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Dual septic systems?
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Marc    Posted 02-19-2002 at 13:28:39       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hello. We moved into our northern NJ home (built in 1998) two years ago. We are the second owner. This is a four bedroom home with a garbage disposal. It has a septic system and I am not really knowledgeable when it comes to septic!

I think that we have two tanks. I am not even sure of the sizes. We have never had any of them pumped. The question is how do I "switch" the waste to go from one tank to the other or is this done automatically? I do not see where the manhole is (if there is one). I looked in the basement to see if there is any diverter, but I found none. Should I think about getting it pumped?

Can anyone offer any help or suggestions? We have lost contact with the original owner. Would the town have the plans for the septic system?


TB    Posted 02-20-2002 at 17:26:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
The only septic systems that I have come acrost with two tanks is a sand mound system. the first tank catches the solids water drains into second tank and is pumped to the leachfield witch is usualy in a big mound bult above ground level.

Don    Posted 02-20-2002 at 14:08:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
forgot to add, just get on a search engine like and type in septic tanks or'll get more info than you need...I think University of Wisconsen or one of those other states has info that will come up on tanks that will be helpful. From what I learned most systems have a tank with 2 chambers, one in which everything flows into and where the solids decompose and a 2nd chamber in which the liquids overflow into before going out to the leach field. Have heard of having 2 separete leach fields you can switch between because the soil perks bad, but never 2 separate 2 chamber tanks for a normal size family. My covers/manhole were buried 3 ft below ground when orginally installed because the builders/owners were too cheap to have extension rings put in to bring the opening up to within 6 or so inches of the surface for easier location and servicing. Try getting a long thin 1/8 inch diameter steel rod about 3 ft long and start probing the ground to locate the tank.

Don    Posted 02-20-2002 at 12:37:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
Even though it' a new septic system it's still a good idea to get it pumped so you can inspect it to make sure everything is OK and installed correctly. I bought a 30 year old house with a septic system that appeared to be OK, I consulted with a friend, a fellow "utility" engineer who also lives with a septic system about how often to pump, he never pumped his tank in over 20 years, never had a problem, yada, yada, yada, but after 5 years in the country I desided to pump anyway, good thing I did, saved me alot of $$$ in future repairs. Solids had just started to overflow and fill the 2nd chamber which is suppose to contain only liquids, the baffel from the 2nd chamber to the leach lines was missing and the solids would next start to flowing into the leach field piping and clog the piping making there replacement necessary. Discovered the baffel problem because the 2nd chamber lid was located 1st instead of the solid or 1st chamber cover. the 1st/solid chamber is the only one they normally open/inspect/pump. When the 1st chamber lid was uncovered it was discover the cover was a loose fitting steel plate, someone had broken the orginal concrete cover which had fallen into the tank and allowed alot of sand/dirt to fill up alot of the space in the first chamber. The Septic Tank Pumpers fixed everything for me for about an extra $150 which was alot cheaper than a new leach field. Now I know what I got. So even though it may be a new system I would still invest the $$ to make sure everything is mechanically the way it should be and that someone didn't screw things up between the time the County/building inspector signed off on it and you bought the property.

Spence    Posted 02-20-2002 at 11:03:37       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have a dual tank as well. My home used to be a group home (9 bedrooms) and the law required it.
Both have covers and are 3 ft apart. Depending on the use and capacity you'll have to have both pumped every 2 to 4 years. But once you have an idea when it's needed it'll be easier to judge
next time.

BB    Posted 02-20-2002 at 04:57:35       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Some septic systems have 2 tanks for added capacity rather than putting in one very large tank. There is no switching, both are always functioning.
We also have a septic system with 2 tanks. It was put in when we had the house built in 1984. The contractor was very good and put in an excellent system. It has never been pumped out and we have never had a problem with it. My neighbors on both sides both had inferior systems and both had to have additional lateral lines installed. After heavy rains, they would quite working properly. Occasionally I flush a little RID-X down the toilet. RID-X adds bacteria to help keep everything digested. There is no reason to have it pumped if you have no problems with it.

Franz    Posted 02-19-2002 at 23:20:58       [Reply]  [Send Email]
First thing you need to do is follow the kitchen sink drain. If you have a second tank set up as a grease trap, the kitchen sink line will leave the house seperate from the toilet line. If the sink line goes into the toilet line, chances are you only have one tank.
The only other way you might have a second tank would be if there is an overflow tank at the end of the leach field. In this situation, there is generally a pump that returns liquids to the septic tank end of the leach field.
Either the town building department or the county health department should have plans for the system, and they may be able to help you.
Whatever you do, get the tank or tanks pumped. A good pumping contractor should be able to diagnose and explain the system to you.
Another wat to locate tanks would be to use a good metal detector, it will find a concrete tank, if the ground is not saturated.

Bandit    Posted 02-19-2002 at 16:58:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
The second tank is probably the distribution box, also the cover is probably underground, so you'll have to get your hands dirty and dig it up, probably be a cover w/ a wire handle, then when you open that there will be another cover.
There isn't going to be anything in the house....

Sned    Posted 02-19-2002 at 15:29:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
Most, or really all septic systems now days have between 200 and 400 ft of leach bed. The usual configuration is one tank leading into a two way deversion valve then into one half of the leach field. You can then switch into the other half of the leach field like every six months or yearly. The diverting valve should be outside anywhere from 10 ft to 100 ft from the foundation. A non aerated tank should be pumped every six or seven years depending on the number of folk in the house and whether or not you use biodegradable soaps and such.

Sammy    Posted 02-19-2002 at 14:52:04       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'm having a house built in Ireland, which being located in the countryside, will have a septic tank. I have never heard of anyone having two tanks. But what I will have with the septic tank is a percolation area for the liquid outflow.
The tank and percolation area has got to be a certain minimum distance from house and boundary and it's position is shown on the drawing submitted for planning application.
It is important to empty the tank when needs be, otherwise your percolation area may become spoiled and less effective.

SamMI    Posted 02-19-2002 at 14:51:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
You should contact the local health dept. Most states require installation permits along with site plans. These should be on file.

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