Septic System Issues


Tonight while the water softener was flushing itself out, it overflowed. This is not the first time this has happened, so we didn't think anything of it, we watched the water pour into the sump, then eventually turned it off after the wall behind it started to get drenched.
I after I turned the softener off, I turned the water back on and went upstairs to the bathroom and heard a gurgling noise coming from the tub drain, I flushed the toilet, and water comes out of the tub drain, but the sink as well..I am not sure what happened in the bathroom on the other side of the wall, or in the kitchen, but I can only assume the same thing, for at least the other bathroom due to their proximity. I decided it would be best to shut the water off for the night as we have an iron filter that was ready to cycle tonight as well. We have lived in this house for a year and the septic tank was nearly empty when we moved in as it had sat for a year before we moved in.
Our neighbors currently have their back yard torn up to fix their drainage field, could this have caused our issues?? Or is this a block in the line some where??? or could have there been bubbles in the line from me turning the water off and on?
As I sit here and type this I hear air and pipes banging... and I am really hoping my house does not throw up on me....
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Since I am not there to view exactly what is going on, I'll take a wild guess that it is a clogged line. I say this because you lack some much needed info.
But, usually your septic tank is at a lower level than any of your plumbing appliances (bath tub, toilet sink, etc.). Water will seek its own level and take the path of least resistance in the process.
The water has to go somehwere. So, if the septic tank isn't overflowing, there must be a blockage between the tub (which you stated water came into) and the septic tank itself. If water isn't flowing out of the tub (which is usually the lowest drain) the blockage has to be after that pipe.
If the tub you refer to is on the second floor, but the downstairs drains work good, then the blockage is between the tub drain piping and the down stairs. See how that works?
Hank <~~~can be clear as mud :-)
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My first step in diagnosing this would be to pull the septic tank cleanout plug and see if it is full. Assuming that it is then, what to do. Having it pumped is a no brainer, but some other factors may be in play. Has it rained a lot lately? If so it is likely full of ground water, & if the rain stops in a couple of days it will correct itself. Any trees near the tank? Roots will clog it up in a heartbeat. Is there an alternate location to flush the softener to? you mention that it goes to the sump when it overflows, that was the primary target at my dads house, though code may disallow this approach. In my world; cop didn't see it, I didn't do it.
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The tank should show 'full' or nearly so almost as soon as the house was occupied. The tank outlet is near the top of the tank. After only a years use, the tank would need pumping only if all kinds of weird things were flushed.
Harry K
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Nearly full doesn't count, full is where you pull the plug and the tank purges out onto the lid.
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No, that is overfull and the 'stuff' is being forced out by stuff backed up the inlet pipe.
Harry K
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No, that is overfull and the 'stuff' is being forced out by stuff backed up the inlet pipe.
Harry K
We had the same problem.
We popped the cap, and "stuff" flowed out, because the leach field had been overwatered, and we probably had put too much washing machine water down there during that time. We found out about it by the pipes backing up into the house (minimally, luckily). So, you can have a backup into the house for two reasons: a plugged main drain, or a full tank that isn't going into the leach field for ANY reason.
We had it pumped, stopped watering the grass on the leach field, stopped washing as many loads of clothes, and watched the performance of the tank by leaving the plug accessible, and checking until it got to the leach field overflow, then watching that it was running out into the leach field, which it did, so our problem was overwatering and washing too many loads. We do not have a rain problem or water infiltration problem as some people in some other areas and climates might have. We artificially induced that by twice a day watering of the lawn.
The solution is to find out what is causing the effluent NOT to flow out the tank and into the leach lines. Or find out if you have a clog in the main pipe. Some companies have TV cameras and all kinds of spendy stuff. Our guy is one of the honest ones, and he said to quit watering, let the tank fill up, keep an eye on it, and if it ever backed up, he'd send out the leach field guy and he'd diagnose what was wrong with it. Most companies want to sell you the full Monty, camera inspection and all. Once that is established, by expensive or cheap common sense measures, action can be taken up to but not including adding to or replacing the leach field. BIG JOB!
Good Luck.
Steve, who still has his fingers crossed.
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Wow.. so many replies.. I will try to answer everyone at once...
The drains that are overflowing are all of them... we have one filter flowing into one common drain pipe with the toilet, and the softener shares a common drain with the washer. the filters, softener and washer are all down stairs in the ultility closet, but meet with the drains upstairs.
The reason it was overflowing into the sump was the common drain with the washer is directly above the sump pump. it was overflowing out of the pump, onto the floor and then flowing from the floor to the sump... my basement is rather wet right now... this is happening as well with the toilet, sink and tub drain, there is a pipe that comes out that the filter flows into when it flushes itself out, this has also ended up all over the floor, even though its in the crawl space, its ends up seeping through the walls and getting everything in its path wet..
all of the drains ( aside from the sump) are ground level, i just have access to them from the basement and the crawl space.
It has not rained allot lately, and there are no trees near the tank.
The water is overflowing out of these 2 common drainage pipes when their respected filters or washer is draining. At first i thought the drainage hoses where not far enough down into the pipes, after trying that solution, that seems to not be the case. the common drain with the washer is the alternate location to drain the softener. we moved it from the common drain to the bathroom. both of these drainage pipes overflow when any form of water is run through the system, ( showers, flushing the toilet, washing hands.... ect)
I tried flushing the toilet again today to see what would happen. the water was not only backing up into the tub, it was backing up into the other toilet, and sink but the other bathroom on the other side of the wall on the same level that also shares that common drainage pipe.
I am thinking there may be a block where these 2 drainage pipes meet to run to the tank outside the house...
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First, i am confused about you stating there are Filters in the drain lines. Drain lines aren't filtered. Are you calling a "trap" a filter?
Second, the toilet water should ONLY back up into the shower/tub unless there is also a blockage at the toilet trap.
Third, flushing the toilet should NEVER back up into a sink that is higher than the toilet. The toilet would overflow the bowl first.
Fourth, your description of the problem is too vague/incomplete to diagnose here.
Hank
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Hustlin' Hank wrote:

