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Thread: Septic/Leachfield Woes

  1. #1

    Default Septic/Leachfield Woes

    So the septic backed into the house we just moved into a couple weeks ago. After a search we found the septic (that was nowhere near where it said it was on the survey) by digging around until dirty water began bubbling up. We had it pumped out as it was obviously full beyond the top.

    Knowing absolutely nothing about these type of systems but unfortunately in the middle of a crash course, I took some pics.

    Here is the tank:

    As you can see, the baffle is on the right leading to the leech field.

    We dug up some of the line that goes to the field here:

    My questions are, I am assuming the tank should have never gotten this full and should have leeched out correct or could it be that just nobody ever had the tank (1000 gallon) pumped in the last few years and the solids were clogging the baffle? Isn't the baffle supposed to be a "T", and not what I have here? Would sawing a couple holes up top fix that?

    In the first pic, I noticed water slowly streaming out of the baffle into the tank. I waited for it to stop and then had the wife run the sink for a couple minutes and it began pouring again. I would imagine this is not supposed to happen? Would this indicated a problem in the line past where the greyline comes in? What can/should I do here?

    In the second pic, what exactly do I have here? The line runs into this other type of line which I have no idea what it is.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    DIY Hillbilly Southern Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    North Carolina


    The tank will always be full to an inch or so from the top. The discharge end is typically 1 or 2 " below the inlet.

    The pipe in your first photo looks like the discharge end. The bottom of the pipe should be in the approximate middle between the top and bottom, which appears to be the case. The reason for this is that the tank collects stuff that either sinks or floats, so the cleanest water is in the middle. Normally though, there is a “sanitary tee” connection that makes it easy to service.

    The bad news is that the tank was probably never serviced. Normally they should be pumped out every three years. If not, either the sinkers or the floaters get into the discharge, then on to your leach field, which then clogs. Once that happens, especially if the floaters got in there (grease) the field is probably history.

    You’ll need to call up a specialist to make a repair. If the house is less than about 20 years old, depending on where you live, there should be an area for repair set aside somewhere on the property.

    Since this happened so soon after you moved in, I suspect that the seller knew there was a problem and didn’t disclose it. Get your lawyer to file suit and discover his maintenance records.

    When you do make the repair, have the installer put in an effluent filter on the discharge pipe in the tank. That will keep sinkers and floaters out of the leach filed altogether so this doesn’t happen 3 in the future.

  3. #3



    Yes, I am happy!

    The sewer guy (Al) came by again and I showed him how the water ran back from the baffle.. Then I showed him where I dug out the line to the elbow (second pic). He gave the elbow a stiff kick and pop, out it came. Dry as a bone.. It looked like water had not been through it in a long time.

    Now the previous owners only had the house for 3 years and it was a second home. They came up once in a while, otherwise rented it during the winter for skiers and snowmobilers.. That makes me think that this could have been clogged for some time.

    Anyway, Al ran the snake from the elbow until it popped out the baffle into the tank. Pretty soon some sludgy stuff oozed out, and then we started filling the bathtub, sinks, etc and began blasting water down the pipes along with a hose down the gray line access. After some junk came out from the water and the retreating snake, boom, clear water began to flow. We watched it go right into the infiltrator and disappear. The flow was very good so we put the elbow back on.

    I am going to cover the elbow with plastic tomorrow and bury everything and draw up a map, make a million copies and put them in safe places. That was the most aggravating and difficult part of this entire process. NOBODY knew where anything was!

    I am not going to bury the septic cap until fall. I want to see the tank fill up and make sure it is leeching properly but Al said, and I agree that there shouldn't be any more issues.

    Seeing as how the leech field really hasn't been used, is there anything I should pour down the gray line that will help it now that it will be used?

  4. #4


    dup post...

  5. #5
    DIY Hillbilly Southern Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    North Carolina


    It looks like you really lucked out- great news.

    Along with your map you might want to bury some iron at stategic spots in your system. A handfull of nails 6" deep, a piece of rebar, scrap iron- anything with steel or iron with it. That way when Al comes back in three years to pump the tank he can find everything with his metal detector.

    A concrete cover to your septic tank should have steel lifting loops on it anyway.

    I would also suggest having Al install an effluent filter on the tank either now or the next pump-out. It is cheap insurance.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    On Albemarle Sound In Northeastern NC


    The only "additive" that you need to use with a septic system is something like copper sulphate crystals to knock roots back from growing into the perforated drainfield lines if there are trees or shrubbery over or near the drainfield.
    Just flush a cup or two down the toilet about three times a year.
    Good Luck!


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