Septic Problems


My wife and I were planning to sell our home in Central NJ (clay dirt) with very high water table. We have a septic and the septic appeared to be fine but figured that we should have it tested so we don't have any problems when we sell.
The inspector from a septic company tested the leech field he said it is failing because the distribution box has water in it and the distribution box should be dry if the system was working properly. He also poked a few holes into the ground and showed me the water coming to the surface.
After he left the holes he poked into the ground is now flooding my yard. I tried plugging up the holes but that didn't work. The inspector from the septic company said his boss would call. The boss called and said we need a new septic system and would run $30,000.00. We do not have sewer close enough to hook up. Do you have any suggestions?
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While your system is not in good shape at the moment with saturated soil, you need to get some other opinion and also analyze your own water usage, because with this time of the year and a high water level, your drainage field has a very limited capacity to absorb water, and at this moment it is over capacity.
Cut down the amount of water you use. Then contact other contractors for opinion and prices. Your "inspector" seems to be just a salesman looking for a good commission. By the way, what is a "septic company", there are companies that pump out tanks, and companies that install systems. Maybe I am missing something, but It sounds like you are not getting realistic advice.

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Thanks for the advice. The "septic company" is a company that inspects and installs septic systems. So yes, I am sure I need a few quotes. Also, I am taking your advice. I just spoke to my wife who states she washes about 2 loads of cloths per day. I guess I need to cut the amout of laundry. Thanks.
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Until you dry out the drainage bed, don't do any laundry and when you do in the future, I understand that powdered detergents are bad for septic tanks, while liquid detergents are not as bad. I have also heard that water softeners can cause drainage fields to fail from all the salt that is dumped down the drain, you may want to turn yours off if you have one. Try to economize on water usage until you detect that your drainage bed is drying out then investigate your problem further. Caution, if a neighbour or someone sees that you are leaking waste onto the surface of the ground you could have the Health Department or whoever controls septic tanks in your area condemn the system and force an immediate rebuild at any cost.

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Good grief, that's a lot of laundry. We average less than one load per day and that's with two adults, two children and a baby in the home.
You have the potential for significant savings on your energy bills too!
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On Mar 26, 3:23 pm, snipped-for-privacy@HOTMAIL.COM wrote:

This is the high water season for septics. I have a 2nd drain field and switch when needed. I believe new construction requires a 2nd drain field in our county.
If you and wife are only ones in house, e.g. empty nesters, the next residents may put a lot of pressure on the system if they have children and maybe you do need to upgrade. Thirty grand appears excessive and I would shop around.
Frank
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I used to live in Central NJ, King's Grant/Evesham Township to be exact, but it was mostly called the Pine Barrens - sandy soil with low water table.
As for your septic tank, water in the distribution box isn't bad, its just a sign that the drainage field is over saturated and needs a break from the water. That could be a passing phase or a long-term problem, hard to tell over a posting. Unfortunately it does sound like they are correct in that work will need to be done on the drain field. 30,000 seems pretty damn high, even for NJ.
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On Mar 26, 3:23 pm, snipped-for-privacy@HOTMAIL.COM wrote:

Water flowing on the surface of your leach field means it is overloaded or not working. The leach field is supposed to keep the water below the surface under all conditions short of Noah's flood. Assuming it worked properly when installed, your soil is plugged and will not allow the effluent to saturate the surrounding subgrade. The amount of laundry indicates this may be part of the problem; detergent interferes with biological activity in the septic tank and leach field that makes everthing work. When the leach field is plugged, the best response is a new leach field. Everthing else is just a bandaid.
New systems to consider are new leach field; raised bed leach field; aerobic treatment system (chorinates & sprinkles effluent on the surface). The aerobic system may be the cheapest to install, but uses pumps, chlorine and electricity, so adds a small operating cost.
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wrote:

Even if someone poked through the ground (possibly through piping!) and caused a path for the underground fluid to flow above the ground easier then draining into the field? Did I miss something here?

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This is a good example of what NOT to do when selling a home. The last thing I would do is call in a septic inspector to look for problems. The buyer may do that if they choose to. And they will likely call in a general home inspector. So now you have two inspectors running around looking for anything they can find wrong. By doing it as seller, this is exactly the mess you open yourself up to. Had the seller not had it inspected, as far as he knows, he has a functioning septic system with no problems. Now, no matter what happens, with the disclosure laws in NJ, legally he very likely has to make a disclosure of what he knows about this to buyers. My advice is to get a copy of the disclosure law/form and see exactly what it says ASAP.
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wrote:

Yeah you're a real team player aren't you. You suspect there may be a reason to inspect your septic system but you absolutely refuse to because it might point to a potential deal breaking problem with a buyer not experienced enough to check. "Just ignore everything and let the sucker who buys this place find all the faults *AFTER* he buys it"
I hope you're more courteous in traffic
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Excuse, me. That is very different from what was stated by the OP:
"We have a septic and the septic appeared to be fine but figured that we should have it tested so we don't have any problems when we sell"
As the situation was stated, there was no evidence of any problem at all.

