septic system question

selling the house, no known (ie. as someone living in house) problems with septic system. no backups, no funky odors, etc. everything business as usual ....
potential buyer has septic system inspection done, inspector doesn't specifically state the system is damaged - but states there is a lot of sludge in the tank, and the absorption field stone has liquid above the stone area (probe holes dug).
question, since there aren't any signs of a problem (from the perspective of the resident), and the description of the problem "seems" simple enough.
would simply pumping the tank and "jetting" the drain pipes "fix" the situation ?
tank is fine, house to tank flow is fine, tank to field is where the bottleneck appears to be. "D box" was in liquid.
i'm thinking just pump tank, jet pipes, and inspector satisfied ... yes ? no ?
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No its not - but states there is a lot of sludge in the

AND -the absorption field stone has liquid

And I'm thinking should of been pumped years ago And a new leach field
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Are you the buyer or the seller?
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Maybe, but the buyer will always have a lingering doubt. Do have it pumped though. If it is truly not right, it will cost quite a bit of money to have it properly repaired. Maybe the next buyer will accept it as is after pumping.
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I don't think I would do anything. "a lot of sludge in the tank" simply means the buyer will have to pump the tank shortly when it gets full. "absorption field stone has liquid above the stone area" may simply mean its winter time and wet. Let the buyer do it and pay for it if he wants to. If something is found that would prevent the bank from issuing a mortgage then I might do something.
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On Tue, 28 Feb 2006 20:26:23 -0800, "Pat"

Here in the west one thing that is nearly always stated on the offer is that the septic be pumped before transfer of ownership. I can't even imagine buying a house with a septic that wasn't pumped first at the seller's expense. I'm not sure some lending agencies would even approve a loan without the septic being pumped and inspected.
Dick
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I'm the seller.
Yes, tank "shoulda" been pumped more than it was (but what do I know ? i'm a city slicker!).
Tank will be pumped before sale.
What concerns me is the "absorption field". Having Google'd the subject. I'm reading differing views. For starters if there even is a problem, to methods of remedying any problem (if one exists).
It is winter (northeast), and there's snow on the ground, and it rained last week. So could the liquid above the stone be from that ?
Also, presuming worst case, the perforated pipes into the field are clogged. Would just "jetting" them be a simple, low cost fix?
(some sites say, nope, need new field - other posters on some sites are saying "rip off", and all they did is "jet" them and it unclogged them fine - there are no roots or such , it's a flat field).
any thoughts ? obviously, i don't want to spend a lot of $$ on this.
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I've grown up with septic systems and have owned two homes so far with septic systems.
Sludge in the tank needs to be pumped out, whether it's you or the buyer who does it will depend on the local codes, the bank, and negotiations between you and the buyer
The absorption field might just have runoff from the rain/snow. I think the most commonly accepted test for a failed absorption (leech) field is a dye test. Has the inspector done this? In order to do this, a fluorescent dye tablet is put in the toilet and flushed down (if the house is vacant, the toilet is allowed to run for a couple of hours first to make sure that the tank is full). After waiting a while, the ground is inspected for signs of the dye. If the dye is visible, then the system has failed and needs to be repaired. The repairs usually mean involving the local officials/engineers and getting approval and a permit, depending on what part of the system has failed. If I were the buyer and saw the report of standing water above the leech field, I would want the dye test to see if that water was coming from the septic or not.
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Tell me, how does adding dye to the septic tank tell you if the water standing in the leach field originates with the septic tank. No matter what, adding water to the septic tank is going to release some water to the leach field. The dye will travel with it and show up in any leakage or in a test hole. This test will show that water is traveling into the leach field but not if the existing water originated with ground water or from the septic tank only that the new dyed water came from the tank.

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EXT wrote:

I think the point is that if dye shows up near the surface in the leach field, then it means the leach field is not working adequately. If the water near the surface is from snow, rain, etc, it will not have dye.
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"I think the point is that if dye shows up near the surface in the leach field, then it means the leach field is not working adequately. If the
water near the surface is from snow, rain, etc, it will not have dye. "
bingo. Though EXT is correct that drilling a test hole will also show some dye if you drill in the right (wrong?) spot. The whole point is that the leachate is not supposed to come up to the surface.
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the area. I've only had my tank pumped once in 14 years. My dad told me the field should last 30 or 40 years, longer if I put lime on it every now and then.
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I think jetting would only be useful if the tank had failed in some manner allowing solids to pass into the field. Fields are normally repaired by increasing their size by adding more lines. Do you know the number and length of the lines? Is the field heavily loaded?
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I don't know how many or how long.
There are no signs (in the house) of ANY problems whatsoever. NO signs or odors outdoors either (over the field). The house was only occupied by 2 people. So there was never a large volume of waste going out. Unfortunately, the tank had not been pumped in maybe 10+ yrs of usage.
The inspection company claims the field is "saturated" when a probe hole is dug.
Having Google'd the subject, there are conflicting claims of how and what can be done (ranging from using something called Sep2Max, to just jetting the pipes, to using other chemicals, to putting in a new field). One expert has one opinion with a cheering section that claims he's right, another expert says no that's not going to work, blah, blah, blah.
It's impossible to try and figure out who's right.
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wrote:

Instead of just listening to all the USENET "experts" why not talk to your county agency in charge of septic approvals. At least where I live (Arizona) there is all kinds of information available from these folks on the care and repair of your septic system.
Dick
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I wouldn't talk to the county agency unless you want them on alert to go inspect your place and then end up with a several thousand dollar mandatory repair.
I would instead talk to multiple contractors who deal with this kind of stuff. Sure, there might be some crooked contractors wanting you to spend money on them, but at least you will have a CHOICE, rather than being forced to by the health department, EPA, etc. if they think there might be a problem! And hopefully, if you talk to several contractors, you should be able to tell who is honest and who isnt'.
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there's something they do with peroxide that could help
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After 10+ years of no pumping, there is an excellent chance sludge has found it's way into the leach field and clogged the pores in the field floor and walls. Hence the high water level.
Since your field surface area does not appear to be soggy and smelly, reverting to a three year pumpout cycle may allow the field to recover. But but it would take a long time for the bacteria to get the job done.
If your field was squishy and smelly, there would no hope of recovery unless it was left unused for a couple years.
In order to sell the house, you could add a couple of infiltrators to the field. This would add about 18' of unused length of the field and allow the leachate level to drop to normal (and improve the field's chances of recovery). With the liquid level reduction, you would then pass inspection.
Infiltrators are orderable from building supply centers. They are easy to install because they require no gravel - just digging a trench, placing the infiltrators, then covering them. The small amount of dirt they would displace could be distributed around the yard.
Using bacterial agents can be tricky. Most are advertised to reduce the need for pumping. This is accomplished by liquifying the sluge in the tank and sending it to the field. The sludge then helps clog your field's arteries - but you don't have to pump as often!
My above comments are based on experience and research only. I'm not a professional in these matters.
Gary
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It sounds like you've been a house guest short of a flooded basement for a while. If you're lucky then having the tank pumped and leach lines jetted will satisfy the buyer enough to make it someone else's problem.
-rev
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