Plumbing... .and my washing machine


Ok I have chosen this as my first home maintenance problem to understand, even if I am not the one to fix it. I am not a knowledgeable home repair person YET. But I have decided to become so. Unfortunately I am Google impaired. So perhaps I can get advice and links to plumbing information. Here is my deal.
I have a washer and dryer in the finished basement. When I do the wash there is a nasty smell around the front door of the house (where the septic tank is), but particularly in the playroom and the mudroom next to the laundry room. (I am somewhat reporting what others tell me since my nose has gotten desensitized to the smell.) The smell is progressively worse the more laundry I do. Here are the supposed facts
- My DH claims that he can see/hear that the laundry water is exiting the house by pipes to the front yard, not to the septic system. - My DH beleives that there is a problem with the vent stack, or lack of a vent stack. - I had a septic guy out today to pump the tank. He says that DH seeing water in the ground is bad and that may mean a leaky pipe going from septic to leach field. Thus the foul odor (but why particularly INSIDE the house?)
So I decided to see what the plumbing looked like. I pull away the washer. And there is one water exit pipe from the washer than goes through an S shaped pipe to the floor. DH believe that pipe goes out the garage, under the front steps and into the yard (of all places). Now according to my sister, this is not all that weird. My folks did it to keep the laundry water, including bleach from diapers, out of the septic system.
There is another pipe with the top covered in plastic that does not current have any water feeding it that exits through the wall. We don't know where that one goes or why there are 2 out pipes. I strongly believe that tried just switching pipes to see what would happen with no luck.
So... my question is does anyone know where I can find on the net what this plumbing is supposed to look like and what precisely a vent stack is and any other info that a newbie dip like me might find useful in understanding this problem? I would very much appreciate it.
Thanks!
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I live in a house built during the 50's (in New England). I know that I have a drainpipe behind my washing machine that drains into a drywell in the front yard (not to the septic system in my backyard). This drainpipe is no longer used and my washing machine now drains to the septic in the back yard. I was told that they used to pipe washing machine water to these drywells instead of septic system due to detergents/soaps back then. Perhaps this is the setup you have.
Stephanie wrote:

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On 12 Dec 2006 10:56:00 -0800, "grodenhiATgmailDOTcom"

My washer has been pumping water out behind the garage for 25 years. My banana trees love it.
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