Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: septic question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Peoria, Illinois
    Posts
    1,090
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 951 Times in 429 Posts

    Default septic question

    I don't deal with septics much. I know the basics, but am far from an expert.

    So I get a call from a customer that has a small office in a little town on a septic.

    Sewer backed up and tank was pumped. Pumper told him the outlet line was plugged. Distribution box is supposedly 200' from the tank out by the cornfield where the drain field is.

    I uncovered the outlet today and found no baffle on the outlet. Just a half rotten piece of 4" CI sticking an inch or so in the tank.

    Questions-

    With no baffle on the outlet, what are the odds that the drain field is totally fuqued up?

    What do You experts think about a d-box being 200' from the tank? Is that done because the drain field couldn't be put in close to the tank?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    A, A
    Posts
    9,555
    Thanks
    6,581
    Thanked 2,444 Times in 1,680 Posts

    Default

    NOT AN EXPERT....NOT AN EXPERT....

    but it does in fact need a outfall baffle.....other wise your "scum" level will clog the system...

    as far as the D box being 200' away...as far as I know that's f'up.....it needs to be close to the tank unless somebody whom is an expert corrects me....
    You can't scare me...I'm a plumber!!!!
    You Can Fire Me...But You Can't Tell Me What To Do.
    I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass....and I'm all out of bubblegum...

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to dcman For This Useful Post:

    UnclogNH (12-08-2011)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    1,126
    Thanks
    552
    Thanked 840 Times in 372 Posts

    Default

    Normally the tank is placed in the most logical spot to connect to the building sewer and the drainfield is placed wherever site conditions are favorable, such as elevation, soil type/depth, setbacks to property lines, wells, streams, ditches, etc. I am imagining Illinois to be flat as a pancake with even soil texture and very deep soil, so I don't know for sure why it would be so far from the tank, unless it has something to do with setbacks from wells in the area. We rarely install drainfields that far from the tank but in the odd situation we have had to. In Idaho there is no maximum distance from tank to field, the only requirement is that we install a cleanout every 100 feet in the transport line. Since the water should technically be free of solids after the tank, our minimum slope is 1/8" per foot after the tank. Every site is different, who knows why it was done that way?

    Definitely, definitely if the baffle is missing there is a solids problem in the field. If the owner wants to spend some money to try to save the system, I would work together with a pumper and start at the tank, jet the line to the D-box or tee, jet slowly and pull back often until the water comes back clear. Have the pumper remove the sludge you pulled back. Next find the D-box or tee using a camera, sonde, probe, or even put a spinner nozzle on your jetter and follow the sound. Once you find the D-box dig it up, open it, and start jetting the laterals using the same technique. You will know almost immediately if it will work or not, a lot of times you get part way down the lines and all your jetting water. You can work it and pull back sludge which can be pumped out of the D-box. Hopefully this method will get things moving again.

    Two words of caution, in our area a cast iron baffle means the the perforated pipe stands a pretty good chance of being Orangeburg, so jet at a lower pressure and always keep your nozzle moving, never let it set still. Also, make absolutely sure the owner understands that you cannot guarantee that jetting the field will fix the problem, although we have a very high success rate jetting them. Hopefully this is a perforated pipe and rock style of drainfield, if it is Infiltrator or similar chambers forget it and sell them a new system. There is very little you can safely do to revive a chamber system.

    Once you are done jetting, repair the outlet baffle. The easiest way to repair the baffle in the situation you described is to drive a Polylok Extend-N-Lok into the broken end of the cast and glue a Schedule 40 san tee onto that, then glue a piece of pipe to the bottom of the tee until about midway down the tank. Picture of the Extend-N-Lok.
    ELMainImage.jpg
    Kendall
    www.westseptic.com

    "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and their politicians as a joke." Will Rogers

  5. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to SewerRat For This Useful Post:

    dcman (12-08-2011), JERRYMAC (12-08-2011), phishfood (12-08-2011), Redwood (12-08-2011), UnclogNH (12-08-2011)

  6. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    A, A
    Posts
    9,555
    Thanks
    6,581
    Thanked 2,444 Times in 1,680 Posts

    Default

    Yeah...what he said....he's the expert....

    that avatar cracks me up every time you post.....
    You can't scare me...I'm a plumber!!!!
    You Can Fire Me...But You Can't Tell Me What To Do.
    I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass....and I'm all out of bubblegum...

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to dcman For This Useful Post:

    SewerRat (12-08-2011), UnclogNH (12-08-2011)

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    1,126
    Thanks
    552
    Thanked 840 Times in 372 Posts

    Default

    Which one cracks you up the most, me or my brother? JK :-)
    Kendall
    www.westseptic.com

    "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and their politicians as a joke." Will Rogers

  9. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to SewerRat For This Useful Post:

    dcman (12-08-2011), phishfood (12-08-2011), Redwood (12-08-2011)

  10. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    6,872
    Thanks
    4,728
    Thanked 4,019 Times in 2,351 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SewerRat View Post
    Which one cracks you up the most, me or my brother? JK :-)
    The one with lotsa teef...
    Which one of you is that?
    "99% of Being Smart...
    Is Knowing What You're Dumb At"


    411 Plumb | Click Here For A Free Internet Plumbing Directory Listing | Plumb 411

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Redwood For This Useful Post:

    dcman (12-08-2011), SewerRat (12-08-2011)

  12. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Peoria, Illinois
    Posts
    1,090
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 951 Times in 429 Posts

    Default

    Thanks for the info, rat.

