Septic Tank Problems


Old 11-17-09, 10:22 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
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Septic Tank Problems

Bought house in 1996, drainfield was put in just before we bought the house. We had tank pumped in 2000, and 2003, and 2006 then just had tank pumped 2 months ago. Before tank was pumped recently having problem with toilet bubbling as shower drained. About a week or 2 after tank was pumped last time it did it again, husband and some friends dug up part of drain field did not look bad to us. Pipe was not collapsed, hosed pipe and added some more gravel. Worked fine until this weekend now toilet is bubbling again and tub drains very slow. Does anyone have any suggestions, we cannot afford to hire someone for a new drain field at this time. My salary has been cut and husbands hours will drop from 40 to 28 soon.
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Old 11-17-09, 05:45 PM
Vey is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
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I'm in Florida.

You need a new drain field.

Check with the "septic tank man" in (In dunno with consolidated government, Duval County/Jax?) and ask kindly if you can replace the drain field as a DIY job since it is a less that $5,000 job and in theory, we are allowed to do our own work if it is less than that.

The secretaries may run interference for him and say no, but be persistent -- try to find and talk to HIM.

When you do, talk anonymously (DO NOT tell him where you live) explain that you don't like being a polluter (which is what you could be now), but that money is tight and since your husband's hours are being cut there is no good reason that he can't dig ditches. So with some help and guidance so that things are done to code, you are CONSIDERING trying to DIY. Ask how large the drain field needs to be? Probably larger than it was in '96.

Feel him out and see what he says. This is not brain surgery, but you will need to buy some things. Like pipe, several yards of gravel (delivered) and some landscaping cloth.

Since you are in an urban area, he may be a total a.h. and not want to help you out. Dunno until you ask. Maybe reming him that a less than 15 year-old inspected system is failing will twinge his conscience. It helps if you know "a little something" before you start talking, though. He probably will want you to present a "plan" as to where (you need the survey) and how you intend to do things.

Here is how they did it at my house a few years ago. They made me pull the permit. They made me present a plan even though the work was done by a septic tank company. I dunno why, but it cost $800 to get it done, which from what I hear is extraordinarily low rate.

First a county man came out and tested the percolation rate.

Then they brought in a backhoe and they dug two wide ditches about 40 feet long (this was the 2 bedroom model, more bedrooms mean more more pipe and more ditch) and about 3-4 feet deep, maybe deeper, pitched so that the water ran down hill. Then they lined the ditch with 3 foot wide landscaping cloth so the sand wouldn't get in. Then they poured in gravel so it was about six inches- one foot deep. Then they laid the pipe. Then they poured in more gravel and they brought the landscaping cloth up and over. There was a little gravel on top. Then they hand stitched (with a big needle made from thin wire) the cloth so the sand wouldn't get in. And then they backfilled the ditch.

Something you need to know is that there is a record kept of pumpouts. The pump man is supposed to report that he did it, why and what problems he detected with the system to the (County/City whatever). That's State law. What I found out is that these pumpout guys usually do work on the side and may give you a decent price if you ask. In fact, I was shocked to see one of the pumpout guys working on the crew putting in the drain field since they were two different companies.

BTW, I forgot to mention that nobody has a lot to do right now. Not the local septic tank man, not the septic tank companies, not nobody in the construction business. I go in the City permitting office to get a garage sale permit and it like a ghost town where a couple of years ago I had to wait and wait. If you need work, this is a good time since everybody wants to DEAL, so if you get an estimate, counter-offer. All they can say is no and you haven't lost anything.

Last edited by Vey; 11-17-09 at 06:06 PM.
Old 11-27-09, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Lake Wales, FL
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I wrote this reply for an earlier question but, it seems to apply to you as well?

The normal reason a drain field is full of water, is that it has been raining and the ground is flooded.
We have all had a lot of rain lately.
Do you live in a valley or an area that has a seasonal high water table?
Have you looked at local rivers, lakes, ditches to see if the water is higher than usual?
The next reason may be that the inspection covers on the septic are loose and the rain and surface water is getting in. Check that the top of the septic and the surrounding ground have been landscaped to ensure that water does not sit on top of the septic.
Check that surface water is not making its way down hill onto the drain field – if it is, build a wall or install a French drain to divert the water round the drain field.
The next reason is that the family has been using more water than the drain field was designed to cope with. Have you people staying with you? Perhaps a new washing machine?
A drain field is designed for the number of people who are expected to live there and their anticipated water usage over a typical 24 hour period.
The design takes into account the number of people, the type of layout and the soil condition.
Pick a spot at the bottom of the drain field and dig a hole.
The surface of the ground water should be three feet below the lowest part of the drain field.
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