Help with toilets not flushing on septic system

Old 06-04-08, 04:35 PM
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Help with toilets not flushing on septic system

I've got a plumbing problem that is driving me up a wall and I'm wondering if someone here might have a suggestion for me...

Basically, we have a 2 full bathroom house and we're having a problem with the toilets flushing properly. If you look at my sketch below -- When we flush the toilet in the bathroom towards the top of the drawing, the toilet in the bathroom on the bottom of the drawing bubbles and slowly drains. You can also hear a pretty loud bubbling coming from the tub drain next to the bubbling toilet.

Neither of the toilets flush properly 100% of the time. Sometimes they work fine and other times the water doesn't go down; instead the bowl fills up and then slowly drains itself back to normal level. It seems like if we don't use them for a while, they will both flush fine but if you flush them in succession, the water doesn't 'flush' down the bowl.

Another thing to note - the other side of the house (with the kitchen sink, dishwasher and washer/dryer) works perfectly fine. We can do full loads of clothes back to back and there are no draining issues.

Here's what I've tried so far:

-Ran a garden hose down both vents from the roof.
-I was able to feed a good 25-30 feet of hose into the vent for the bathroom on the bottom of the sketch below. I could turn on the water full-blast and nothing backed up the vent.
-I could only feed hose into the length of the vent for the bathroom on the top (I just couldn't seem to make the bend at the bottom). I was also able to turn the water on full blast without any geisers coming back up to the roof.

-Snaked about 15 feet into the tub for the bathroom on the top of the sketch. Pulled out a pretty big clump of hair but didn't help the situation.

-Finally broke down and called a plumber (my first plumber call!!). He said that he thought that it was a problem with my septic tank or my drain field. He suggested that I call someone in to pump the tank (which was just pumped about 1 year ago), check for cracks and have the drain field tested. This diagnosis was done in about 15 min... no snaking and hardly any inspecting. The only thing that he really did was run the water in the sink in the bathroom on the bottom of the sketch below and flush the toilet at the same time.

I just have a feeling that it's not the septic tank... it really feels like a clogged vent to me and I really don't want to call a team of septic people over here on a bad diagnosis.

Does anyone have any suggestions for other things that I can try? Any other tests that I can do to rule out other possibililies? Thanks in advance!!
Old 06-26-08, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Volusia County, Florida (Central)
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We had a similar problem.

Wouldn't think it was a septic problem if you're not backing up from the washing machine drain. I would try running a lot of water through the washing machine drain for a while since slow seeping of a drain at the farthest point from the septic might just be filling the pipe but its long enough not to notice the backup.

Just to start, you might try checking the filter of the septic if you have one(usually about 5' to the left or right of the tank, in about a 4" flex pipe)

I guess that one would need to know if the flushing problem has always been there. If so, that might suggest the slope on the waste pipe is inadequate.

You didn't mention if the drains from a bathtub, shower, and vanity in those bathrooms are also slow.

Assuming it was once good, I would guess some blockage.

I thought I knew how to snake till I saw a plumber do it. He had cut the end off the snake (the little coiled thing) and just bent the end about 5 inches at a 55 degree angle, stuck it in the drain and turned on his drill full blast and fed a long length through the drain. He said the little tip sometimes rips weak joints.

Good luck!

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