Leach field problem

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by sullen, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    I have a leach field that leaks badly when ever I use a lot of water. It seems to be too steep on the back end. Is there a way I can add more dirt, put some logs or walls in it to keep the dirt there, and would it be ok like that?
    The water comes out right at the hen house, so I can't have that....
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Sullen, I read you called the wet area a leach field but have you fully determined it is not a grey water drain? If it is a true leach field you could add some infiltrator panels.
     

  3. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    It's a leach field because it's where everything goes. We don't gave a grey water drain. We had this house built 4 years ago.
    It didn't used to leak like this...only in the last year has it gotten so bad...it wore a hole in the ground, and water just runs out.
    DH wants to put in a grey water drain but hasn't had the time.

    So whats an infiltrator panel?
     
  4. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    You should not be having this problem with a 4 year old system. Get some food coloring and pour same into the storage tanks on the toilets. Watch closely and determine if the water in the toilet bowl slowly changes color to match the food coloring. You must have a steady leak into the drain field somewhere.
     
  5. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In many states you cannot do what you are suggesting. I don't know the rules in your state. In mine, trying to cover a problem or add dirt on top of a leach field makes a _big_ problem if the county people catch you....

    In my opinion, such a new system is having a serious problem, and you need to address the problem. Covering a blow-out with dirt or logs is just patching the symptom, but is leaving the problem to appear again later, or in other, even worse, ways. It does not help whatever is wrong, it only burries it......

    You might have recourse through your builders yet, if it was designed that poorly? A leach field setup should have near-level pipes, there should not be a spot where the water blows out. Something is not right here, and if it were me I would want it right.

    --->Paul
     
  6. frugalville

    frugalville Well-Known Member

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    Not an expert so DYODD.

    How many lines are in your field ? Are all of them taking water ?

    If your system has multiple lines, do you know where your distribution box is ? You might have a look to see that all your lines are taking water. They normally have speed adjusters that regulate how much water goes to each line/trunk. If you box was not set right and settled (out of level), more effluent will flow to one area of the drainfield than the others. This will cause an overload on that section, and may lead to failure.

    As said before, a 4 year system shouldn't be having these problems. Bite the bullet, and get it fixed ASAP.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Pick-Axe

    Pick-Axe Member

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    :grit: 4 years :grit: I agree with rambler. I am a licensed onsite sewage treatment designer, "leach field designer", in Minnesota. You should not be having problems in 4 years of use. (unless it is graveless pipe, good luck if it is.)

    1st) make sure unnecessary water is not running in to system, ie. stuck toilets, drippy faucets, water softener recharge water. (too much water for septic systems is a bad thing)

    2nd) contact designer and installer of system. Tell them that you will be contacting the regulatory authority if needed. (This may get one or the other to "pony up" and come out and hopefully fix the system.)

    Good luck.

    Pick-Axe :bash:
     
  8. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    This is very sound advice! As the others have said, a 4 yo system should work just fine. I also suspect that your distribution box (assuming you have one) is not level. This unlevel condition would cause all of the wastewater flow to go to just one leach line. If your septic system plans show that you do, in fact, have a distribution box, dig it up and remove its cover. If the water in the bottom of the box is not at the exact same level (in respect to where the leach lines exit the box) then re-level the box.

    Sullen, you say that the system seeps when you use a lot of water. What is your definition of "a lot of water?"
     
  9. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I would say your problem is you have very poor ground for a septic system. Who obtained the permit for the septic system? There are many properties that don't perk well and shouldn't have a septic but somehow magically they get a permit and of course the system doesn't work properly. I've owned 1 house where this was the case and my MIL and BIL's house are the same way. My BIL was the one obtaining the permit for his septic so he could build his house. The inspector dug a hole and poured water in and it didn't drain. He dug another hole, poured water in and told my BIL that if the water was gone it would be OK and that he'd be back in a few minutes as he was going to his car to make a phone call. My BIL scooped the water out with a can he had in his truck and when the inspector came back he signed off on the permit. Unfortunately this is all too common.
    you might want to consider running a gray water line to another spot on the propery as that's where the majority of water in your septic comes from.
     
