Sump Drain and Septic Question


Old 05-10-07, 12:04 PM
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Sump Drain and Septic Question

I am presently in the middle of a project to install a new sump pump drain line and, I would like to solicit input about some options and my planned attack.

Background: I purchased my first “country living” abode last summer. The home was built in 1965 and has a private well and septic system. During sale negotiations, the following occurred:

The septic system failed the initial test. Apparently the tracer dye showed up somewhere below the leech field, where, apparently, the previous owner had terminated a separate discharge line that he had installed expressly to dispose of the home’s “grey water”. “Grey water” was defined as discharge from the kitchen & bath sinks, the dishwasher, and the washing machine. (It may have also included the drain from the bathtub.) The former homeowner was adamant that the septic system was indeed working properly and that the tracer dye that showed up in the outlet of this gray water discharge line was due to the fact that the testing process, which included pushing something like 500 gallons of water through the septic in a short period of time, likely overwhelmed the leech bed to some extent. The former owner further explained that this “gray water” discharge line apparently was routed in solid pipe to one side of the leech bed, and then once past the leech bed, turned and was further routed across and below the leech bed terminating in a swale perhaps 200’ from the house. However, when the lined turned below the leech bed, he changed to a perforated pipe in order to minimize a full flow discharge at the end of the line. He insisted that any tracer dye that showed up in the outflow of this gray water drain had to be the result of the flooding of the leech bed, which in turn, bled into the perforated section of the gray water discharge line, which wrapped around the bottom of the leech bed on it’s way to the swale terminus. There was no indication of dye leaking from the leech bed area itself.

The Home Inspector recommended that the home’s “gray water” be re-routed from the existing separate discharge line and, to “comply with current code”, this water was to be re-routed into the existing septic system.

Separately, he allowed that it was permissible to have the discharge from the home’s sump pump be discharged in it’s own line – but that it should not be routed into the old gray water discharge line, and a new sump discharge line be installed.

The previous owner strongly disagreed with these recommendations, but to close the deal, these changes were made. Tests were re-done and the system passed. We closed the deal.

In February, we endured the crisis of the sump pump’s discharge line freezing solid. Apparently, the previous owner cheated – severely – by not burying the discharge line. There was never an indication of a problem until the 200+” of snow that we got began to melt. That pump worked hard for a couple of weeks there in the spring. Now I know, and am in the process of putting in a new line which will involve digging a trench of about 50’ in length in order to reach the swale.

Recently, I re-tested our well water and it failed – apparently showing a low, but unacceptable level of coliform (1/100 ML). I was advised to shock the well. The same day, I pursued the possible cause of a 4’ diameter soft spot in the leech bed area. Opening the septic tank, I discovered it full and have just had it pumped out and repaired one of the baffles in tank. The septic guy stated that I was fortunate to catch it now, before it filled to the point of allowing solids to get past the baffles. He also pointed out that the present sump discharge line terminates just above the leech bed, and given our type of soil, much of this water was probably finding its way into the leech bed – perhaps contributing to the soft spot in the leech field.

To summarize:
· I’ve shocked my well water and verified that there don’t appear to be any obvious sources of contamination. (The 100’ deep well is located @ 70’ uphill from the septic tank. It currently holds about 60’ of water in an 8” diameter well casing that is properly sealed. We’ll re-test in a couple of weeks.
· The 500 gal 40 yr. old septic tank is newly pumped clean and baffles are working.
· I’m currently digging a 36” deep trench to bury the new sump discharge line and run this water away from the house and the leech bed.

Here are my questions:
1. The planned new sump discharge line will ultimately come out of the ground at the terminus with the swale. I intend to have it empty into a bed of small stones and be further covered by more stones. I will insure that there is sufficient drop in the line so that it drains completely after each discharge, but remain concerned that there could still be some risk of freezing at the terminus. Any comments?
2. I think that my timing of shocking my well immediately BEFORE having the septic tank pumped may put me off to a bad start with fostering the proper environment for the septic tank to work. Should I consider putting a bottle of “septic starter bacteria” into the system??
3. The septic guy alluded (with a wink and a nod) that having your gray water discharge separately from the septic system is not that bad of an idea – if you can get away with it. He cites the primary benefit of simply putting less volume through the septic system, and also redirecting flowage that might otherwise not be beneficial to a healthy septic elsewhere. Should I reconsider re-routing my gray water into the new sump discharge line as well?? If so, should I move up in size from the current 1 ½” PVC pipe??

I apologize for being long-winded.
Old 05-11-07, 10:12 PM
Vey is offline
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Well, nobody wants to answer you, so I will.

The big "gray water" problem is the washing machine. If you can get that washing machine off your septic tank, the other gray water sources will not hurt the septic tank. Well, a dishwasher is also not good, so I will revise what I am saying, if you can get those *two* sources off the septic, you can only do good. The reason is they both have big, fast pumps and they "push" the water into the tank too fast, which "pushes" the tank and that ain't good.

People get upset with me here when I say this, but unless you are washing diapers or other fecal matter, putting the washing machine water in a flowerbed doesn't hurt anything. I say that with the idea that the water percolates down through your soil fairly quickly, you don't want a mini-cesspool out there half the day so the kiddies start making mudpies in it. But here, the water practically falls down through the sand, so that's not a problem.

If you decide to put your gray water in an underground pipe, get it the hell away from the leech/drain field. It needs to do it's own thing and the septic tank needs to do it's own thing.

I set up a system like this once. The kitchen sink was on the other end of the house from the septic tank and drained into a drywell. That drywell failed, so they made another and put in in series. The second one failed, so then there was another. When that one failed, I lived there.

I bypassed all three and made my own system. First I went into a plastic box, that had a screen in it, to screen out the big stuff. I had to clean that out about once a year. Then I went into a 55 gallon plastic drum to let settle what I didn't screen out, then I made a 35' drain field. The drainfield was made with landscaping cloth, then gravel, then the perforated pipe, then more gravel and I drew the landscaping cloth up and around, making a pouch and stitched it up along the top.

Same with the sump pump . . . away from the other two. 20 feet at least.

Nobody can tell you exactly what to do, but I hope this gives you some ideas.
Old 05-14-07, 12:23 PM
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Sump Discharge & Septic

Thank you, Vey, for your input. Thank you very much.
Hollerin' Jer

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