Septic Tank Backup Delemma

Let me describe my situation as best I can.
This is a private 3 bedroom residence located on Long Island, NY.
Just had a backup of wasteline, which is below foundation, into our unfinished basement. The main line was cleaned; papertowels were found. However, today when doing the laundry, I saw some water backup in the (future/rough plumbing for a) shower drain pipe, i.e., the low point.
The property survey map shows that there is a septic tank with a Y output piping to two overflow pits. I believe that the overflow pits are the precast concrete type, but have not ever seen them nor do I know their size/capacity. The location of the septic tank, which has a standpipe from a previous service event, and the location of the overflow pits are indicated on the property survey map document. The overflow pits most likely do not include standpipes, as they have never been serviced.
I am arranging for a draining of the septic tank.
The guy that did the mainline cleaning wants to install a standpipe at one of the two overflow pits and add chemicals (35$ per 5 gallons and he recommends 15 gallons) to that pit. Is that the way to go ?
I am thinking that a septic tank draining is the next step, and possibly the last step needed at this time.
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I just went through a septic dilemma myself. I had backup into the house. I had the tank pumped (not drained?). Upon pumping, I found the cleanout at the entrance to the tank was full of toilet paper. I cleaned that out and it seemed to work just fine, for awhile. I notice the waste level rising faster than it should over the next few days and called in the experts. As it turns out, my drain field was in fact saturated and I needed to build a new one. I'm not familiar with "overflow pits" but if you've got them, then you've got them. Ultimately, I would think you should have a drain field as well which may be saturated. It could also be as simple as the outflow pipe is also clogged. There should be an access hatch towards the back of the septic where you can inspect this. I would inspect this area first and if nothing is found, then you should think about your drain field. Look for wet spots in your field and that is a sure indicator that it's saturated. Mine had not but was still saturated. As for adding chemicals, just what is this guy recommending you add? Septics should run on their own with no additives, certainly not bacteria killing chemicals. The septic works on the principle of bacteria "eating" up the waste and leaving grey water which then flows out to the field. Adding chems (even bleach from the washer) will kill off the septic process and lead to an over abundance of solids which will cause problems. I'm no expert (although I feel like one in regards to my system now) but if the outflow is not clogged and your drainlines are clear, then you're looking at a saturated drain field. Not sure if that helps but good luck. cc
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i have this same setup.and had this problem.i dug up the small distrbution tank and took off the lid. the pipe between the septic tank and dis tank was clogged. i cleaned it out useing a old plastic nat gas peice of pipe.it was flexable and curved,after shoving it towards and into the septic tank i spun it around a few times.water imediatly started flowing into the dis tank. this may not be your problem but thought i would let you know.my distribution tank lid was only about a foot down. lucas
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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Vince writes:

Let me advise you as best I can.
You want to believe snaking lines and pumping tanks will solve your problems.
Get ready to face the possibility that your drainfield has failed.
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Seepage pits and cesspools have been outlawed for 30 years in most areas of the country because they are a pollution nightmare (they are so deep they flush right into the shallow water tables that feed the surface waters.
A common contractor�s �trick� is pouring sulfuric acid into the pit to eat the organic clogging mat that has developed. Acid will eat this but it also eats concrete (it also gets into the water supply). A guy had this done in Huntington in 2001. Saved him lots of money�but 2 days later the cesspool collapsed when the guy walked over it. Took 18 hours to get his body out and the acid had eaten the eyeballs right out of his head�and the health depts. still allow this reasoning it is better to have a toilet that flushes rather than making the homeowner pay to physically repair it. Smart. DON�T LET THEM USE ACID!!!
The better solution would be to have the contractor check to make sure the lines are not clogged then if you do not want to pay for a proper system replacement (I would fill-in any pits and have a shallow drainfield installed just for safety reasons�there have been several deaths over the last 5 years of people falling into these old collapsing pits with many of them on Long Island) and treat it with calcium percarbonate (www.arcan.com ). The cost is about $250 if you do it yourself but is a much safer alternative�doesn�t pollute and won�t eat the concrete.
Jim V
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