Septic systems woes...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by oz in SC, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,687
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    SC and soon to be NC
    We have a septic system here in SC and it has been acting up lately-not overflowing but getting VERY full and not really moving...

    So we had it pumped out and that helped for a while but then it went back to being full to the very top.

    Called the Septic company and they told me the drainfield is most likely clogged due to its age but told me if I wanted to I could dig for a junction box about 5' from the tank itself..

    I have spent the last few hours out there digging around and found an 'interesting' thing-we do not HAVE a drainfield!!! :rolleyes:

    It seems whoever built this house in 1978 didn't bother and ran it into a drainage ditch.... :no:

    So I have dug up the pipe to find the problem...very professional job by the way-where two different sized pipes join it is wrapped in duct tape.. and it was broken in one spot and had become clogged with roots.

    I am going to go to Lowes and buy new pipe to replace the broken pipe and perhaps replace the differing sizes with one size...any ideas?

    Should I buy some of the pipe actually MADE for drainfields-the pipe with the holes in it?

    I am NOT going to run a drainfield however...we are selling this house and I REFUSE to spend any more money on this #$%^&^ house!!! :D

    Thanks
     
  2. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

    Messages:
    7,380
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2003
    Location:
    east ont canada
    i hear ya on not wanting to put more money into a house you are selling but what are you going to do if they ask about the septic and field? and if cau ght running effluent into a ditch how much of a fine? there are thousands of systems just like yours that need to be redone, we put in our own field to code for 1200. a trench and gravel bed would have been much cheaper but we asked permission(trench and gravel is now reaproved were we are) expensive part is the tank . know its a drag but might be better to do it right and have that as a selling point.
     

  3. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    Are you in an area with codes? If so --- and if you haven't bought that ridiculously priced air con you were talking about ($5000? $5000??) --- I'd say this is where you need to put that money.

    If you have a friend who knows how to do it, persuade them with a little $ :D to help you put in a drainfield ASAP.

    Otherwise, I predict potential buyers doing inspections and whopping you with "It'll cost us {your choice of outrageous amounts of money} to replace that septic!!! Meaning thousands and thousands whopped off the price OR you all paying someone a ridiculous amount of money to replace the septic.

    Really. It's one thing to have a kind of funny septic, but one that works. But it's another to not have a drainfield.
     
  4. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,687
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    SC and soon to be NC
    We were inspected...the septic system passed with flying colors...

    We have had the house for going on 7 years and it has been fine.

    How would anyone KNOW unless they dig it up?

    As far as me telling them it works?

    It WILL work when I'm through...

    We have a septic tank by the way-and a pipe leading its merry way across the yard-it just never gets to a drainfield.

    I think I will simply buy some of that holey pipe(technical term) and place gravel under/around the pipe and see how that goes...

    I think part of the problem may be the ditch is overgrown and choked with pine needles..

    As to the A/C...interestingly enough the unit we were being sold I can buy delivered to MY door for about $1800...we weren't replacing the ductwork,(well a section of pipe and running a new lead) we were simply hooking the new package unit up to the existing ductwork...

    So we were going to be charged about $3000 labor...

    Pretty good racket going on there-also EVERYONE was around the same price...makes you wonder if they aren't all setting their prices.

    We are trying to find someone who can simply do the labor and we provide the parts but that is turning out to be VERY difficult...

    This place truly sucks when it comes to finding anyone willing and capable of doing work...

    But at least I am learning things...LOL
     
  5. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    329
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Location:
    Estillfork, Alabama
    If you are putting in perforated PVC you are, in effect, creating a drain field.
    Why not spend a couple of hundred bucks to rent a back-hoe, dig 6 ditches and do it right?

    There is a karma that attaches to these experiences and it's much more fun to have the universe "owe" you one than to try to hide a known problem.

    You can tell your buyer that he is "getting a little something extra".
     
  6. BobK

    BobK Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,230
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Well there is the problem of disclosure and add to that any astute buyer would have their own inspection done....seems the addition of a leach field would be pretty cheap considering the potential problems with selling.
     
  7. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    588
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    You are describing my life! We bought a tired, falling-down 32-acre farm 21 years ago. There was an "orchard" just behind the house, and near the far end of the orchard (really just a patch of mix and match fruit trees) was kind of a sink hole that occaisionally had blueish water coming out. We figured the hole was the top of the septic tank, but it was surrounded by dense brambles that soaked up the moisture and we weren't aware of a bad smell, so we concentrated on other problems. Finally about 6 years ago, we bulldozed the trees and then the trouble started! Sewage bubbling up and flowing down the hill!! We dug around, thinking we'd find clogged leach lines, and found the same thing as you did -- nothing at all below the septic tank.

    We ended up installing an entirely new system, inspected and passed by the county. Did most of the work ourselves, and spent about $3500 which included renting a track hoe.

    The problem is that we have intended from the beginning to build a new house, and the site is right where the sewage used to flow over the ground. We've been advised that we need to be wary of gasses continuing to rise out of that contaminated ground. Well, the house is still on the far horizon, and I'm thinking that with our rainy climate, a few years of sub-soil plowing and successive crops of pasture grass will take care of any residual problems in the soil.

