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Septic issues on T-day of course.....

776 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Cabin Fever
Good evening,

I need some help with a Septic problem. As you know the solid tank flows into the liquid tank. In our liquid tank, there is a sump pump that pushes the liquids strait up to just under the access lid , bends 90 degrees for 2 feet, and then bends 90 degrees back down. There is a 90 degree bend near the top of the liquid tank that heads off to the drain field.

Tonight our alarm went off. I pulled the lid and saw that the PVC pipe elbow that heads to the drain field is broken off.

I waited for the pump to start to run again and held the two broken parts together. The liquid would flow into the pipe for about one minute until the backpressure forced the liquid back into the tank.

The pipe going to the drain field is either plugged or frozen. I am 1 hr direct east of the twin cities, so the low temps have not that been that low for me to believe that it is frozen.

Is is safe for me to rent a long gas powered snake, put a ladder down into the tank, and climb down and try to auger the pipe out?

If this is not safe, am I looking at a $200 or $20,000 repair?

I am grateful for your help.

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I agree with the others that this is a job for a professional. I assume you've used your septic system other years without it freezing, so I doubt that it would have frozen this early this year. However, the set up you describe sounds like wastewater is not allowed to flow back into the pump tank after the pump has turned off. In other words, the sytem should be designed such that after the pump has gone thru its cycle and emptied the pump tank, water left in the pipe (the pipe that goes to the mound) should flow back into the pump tank. This water HAS to flow back or it will freeze in the pipe going to the mound. With all the 90º elbows in your design it sounds to me that the pipe going to the mound would stay full of water after a pump cycle. On the other hand, if freezing hasn't been a problem in the past I'm not sure why it would be now.

When was the last time you had your septic tank pumped? If it was a long time ago, there is a chance that sludge has flowed into the pump tank and then pumped up into the mound. This occurnece would probably not plug the distribution piping in the mound, but rather plug the interface between the sand and rock distribution bed in the mound.

A professional should be able to clear any sludge or frozen effluent in the piping. But if sludge has been pumped into the mound, the plugging of the sand/rock interface is generally not repairable. If the septic guy can reapir the problem, have him install an "effluent filter" at the same time.
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....I do have one other problem. After I get all of this done, I still need to fix the 90 degree elbow that is in the liquid tank going out the the drain field. My problem is that the elbow is in the concrete tank, so I can not just cut off a chunk of pvc and put in a new elbow...
For future reference, what is typically done is the pump, float tree, and pipng are all assembled outside of the pump tank. Then the entire assembly is lowered into the tank by use of a chain or plastic or nylon rope. So, to fix any problems, the pump, float tree and piping must be removed from the tank as one unit by lifting it all up at once with the chain or rope. Of course, in order to do this the piping must be disconnected first...either by cutting or at a union coupling...before lifting the unit. Pay attention to the electrical wiring and connectors when doing this.

Glad to hear that the septic guy has you up and running. He sounds like the kind of guy that I would keep track of his phone number in the case of future problems.
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