residential septic system question

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I've got a standard resisdential septic system. It was installed 6 1/2 years ago, I live outisde of Colorado Springs. The diagram I have for the system shows one holding tank, with a line going out to the leach field.
My question is, if I dig down to the lids on the holding tank, is it possible to check the solids level to determine if I need the thing pumped out?
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I wouldn't do that myself. The one's I've seen have a heavy concrete lid that takes a pretty good machine to lift off.
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Shy Picker wrote:

believe me the septic tank pumping guys don't have a crane. You can lift the lid by hand.
s
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John D99 wrote:

Yes, however if you're digging down to the lids you may as well have it pumped anyway. How frequently it needs to be pumped is highly variable based on what you let go into the system (kitchen disposer, "flushables", etc.). A properly sized system that is only fed digestible waste and sufficient water may never need to be pumped.
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1. Yes, inspection after 6 years trouble-free use will indicate how often the system should be pumped (if you find an honest pumper, that is.) 2. Once you have located the four corners of the hatch. map them exactly in relation to the nearest window or corner of the house, so you can dig to the hatch next time. Last time mine was pumped, I fastened a yellow nylon rope to one handle and extended it diagonally across the hatch and upwards toward the surface. This way, any future digger is likely to find the rope, and can follow it down.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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On Thu 07 May 2009 11:37:15a, Don Phillipson told us...

Our tank has 4-5" pipes (3 of them) that lead directly down. I was told they examine, measure, and pump out through those. Their caps are flush with the ground.
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Wayne Boatwright
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Pete C. wrote:

excellent advice
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True.
But in the real world a certain amount of "indigestable solids" end up in the system. For example, if your washing machine connects to your regular septic system. the in-organic "dirt" on your clothing will end up on the bottom of your tank. Maybe in a perfect world that would not go into your septic system but ...
Pumping cost, typicaly, are less than $300. Compare that to your typical city water bills (which are mostly for sewage treatment).
That's why most folks living on the "edge" of town only get connected to the city system when they are forced to.

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That's all I put in mine. It was pumped out for the 1st time after 10 years usage. It had less than 2" of sludge on the bottom so the service guy said I'd probably never have to have it pumped out again.
KC
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John D99 wrote:

pumped. It may be a good idea for you to dig and find the lid as the septic guy will charge extra to do this and if he has trouble finding it may cost more. I'd put a concrete ring down to the opening to make it easier the next time. If in a conspicuous place, you can mask with shrubbery or something.
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John D99 wrote:

Yes, you could determine that if you wanted to. BUT once you've dug the lid open, just have it pumped. It should be done every three years anyway.
s
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Steve Barker wrote:

a tank sized for 3br. I'm not anticipating that I'll ever need to get it pumped, except maybe to have 'freshly pumped, freshly inspected' as a sales feature. (in 5 years or so.)
-- aem sends...
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You can buy sections of a plastic pipe, about 3' in diameter and one to three feet long. (At septic tank dealers) A lid fits on the top segment. After you remove the concrete cover (permanently) run the plastic sections to within 6" of the surface, put on the lid and cover it up with dirt or flagstones, or whatever.
No more digging. Easy to find and pump the next time. Many owners have to pump their tank every two years, or so. You can also check the level of sewage and sediment quite easily.
--

Walter
www.rationality.net
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No need to uncover the whole lid. Most now have 2 small tapered lids about 1' sq in the overall lid. This allow for inspection and pumping of both baffled sections without removing the main lid. It may require a pry bar to open these inspection lids but it is still a lit easier than lifting that big mama. KC
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To answer the other part of your question, when you open the lid look for floating solids in the tank. It is the floaters that will cause trouble by getting into the leach field whereas the solids on the bottom of the tank will be eaten by bacteria. If there is very little floating material your tank is in good shape.
KC
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I dug out the first access lid (nearest the house), and used a long wood slat stick to poke down and find the solids layer. As near as I can tell, there is no solids layer - the stick goes right down to a hard cement bottom and there's no solids coating on the wood when I take it out to surface, and the depth I'm reaching below the top of the tank is about right for the total depth of the tank that's on the diagram.
I'll dig out the outer tank access and check that too, but it looks like I've saved myself $250.

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John D99 wrote:

what you felt is normal. The 'sludge' at the bottom will not feel any different to a stick than the water above it. You cannot check sludge level that way.
s
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As I also said, there was nothing coating the stick when I pulled it out.

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in the tank. That in itself should make you wonder why *nothing* was on the stick. Again as Steve said, it's not a reliable check.
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