Septic options

lakeyjimFebruary 17, 2011

I've seen septic question in a lot of other forum areas but figured this might be the best.

To my belief the products you flush down the toilet aren't worth it. Even if they worked, they are more of a maintenance that a fix. My septic system is 26 yrs old and the soil is sandy. It has a 1000 gal tank. Despite pumping every 3 to 5 yrs, about 5 yrs ago, I experienced wet spots when the washing machine emptied. (she did a lot for the years kids were at home).

Most of the neighbors on my street with houses built at the same time have had new field put in over the last few years. Because I added 1,000 sq ft to my house, my tank and field isn't big enough. The inspector said to make existing tank a pump station, run a line to back yard, put in two tanks and a larger field.

Not wanting to shell out really big bucks, I alleviated this with a grey water system in the back yard (field is in front yard). Grey water from washer, bathroom sink and shower goes into grey system) Now, I am wondering about the front field. Is it likely greatly reduced water volume going into original system over the past 5 yrs has allowed the sandy soil to percolate better? The the only things going to the tank are poop, (wife and myself) kitchen sink and dishwasher. The back yard grey system has worked fine with never a trace of wetness and it probably will work forever, but I am not sure about the legality if I sell the house.

I've also read about people who come out and inject compressed gas or something into the field to rejuvenate the field. Any thoughts on this?

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Seems that the minute you install a septic tank and leach field it starts down the long road to failure and in 20 or 25 years you'll be facing this problem. If you do everything right sooner or later a biomat forms at the bottom of the leach field and water won't go though it so it percolates to the surface or backs up into the tank and then the house.

There is no magic bullet to revive a leach field but most leach fields that are not absolutely abused seem to recover if left alone for a couple or three years. Smart people install two leach fields, each sized to treat the entire home, and have a bull valve to alternate fields ever year.

It's been code for a while to install a washable filter at the tank outlet so solids can't get into the leach field which helps, but there are so many people who don't even know they are living on a septic system that it's laughable... until they have a problem. Then it's not funny.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Justlucker" The key thing I heard was "a leech field could "recover" if left alone for a few years." Would greatly reducing flow into the system contribute or promote any kind of recovery?

I believe the clothes washer discharge (soap) was the biggest contributer to the biomat. When the kids were young, my wife was a washing fool. She still washes maybe more than normal, but this goes into my grey system. The only drains going to the septic are kitchen sink, dishwasher and toilets.

For the past 5 yrs, we have been careful not to put grease, etc down the kitchen sink. We do have a disposal but this is used sparingly and only for vegetables, never meat etc. Dirty plates with any greasy food stuff are scraped into the trash before going into the dishwasher.

Since water is the universal solvent, will the biomat, composed of soap, grease, etc diminish with naturally occurring rain and snow? Is it reasonable to expect this to happen in five years or will the small amounts of soap from dish washing sustain the biomat and hold off any recovery?

Another factor which might come into play is the water table is fairly high here. My shallow well sprinkling pump point is down about 25 ft. Given the sandy soil it is necessary to water the lawn several days a week during hot weather. Otherwise the grass will dry out and brown. I would think the additional ground water rinsing through the field adds to the rain that might dissolve the biomat.

Of note, I had my sprinkling pump water tested several times over the years and it is actually safe to drink. (we don't but some neighbors fill their pools). This is much cheaper than asking fire dept to run a line from a hydrant

Finally, since the remainder of what goes in the system is poop, I'm assuming there might be some grease in it from the steak and meat I eat. I don't think there is a way to filter this except by going vegetarian which "ain't going to happen."

If my system is recovering, is there anyway to tell other than by redirecting everything to the original field and see what happens?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:22PM
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What I have seen is that totally abandoning a leach field, that is NO water directed to it, will allow the bacteria to recover and degrade the biomat over time and the field will recover. Some fields are so fouled with solids that they don't recover in a matter of years but ultimately may.

At 25 years with 3 or 4 people in the home you're due. Even if a homeowner does everything right ultimately a leach field will fail. It is the nature of the biology. Luckily where I live houses are on minimum 2 acre lots and when the field fails there's room to add a second field and retire the original field to recover.

