnt call the county already. The last thing you want is to turn yourself in for a bad septic.

    May we assume that your system is on a slope and one pipe comes out to daylight? That may have been an inspection port-cleanout that someone opened and did not close. It may have been opened because the system was backing up and that "fixed" it. Or maybe the kids opened it.

    You have a lot of leach field, so just cap it off and see what happens. If your house backs up in a week or so you probably need a new system. THEN call a septic pro, and still not the county. Find out your options before getting big brother involved. How many lines of what length do you have? How old is the system?

    If the house backs up, however, you will probably need to open that cap again, and then your neighbor will get a shot of a few thousand gallons of effluent, so at that point he probably WILL call the county.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Not knowing the # of people using the home...if 500' of leach line is not enough to drain the water coming from the tank before it reaches the end of the 500' then I am going to guess that the field is in failure now.

    I would just call a pro or 2 in to inspect and tell me what was going on.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    Not knowing the # of people using the home...if 500' of leach line is not enough to drain the water coming from the tank before it reaches the end of the 500' then I am going to guess that the field is in failure now.

    I would just call a pro or 2 in to inspect and tell me what was going on.
    I would agree with this.... If the water has not soaked into the gravel bed by the end of 500' you are in failure already.

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    I would agree with this.... If the water has not soaked into the gravel bed by the end of 500' you are in failure already.
    Yes, and like Raucina said, research your options before visiting the permit palace. Being out in the boonies, you will likely find a little "repair work" much more convenient and less expensive.

  8. #8
    DIY Member SD44's Avatar
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    Oh, the open end of the pipe is in a wooded/unused area way off behind my neighbor and my house. It's nowhere close to his home or yard. He owns the land behind my house, that's why this is an issue.

    The land gradually degrades downwards as you head towards the end of the pipe. so the pipe is buried about 4 ft. deep behind the house, but is only about a foot deep at the end. The pipe isn't sticking up out of the ground, as stated it's about 1 ft. deep at the end and where it comes out at is a puddle. I thought about simply filling in the puddle/hole, but i figured that probably wouldn't stop it.


    Worst case scenario, if I capped it off and it eventually backed up at the house.......couldn't I just occasionally get the septic tank drained? I've never had to do that with the leech pipe being open, but it's not uncommon for many people to have to have their septic tanks drained occasionally.
    Last edited by SD44; 02-09-2008 at 06:35 AM.

  9. #9
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    septic tanks should be pumped every 2-4 years depending on the amount of use they get, their size and their age.

    The frequency of pumping will be directly connected to how long the field lasts.

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SD44 View Post
    Worst case scenario, if I capped it off and it eventually backed up at the house.......couldn't I just occasionally get the septic tank drained?
    Sure, every time it fills up again, but it would not take long for that cost to add up to more than that of a new drain field.

    If your tank's discharge is making it out to the end of the pipe, then that pipe must not be too terribly plugged or filled with roots or whatever. All considered, I would go out and dig a hole at the end of that pipe and install a chamber system. How large that should be would depend upon a variety of things, but the cost for even a relatively large area would not be prohibitive.
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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default septic

    If the leach line is plugged and you capped the end of it, you would have to pump the tank EVERY time once you used about 1,000 gallons of water, or whatever the capacity of the tank plus the pipe is.

  12. #12
    DIY Member SD44's Avatar
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    Here's the situation - we are selling the house. We already have buyers, my neighbor asked me to fix this problem before i leave. I want to do what's right for everybody, but obviously I don't want to sink a ton of cash into something i'm not going to be using a month from now (like a $3000-5000 treatment system).

    As stated, we've never had the septic tank pumped since we've been here, for 8 years. I told the buyers that I'd have it pumped before we leave, but they may have to get it pumped every few years. They are okay with this. What worries me is that the tank doesn't appear to have a valve or anything above ground where it can be pumped. Is it normal that you have to dig down to the tank to pump it? Did some older tanks not have the ability to be pumped? What is the average cost to have a tank pumped?
    Last edited by SD44; 02-09-2008 at 08:23 AM.

  13. #13
    DIY Member SD44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    If the leach line is plugged and you capped the end of it, you would have to pump the tank EVERY time once you used about 1,000 gallons of water, or whatever the capacity of the tank plus the pipe is.
    Well if that is the case, then it appears to me that the leach line is useless, right?? Why even use leach line why not just use regular pipe with no holes?

    Surely some of the water is being leached out through the holes in the pipe.

  14. #14
    Plumber patrick88's Avatar
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    As stated, we've never had the septic tank pumped since we've been here, for 8 years. I told the buyers that I'd have it pumped before we leave, but they may have to get it pumped every few years. They are okay with this. What worries me is that the tank doesn't appear to have a valve or anything above ground where it can be pumped. Is it normal that you have to did down to the tank to pump it? Did some older tanks not have the ability to be pumped? What is the average cost to have a tank pumped?
    I know not all tank covers are above ground. You could have it raised, but If your moving don't bother. I have seen pipes like your pipe coming out of the ground and they were not for gray water. The pipe could be ground water run off.
    Like others have said that is a very long leach field. I would have somebody check the line. You might be able to test it by flushing toilets and running laundry. Then see if the water starts to move faster or stops when you have nothing running at all.
    I'm just starting to work with an old friend of mine to bring solar electric and hot water systems, wind turbines, Flex Fuel Boilers, batteries, hydroponic gardening, books, pellet grills and more. Also the parts for DIY installation.

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    DIY Member fidodie's Avatar
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    good septic person can look at the way the line comes out of the house, and with a probe, figure out the most likely place for the lid, then they start digging - either with a small (towable) excuvator, or by hand. they get an extra $100+ or so for digging - $300 or more for the pump out in NJ. if spackle knives or paint brushes were cleaned in the sink, this really adds to the problem!

    ask the new owners if they would like to foot the bill for putting a ground level cover in - another $600, but it saves on the digging expense the next time. on the other hand, they will now know where the underground cover is. there may also be an inspection/clean-out at the other end of the tank - depends on type

    any home inspector who can smell will find the end of the pipe if there is a puddle. if the tank was full, you may have ended up with solids going down the leach pipe. i think they can clear that with a power washer. Leading to patrick88s point - if it doesn't smell horrible, it aint effluent.
    Pat

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