View Full Version : Septic systems, who's an expert?

06-06-2008, 05:47 PM
Well who here is? :confused:

Uncle Ben
06-12-2008, 11:15 AM
Well who here is? :confused:

I just spied this thread......what do you need to know? I carry a Waste Water Certification but I deal mainly with activated sludge and not so much with leach fields but maybe I can help...

06-12-2008, 11:35 AM
I have a lot of experience filling them.. :rolleyes:

what's the issue?

06-12-2008, 02:29 PM
Well, the home we are buying has some issues with its leach field. At the time I posted this thread originally I was looking for some advice on how to inspect it myself. That time has passed. But here is where we are now:

We had a home inspection, and when the inspector turned on all the fixtures in the home, water purged out an inspection tube at the end of the septic field. He estimated that 125 gallons was sent down the system in about 25 minutes time. There was some evidence of solids around the tube as well.

The septic tank was full and the seller had it pumped after that inspection.

A few days following I had the local health department go out for a second inspection. It passed at that time.

Anyway I feel that either the lack of maintenance has resulted in solids entering the leach field reducing its effectiveness or it was not deigned large enough in the first place.

The field is an absorptive type. Its on a bench in the middle of a 25+ degree slope. The perc rate at time of construction was 1" per 45 min. However the health department questions that based on neighboring properties. System installed at time of home construction in 1998.

What are the thoughts on expanding the field or simply replacing it with a new design?

What additional info is needed from me?

Uncle Ben
06-12-2008, 03:13 PM
As long as water "leaches" away at a fairly quick rate solids will not be that big of an issue. The leach field itself is a anaerobic digester and the naturally occurring bacteria from the ground will consume all organic matter. What will plug the leach field by lack of maintainance of the trap is grease. It simply will not digest! Also, foreign materials like feminine napkins, cigarette butts, etc... are also enemies of the system and cannot be broken down. Another factor many don't think about is waste from the washing machine. Chlorine bleach is a no no in any bacterial filter/digester as it will kill the very bacteria that makes it work. The only way you can really test the "bed" is by monitoring how long it takes to drain or "leach" down.....that will tell you it's capacity. Bacteria "happens" so as long as the water goes away the bed will do it's thing!

06-12-2008, 04:02 PM
Expanding the leaching field isn't that bad.. I'd estimate $4K for just that alone. In Jefferson County it's on the seller to have the whole system inspected and certified, plus drain the tank, prior to closing, not sure how that is down in Durango though. But a lot of areas may require you to put in a newer "advanced" system, which has multiple holding tanks, dosing siphon, etc. Total cost of one of those puppies can be $25K, and that's if the digging is fairly straight forward.

You may be able to find your county web site and see what the requirements are for new builds, and basically any improvement to an older system will most likely have to be brought up to current standards. As an example, if you were buying in Jeffco you'd be spending some time on this site: http://www.co.jefferson.co.us/health/health_T111_R56.htm

06-12-2008, 04:22 PM
After speaking with the health department inspector down there he estimated 10-15K to enlarge the leach field if that is what would be required. Because I'm on a slope it will make things a little more difficult. :rolleyes:

06-12-2008, 05:20 PM
I have been an active member of "Grandpa Bob and Grandson Honey Dippin' Service" for years.

We have a "trailer" made out of a semi chassis with the front end welded to go (more or less) straight. Chained down on that chassis is a 1000 gallon former fuel storage tank.

We pull up to your cleanout, stick a hose down there and fire up the 5 horse pump. Doesn't take but a single beer to fill the tank. The trick is to shut off the pump BEFORE the tank is totally full. Then, we slowly and carefully drive the tank up into the meadow above the berry patch on the other side of the highway and open the 4 inch petcock. If we are feeling jaunty, we'll drive over to a few of the new trees and give them a big drink too.

After we pump out the neighbor's tanks too, we'll make a 3rd trip down to the lake for a fresh load of water from the lake. (rinse cycle). Sure we've had some trouble. One day, the welds on the steering "stabilizer" broke and the tank axle turned so the trailer wound up rollin' along mostly in the ditch instead of on the (gravel) road.

Another, less often used, technique is when the hose goes into the tank and then, on the other side of the road, 4 large irrigation sprinklers begin a topical fertilizer treatment on what turns out to be the most productive feed corn acreage in the county.

Real story: My Grandparents decided that the porosity of the sandy soil and proximity to the lake intruded on their "comfort zone" with a drainfield. They only installed holding tanks. We are very waste water conscious (If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down) no toxic chemicals in the sinks/toilet. No abrasive cleansers (like comet). It takes a year to fill the tanks.

A few years ago, the neighbor, a biologist by trade, installed a system in both of the holding only tank systems. It seems to be little more than a giant fish tank aerator and a pumped liquids line that runs about 1/2 mile up to higher ground, away from the lake. The trick is, with the addition of the oxygen, the breakdown is no longer anaerobic and I'll be darned if the water in the liquids line isn't clear and virtually odor free. It really seems to work! We haven't pumped out the solids tank in 3 years. It might take years before any action is required.

It looks like our honey dippin' services are no longer required. We've been replaced by technology.

06-12-2008, 06:34 PM
Never had these problems personally, but I'll pass on a few things I've learned by asking others "in the know".

Grease will plug up & render inoperative, your leach field. If your tank was overflowing solids, you could very well have an impaired/inoperative leach field.

You need to be "nice" to your septic system. No non-biodegradable products, no harsh chemicals. Generally, your tank is "big", and a little toilet cleaner now and again or bleach in load every once in a while, isn't going to do any great harm.

You want to ensure that your tank is pumped BEFORE it overflows solids. The "pumping" process is really just sucking the floating solids into the truck. Your tank looks something like this:


The solids float on one side. If you accumulate too much, it pushes down, then through to the outlet side. When this happens, you rapidly clog your leach field with grease, plastic, etc.

When they pump it (through the Inspection Port), they will stick a long stick down to see how deep the solids & underlying liquid are.

We have our tank pumped every 2 years. Each time so far, the service says that we're doing fine (not critically full yet), so we continue on schedule. If we wanted to push it, we could probably go 3 or 4 years.


06-13-2008, 10:25 AM
Whether your leach field can handle the wastewater volume depends a bit on whether you have a couple with no kids, or a family of 8 frantically flushing toilets all day. County leach field requirements for a given piece of property are partly based on the # of bedrooms in a house.

Seldom Seen
06-13-2008, 11:19 PM
I have been an active member of "Grandpa Bob and Grandson Honey Dippin' Service" for years.......................

dOOd..I knew you looked familiar (http://www.redgreen.com/index.cfm?app=cart&a=view_cast&castID=14)