Odor/neighbors/questions...busting up an old septic tank?


Old 07-27-10, 08:17 PM
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Odor/neighbors/questions...busting up an old septic tank?

Hello. In a few weeks, I will have my old 750 gallon septic tank pumped out. I will then dig down to it with a shovel and pick axe, removing enough earth to get down there and break it up with a sledgehammer. When I have at least the top half broken and removed, the plan is to fill it and the hole with fill dirt, and maybe some big ore rocks. There will never be another septic tank installed on this property again, so no worries. Questions, though...

My lot is 2 acres. This is in a neighborhood of 1 and 2 acre tracts. When I do this, there will be a stink, and the neighbors will get a whiff of it. I am told that even though it will be pumped out, it will still have at least a 1/2" layer of crap on the bottom of it.

1. How hard will it be to break up the tank with a sledge hammer? (Standard tank, conventional system with lines. It is at least 25 years old, and the people who developed this tract would have used the cheapest materials available.)

2. Given my distance from my neighbors, how offensive would the odor likely be to them? I know it will be somewhat noticeable, but the question is, can I expect them to show up at my door with torches and guns? (In this neighborhood, it is plenty okay to fart, but taking a sh!t in the middle of the street is probably frowned upon. But I am outside the city limits, and on an unrestricted lot at least. What I am doing is legal.)

Anyways, anyone got any input?

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Old 07-27-10, 10:16 PM
Join Date: May 2010
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Broke one up a few years ago . . . it had not been used for 15 or more years so stench not a problem. W/o finding your other post, didn’t you mention this tank was for an old trailer? If correct, no telling what the pumper guy might find if not used for years.

I was mounding an area to be landscaped, so I had a buddy w/ a bobcat help me break it up and backfill as it was just part of the overall dirt work needing to be done. Yours is probably monolithic whereas mine had a poured concrete bottom w/ cinder block side walls (made by former owners) . . . yours will probably be more difficult to break up.

The question you don’t ask is how your plan to dispose of the foul smelling concrete . . . your normal trash haulers may have weight or other restrictions. I had a dumpster rental guy stop by, and had him wait while we loaded the broken concrete and cinder blocks, and off he went.

Your specific questions:

1. I wouldn’t want to break one up w/ a sledge hammer but it could be done. I read your other post, and you were removing tank because of putting in your house pad . . . I would aim to accomplish both with a machine rather than doing this work by hand. If you get a bobcat guy to bust up the tank and pull it out, talk it through first to make sure he has a larger sized bobcat and a bucket attachment. If you don’t have heavy ropes (chain) and slings, ask if he does as it might be helpful in lifting the bottom portion from hole. Since septic tank cos. install and remove tanks, you might ask your pumper guy what he would charge to remove it?

2. Given distance involved, I don’t think the smell and neighbors rebelling will be an issue. If people in area have horses or animals, they probably won’t be able to distinguish the difference. Here it’s legal do this type dirt work or busting up a tank w/o needing a permit. I doubt you need one or want to waste your time but you would need to call your local building dept. if wanting to be sure . .. it’s usually more relaxed when outside city limits, and you probably fall under your county’s building dept.

If new to area, you might ask around if there is a rural paper. Mine has a monthly one where numerous guys w/ earth moving equipment advertise . . . local feed store, hardware store, and the like often have community boards for posting business cards.
Old 07-27-10, 10:41 PM
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Hi Rob. Thanks for your reply.

The septic tank, heck I'm not even sure what it's made of, but it would have been installed ~1980-1985. I always figured that they just put a plastic septic tank in there on top of a gravel pad or something like that, and didn't build any kind of framework around it. I can't get it removed, so I am just going to break up as much of the top half as I can and toss that along with some rocks and fill dirt into the hole. The last time we got it pumped out, the guy said that the lid/top was broken.

The septic system will be used until around 3 weeks before it gets pumped out. I figure 3 weeks may give some of the liquid in the lines enough time to be absorbed by the mostly non-absorbent clay. (This particular type of septic system was totally inappropriate for this property, there has been a tiny pond near the property frontage for years where waste water comes up out of the earth. Developer was a crook, but there is no recourse without money. Nuff said.). After this, no more septic. (Going to a composting toilet and grey water recycling stystem).

Anyways, the septic will have been recently used when it comes time to pump it and bust it up. I wonder if this is going to make the stench a ton worse than if it had been sitting unused for 3 months or more. Hopefully, I won't wake up with a bullet in my head, hehe.

Cheers, Boo
Old 08-25-10, 11:10 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
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put the blue stuff in the toilets and buy a couple gallons of bleach to pour in the tank after it gets pumped out. you wont get any smell past that.
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