Code changes in recent years have modified leach field size requirements and my new second field is almost twice the size of the code approved field size in the 80's when the house was built. At the time I added the second field I replaced the tank with the same 1000 gallon size and installed the code required filter on the outlet of the tank.

And you added 1000 sq ft to your house and didn't increase the field size. I'm surprised the inspector let you get away with that. Out here it wouldn't fly. Your grey water fix would stop the sale of the house here because septic inspections are required at time of sale and you fix wasn't permitted and approved... right? I'll also guess that your 1000 sq ft addition wasn't approved and permitted either, right? If not, that will stop the sale of your house.

As I said "there's no magic bullet". You need a bigger leach field and if it's a second field your original field should recover. If you have no room in the front of the house where the original field is then the only place for a second field is in the back and most likely you'll need to pump from the front to the back. It won't be cheap but you haven't been paying for sewer for all these years either.

Call a couple or three septic companies for estimates and see what they say.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 3:33PM
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Depending upon what the purpose of the addition was just adding 1,000 square feet on the house did not necessarily alter the required size of septic tank. Septic tanks are sized by how many bedrooms are in the structure.

In instances were the leach field has failed the tradition solution is to install a new leach field, but in many instances the lot is simply not large enough to permit installing a new leach field, or in some instances when it is desired to build on a lot that is too small or will not pass the required "Perk Test" they have come out with a solution.

Rather than install the traditional 2 chamber septic tank & leach field they are now installing a 3 chamber septic tank.

When a septic tank functions the waste goes into the first chamber (collector) where the heavy non-digestable materials sink to the bottom of the chamber and any floating or suspended lumps of fecal matter or other bio-degradable waste break down into a liquid slurry. The liquid slurry than passes through a baffle into the second chamber (Digestor) where it is broken down by anearobic bacteria. (Bacteria which thrive in the absence of air).
The slurry then flows into the leach bed where the digestive process is completed by aerobic bactera (bacteria which thrive in air). The aerobic bacteria complete the digestive process by converting the remaining waste into water & plant nutrients, which are absorbed by the grass covering the leach field.

They are now making 3 chamber septic tanks where the first two chambers work in the same manner as traditional septic tanks, but the third tank has a manifold and air nozzles built into the bottom of the tank. Air is supplied from a small air compressor that is installed in the house, garage or other suitable structure.

The compressors are small and very quiet in operation. As the compressor supplies air to the chamber, the air bubbling up from the nozzles provides a minimal agitation as well as suppling air for the aerobid bacteria.

The liquid discharged from these type of septic tanks can be drained directly into the local watershed although in some jurisdictions they also require a chlorinator.

To install the chlorinator a tee is placed in the 3 or 4" discharge line and a riser is installed up to finished grade. A screw in clean out cap is installed on the top of the riser. You have to then get the hockey puck type of chlorine that is used in swimming pools and stack the pucks in the riser so they can be absorbed into the discharge liquid. Generally you have to restock it about once every 4 to 6 weeks.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:34AM
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Edit... Due to the mean spiritedness of the poster here, i am deleting my questions.

This post was edited by Erod1 on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 11:56

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Your question will get more attention if you start a NEW THREAD rather than hijack a two year old thread.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:53AM
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Edit... Due to the mean spiritedness of the poster here, i am deleting my questions.

This post was edited by Erod1 on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 11:57

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Not a matter of nice...

When you hijack an old thread the OP's original header is brought to the top with the original post date.

When you start YOUR own thread for YOUR question YOUR header and current date is what is seen and draws attention to YOUR question.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Posted to me by justlurking

"Not a matter of nice...
When you hijack an old thread the OP's original header is brought to the top with the original post date.

When you start YOUR own thread for YOUR question YOUR header and current date is what is seen and draws attention to YOUR question."

So, due to the mean spiritedness of this poster, ive removed my questions.

I wont be back.

This post was edited by Erod1 on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 12:00

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:50AM
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