Possible drain field failure?


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Old 11-08-15, 01:31 PM
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Possible drain field failure?

Hey everyone. Brand new to this site and pretty new to septic systems in general, but we've got an issue.
Lately, there has been water above the lid of our septic tank. Our house was built in 67 and, to my knowledge, its still the original tank. I called a septic company and was told to try changing the filter. After awhile of fishing around elbow deep in water, it appears we dont have one. Apparently older systems dont necessarily have a filter you can access? Wish i had looked that up earlier.
I'm trying to determine if our field is actually failing. Is there something else i can do to test it?
If not, is the only fix replacing the entire field?

Please let me know if there is any other info needed from my end, thanks for the help.
 
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Old 11-08-15, 03:13 PM
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Could it be that you're experiencing an unusually high water table this fall ?

How long has the water level been above the tank . . . . days, weeks or what ?

And when did the system begin backing up . . . . or has it ?

How far away from the tank is the absorption area . . . . is that under water too ?
 
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Old 11-08-15, 04:21 PM
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Its not just a high water table. We got it emptied earlier this year and there was water over the lid not long after, popped the lid and the tank was full.
We've had problems since we bought the house 3 years ago. When we bought the house, the pipe from the house to the tank was blocked, so the septic inspector just focused on that and didnt find problems with the tank. Right after we fixed the pipe, weve had problems with the tank filling abnormally quick ever since.
There doesnt seem to be any water anywhere except over the tank.
Also, dont know if it matters but there are some small cracks and chunks broken on the corners of the lid. Nothing substantial, but i dont know if thatd cause rain water to go into the tank?
 
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Old 11-08-15, 05:44 PM
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Normal operation of the septic tank is about 85% full or something like 9 inches below the underside of the top of the tank.

After the tank is pumped out, no water will exit for the drain field or absorption area until the level in the tank builds up to that 85% level again.

Then for every gallon of new sewage from the house, one gallon is supposed to exit.

Rain water or ground water should not be getting into the tank otherwise the system can be overloaded since the drain field is not designed to absorb an unlimited amount of rain water that may possibly get in.

Emptying out a septic tank a second time in quick succession is a useless thing to do and a waste of money unless:
1. You know the drain field has failed and it will take time to repair and you don't want new sewage overflowing onto the grass, or,
2. The inside of the tank has to be empty and dry for inspection and/or repairs.

You will want to trace the septic tank outlet pipe down to the drain field. Usually there will be a shallow box about 2 feet square (distribution box) where the perforated pipes branch off from the septic tank outlet pipe. Dig this up and remove its lid. Pour plain water in and observe how well (or how poorly) the water goes down into the perforated pipes and gets absorbed. Also inspect the pipe going back to the septic tank for clogging.

(Some systems have a continuous zig zag perforated pipe instead of several parallel pipes and may not have a distribution box. Here you would have to find a suitable point to dig up and break open the pipe to pour water in. Then get a short section of pipe to repair what you broke.)
 
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Old 11-09-15, 04:41 AM
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I'm not a Septic or Waste Water disposal expert; just a Real Estate Broker who's gotten involved in several related drainage and septic problems (including my own).

If that is the original tank, and it's concrete (as you describe its cracks), it may also have begun to deteriorate inside as well, which may mean that the original concrete baffles may have fallen apart; and you've lost the original separation that existed between the chambers (inlet chamber, main breakdown chamber, and outlet chamber). If so, there's nothing to prevent "all" solid material from simply floating across the inside liquid surface of the tank directly from the inlet to the outlet, by-passing breakdown, and directly out to the leach field to create clogs.

My own 1988 concrete tank's baffles began to deteriorate a few years ago, and I was able to retro-fit it with a plastic inlet baffle (to force the submersion of incoming solids) and an outlet filter (Zabel from Poly-Lok) to deny exit to anything that hadn't broken down to less than 1/16". In a way, my 3 Chamber Tank became a Single Chamber Tank. That's what now protects the leach field . . . . the most valuable and most politically sensitive part of any waste water disposal system.

After you solve this current clog issue, you may find that you can also do this kind of tank retro-fit to prevent an immediate re-occurrence.

Just my 2; Good Luck !
 
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Old 11-09-15, 05:25 AM
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A "riser" will prevent most external ground water from getting into the septic tank through a hatch that does not seal that good (sic). This is a large cylindrical tube (with a bottom flange) that is glued to the top of the tank around the hatch. The riser has to be checked each time the tank is pumped to be sure it did not break free from the tank or be reglued if the act of removing the hatch lid broke the riser free.

A septic tank with baffles is not a true 3 chamber tank. The baffles extend down only a short distance and the bottom where the sludge accoumulates is common to "all 3 chambers."

Many towns nowadays require a minimum of a true 2 chamber tank where the first chamber is larger (and has baffles) and the sludge accumulates there. The second chamber allows most of the small amount of sludge that escaped from the first section to settle out and may also have aeration to further decompose the organic material.

A baffle is needed at the outlet end of the septic tank to keep grease (scum) from exiting. Grease is a great enemy of the leach field (drain field; absorption area).
 
 

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