    But tell me...what the heck do people think, anyway? That you flush, you can't see the S*** any more, so it ceases to exist? Sheesh!

    I'm afraid I have to agree with others who have said that you'll face a mountain of grief if you try to sell without bringing the system up to code. Sorry!
     
  8. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    Exactly.

    And, if you don't know what you're doing --- if you don't understand how to position it, etc. --- honestly, get a friend who does know to help. It will cost next to NOTHING. I'd estimate at absolute most maybe $500 for all the piping, gravel, backhoe, and a payout to friend (under the table, of course).

    $500 is next to nothing, considering what someone could hit you with during the inspection phase.

    Don't anticipate you'll get a naive buyer. Anticipate the opposite. Esp. since you all have codes out there.
     
  9. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,484
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Oz---------------If I were going to do it the way you are planning--------Then buy the drain pipe with holes or at least holes on oneside so you can turn them down when you instal it, but spend a little extra time digging the ditch wider and deeper(2 to 3ft wide x 1 to 2ft deeper would help ALOT)-------Wal*Marts sells rocks if you don't have any source, but I took all the 5 gallon buckets, wash tubs, everything I could find to put rocks in---didn't have a truck or trailer at that time, had a van, went to the concrete place with my shovel, I told the man I need some rocks and I could load them myself, got all the rocks I felt I could carry in my van without busting something, went back to the office to pay------He gave them to me---LOL---------The trick to this is after you put some rocks down, is to make sure the drain line drops a little(Maybe 1" every 10 ft, not alot) as it goes away from the tank---Then put some more rocks down---Then The Most important thing-----------You GOT to put down something over this in the ditch, like felt, rolled roofing, tarp, etc to keep the dirt from falling into the voids in the rocks when you start to cover it back up---If you don't-----you will be clogged again SOON----those voids in the rocks is where you want the water to go so it can drain-------If you will do this------I am sure it will work good. Randy
     
  10. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

    Messages:
    426
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland
    We had a house which had been inspected when we bought it and the septic passed w/o problem. However, when we went to sell it just 2 years later, a different septic inspector looked at it. He walked around with some metal pole sticking it here and there and came back and told the buyers that 2 or 3 of the drainlines were not working. We was apparently right, tho. Had another company dig up the junction box and it was unbalanced - everything draining into one line. All this based just on a stick poked in the ground. I would think that a good septic co. would be able to tell there was no drain field and look more into what was going on. If that is not a code problem straight out, I would certainly think buyers would not want a ditch only. Another thing to consider - if you knowingly replace it below code and/or misrepresent the septic system and they later find out, what is your liabilty?
     
  11. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    851
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    Location:
    Ky
    Codes?!!! we dont need no stinkin codes here!!!

    OZ welcome to the south. Leech fields aren't all that costly in the long run, compared to the purchase price of your abode. If you pay for it the house will sell quickly, if not it will haunt you. It's a karma thing


    QUOTE=countrygrrrl] I predict potential buyers doing inspections .[/QUOTE]




    No Southerners dont pay people to do inspections. They hire APPRAISERS who dont know jack about squat to tell you what they would pay for something if they didn't have to actually cough up the money. This sounds like a moral dilemma. See the karma thing above
     
  12. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,484
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Oz---------Mercy---Guess next time you need a serious question-----------you better re-word it so it sounds like your neighbor has the problem, so everyone don't seem to be coming down on you--------LOL-------I am sure every one is giving you good advice, but I--talking about ME--------Would do the repair myself-------Do A good Job--------When I are happy------I cover it up. Let me give you another Idea that might help make the repair easier. If this field line area want have HEAVY vehicle's driving over it then You could do this== If you have access to some free or cheap 40 to 50 gal plastic barrels, cut them in half---now with the cut/flat side down, cut a hole in each end of each half as high as possible just big enough to slide the drainage pipe through---you don't want to remove the barrel ends but each leading end of the barrel half needs another hole cut into it big enough to get your arm in it. To instal--------you will still need a slight drop on the drainage line, make the ditch wide enough that the barrel sets down (Cut side down-----crown up)with a slight drop, maybe 1/16 to a 1/8 drop on each barrel width. now as you install each barrel half---feed the drain line through each half---let each half bump the other-------bet you wondering about the "Arm Hole" aren't you----As you do each half drill 2 holes(about 1/4") into the top middle of each barrel--what you are going to do is take some heavy wire like a clothes hanger---get someone to push it into one hole---stick your arm into the "Arm Hole" bend the wire around the drain line and stick it back up through the other hole, being careful not to pull it to tight or to loose---you want the drain line to stay straight through the barrel---twist the wire, bend over, then do another barrel--The area under each barrel stays open---------gives alot of drainage area---Its easy to install---it works in my opinion better than a rock ditch-------Not sure it would pass code------but I wasn't calling for a inspection anyway. I Want say which of my "neighbors" has this done--LOL--------But I promice you it works good for years now!! Once the dirt is throwned back over it and it settles---if you used the heavy barrels like the ones that are usually blue--you could drive a car across it, but I don't want nothing driving across my field lines, not even the rock-ditch ones! Good Luck. Randy
     
  13. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Dig a pit out behind the house and build a pretty little shed with a seat inside it. ;)

    Best just go pay the little extra and make some sort of basic drainfield. It shouldn't cost you too much to do it yourself. Get the proper pipe, some gravel, and something of course to keep the soil from clogging the holes.

