buying a home

Old 01-15-19, 01:03 AM
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buying a home

I am looking to buy a home and had them come out and pump as well as inspect the septic tank before I commit to buy.

The guy who pumped put the septic tank said that the tank is in good shape but could not tell me the shape of the field lines. He said he did notice that there were black marks on the walls of the septic tank that come from the septic tank being at different levels but other than that all looked good.

I must also say that one of the tanks tops were off when we got there and it had rained for 4 to 5 days before the inspection was done. The home is a foreclosure and I have clue on how long it has set empty. Before pumping the system I did have a home inspection and he flushed the toilets and ran water at all faucets and nothing drained or flushed slow nor were there any gurgling while test them systems. Standing outside there was no odors or sogginess around septic tank or field lines. Not sure if it matters or helps but the home is in central east Alabama.

Since the septic tank was pumped out it has rained 1 day and been cloudy 2 or three days and the house is empty with water turned off, so if i look in the septic tank should the tank be filled back up with water from the field lines? Or should it remain empty(or pretty much empty) until the sinks and toilets are used in the house?
Old 01-15-19, 02:05 AM
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About the only thing a pumper can tell about the drain field is if water rushes back into the tank when he pumps it out. When it does that it means the field is over saturated. Some rain water can find it's way back into the tank from the field but for the most part the tank should remain empty until water is used/disposed of in the house.
Old 01-15-19, 02:34 AM
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ok, thank you. I know when he pumped it out some water came back in the tank but he said that was normal. I will go back over there and look in the tank and see if it has filled back up. I know these things have to be a little different on each account but is it safe to say if its half full the field is no good?
Old 01-15-19, 02:39 AM
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also if it was over saturated does that mean the field is no good or just too much rain to allow it to dry out but it will after rain is gone? also, if there were problems would there be a smell or puddling in the yard?
Old 01-15-19, 04:53 AM
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Septic leach fields can repair themselves slowly over time. So, even if the system had failed it will likely work to some extent if it's had a couple years rest. One first step is to visit your county's Health or Environmental Services Dept. to pull the records for your property. Hopefully they have some basic info about the system installed at the house you're considering.
Old 01-15-19, 05:54 PM
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Water should not flow back from the leach lines into the septic tank.

Normally no water will exit the septic tank for the leach field until after the level in the tank has reached about 85% full.

To test the leach field, water is poured into the septic tank outlet or into the distribution box to simulate taking several showers at the same time and/or in quick succession. If the distribution box can be uncovered and opened then the leach lines can be tested one at a time. If the leach field overflows then it is considered failed. The test might use hundreds of gallons of water.

Prolonged wet weather will reduce the absorption capabilities of any leach field. The leach field should have been be located and sized so still absorb the requirements of the house under all but the most unfavorabley wet weather conditions.
Old 01-16-19, 01:54 AM
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if i look in the septic tank should the tank be filled back up with water from the field lines
The whole intent of the leach field is drainage, if water is flowing from the field to the tank there is something going on.

Even after days of rain the field should absorb and allow water drainage to flow down into the ground.
Old 01-17-19, 12:52 PM
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Alabama State is known for extensive clay subsurface soils -- not the most ideal for water percolation and septic system leach fields, but it's done. I used to live on one; originally a South Alabaman.

Septic installation takes soil water absorption -- percolation -- into account. Systems are aimed to be installed where the ground will readily absorb septic system effluent, even during the worst weather conditions. Extensive subsurface layers of clay, however, can can contribute to septic back up during excessive rainfall -- seen it -- due to groundwater table saturation.

This can lead to a saturated-soil problem for the septic effluent with the potential for accumulation, puddling, and smell. However, this is most often of limited concern for systems that have been properly sized, installed and are maintained while functioning.

Your home inspection account sounds solid as far as the system's functionality. When septic systems are well-maintained and properly sized for the residence's water usage, they can work effectively and without problems.

Check your local or State Health Department or Environmental Management Department for info on the system's age and possibly the extent and location of your leach field; i.e. field lines.

Concerning those field lines, I would go back out there and check your tank water level as you suggested. If you pumped it dry, check tank levels following rainfall -- rainwater should not be making it into the septic tank as this would affect its ability to properly function in waste cycling and breakdown.

Hope that helps ~ All the Best

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