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Thread: Septic Tank Questions

  1. #1
    Architect Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Default Septic Tank Questions

    Since some plumber will probably have to deal with my system someday, I'd like to do it right and hopefully make someone's job a little easier.
    The top of my septic tank ended up about 8-9' below grade with a 1/4" per foot drop on the main 4" line. My excavator wants to just bury the tank (1500 Gal) and forget about it, but I bet we'll have to pump it someday. Should I just bury it and dig to the top when I need a pump or should I install a section of 36" or 48" corrugated culvert pipe to grade? How often do these need a pump out? (City boy gettin' into septic life.) I trust my excavator on everything else, but he says that I'll never need to pump... Never is pretty strong wording.
    Next is what is the best thing to do with the back flush brine from the water softener? It'll be recharging 1-2 times per week.
    Thanks everyone!!!
    Spaceman Spiff aka Mike

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    How many people in your family will determine when you need to pump.

    How many are there?

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default cleanout

    You should extend that center opening to grade to simplify pumping it, either with a culvert pipe or a fiberglass pipe with a cap made just for that purpose. You should also extend the two cleanouts at either end of the tank's lid, since those can simplify diagnosing, and sometimes curing other problems at the tank.

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    Architect Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Right now there are 2 adults and 4 kids. We may get 1-2 more adults depending on if we rent out the basement.

    Where do I start looking for culvert pipe? Would my plumbing house have it or would I need to look at the farm store?
    Spaceman Spiff aka Mike

  5. #5
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Default septic

    Check the lumber yard. You'r excavator should have access to man holes of some sort.

    But if you don't bring the lid to the surface, then mark the ground with something so you will be able to find the door when needed.

    Do not belive him when he says, never need to open it up. You should open the tank every 2 to 4 years and have it pumped out so that you don't have other problems like a field bed that won't drain anymore because it fills up with sludge.

    Don't wait till you have a problem......

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member rshackleford's Avatar
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    Default

    You will probably need to pump it once a year or every other year. Not having a riser would be a bad idea. You could also talk to a local irrigation contractor, the city shop, a pipeline contractor, or a general contractor. You should be able to find a chunk of PVC pipe from a bone pile somewhere that will work just fine for you. Also talk to your precast concrete or ready mix concrete people for heavy concrete lids that won’t get knocked off. I have some drawing of this stuff if you are interested (pretty standard stuff really)
    rshackleford

  7. #7

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    Anyone have opnions of chemicals to flush to help maintain the septic system? Stuff like 'Rid-X' and others.

  8. #8
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Default septic tank

    In my little world there are no chemicals that will prevent you from the need to have the tank pumped on a regular basis.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member abikerboy's Avatar
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    There is a pretty good thread going on this subject in the "Pumps and Wells" forum which was started by Mike50. Also some talk about what happens if you do not pump your tank.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citykid
    Anyone have opnions of chemicals to flush to help maintain the septic system? Stuff like 'Rid-X' and others.
    You should see that thread-seriously. I was right where you are 10 days ago my friend. Pumping is the way to go.
    I'll go so far as to say that I have not read or heard about any conclusively
    convincing evidence to justify these products *necessity*.
    Any endorsements I've read are ALL anecdotal and speculative...so far anyway.

  11. #11

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    Don't get me wrong, I plan to have it pumped regularly. Just thinking about possible preventative maintenance, that's all.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Starting now I'm only using one ply toilet paper. My instincts tell me that will do more than any additive promises to do.

    Let me tell you about a conversation I had a couple days ago that involved
    the secretary to one of the more respected guys in that business (he was involved in gray water legislation and his family has been in the business since 1922.)

    We were discussing how she was told that in some cases too large a tank may not be good--as it can cause a lot of unneeded motion which may not be desirable.

    Anyway she also tells me she likes to take Jacuzzi baths (45 gallons) all the time. In her case-he told her NOT to add any of those products as he feared they might loosen up material which in turn could end up clogging the leach field.
    This based on a phone conversation and I cannot vouch for the veracity of these claims.
    FWIW. Take it with a grain of salt. I'm not a pro. Maybe someone will comment on this.

  13. #13
    DIY Member mariner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
    Since some plumber will probably have to deal with my system someday, I'd like to do it right and hopefully make someone's job a little easier.
    The top of my septic tank ended up about 8-9' below grade with a 1/4" per foot drop on the main 4" line. My excavator wants to just bury the tank (1500 Gal) and forget about it, but I bet we'll have to pump it someday. Should I just bury it and dig to the top when I need a pump or should I install a section of 36" or 48" corrugated culvert pipe to grade? How often do these need a pump out? (City boy gettin' into septic life.) I trust my excavator on everything else, but he says that I'll never need to pump... Never is pretty strong wording.
    Next is what is the best thing to do with the back flush brine from the water softener? It'll be recharging 1-2 times per week.
    Thanks everyone!!!
    Hi,

    I would definitely make access holes to the covers of your tank - for buth the manholes and any vents that there might be. 6 - 8ft down is a long way to dig to check out the condition of the tank (for whatever reason). You will need to monitor what is happening over time, not leave it until the tank backs up.

    I am in the process of trying to find out what has happened to my system due to the negligence of the previous owners. I cannot find my tank and I have dug up half of the garden down to 4ft - maybe not deep enough. However, due to other signs I am getting in a septic tank installation compant to do the inspection and location for me and, I fully expect, but do not want to, replace the whole system. In my case I expect to have to enlist the help of a local lawyer to recover the costs from the previous owner ("never had a problem in all the time we have lived here, fifteen years in all"). I too am retired and have to be careful with my money.

    Putting in the pipework so you can access your tank is doing yourself a big favour. Disregard the advice of the excavator and go with your gut instancts.

    Re water softener - if you can, try to reroute the waste flush water. If not then you will need to pump your system more frequently. Apparantly the salt does something to the soil in the drain field and affects the soild permeabilty somehow, thus reducing fields ability to process the fluids.

    mariner

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    "Water softener backwash contains high levels of chlorides, which not only can kill micro-organisms in the tank,but will also interfere with sedimentation of solids. It should not be routed into the tank."

    "Septic System Owners Manual" (Kahn)

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    It is recommended here (NC) that septic system tanks be pumped out at least every five years. Make certain that there is adequate access.
    Numerous studies have also shown that additives are useless. Normal usage should provide all of the bacteria necessary to keep one functioning properly.
    As for a water softeners, ours has been draining directly into our septic system for 29 years now with no ill effects.
    I have our tank pumped in all years ending in 5 or 0, and I flush down a cup of copper sulphate about 3 times a year for root prevention in the drainfield lines. No problems.
    Good Luck!
    Mike

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