    I could care less about codes (it's YOUR property, if they want to tell you what to do, let THEM pay the taxes, right? :soap: )but the issue is selling a big problem to an unsuspecting buyer if an unsuspecting buyer buys the place. More of a moral issue, and then a legal one if someone decides to sue you over it if they feel you cheated them.
     
  14. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    Well, if there are codes (and there probably are) The moment you begin adding a drainfield without a permit you will be breaking the law, and the whole system will have to be brought up to code (Possible dual chamber tank, two tank, soil evaul., etc) There has been more than one person that went to get a permit to redo an aging or failing septic tank and been told that the soil was unsuitable for that style of system and forced into a different, more expensive system.

    If there are no codes, or you are just hoping to get around the codes you should still try to do a good job. I'm with the other people that say to get a backhoe and do it right.

    I am only licenced for Texas, so I do not know the codes in other states, but you'll likely need between 150-200 feet of drainline to do it right. No line should be more than 150 feet long, and all ditches should be the same length. The drainline ditches should have a distance of at least 3ft between them. Despite what people tell you, the drainfield should be level, though a fall of 1in per 25 is allowed, up to a total of 3in of fall. (Not to be confused with the drainfield, there should be a foot of difference between the outlit on the tank and the drainfield as well. This keeps the tank from filling up from the drainpipe in a flood.)

    Ideally your trenches should be at least 1.5 ft wide, and have 1ft of gravel in them The gravel should be between 1-2inch washed rock. Before backfilling you should lay a geotextile fabric on the gravel to keep the dirt from sifting down and clogging the drainfield.

    The above is all well and good, and the drainfield is cheap. The pipe will cost about $100- $150, the fabric is fairly cheap, a day rental on a little hoe should be about $165- $250, the actual gravel will run about $7-$14 a ton depending on where you live..... Except getting the gravel deliever will probably end up costing alot. The gravel for my system cost about $130 from the pit. The people around here wanted $340 a load to haul it to me, and I needed two loads. I found a few cheaper prices, but the distances did not work. Most pits refuse to load pickup beds.... luckily I had a friend with a dump truck.
    Of course, now I have moved, am going to need another septic system, and no friend to haul gravel this time...

    Anyway, I know the thought of digging 200 feet of ditch across your yard, even if you're just going to sell the place is maddening, but doing something right is often well worth it in the long run.

    Rowdy
     
  15. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,622
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    Maine
    Had the same problem a while back--come to find out the leach field had been clogged up with waste from the tank overflowing and water couldn't leach down and out. I had the tank pumped out and a 50 gallon drum of hydrogen peroxide pumped in through the outlet pipe right into the drain field. You could actually hear the ground fizzing as the peroxide ate away the waste. No problems since.

    So...if your pipe job doesn't completely solve the problem, the peroxide's much cheaper to do a bandaid job. The treatment cost me about $800, has worked for 2 years. Course, as far as pricing goes, they had me over a barrel since I couldn't flush the toilet, so who knows how much lower the price would be for, say, a "maintenance" job.
     
  16. DrippingSprings

    DrippingSprings In Remembrance

    Messages:
    1,947
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2004
    Location:
    Alabama
    Had a relative buy a house and five acres for over 200 grand. The people before only had one child and ran their washer and sinks into a seperate drain. He bought it and moved in with his family of six. Three months later septic overflowing in the floor etc. They couldnt find the actual tank with probes. So they called a man who knew the people who had owned the property about twenty year earlier. He said he didnt know where the later tank was but the first system was over by the barn. They checked and sure enough the pipe lead that way. Not to a tank and field lines. But to two fifty five gallon metal drums and about eight wheelbarrows of gravel. That is fairly common back then especially out in rural areas. Hey it worked for over twenty years and probably would have lasted twenty more if they hadnt added extra people and ran the washer and sinks into it. Someone once told me that was a horrible way to handle wastes. And technically it IS illegal but out houses arent. If I had a choice of the gravlk and tanks eight feet under or a big hole open to smell you know my choice.
     
  17. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    442
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Just so people know absolutely, codes, if they do exist vary tremendously from utterly assinine to hey, go with it.


    Where I am, if you have over 5 acres you don't need a septic system much less a leach field. No inspectors unless you hire someone to do your septic system. You can just straight line it out. Of course, and resonable, if you pollute, you can get called on it. On decent acreage on appropriate land you easily do without a leach field.
     
  18. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR
  19. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR

    you cant say he will be breaking the law every place is differant
     
  20. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR

    where we are at in arkansas you have to have at least 10 acres to do what you want