No, I just follow the rules that we all work under, like most people. I don't expect a seller to have an inspection done with the purpose of finding things wrong prior to selling a property. That is not normal practice. What do you do when you're gonna sell a car? Do you take a car with no problems that you know of down to a mechanic and pay him to find everything wrong with it so you can either fix it or tell the buyer? Or do you say, it runs great, is in good condition and it's being sold as is? Virtually everyone does the latter. Those are the rules that everyone plays by.
And with a house, I would feel absolutely no obligation to call in a septic company to look into a septic system with no evident problems. Nor would I expect any other seller to do it. That's how the sales process works. If you want to take a big loss and open up a can of worms by being "courteous", go right ahead.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote in wrote:

Whether the OP should or should not have had this inspection done to be nice is moot as in New Jersey both well and septic tests have to be performed to sell a house. What might be worth doing is to get an inspector without any fiscal incentive to find a problem to look at the septic system. Also keep in mind that we have had lots and lots...and lots and lots of rain recently. This might also impact the ability of a marginal leach field to absorb water in the system.
It might make sense to have the system pumped and have an inspection done so you can document the actions to a buyer, although if memory serves, the septic inspection has to be done within 45 days of closing.
Good luck.
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I couldn't find any indication of there being State law in NJ requiring inspection by search of the NJ web site links for real estate and
http://research.lawyers.com/New-Jersey/Selling-a-Home-in-New-Jersey.html
doesn't indicate anything other than what looks to be the standard disclosure of known defects/conditions by seller w/ the information that the seller can expect a purchase offer to contain the right of the prospective buyer to have an inspection performed.
Whether some localities may have some "occupiability" rules based on health ordinances that might require a certification of septic/well systems is something I didn't look at/for. And, of course, the prospective buyer may well not be able to get a mortgage approval w/o the inspection report, but doesn't look like there is anything preventing a willing buyer to buy a home uninspected if they're willing and have the wherewithal.
Of course, now that OP has a known or suspected problem, what he knows and whatever is/isn't done to resolve that knowledge _will_ have to be disclosed and to fail to do so constitute committing fraud and being liable therefore.
(BTW, it's too wet here for much of anything I need to be doing otherwise and was kinda' bored, hence the diversion... :) )
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wrote:

In my state an inspection isn't required. My buyer put it into the contract as a requirement for sale, but it wasn't required by law.
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Eigenvector wrote:

...
...
I believe that's pretty much true in general -- it's a common requirement made by either the buyer or the lender but nothing other than the disclosure form is actually a legal requirement anywhere that I'm aware of...which was why I was curious enough to see if I could actually find such a requirement in NJ.
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wrote:

(Clipping continued)
Oops, I hate when I rely on memory instead of documents. I took a look at my purchase documents and realized that you are correct, it is not a state law in NJ. Septic inspection was a requirement by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission (house is in the Pinelands area).
For penence I will now go and offer myself as a sacrifice to the gypsy moths as I figure that they will start on humans soon as the trees are rapidly disappearing.
Doc
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There is a company that drills holes in the field and injects high pressure air and some kind of styrofoam granules, which breaks up the field and allows better drainage. I think the cost was something like $7K. Maybe someone can chime in here and remind us both of the system, as I have the same problem with the leach field.
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It's an expensive but temporary patch. You have to remove the solids plugging the soil or it will quickly revert to the original drainage problem. Better to invest your money in connecting to a sewer or replacing your leach field.
In the interest of "full disclosure" during the sale of home, the seller would be obligated to acknowledge the septic system problem and this solution. I don't know if the health department recognizes this method as a "safe" public health restoration method, but I doubt it does. Most buyers and prudent realtors would walk away.
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The effluent level is designed to be below ground, but above the ground water under all conditions. If there is enough effluent for the system to flow on the ground surface, your system is not draining (not to mention, but it's probably backing up into the sewer pipes under your home- hope they don't leak.)
Poking holes in the ground only pulled the bandaid off the scab, it did not cause your injury.
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