    In your opinion, is it worth the expense to try all that? The last thing I want to do is spend the day there with a Pumper only to conclude the system is shot and a new drain field is needed. Is the customer better off in the long run to suck it up and start looking at a new system?

  13. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    1,126
    Thanks
    552
    Thanked 840 Times in 372 Posts

    Default

    Ok, they're backing up in the tank, right? So that obviously means that the drainfield is not accepting water at the necessary rate.

    One way to get a feel for whether it would be worth jetting or not is to locate the drainfield and then take a soil probe (I use one with a slide hammer made by T&T Tools) and probe in the drainfield area. You should be able to feel the drain rock. If the field is completely saturated your probe will come out very wet on the end. If it is partially clogged with solids in the perforated pipe you will probably get some moisture/sludge at the head of the laterals and as you work your way down the rock will become less and less moist, sometimes it is even bone dry at the end of the drainfield. If the line is totally blocked you will sometimes find that the rock is totally dry throughout the entire field. If the tank is backed up and the rock is dry or even just moist there is definitely a blockage of some kind preventing the effluent from reaching the drain rock and soil. Most likely in your case because of the missing baffle the blockage would be sludge settled in the line and blocking the holes in the perforated pipe, but it could be a blockage of some sort in the line from the tank to the D-box.

    When probing a drainfield if you feel something that gives a little and feels like plastic it is probably Infiltrator chambers. Give a good hard shove and you can pop through the top of chambers, then you will feel the probe drop freely for about a foot before it hits soil again. The probe should come out wet if you pop into a chamber. Don't even try to jet chambers.

    As far as whether it is worth it or not, I think it is, we do it all the time, but then again we own our own pump truck. I don't know what new systems cost in your area but usually it's worth a shot in my opinion. I do make sure they understand the risks though and I always let them make the decision on whether to gamble on the costs of jetting vs. replacement.

    Edit: One more thing, even if you don't have your own pump truck you could do your diagnosis and then get everything dug up and all the lids removed ahead of time so you are ready to go, then he could come just while you are jetting which shouldn't take too long and then he would be done, maybe you wouldn't have to pay him to hang around half the day.
    Last edited by SewerRat; 12-08-2011 at 03:25 PM.
    Kendall
    www.westseptic.com

    "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and their politicians as a joke." Will Rogers

  14. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to SewerRat For This Useful Post:

    dcman (12-08-2011), phishfood (12-08-2011), Redwood (12-09-2011)

  15. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    192
    Thanks
    63
    Thanked 100 Times in 60 Posts

    Default

    If you can find it, the D-box needs to be exposed and inspected, If it is dry, then the effluent isn't getting to it.

    Test it by running water in it anyway, even if it is dry.

    If it isn't working using a Terra-lift may restore the drain field, which it probably needs considering the missing outlet tee.

    It definitely needs a new outlet tee, but also consider the age of the tank, concrete tanks also degrade over time from hydrogen sulfide gas. I've seen them so brittle that the ends will break off in hunks like giant sugar cookies.

  16. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    124
    Thanks
    21
    Thanked 43 Times in 29 Posts

    Default Pump?

    Is there a pump tank in the system? You say you are not an expert so I am going with the obvious and if you answered that question, I missed it. The 200' distance makes me think either there IS a pump or the topograghy allows for an easy down hill flow to a drainfield of whatever design.

    When I examine a tank, I use a custom made camera for the purpose. Once it is pumped, I can see the old baffle, (or "T" as others have refered to it) lying on the floor of the tank. Most baffle failures are concrete baffles which are a separate piece made by the tank manufacturer which was bolted on and mortered around the joint. There are two types of concrete baffles...those that have failed and those that will fail.

    The practice of using concrete baffles was phased out in the early 90's so there is still a lot of repair opportunities for us who do this type of work. Concrete baffles fail in about 30 years. I have several older ones that still look good but I recommend to my customers to replace them even when they are still good because they can fail the day after I leave and there will be a at least a year of clogging the drain field before i can verify the condition of the baffle again.

    I don't like those adapters pictured above. I have used them but when replacing a baffle I prefer to expose the outlet end of the tank and replace some of the pipe and put in a cleanout at the same time. I also want to retro fit for a filter to be added. See:

    http://www.gag-simtech.com/index_files/Page566.htm

    There are many to choose from but these are my preference.

    I actually really like the pressure filter since it has a sensor alerting to the need for service but they are only for pressure systems and are expensive. The gravity filters work well but there are problems expecially in cold climates. I'll go into it if a new thread is started or someone responds here.

    Lastly, The outlet baffle is critical. If it has been missing for any length of time, the drainfield has been permantly damaged. There are ways to repair them but the expence coupled with the risk of it not working makes the sure thing of a new system or at least a new drainfield the best advise for the customer.

    I favor pressure systems and above ground mounds. This is the trend anyway and those that do not have them will one day be REQUIRED to upgrade.

    I am going to stop here but if you want to get into the installation side of this, get back with me, there are untold riches here.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. When is it the main and when is it the septic?
    By BuckeyeBowhunter in forum Septic Tank Discussion
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 06-03-2011, 11:30 PM
  2. Septic Topics???
    By Jrsaltz in forum Septic Tank Discussion
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 05-18-2011, 12:25 AM
  3. Septic Topics???
    By Jrsaltz in forum Shootin the $hit
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 05-16-2011, 01:03 PM
  4. Septic systems
    By Nayman in forum Shootin the $hit
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 03-30-2011, 11:29 AM
  5. Septic Systems
    By Will in forum Business, Marketing, and Sales
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 03-23-2011, 09:04 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •