Our previous home on 1.76 acres, a 350ft well, and irrigation was
started in 1924 as a 40 acre dairy farm. The house was added to many
times and had been extensively remodeled just before we bought it. The
owner had done a lot of remodeling himself, including putting in a new
1,000 gallon concrete septic tank and drain field.
There was an old concrete septic tank out in the West pasture with the
main access port disintegrated and broken. I filled the tank with rocks
taken from the area we wanted for a garden. I am sure the previous owner
saw the old tank and knew they needed a new one.
About two years later, the septic system backed up into the house,
toilets would not flush properly, etc. As I was retired, I decided to
find the line to the septic tank and see what the problem was. A new
tank should not plug up this soon.
My neighbor, Darrell, saw what I was doing and volunteered to help. He
was a licensed sanitarian and had no pressing work. He brought his
backhoe and began to uncover the septic tank. He soon discovered the
tank was not been installed level. He explained the output must be lower
than the input. Mine was not.
He told me there are three things in the septic tank. First the liquid.
Second, stuff that sinks to the bottom of the tank. And third, stuff
that floats on the top. The floating stuff is where all the problems
occur. In my case, it floated up and was blocking the input line.
Darrell completely uncovered the tank, the line from the house, and the
line from the tank to the drain field. The latter was very old, sun
dried, brittle, 4 inch PVC pipe. An elbow was right at the output of the
tank, a no, no. The previous owner had backfilled with dirt and rock and
had broken the elbow with a big rock, so that was 50% blocked from day one.
In exploring with the backhoe, we discovered a third septic tank and
drain field that was in perfect condition. That system had been in use
at the time the new tank was installed, but the moron didn't know it! He
only saw the defunked tank. So we used that good tank while fixing bad
install. Took most of a week.
Darrell had the tank completely pumped and the solids and liquid hauled
away. Then another company brought their concrete septic tank delivery
truck and pulled the septic tank completely out of the ground while
Darrell used his backhoe to level the gravel base so the tank would
operate properly. He had to get into the hole and check for level
several different ways. Then the truck replaced the septic tank.
Darrell check the top to see if the tank was still level. He also
inspected the in and out ports and they were clear. The output has a
concrete baffle so only liquid can reach the output. The baffle extends
down a foot or so below the output port. This is important to
understand. This is all that keeps the floaty stuff from migrating out
into the drain field and plugging it up.
Darrell replaced the bad and broken parts of the PVC pipe and also
installed a legal distribution box between the two drain field lines.
Then Darrell asked me to fill the tank with water. Why? So any new
floatie stuff could not get to the output line. I used well water, but
later realized I should have started up the irrigation system for the
water. Anyway, the tank was filled and the line from the house hooked
back up to the tank and all has been ok since.
Also, at my current home, my neighbor, who happens to be my company
general manager, had Darrell replace his septic tank, a steel tank, with
a concrete tank, and when the tank was pumped, the truck waited till the
new tank was installed and then decanted all the liquid back into the
tank. Only the solids and a little liquid was hauled away. This is SOP
for the septic tank pumpers around here.
So, if your honey wagon is not restoring the liquid, and you are not
prefilling the tank with water, you are being set up to have the drain
field replaced. Pretty clever of the honey pot people!
Sorry if this gets too long, but I wanted you to understand how I came
to be educated! The hard way.
We had to install a secondary leach field for our septic tank output
because when we had really rainy weather, the toilet on the lowest
level of our house was VERY slow to flush.
When the first drain field is completely full, at a distribution box
the overflow goes into a small holding tank that has a sump pump/float
in it. When the overflow tank gets about 1/2 full, the pump pumps it
out into a second drain field at some considerable distance from the
primary drain field.
We are careful only to flush stuff down that can decompose, no dirt or
anything solid that wil not decompose, and we get it pumped out every
5 years or so. The honey pot man sucks out the sludge from the bottom
of the tank and as the water level falls, he monitors what is being
sucked out. When it appears that what is being sucked out is pretty
much sludge free, he stops, by mutual agreement. This way we retain
more of the microbes that help to dissolve the sewage, the honey pot
man pays less to dischrge his holding tank wherever he dumps it and
charges less for a cleaning, so everyone is a winner.
If you are cognizant of what you flush, septic systems work just
fine. Also, we have municipal water so don't have to worry about
On 4/13/2013 7:49 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
to your toilet. Was the lower toilet installed after the house was built?
The weather makes a big difference. We live in the high desert of
Central Oregon. 2800 to 3000 ft. 8 inches of precipitation on average.
All the liquid from our leach fields evaporates rather quickly.
The toilet was original construction, but the proprty is flat as a
pancake (Chicago suburb) and the builder didn't want to raise the
house out of the ground to get the toilet to flush faster. We were
the first owners of the house after the builder moved out himself.
Once the two kids grew up, we hardly ever used the toilet, but the fix
is there for future owners.
Your septic people should be telling you this. Many systems have
different design. I've got two drain fields on mine to switch over if
one becomes soaked. There is also a clean out port on one. Lot of
times a septic owner does not know what he has as things may be buried.
When our kids were young, living at home we would have the tank pumped
every 2-3 years but,now with just mom and I, it every 5 years. I'd say
if you are getting pumped every few months, you have a problem.
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