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Hi all! I'm buying a 1.5 acre property with a septic system but don't understand them beyond the 'don't build on top of them' and 'don't flush any junk down them'. Is anyone well versed enough to tell me what this diagram means as it pertains to what I should do regularly to promote the longevity of my system and how often (if?) I need to pump it/have it serviced? Thank you in advance!
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Septic systems are generally pretty maintenance free, but it depends on the number of people living with you. You may have a code that tell you that you have to pump it and at what interval. I had to do mine every three years in my old place, and that was nothing more than a tax. I was living alone and the system would never have needed to be pumped.
 

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You have a field drain system.

From the house, your drain line goes out 30', makes a hard right turn (not the best idea), and continues to the two tanks. In the first tank, the waste water settles, then flows to the second tank. The second tank has a pump that sends the effluent to the two fields of perforated pipe. Five lines of pipe in each field.

The lateral trench diagram shows what is in each branch/arm of the field drain. There is gravel under and around the pipe. A special fabric above, to keep the soil from migrating into the gravel, and then back filled with soil.

You must have sandy or loamy soil. This design doesn't work well on clay soil.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You have a field drain system.

From the house, your drain line goes out 30', makes a hard right turn (not the best idea), and continues to the two tanks. Then, the effluent goes to the two fields of perforated pipe. Five lines of pipe in each field.

The lateral trench diagram shows what is in each branch/arm of the field drain. There is gravel under and around the pipe. A special fabric above, to keep the soil from migrating into the gravel, and then back filled with soil.

Thank you so much for the clarity and translation Alice! Any idea of how often it needs 'care'? Or if I should have the pipe that turns replaced?
 

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Septic systems are generally pretty maintenance free, but it depends on the number of people living with you. You may have a code that tell you that you have to pump it and at what interval. I had to do mine every three years in my old place, and that was nothing more than a tax. I was living alone and the system would never have needed to be pumped.

That's kind of what I thought but wasn't really understanding the pumping necessity. Thanks so much for the reply.
 

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The BEST think you can do is flush ONLY pee and poo. No toilet paper, no wipes, no tampons, no condoms, no toy dinosaurs or trucks. Folks freak out about this, but it REALLY prevents having to have the system pumped for YEARS.

Put a small trash can lined with a grocery store bag next to each toilet for paper. Dispose of that daily, or as needed.

I am sure they put that ell (right angle fitting) in there to fit the system on your lot. The clean out (access port) between the house and the ell will enable you to unclog it if necessary. DO NOT bury the clean out.

One thing that seems odd is that the inlet and discharge pipes are 4", but the diagram states that there is 60' of 2" pipe
from the second tank to the field.

How old is this installation? The design is dated in 2000, so you are possibly looking at a 20 year old system.

Was an inspection part of your purchase process?
 

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The BEST think you can do is flush ONLY pee and poo. No toilet paper, no wipes, no tampons, no condoms, no toy dinosaurs or trucks. Folks freak out about this, but it REALLY prevents having to have the system pumped for YEARS.

Put a small trash can lined with a grocery store bag next to each toilet for paper. Dispose of that daily, or as needed.

I am sure they put that ell (right angle fitting) in there to fit the system on your lot. The clean out (access port) between the house and the ell will enable you to unclog it if necessary. DO NOT bury the clean out.

One thing that seems odd is that the inlet and discharge pipes are 4", but the diagram states that there is 60' of 2" pipe
from the second tank to the field.

How old is this installation? The design is dated in 2000, so you are possibly looking at a 20 year old system.

Was an inspection part of your purchase process?
It's from 2011. So not too old. I'm definitely able to do a no paper thing. We use a bidet anyway!

We had a whole house inspection done but then got hit with a storm here in TX. We're extended now until Tuesday but I can't get any septic companies out until the end of the month.
 

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The BEST think you can do is flush ONLY pee and poo. No toilet paper, no wipes, no tampons, no condoms, no toy dinosaurs or trucks. Folks freak out about this, but it REALLY prevents having to have the system pumped for YEARS.

Put a small trash can lined with a grocery store bag next to each toilet for paper. Dispose of that daily, or as needed.

I am sure they put that ell (right angle fitting) in there to fit the system on your lot. The clean out (access port) between the house and the ell will enable you to unclog it if necessary. DO NOT bury the clean out.

One thing that seems odd is that the inlet and discharge pipes are 4", but the diagram states that there is 60' of 2" pipe
from the second tank to the field.

How old is this installation? The design is dated in 2000, so you are possibly looking at a 20 year old system.

Was an inspection part of your purchase process?
What she said. I don't throw paper in my outhouse. Everything goes into a trash can and then gets burnt.
 