Not so much that it is vague, but she clearly does not speak the plumbing language. OP pretty clearly needs professional assistance at this point- somebody needs to reverse-engineer the setup and see if it is simply a plugged line, or a fubar'd layout. Some dye dumped in various fixtures may help tell the story, one fixture and/or color at a time.
-- aem sends...
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True while I am not a plumber I am well aware that drain lines are not filtered. and i am also aware of the difference between a trap and a filter.....I am not sure how much more clear I can be without taking a course on plumbing, which I do not have the time for, but I will try again.
.We are on a well... because of the poor water quality, we have a iron filter ALONG with the water softener. These two flush themselves out 3 times a week, they have over flowed before, but never this bad. last night as the iron filter was flushing itself out, it backwashed out of the trap to the washer that it shares, everything that it was putting into the trap was ending up on the floor and into the sump, and right back out again, never leaving the house.
we have 2 drainage mains leaving the house to the septic tank these meet outside the house then go via a common line to the tank. one is shared with the sump and the washer, and the iron filter. the other is shared with the 2 bathrooms and the softener..
The drainage for the filter and the softener are 1 inch flex-pipes installed by the water company we rent the equipment through. These where shoved into the adjoining traps for both drainage mains.
I found it odd that when I flushed the toilet water pooled in the sink from the drain. I agree that a drain that is higher then the toilet shouldnt have water coming out of it when the toilet flushes just fine., but it did, as i stood there and watched the dirty water come out of both the sink drain and the tub drain.I believe this house is possessed..
There is no water leaving the house.. its all ending up in my crawl space, or my basement floor..
I hope i was a little more clear this time... hopefully some one has an idea.. I've called a professional.. but if i can trouble shoot this before they arrive.. saving money is good..

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Ok, I understand a little more. It is my impression that the sump pump should NOT pump into the septic system. The sump is to pump ground water (rain) from you footer drains (pipes layed around the footer of your house) away from your house. If it pumps into your septic tank, you'll over flow your septic system very quickly. With water baaking up in your sump hole, your pump either isn't operating, the line is clogged or the septic tank is over flowing.
I am still a little confused about flushing the toilet and water backing up into the sink. This just doesn't make sense unless the toilet dumps into the sump hole and teh sump pump is pumping back into the drain that drains the sink.
I wish I could help you more, but I think you need to have a pro come in to figure this out. It sounds as if a lot of your plumbing was bootlegged in.
Let us know what you find out. It may help others in the future.
Hank
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After you get past this I suggest you look at alternatives to back flushing the filter and water softener into your sepctic system. You can make a rock filled dry well for these in another location awy from your septic field. You are putting a lot bigger load in the field by draining these into it.
It sounds like you have a problem either with a clog from the house to the tank or the tank has filled because of issues with the field. As other have pointed out checking the tank would be the next place to go. There should be a cap or cover that you can remove at the tank to see if it has filled completely with water. If it has that indicates that your field is not draining as fast as you are putting waste water into the system. Maybe after taking the backflush water out of the equation your field can keep up. Maybe you field is no longer draining well enough for your needs. How old is it?
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Angie K. wrote:

Where is the water overflowing from???
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