Find tank and what drains where?


  #1  
Old 03-31-16, 07:10 PM
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Find tank and what drains where?

We just bought this house in the fall. It was built in '82.

The symptoms are that a couple of times, multiple times over a one or two day period, you take a shower and the water comes up in one of the toilets. Weeks will go by, then it'll happen again. I interpret this to mean that the tank needs pumped. I thought maybe it was a venting issue, but I've hit them with the hose, so it appears the tank needs pumping.

After consulting with a local forum, I called a pumper who was recommended. Her records show that one tank was replaced in 2002 and pumped in 2013. She says houses built since the early 80s were required to have two tanks and the records indicate one on either side of my house. The two toilets and showers are on opposite ends of the house, but they're clearly connected because you take a shower in one and the water comes up in the other. (No matter which one is used, it appears water may come up in one toilet first)

She has no record of the other tank being pumped and there's no paperwork which says it has been abandoned. When we bought the house, the previous owners only told us of one tank, the one which they had pumped during the years they lived in the house.

Her records also indicate that the one they've pumped has a grease trap and she says that even though this is a relatively small house, if everything went to one tank, there would be a pump.

What she's suggested is for them to come and pump the one they did three years ago, then we'd flush things and see if they drain into that tank. If they don't, then we'd pump the other.

I don't particularly want to unnecessarily pump two tanks. If the two bathrooms are tied, then logic tells me the kitchen and washer goes to the other. Everything is on a slab and there are no cleanouts outside the house. I guess I could take a shovel and see if I can find if the toilet drains out the "other" side, which just occured to me as I'm typing this. Something I've read says that you might be able to tell from the positioning of the vent pipes, but the website wasn't really clear.

Before the pumper gets here, are there any tricks to finding out which way the toilets drain and/or is her info about if everything goes into the tank that has been replaced, there would be a pump somewhere, correct?

As always, thanks for any and all help.
 
  #2  
Old 03-31-16, 07:25 PM
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Been to the heath department and seen what there records show?
All that info should have been with your deed.
No way should a single family home need two tanks, somethings wrong with that info.
 
  #3  
Old 03-31-16, 07:40 PM
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It's Florida, if that helps. None of my previous homes have had two tanks, but she says it's the law here.

The previous owners gave me something that said the septic is where her records say they've pumped. The other side of the house looks ripe for a septic -- if I were putting one in, it's where I would put it -- but they said it's over there and the first I heard of the second is when I called to schedule a pump.

She said she'd email me something in the morning. She couldn't get into that system from home. From the sound of it, I think she's going to mail me the health department record that shows the location of the second tank.

My thing is that if there is a second tank and if there's no record of it being replaced or pumped, then why would I start by pumping the tank that was just pumped three years ago? If I could somehow know or prove that the baths were both going to this "other" tank, then I'd want to pump it, especially since that would imply that the previously-pumped tank is carrying a considerably smaller load.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 08:23 PM
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In my county (in NE Ohio) 2 1000 gallon tanks are the requirement for single family homes. But I've not seen a system where some of the fixtures drain to one tank and some to the other. Instead, the tanks are in series. All the waste drains into one and the outlet of that tank goes to the inlet of the next tank. As a rule, both tanks are pumped each time. Usually the first tank has the majority of the "solids".

I was told having two tanks in series increases the time for solids to settle and grease and such to separate and rise to the top, making it less likely anything will clog the drain field.

Your problem *could* be caused by a full tank, but usually you would see this out in the yard. The lids generally are not tight fitting and if the tank fills because the drain field has failed, you will see a pool of muck around the lid of the tank. If it is a full tank just pumping it won't solve the problem for long....you will have to fix the drain field issue. May just be a clogged filter, may be a failed drain field.

If you don't have a pool of muck in the yard, I think it's more likely you have a partially plugged drain line. After a couple of quick showers and toilet uses, it backs up. Then it slowly drains and the problem goes away until the next period of heavy usage. A common cause is roots in the line between the house and the tank.

They'll know when they open the lid...if there's no overflow of muck, the tank's not the problem.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 08:53 PM
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Thanks for the reply.

Two houses ago, before I forgot my previous password and when I had a different email address, my drain lines there had a huge problem with roots, but those were fifty year-old, rusted-out iron pipes. I assume everything here is plastic and unlike the previous house, there isn't anything obvious with roots.

It has certainly crossed my mind. What happens here (and though it doesn't happen every time it rains, there may be something coincidental regarding rain) is let's say... my wife takes a shower in our bath, then one of my kids take one about an hour later in theirs. Their shower causes water to come up in my bath from where the toilet obviously needs a new wax ring. Then say, as it happened today, the other kid took their shower after the first and the water came up and out of their toilet, plus more went onto my bathroom floor.