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Hi all! I'm buying a 1.5 acre property with a septic system but don't understand them beyond the 'don't build on top of them' and 'don't flush any junk down them'. Is anyone well versed enough to tell me what this diagram means as it pertains to what I should do regularly to promote the longevity of my system and how often (if?) I need to pump it/have it serviced? Thank you in advance! View attachment 94014 View attachment 94015 View attachment 94016
What she said. I don't throw paper in my outhouse. Everything goes into a trash can and then gets burnt.
You have a septic system that is designed for poor soils or a high water table or a change in elevation, and from what I can tell from the drawing was built in a mound of fill above the original land surface. The first tank is the septic tank, the second is a pump chamber. The septic tank will hold all the solid wastes and the scum/grease, the effluent flows into the second tank. There is a pump in the second tank that sends the effluent under pressure (that's why it is a 2" line, instead of 4", with a check valve) out to the drainfield. You have two drainfields, with a diverter valve. That's a good design. The idea is to use one drainfield one year, then turn that valve and use the second drainfield the next year. This allow each drainfield a chance to dry out and regenerate and prolongs the life of your system. The only drawback is that you do have a pump, and are dependent upon electricity to keep it going. It will also need to be replaced at some point over the life of the system. Somewhere you should have an electrical box above grade with a warning light on it that alarms when the pump isn't working. As for maintenance, certainly go ahead and use it like normal; toilet paper is fine but don't get the "superstrong" kind and never flush wipes, no matter what it says on the label. Also never flush tampons or pads or diapers. They don't break down and will clog the works. Regular toilet paper breaks down just fine. Don't use antibacterial cleaners - they're not healthy for you and constant excessive use can impact the balance of your septic tank. A bit of bleach in the laundry won't hurt. And whatever you do, never ever add Rid-X or anything like that. You're normally introducing plenty of bacteria into your tank. If you use a rid-x type product, it does break down things in the tank, but quickly and inefficiently, resulting in a floating jelly-like substance that will pass into the field and completely clog it up. It's like frog eggs or gelatin, really nasty to get cleared out. Under normal conditions septic tanks should be pumped every five to seven years. Usually a system like yours will have hatches at the ground surface for easy access to the tank and the pump chamber, so it's likely you won't have to do any digging. Don't drive over your drainfields and don't plant gardens on top. The drainfields need to breathe, so just plant grass and mow it and otherwise leave it alone. And if you're in an area that loses power, I'd recommend getting a generator to run that pump, otherwise even if you have water, you can't flush! It may sound complicated, but it's not, once you get used to it, and it's certainly better than being hooked up to a city sewer system.
 

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You have a septic system that is designed for poor soils or a high water table or a change in elevation, and from what I can tell from the drawing was built in a mound of fill above the original land surface. The first tank is the septic tank, the second is a pump chamber. The septic tank will hold all the solid wastes and the scum/grease, the effluent flows into the second tank. There is a pump in the second tank that sends the effluent under pressure (that's why it is a 2" line, instead of 4", with a check valve) out to the drainfield. You have two drainfields, with a diverter valve. That's a good design. The idea is to use one drainfield one year, then turn that valve and use the second drainfield the next year. This allow each drainfield a chance to dry out and regenerate and prolongs the life of your system. The only drawback is that you do have a pump, and are dependent upon electricity to keep it going. It will also need to be replaced at some point over the life of the system. Somewhere you should have an electrical box above grade with a warning light on it that alarms when the pump isn't working. As for maintenance, certainly go ahead and use it like normal; toilet paper is fine but don't get the "superstrong" kind and never flush wipes, no matter what it says on the label. Also never flush tampons or pads or diapers. They don't break down and will clog the works. Regular toilet paper breaks down just fine. Don't use antibacterial cleaners - they're not healthy for you and constant excessive use can impact the balance of your septic tank. A bit of bleach in the laundry won't hurt. And whatever you do, never ever add Rid-X or anything like that. You're normally introducing plenty of bacteria into your tank. If you use a rid-x type product, it does break down things in the tank, but quickly and inefficiently, resulting in a floating jelly-like substance that will pass into the field and completely clog it up. It's like frog eggs or gelatin, really nasty to get cleared out. Under normal conditions septic tanks should be pumped every five to seven years. Usually a system like yours will have hatches at the ground surface for easy access to the tank and the pump chamber, so it's likely you won't have to do any digging. Don't drive over your drainfields and don't plant gardens on top. The drainfields need to breathe, so just plant grass and mow it and otherwise leave it alone. And if you're in an area that loses power, I'd recommend getting a generator to run that pump, otherwise even if you have water, you can't flush! It may sound complicated, but it's not, once you get used to it, and it's certainly better than being hooked up to a city sewer system.

I get what you're saying because the property in on slope and floodplain. I'm definitely excited to have a septic system and be off city sewage! But definitely a learning curve. I don't think the seller ever pumped it so I'll so that as soon as possible and hopefully they can show me the valves and alarm components. Thanks so much!
 

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I had a similar system, and using toilet paper never caused any problems for me. I pumped it out about every 3 years, and would happily do so for the privilege of using toilet paper. All props to the purists, but I really don't want to be bagging that paper.

The system looks well engineered, and if you follow the advice about monitoring the pump and not driving on the field, it should last decades.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Pumping is expensive.
Better than a sewage bill! Haha. But I'm already crunchy enough to not need toilet paper. I've been thinking about switching to family cloth for years. It takes us almost a year to get through the big kirkland thing of TP anyway.
 

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Where's Cabin Fever to give us his knowledgeable take on this....??
 

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I am a relatively new owner of the septic system. We had it installed new 5 years ago and almost the same design except I have 3 tanks. The pump went out in 3 years due to roots in the pump tank. Don't keep any trees within 30 feet of tanks.
 
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