Septic - How to "restart" after years of sitting?

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Old 12-07-08, 07:13 PM
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Septic - How to "restart" after years of sitting?

Hello group:

Thanks in advance for your input.

I've been lurking/researching for some time now, and have two different projects - a dug well and a septic tank.

First, the septic.

I found and opened up a spetic tank on our property. The tank has sat for 11 years without any use; we knew it was there, just never used it much.

The tank looks like it's in good working order. It was dry with about a 3-4 inch dried sediment layer on teh bottom. The tank looks good inside, the baffles look good, the tank walls look good with no cracks or roots - overall I think it's ready to use again.

So is it that easy - do we just start using it again?
Or is there something else which should be done first?
 
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Old 12-07-08, 07:21 PM
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Oops, the tank specs are:

Concrete tank
Traditional field lines
2 chambers in tank; solid tank is about 5' deepX8'longX6'wide, water side is slightly smaller.
Per former owner, tank was installed about 1980; used by one person toilet water only from about 1981 thru 1993; no activity since. Owner said tank was appropriate size to accomodate 4BD house.
Tank will currently be used by two adults, one child, toilet and shower water only.
 
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Old 12-07-08, 07:51 PM
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From what you are saying. I don't see a problem with using it.
You should check with your local county, about using an old septic system. The rules or laws may have changed, since it was put in that long ago.

Make sure you have a good lid for it and is sealed water tight. There should be a "T" on the inlet and outlet of the tank on the inside.
The outlet should have a down spout going down into the tank about half way.
The inlet about 1/3rd the way down.
You can at least give it a try before you and spend a bunch of money on a new one.


Travis
 
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Old 12-07-08, 07:58 PM
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if no leaks then should be ready to use as is maybe have a vac truck come in and pull the debris out, how is the leach field do you have any info on that, just for curiosity what are you using now?

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies
 
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Old 12-07-08, 08:08 PM
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The question you need to answer is "is the tank connected to a functioning drain field?"
 
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Old 12-08-08, 07:00 AM
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Think of it as a new tank.
Fill it with water and start using it.

A septic tank works by using the bacteria in our gut, to decompose our toilet/waste.
The moment our waste lands in the tank the process starts.
It is an anaerobic process, that is to say that the process only works in an air less environment, that's why the tank must be full of water.

Toilet is 70% water so by the time the bacteria have had their feed there is very little solid left.
The toilet solids are turned into mainly methane gas and carbon dioxide and disappear through your vent stack/pipe.

If you use your septic tank correctly and avoid putting any form of antiseptic into the tank, be it, bleach, alcohol, salt/sodium etc; then the bacteria will work happily, if you put antiseptics into the tank it will stall the process and solids will build up and you will need to empty it.
 

Last edited by waterwelldude; 12-08-08 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 12-08-08, 12:57 PM
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Here is a question I have always wondered about, I understand how the solids like human waste are broke down into gasses and what not, however, what happens to the toilet paper? Every toilet paper I have seen at the store says "Septic Safe". What makes it septic safe, does it break down and go into the leach field?
Thanks.
FWIW, we bought a house that had sat vacant for 3 years before we bought it due to a foreclosure, well we had the septic inspected and they said the tank and baffles looked ok, they did a dye test but since it was a dry summer and it sat idle for so long the septic guy said that it would only fail the dye test if there was a major problem. We lived there 2 years and the septic worked ok. Why did they quit using the old septic?
 
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Old 12-08-08, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Civicminded View Post
Why did they quit using the old septic?
We moved into a tract house across the field, lol.

------------------

Thanks for the responses guys.
I have no reason to believe the drain field is anything less than appropriate for the tank size. No trees over or near the field - just horse corrals.

The tank is located at the front of our horse barn, smack dab in the middle of the "breezeway", or the doors. I didn't realize the tank was only about 1.5' under the soil. The soil is hard packed dirt, not too much rain in SoCal.

I've unknowinly been driving my Excursion over the thing for the past several years. I've heard conflicting opinions about whether or not I can safely drive over the tank without hurting it.

I'm inclined not to drive over it, but am told not to worry about it.

Opinions please?
 
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Old 12-08-08, 08:46 PM
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Do not drive anything heavier than a lawnmower over septic field. You want to avoid compaction of the soil in the field. Also, avoid concrete and structures over drain field.
 
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Old 12-09-08, 03:45 AM
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Toilet paper is specially made for its purpose and is made to fall to bits after immersion in water for a time, being made from wood pulp it is not that different from the vegetables we eat and is digested by the bacteria.
One can only guess. The most likely, was a problem with ponding, they probably overloaded the ground with water -using too much water in too short a period.
However, they still needed a toilet, was there any evidence of another tank or system?
 
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Old 12-11-08, 01:44 PM
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I agree with the other posters, just start using it. No need to add clear water, it will be happy with what you flush down the drains.

Like any septic system, if you can and if it's legal and safe you should divert your washing-machine discharge elsewhere...the sodium in detergent plugs the pores in clayey soils.

If the tank overflows after a couple of weeks, you will know there is a problem with the leach field (or pump, if a mound system).
 
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Old 12-14-08, 04:46 PM
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Thanks again guys.

Are the questions about the reason the tank was not used directed to me or to civicminded?

If to me, there was never a problem with the subject tank - we simply moved into a nicer residence close by - but plan on moving back to the property where the subject tank is.
 
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