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Thread: Septic Tank Pumping Question

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member gbcherry's Avatar
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    Default Septic Tank Pumping Question

    We have lived in our house going on 9 years, started to have some issues with slow drains, and decided to have the tank pumped hoping that would be the cure. We hired someone to come out and clean the tank, which fixed the issue for about two weeks and then while in the shower one day my wife called out and said the water was not going down. We were also washing a load of clothes, so I cut that off, again hoping that everything was OK. The water did not go down and in fact started to seep out from around the toilets. I called a different septic tank service and described the problem. They commented that since we had just had our tank pumped that the problem could be in the field line and that they would bring their jetter out to see if lines needed cleaned out. Once here they called and asked me to come look inside the tank. The tank was full of sludge, "gunk" and it looked like a cotton bail had broke apart in places. They stated that they felt the first guy did not pump the tank entirely, just the water out of it. They had to get a shovel and break up some of the sludge so that their line could suck it into their tanker. I then called the first guy and was feed a line about a sidewalk that we had built across the area where the line exits the tank was causing the problem. I then filed a complaint with the state, due to his attitude and behavior. In his response he claims, "I emptied the tank of 1,000 gallons, plus an additional 1,000 gallons that returned to the tank from over loaded field lines."

    My question is, his explanation possible and if so should it fill back up with so much compacted "sh*t" that it had to be busted apart two weeks later?

  2. #2
    In the Trades Texas Wellman's Avatar
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    I don't really have an answer to your question. A couple of things I have found, and bear in mind that I am not a septic guy, is that normally when they get pumped, it's already too late.

    I don't really see someone putting forth the effort to pull the access hatch or the lid and not pump the whole thing.

    My bet is that it overflows again soon.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member gbcherry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Wellman View Post
    I don't really have an answer to your question. A couple of things I have found, and bear in mind that I am not a septic guy, is that normally when they get pumped, it's already too late.
    Its hard for me to believe this that it's already to late, anybody have an answer?

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    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    I build and repair septics. Sounds like the first pumper is a real piece of septic work. If he pumped it right, NOTHING would be in the tank resembling crust and crud. It wont come back from the field.

    If your system works ok after the second real pumper, then yes, the first guy just screwed you. After a real pump job, the tank will have pretty much "clean" water without any crust for a year or less.

    Needing a pump does not at all decide that its too late for the system. It was just a bit late for a regular pump, but thats pretty much how it works when other things in life are so much more obvious and important.

    He said that the field sent him back 1000g of more crap. Very unlikely, as the field would normally be far enough below the tank level that it would be impossible. If the first guy did not have a huge suction, or vacuum truck, with about a 4" suction line, he is just a hobo.

    If it works now, I would go get the first clown big time.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member gbcherry's Avatar
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    Thank you ballvalve,

    It is extremely had to believe that the first guy I had out is not full of sh*t himself. What I witnessed in the tank when the second company lifted the lid blew me away. It actually looked as though there were small cotton bales in there from the compacted toilet paper and other "stuff". You are correct our filed line goes out about 15 to 20" and then starts slopping down, in my opinion there would be no way an additional 1,000 gallons of anything can back uphill, and if it did I believe it would come with such force that it would have gone into the house before we called him out.

    I was going to let this issue die and not return a rebuttal complaint to the state, however the more I think about his actions and lies I want to bust his ass!

  6. #6
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    I will weigh in with my opinion on some that was said.

    If you wait until the field has backed up due to sludge, there is the possibility that it is already too late. A tank needs to be pumped before it gets that bad. Once the field is plugged up with the sludge, there is no real way of getting the sludge back out. If it was only the outlet of the tank that got plugged, you might have got off lucky but it should serve as a warning that the sludge needs to be removed before the symptoms manifest. It also could have been an issue of high ground water which might explain the assertion of 1000 gallons returning from the field. As for the assertion that the sludge returned from the field, anything that comes out of a 4" field or distribution pipe should not need to be busted up with a shovel.

    What you describe as "cotton" sounds like undigested paper. If you are getting such a buildup, then it suggests that the biological action in the tank was/is dead. That could be from sending harsh chemicals down the drain. You may need to adjust your lifestyle WRT what you send down the drain. Us county folk often see that with displaced city folk.

    I hope you took some good pictures and get a signed statement from the second guy. Don't let the first guy off easy. From the sounds of it, he ripped you off.

  7. #7
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    By the way you should have 2 lids and two chambers. If you do not have a 2 chamber tank with a baffle to keep solids out of the field, you may have plugged the field.... chamber 1 should have the floaters, perhaps 6" thick - cake - and on the bottom 8 to 12" of digest, extending on the bottom to the second chamber. Some old one chamber tanks only kept solids out of the field with a deep drop line on the outlet tee. When the condoms and nylon butt wipes make it to that point, you have issues.

    No butt wipes, and no garbage disposal, no womens things ever - and that takes work to enforce.

    If you have a sidewalk over the second chamber, you need to cut it! And pump it every 3 or 4 years, not 9.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 03-31-2012 at 09:57 AM.

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    Homeowner
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    Honey Wagon drivers are on my official Sh^t list. Look at how this one sealed a tank for a customer of mine.


  9. #9
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Ja, do a google image search for septic tank and you can see several different designs. You can also get an idea of the principles governing the design.

    There are a lot of things that could be added to the list of things not to flush. It's amazing some of the products that are purported to be "flushable", perhaps by city dweller standards but certainly not septic tank friendly.

  10. #10
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    You MUST sit and watch every move of a pumper. They pay by the weight or gallon to dump their crap, and cheat at every chance.

  11. #11
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    They pay by the weight or gallon to dump their crap, and cheat at every chance.
    A little bit of advice... don't tailgate them. I knew one guy that would open the valve and let it all out while driving down the highway. He figured he was just feeding the roadside vegetation and saving money at the same time.

    Around here the honey wagons own their own dump sites.

  12. #12
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    One moron like that ruined an oyster farm for about 5 years with his night dump. So you have to watch the pump and the dump.

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