  10. kmaproperties

    kmaproperties Well-Known Member

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    First thing to do is call septic installer and get him to fix his screw-up.
    No leach bed fails in 3-4 years. If he won't fix it call the county health department and complain, get them out to inspect, most times they will get on the installer to remedy the problem.
    my installer guarantees fully for 5 years and 10 on the tanks.
     
  11. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    A repeat of my first reply. Make darn certain that you do not have a continuous water leak draining into the septic system! You can overload a leach field and it will behave as you described regardless of how good it was installed.
     
  12. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    A properly designed and installed drainfield can fail on its first day of use if you your water disposal is extreme. This is not the fault of the designer or installer. So, I also go back to my original question; how much water are you using when this happens?
     
  13. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sullen....grey water is not yet legal here...but alot of folks do have them....

    What kind of soil do you have? Clay soil is often an issue in certain Maine locations....Your septic design should have been based on #of bathrooms and bedrooms in your house....

    I can tell you that our septic was designed for a 2 bedroom home....and we have 4bdrms and 3 kids now and its only been pumped once in almost 30 years :monkey: ...back in 1990....(we add yeast regularly) we have China lake water table under us (my lawn never turns brown even during the driest summers) but we never have any leaching issues....
    Try to get your septic plans from installer....and get more info...if it is your soil...a new leach field may need to be dug out and refilled with lighter sand type material....if you call the plumbing inspector(from town) he may force the issue quicker than you want....sewer water is not good...

    Do you have town/city water or well? You may want to test the well water if you have flowage near well site too....ecoli is a big NASTY...
     
  14. kmaproperties

    kmaproperties Well-Known Member

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    Read all the posts, I agree with cabin and others, look for a leak before calling in the troops.A leaky toilet flapper can put hundreds of gallons a week extra into the system and cause the problem.
     
  15. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    OK.
    Thanks for all the advice, I have been too busy to get back.
    A LOT of water, that makes a leak, is washing a load of clothes or turning on the dishwasher. But I have gone out there and there is water leaking when there is nothing running. And it stinks. There was another place with a leak but this one started and the other one stopped.
    Our system is rated for 3 bedrooms, we now have 6 people living here. DH is away a lot but Mom is here and she gets chronic "sit on the toilet".
    I add yeast and Rid X, don't put strange chemicals into the system, etc. I even removed and threw out the cleaner my Mom put in her toilet.
    I am on a well, it is full of silt, though...would that be a problem? We use a filter, though.
    I will call the company who built the house and tell them to get me the name of whoever built the system, and get them out here. I will check on the warranty but I think it is only 1 year. I may take the company to court if the system is bad. I am NOT paying for another screw up by this company....
     
  16. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    In Minnesota, a septic system for a two-bedroom home is designed to handle 300 gallons per day (for a McMansion) or 225 gallons per day (for a cabin). These design flows assume that a two-bedroom home contains 3 people. I have no idea what flow Maine uses for a two-bedroom home, but I’d imagine it’s similar to Minnesota. A national water use study conducted in 1998 show the average water use rate per person is 80 gallons per day (gpd). In Minnesota, the average use rate per person is 69 gpd. You do the math, I think that you are possibly overloading your septic system. I’d suggest that you do no more than one load of laundry a day (about 50 gallons of water per load)….and bathe on Saturday nights only….share the bath water or shower together.

    Septic tank additives are a waste of money and will have absolutely no effect on the problem you’re describing.
     
  17. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    I just saw the drawings, they say 3 bedrooms, so I changed it above. It says 1000 gallon capacity. The size is 1200 square feet. It also says a "complete non-engineered system". Whats that? The "design flow" is 270 gallons per day.
    So it should be able to handle us, right? Most of the house is gone daytimes. Anyway I called the guy who put it in and I will call him again tomorrow. Then I will hunt him down. I know the town oficial who inspected it, he is a real law abiding guy...
     
  18. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    So are you using more than 270 gallons per day?
     
  19. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    No Way am I using that......I am the one running around turning everything off and down.
     
  20. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    The "1000 gallons" is the size of your septic tank. A design flow of 270 gallons per day (gpd) is a two-bedroom home in Minnesota. 1200 sq. ft is a big drainfield for 270 gpd, you must be on some tight soil. I wonder if it was installed when the soil was wet. Wet soil is a "no-no" for installation on tighter soils. The trench bottom and sidewalls will smear when the backhoe digs into wet soils which effectively seals the pores.