Is My Dry Well Failing?

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  #1  
Old 09-14-15, 08:43 PM
T
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Unhappy Is My Dry Well Failing?

Our house is about 50 years old, and we have lived here since 1999. Shortly after moving in we had to replace the septic tank which was the old metal kind and was collapsing. We replaced it with a 1500 gal, concrete tank.

The tank drains to a dry well located roughly 15-20 feet from the tank. Every element from the house to the dry well is new. We were told by the installers that county code does not permit replacement of dry wells, but that it was in good shape and we did not need to pay for a drain field.

The tank was pumped today, and I was left a note that they had to pump out the dry well too as it was full and backflowing into the septic tank which was full as well. It also said to check for any sources of toilets running, etc. I've checked everything and do not find any issues.

We have had no problems previously, although we do have to have the septic tank pumped on a 3 year schedule, which from online research seems more than average.

I have real concerns now about the permitting, landscape damage and of course cost of a new drain field. Any help or alternative suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
  #2  
Old 09-14-15, 09:53 PM
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Was the septic tank pumped every 3 years since 1999 (when you moved in)?

Check to be sure gutter water and sump pump water is not getting into the septic system.

Check to be sure that rain water is not pooling up near or over the septic tank where it can get inside and overload the septic system if the tank lid does not fit tight.

It will take several days before the septic tank reaches normal level which is typically a little less than a foot from the top. During this time no water will exit the septic tank for the dry well. Thereafter you will want to monitor the dry well to see if water is properly seeping out versus filling that up as your septic technician was saying.

There are some chemical treatments that can be tried (not guaranteed to work) to rejuvenate the dry well. These treatments must be done only when the dry well is empty. These treatments are not included in the standard septic tank pump out.
 
  #3  
Old 09-16-15, 08:21 PM
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Thanks - I will look in to these treatments.

We have been on the 3 year schedule since installation. No sump or downspout water in the area of the dry well. We had a very heavy rain last week, but I can think of no other reason. I will check on the tank lid to the well. Fingers crossed.
 
  #4  
Old 09-19-15, 08:10 AM
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Each time the technicians pump out the septic tank on schedule, they should be able to tell you how urgently it needed pumping at that time, although you have to remember to ask them.

Then you can make an educated guess as to when to schedule the next pumping.

Dry wells, leach fields, seepage pits, etc. don't fail all of a sudden. In 1999 when you bought the house, the dry well was working sufficiently good (sic to avoid pun) while by 2015 it had degraded to no longer serve your family's needs. Also, failure is relative; one person living in the house could live with the septic system in a given condition while ten people would cause failure to exhibit itself.

Most dry well (or seepage pit or cesspool) treatments will require a huge quantity of chemical to circumvent dilution problems if the dry well is full, resulting in inordnate expense. Now that several days have already passed, you will need to pump both the septic tank and dry well again to give yourself a time interval if/when you want to perform the treatment normally at normal expense. Don't ask the aforementioned question about need to pump when you have the septic tank is pumped out a second time in quick succession; the information gained is not useful..
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 09-19-15 at 08:25 AM.
 

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