The woman from the pumping company said her records show that I have two tanks, near opposite corners of the house. This is why I think the baths might drain into the "other" because it's more of a straight line and if that's the case, there's nothing in that yard with roots other than the grass.

No puddling or muck that I've seen, but the ground is pretty sandy and it's only like thirty feet to the drainage canal. The shower routine is every day, there's really not any variance during the week and this has happened three two-day periods over the past five months.

Any help; anything else to check would be appreciated. I don't particularly want the expense of pumping two tanks if I can get away with one and I'd rather not pump any, if it's unnecessary.

Thanks

BTW: As I said, there could be something coincidental involving rain. Every time it has happened, it had rained during the previous couple of days, but it's rained a lot more than I've had overflows, so if the rain is involved, it doesn't happen every time.
 
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Old 04-01-16, 02:53 AM
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Excessive rains are probably overwhelming the drain field.

I used to live in fla and have painted in several sub divisions where it was required to have 2 septic systems; 1 regular and the other was just for grey water. I don't remember if the grey water system had a tank or not. IF that is what you have, I wouldn't think a grey water system would require much maintenance. As suggested above a trip/call to your local health dept should tell you more about your system and what was required when it was installed.
 
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Old 04-01-16, 06:24 AM
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You could dig up the septic tank again and find the hatch (if more than one) closest to the inlet.

Flush toilets and turn on faucets one at a time to see what drains into this septic tank and what does not.

Wait a few minutes between tests so the drain pipes empty out each time.
 
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Old 04-01-16, 06:32 AM
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If you know where the lid or lids are to the tanks, open them up and have a look. You can usually see the inlet pipe through the pump out lid, and if it's under water the tank is not draining.

Tryagain: Clog doesn't have to be roots as the plumbers here will tell you....drains get plugged with all kinds of "stuff".

I agree with Marksr that if it related to rainfall it may be that the drain field is saturated.
 
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Old 04-04-16, 01:49 AM
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Sorry about the delay in giving an update, but in case it'll help someone else.

The pumper came the next morning. He said that when this house was built, local codes called for two septics: one for the showers and washer and another for the toilets and kitchen sink (one grey and one not), but when they redid one of the systems in 2002, "who knows what they did".

He dug to the cap of the one they knew where it was located -- I only knew which yard -- but that was clearly the one for the washer and it probably also gets the kitchen sink. There was no evidence of any sewage and though the overflow problem told me that the showers and toilets were on the same circuit, I tried running one of the showers to make sure it didn't drain there.

The water level was in the right place, so we just covered it back up and went looking for the other -- the one that has most likely hadn't been pumped since 2009, if it had ever been pumped.

We found it about ten feet from the house. No roots anywhere. It's wide open yard.

Most likely because it hadn't been pumped in at least seven years, the solids side of the two-chamber plastic tank was pretty jam-packed to the brim and there were also a lot of solids on the other side.

The tech said the problem was that the filter was clogged. You could see that it would only allow a very restricted flow. So we pumped-out that tank and hosed-off the filter. Everything went from not working to working with the fix, so that had obviously been the problem for me.

Again, thanks for the suggestions and the help. I now know where both of my tanks are located and in theory, maybe in a year or two, I'll hit the filter again with the hose.

Thanks
 
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Old 04-04-16, 06:29 AM
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Nothing better than a happy ending! Thanks for circling back....
 
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Old 04-05-16, 06:20 AM
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The fact you had a two chamber septic tank probably saved your leach field (drain field). The second chamber collected the solids that got out of the first chamber due to not being pumped soon enough.

When to pump the septic tank again is guesswork at first, usually two to three years is suggested. The pumping crew, after finishing the job, should be able to give you an idea of when the next pumping should be. Change in family size or usage habits will change the estimated time for next pumping.
 
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Old 04-05-16, 06:42 AM
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My first house that was built for us in 1996 the city required 3 tanks, each 1000 gallons. Our house a a smaller 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2000 sq ft home. All three tanks were installed in series. Soil was heavy clay so we also had a mound system. That is what the city required.
 
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Old 04-06-16, 08:35 PM
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I'm pretty sure this tank hadn't been pumped since at least 2009. The previous owners didn't mention it, so they may not have known it was there and I don't know why they'd call one company for one and a different for the other. As you might imagine (and I have a pic if you'd like), the tank was super full.

Now that I know where it's located, I set my calendar app to pester me in two years about maybe cleaning the filter and taking a look then. I don't expect it'll need pumped, but it wouldn't take much for the kids and I to dig it up, clean the filter and set the calendar to remind me again.
 
 

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