Broke some of my septic pipes digging (leach bed?) - Should I clear them out?

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Old 08-16-14, 04:42 AM
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Broke some of my septic pipes digging (leach bed?) - Should I clear them out?

I have a house that was built in the mid-70s with the original septic system. Every time I get it pumped, the guy doing it says that it is in very good condition (based on the material that is getting pumped out)

While digging a trench last week, I hit 3 of the pipes and need to repair them. I don't know much about septics but this wasn't a huge deal... one appeared to be an air vent (white PVC plastic that was dry inside - easy to fix) and the other two were for the leach bed (?) They ran parallel to the house and had holes in them to allow for drainage and were surrounded by a rock bed. (see attachments)

One of those two leach bed pipes (the one closer to the house) was nearly packed full of what I suspect to be decomp material. The other one (the one further from the house) seemed to be almost empty inside.

My question is this... before I go ahead and fix the pipes and fill in my trench, should I try to clear out the one pipe that is packed full of the decomp? I am figuring since I have the pipe exposed and accessible, will clearing this out prolong the life of my septic system? Or is this supposed to be packed full of this and I should not mess with it?

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Old 08-16-14, 04:53 AM
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First, what is the purpose of the new trench? How deep is the trench? The reason I ask is that you have breached your leach field and created an alternate and possible easy path for effluent.

Yes, as long as the pipe is open I would clean out it's interior. If you don't damage the pipe it can't hurt. When you put everything back together keep in mind that the leach field is a gravity flow system so keep your repair sections level or in line with the existing piping. You don't want a hump that will cause the flow to backup.

Traditional septic systems typically have the leach field done one of two ways. The simplest system has just one line in the leach field that curve it's way through your yard. The other method has a distribution box after the septic tank and a series of laterals. So, instead of having one 100' long line you might have four 25' lines.
 
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Old 08-16-14, 04:57 AM
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I had to put a trench in for drainage away from my house. It was approx 7 feet deep and went out around 100 feet to the hill my house is on to drain.

Do you think I should try to clear out just what I can reach with my hand? Or should I call my septic place on Monday and have them come pump out the pipe?

Since I dug my trench out from my house, it appears I only have 2 lateral pipes. If there were more, I would have hit them
 
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Old 08-16-14, 05:35 AM
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Now that you broke the leach field pipe and saw the interior, clean it out . Have a contractor clean as far as his mechanical snake can reach each way and finish up by backflushing the residues out the broken ends. Then repair or replace the exposed section. One of the many possible things you can find in or surrounding leach field lines is biomat, a species that specializes in clogging leach fields usually gradually over a period of several years.

Also you do not want an open drainage trench or swale, or a perforated drain pipe for other purposes passing through the leach field. That channel will dissipate additional water into the leach field, decreasing the leach field's capacity for absorbing septic effluent.
 
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Old 08-16-14, 05:37 AM
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Not a pro on this topic, but if one is almost filled and the other empty, one is not functioning as it should. From a distribution box each pipe needs to provide the same gravity path as all others or some will be handling most of the effluent while others do nothing. You hit two, but the others may be directed in the opposite direction from the distribution box.

IMO, while it is open and given its age now would be a good opportunity to have a pro look at what you can now see. They may also advise you to cover the top of your trench (beneath the broken pipe) in some manner to prevent the septic from draining down and out the side of the hill. They will also have an opinion on the sediment in the pipe or lack of same in other pipe.

Bud
 
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Old 08-16-14, 05:54 AM
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Yes as stated here have someone look at it...

IMO find the d box and jet the lines.

one appeared to be an air vent
( Show us a pic of the vent)
 
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Old 08-16-14, 06:17 AM
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Sounds good. I will have a pro come look at it on Monday and see what they say

Also, my drain pipe that I just put in is a good 3 feet or so below the septic pipes and bed, so it will not drain into the leach bed. And this drain pipe will get very little water through it... it was put it mainly as a precaution.

Here is a pic of the PVC air pipe (after I cut out the broken section)

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Old 08-16-14, 06:26 AM
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Be aware that septic systems are heavily regulated by code requirements. One a few houses away in NJ was accidentally dug up (disabled) and they forced the home owners to move out until it was replaced and met the newer codes.

Adding to AllanJ's point about your trench not being part of a septic, A code officer/inspector would never allow it. IMO

Bud
 

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Old 08-16-14, 06:26 AM
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Here is a pic of the PVC air pipe (after I cut out the broken section)
Air pipe??? Was it a clean out sticking out the top grade?

Sometimes the end of the field has cleanouts ...
 
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Old 08-16-14, 06:31 AM
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Not sure. I do have some above grade but those are in a totally different section of my land.

When they come look at it I will ask them to verify what it is
 
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Old 08-16-14, 06:32 AM
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A code officer/inspector would never allow it.
The health department would not be happy.

Where does your new drainage ditch go?

I assume you did not get any permits...

How much yard do you have? I would eliminate the field and d box. I would run solid pipe from the septic and install a seepage pit away from your trench.. Pretty sure thats what they will make you do..

 
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Old 08-16-14, 07:18 AM
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The drainage I put in has nothing to do with my septic... it is precautionary to get water away from my foundation (egress window) and empties out 100 feet away into a large field. The closest point my new drainage line comes to any part of my septic or leach bed is 5 feet or so. Would that still be an issue? I can draw up an illustration if what I am saying it not clear.

And yes, I got permits for all of it. But I was obviously not planning on my septic getting involved at all until I unearthed some of those pipes. So my plan is to just rebuild the leach bed and fix and damaged pipes. I just figured while I had access to the pipes, should I be doing anything that will prolong the life of my septic (like clear out the pipes)
 
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Old 08-16-14, 09:01 AM
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The closest point my new drainage line comes to any part of my septic or leach bed is 5 feet or so. Would that still be an issue? I can draw up an illustration if what I am saying it not clear.

And yes, I got permits for all of it. But I was obviously not planning on my septic getting involved at all until I unearthed some of those pipes.
Yes its an issue that you trenched through the leach field. There is a setback rule by code for you state and local code.. Usually 30 ft, sometimes 50ft...etc.. You cannot trench as you have from what I know.

If you got permits you may have big problems if you get reported..

As far as clearing the lines I stated before to locate the D box and have the lines jetted. A pumper needs to be onsite to suck out the biomat as the jetter is run..

Often you need to sind the end of the pipe and pump out from there, but many jetters will pull the biomat back to the D box.

Read here protect the drain field... Does not state the set back but you may be in for a heap of trouble...

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services: Select the checkmarks for Safety and Buildings¬*Division¬*POWTS info -


Maintain all required setback distances when adding buildings or other improvements to the property. These are minimum distances required between the tank or laterals and items such as surface water, wells, and foundations.
 
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Old 08-16-14, 09:15 AM
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Ok, thanks. I will talk to my inspector and see what he says. Worst case I remove my drain pipe I put in.
 
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Old 08-17-14, 06:18 AM
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Immediately abandon and decommission the new trench or channel you tried to run through or across the septic system.

Some localities do not permit a seepage pit in lieu of a leach field for your septic tank.
 
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