Monday, March 10, 2014

Septic Tank And Field Lines

In 1996 I purchased a house that was built in 1976 in Dyersburg, TN (west tenn.) I had to have the septic tank pumped during the winter of 1998 when the ground was frozen. My tank is just a few feet from my bathroom and kitchen windows. I remember watching the men who pumped the tank using a shovel to break through SOMETHING. Ever since then I have had nothing but trouble. I have had the tank pumped three times since 98. I read where gravel was supposed to be under the field lines. I don't think mine is. My soil is constantly soggy when rains (we get everyones run off) the tank supposed to be so close to the house? Is it expensive to replace the tank and lines? Can a lay person do it?

Check with the plumbing inspector in the county you reside in regarding this and it would be difficult for someone without all the knowledge regarding septic systems. I am a plumber and I stay away from them; I am a inside plumber and like having a roof over my head when I work.

Thank you for your reply....I didn't know which forum to post this question. Have a nice day.

You posted your question in the right forum. Be patient and one of the guys who knows septic systems (I'm not one either) will be along to help you. Like DUNBAR PLUMBER suggested, check with your local bldg. or health dept. They should have the records of the installation of your system. They can also tell you whether or not a rock base was required for your leach system. It all depends on the type of soil that your area has.

Your Health Department most likely permitted this septic system, and should have a record of the description of it.
The location of the tank next to your home is typical, and should be no problem.
The people who pumped your tank used a shovel to uncover and pry open the tank access cover in order to pump it. Normally, the only maintenance recommended for a septic system is that it be pumped at least every five years.
Your primary problem seems to be ground saturation of the drainfield. I would bet that the drainfield lines are laid in gravel for drainage, however.
Another contributing possibility are roots and hairlike rootballs that may have grown through the perforations in the drainfield lines. This can be controlled by flushing a cup or two of copper sulphate crystals ($7-8 bucks a 3-lb bag) down a toilet into the system about 3 times a year.
I don't know the lay of the land around your drainfield, but you can get a septic system technician from your Health Department to come out and recommend solutions.
If possible, I would trench around the upside of the entire drainfield system, and install an underground, sloped drainage system to divert water around it, similar to a French drain system. This will help prevent ground saturation and freezing up of the drainfield in winter.
Another alternative is to build up sand over the entire drainfield deep enough to create a level-top hill for water to flow off of and around.
There are ways to alleviate your problem, but only someone that can see it can advise you properly.
The cost on installing a basic system (1,000-gallon tank, distribution box, and 210' minimum-length of drainfield lines) is about $1,800 here in NE NC, but additional requirements may run into the thousands.
Good Luck!

Old Guy is right on target! The sloped drainage system to divert the water could very well be the solution to your problem. In our case, the State Health Department came out and inspected our tank installation, and they keep a record/file of the permit and details. Based on our perc test, and house plans, they specified the size and the minimum length for the field lines and the drainage base requirements. They only required the tank to be outside of the footprint of the house so that it could be dug up if necessary, no minimum distance requirement from the house. Our cost was about $1500 here in West GA.

The person you are looking for is the County Sanitarian in the Health / Environment Department.
There will be a paper trail on your septic system with your county. If not, someone is in big trouble.
Good luck with this...

your drain field is filling with water each rain storm maybe back into the tank. Also, keep solids from going into tank -- esp from garbage disposal, cig butts, sanitary napkins, facial tissue, etc. Be careful of chemicals -- cleaners, etc -- something you are using may be killing the bacteria necessary for the septic system to digest the sewage.

Thank you all for your imput. I stopped disposing all you mentioned above in 1998. I even removed my garbage disposal.
I keep going back to when I first moved into my home. Everything was fine until sept of 98. I had to have it pumped three times within a year. I had the run off from everyones yards from the very beginning...I have an old apple tree in my back yard (a tornado recently disposed of it for me). My neighbors have a lot of trees lining my property. Could roots from their trees be in my yard? I am hoping I wont have to put in new field lines..i just don't have the money. That is why I am searching every other avenue first. Is there anything I can use to flush out the field lines if they are blocked or clogged?

Roots love water, and roots grow the fastest when there are really dry dry spells without periods of rain.
RootX is a great product, but the application mainly refers to inside piping in the floor of basement out the lateral to sewer or septic tank.
Have someone camera your piping; an excellent start to rule out all of the piping you cannot visibly get access to.

Tags: septic, tank, field, lines, septic system, drainfield lines, field lines, Health Department, divert water, drainage system, drainage system divert