Septic System Problem-Not Certain?

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Old 12-29-10, 02:34 PM
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Septic System Problem-Not Certain?

I have a rental property in an all electric neighborhood where there are septic tanks, no municipal sewer service available. Today, I was talking with tenant and she told me at times there is an overpowering sickening odor in and around several properties including mine. Doesn't happen always and the conditions that she smells this odor are not defined. She has not paid attention. I drove over to the property this afternoon and smelled absolutely nothing nor did she. I do know that I have never had an issue at my property and she is the first tenant to make this claim. Her neighbor has smelled the same odor. I do not doubt her story. So my general question is how to proceed. Any suggestions or investigative techniques to help pinpoint the source of smell. I realize this is rather sketchy and thin information without real facts. I have to believe though the smell is real.

Thanks for any advice.

 
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Old 12-29-10, 04:25 PM
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When was the last time you had the septic checked?
 
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Old 12-29-10, 04:33 PM
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What type of septic system do you have?
The kind with field lines?
Aerobic, the kind with sprinklers?
Low pressure dose,(pumps water to field lines)?
 
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Old 12-30-10, 05:41 AM
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I know very little about septic tanks other than the basic function. Other than the occasional smell, there are zero symptoms at my property. The septic tank was pumped out around 1997(first time). The only reason I did it then was I was having trouble with mine at the time (different neighborhood) and just thought it would be a good idea to have this tank emptied out as well.

Pls understand. At this time, I think the problem lies elsewhere with one of the neighbors. I would like to get to the source of the smell and then have the responsible party do something about it. I need some troubleshooting advice. So my general question is how to proceed. Any suggestions or investigative techniques to help pinpoint the source of smell.

thank you.

 
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Old 12-30-10, 05:57 AM
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It sounds silly, but you have to go there and locate the source of the smell. The cheapest, easiest and probably best thing is to walk around trying to locate the smell. It could be coming from a septic system, a vent stack on one of the houses or even something like rotten food, a dead animal or garbage.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:02 AM
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.... and I would think the smell could be relative to the time of day, when the most water is being used - showers, laundry, etc. Ask you tenant if the odor seems to be worse at certain times of the day and go from there.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 06:24 AM
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Thank you for your replies.

Pilot Dane, you raise an interesting question.

what could cause a roof vent stack(I assume you are talking about the pipes that are commonly above a sink) to produce a terrible odor?

thanks in advance.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 07:25 AM
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Roof vent stacks are there to vent the drain (sewer) lines. One reason they are located on the roof is to get the smell as far away from people as possible but if the wind is blowing in the right direction... There are filters available that can absorb the smell but good luck getting your neighbors to spend the money so your tenants don't get an occasional whiff.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 10:35 AM
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Pilot Dane

if I could follow up on your reply.

Is there something( certain conditions) that could make one septic tank system produce a more overpowering smell than a similar system at another location?

and I am not trying to be funny or disgusting either.

is there a product that can be placed in the septic tank system that could remedy this issue-sort of sweetening the pot? I thought there are supposed to be naturally occuring enzymes that keep a septic tank system in good balance.

am I off base?

thanks
 

Last edited by TigerDunes; 12-30-10 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 12-30-10, 11:13 AM
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There is no way around it. Septic tanks, sewer pipes and poo have a certain smell. You can filter the air coming out of the vent pipe through activated charcoal but that's about it.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 11:19 AM
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what about Rid X or similar products?

thx again.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 12:20 PM
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Rid-X and other biological products add bacteria to help break down waste. They don't treat smell.

Any perfume or product to cover-up the smell would probably make the problem worse. Since the original aroma is still there you would be trying to bury it under yet another smell. Anything that strong smelling might offend someone just as bad as the sewer gas smell.

Again I'd take a walk around and see if you can locate the source of the smell. There could be a broken drain line under someone's house letting the smell out. If you can smell it outside your house and it is coming from a vent stack, it is probably coming from yours.
 
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Old 12-30-10, 02:22 PM
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If you have not had the septic pumped since 1997 you have issues. 13-14 years is just too long. Every 2-3 years it should be pumped. Once pumped you might discover other things. Your leach field most likely has solids going to it. It dont long to fail a leach field. Any damp spots in the yard? Even if the smell is not from you pump the tank.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-30-10, 03:21 PM
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I agree with Larosa. It is false economics not to have the tank pumped on a regular basis. While bateria can break down most organics, there is a percentage of waste that remains. If it builds up too high, it can destroy sand filters, leech lines, etc. Rid X is not the answer, having your system(s) professionally inspected and pumped is.
 
 

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