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More on Septic Problems
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Central NY Dave    Posted 07-04-2002 at 21:35:34       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Folks, I've read the archives and seen the postings on "Septic Problems".... However, I have something more subtle going on.... Need to know what my fellow countrymen (and women) think?

My house is 2 yrs old. It is built on a small grade (some would call it a small hill, perhaps a 10-20 degree incline (varying in places).

The soil is hardpan and the area was once farm land. Before any site excavation was performed, I noticed some "wet" spots. The year we built 1999-2000, there was a significant drought. I noticed when they dug the basement there was a wet spot (point here, there were some wet spots even when things were bone dry).

A sand filter septic system is required in this county (in NY) as the hard pan makes for poor perk test results.... My septic system goes out the front on my house (actually below my basement) and goes down the front hill (my house faces the down side of the grade). The tank is about 50-100 ft (closer to 100) from the house (down hill - slightly) and the distribution and mound are also down hill (the mound is about 200 ft away).

Here's the thing.... where this septic system is...just off to the right (if you are looking down the hill from the house, there is a lower area (maybe 6-12 inches lower) and it is almost constantly wet. Now this was wet the first year, last year (not quite so much), and this year (after a very wet spring), is very wet (small pooling water - very sloopy for mowing). I don't smell anything, my toilets flush fine and all appears to be working well in the house. However, we are heavy water users. I have two children, my wife and I take long showers, my wife washes a lot of laundry, and I have a two stage water filtration system that runs nightly (potassium permanganate and water softner - which drain their water into the septic system).

My question is... HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A PROBLEM HERE? The wet spots are just too close (within 30 feet and down hill) to the septic system not to be suspicious. However, around my land, there are a couple other wet spots (albeit, not as wet). Is this some natural saturation or should I strongly suspect a problem? How do I determine what the case is? Should I have someone come to empty the tank (but after 2 yrs????) or should I scoop up some water and have it tested for ecoli or something like that? If the tank is not full, should I still suspect problems and if so, how do I determine (if possible) without major excavation? I'm baffled. Things work fine... btw, if I have problems with the system not working properly, can I sue the contractor to rectify the problem? Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Central NY Dave    Posted 07-05-2002 at 23:07:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks everybody for your suggestions. I really appreciate it.

Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-05-2002 at 13:08:36       [Reply]  [No Email]
Why don't you dig into the area by hand and see where the water is coming from. Your pipe should not be that deep going to the tank. You may have a sliped coupling or a crack in it when they back filled the trench. Mark H.

TB    Posted 07-05-2002 at 11:33:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
Have the water tested this should tell you something weather it is your mound or water leaching through the hardpan.I think there are also some dye test you could do also. With the construction you had done, who knows it could even be the makings of a spring.

Ollie    Posted 07-05-2002 at 08:48:48       [Reply]  [No Email]
Tom A. had excellent suggestions. You could also have a sample of the water anaylzed. That may give you some answers as well.

Tom A    Posted 07-05-2002 at 03:46:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]

The link below is to what I've found was the best source of info on septic systems around. Lots of general info, plus some specifics such as "how often to pump your system," based on tank and family size. Surprisingly, in some cases tanks should be pumped as often as yearly.

That said, I'd be surprised if your codes allow installation of a new system that would be sized to require pumping that often. Most places nowadays have minimum tank size requirements that would preclude that. You said you are 'heavy water users' which certainly sounds like your wet spot could be from excessive water use.

One important thing I'd suggest though is that your water softener be disconnected or other arrangements made for where it drains...the salt residues from the recycling process can kill a septic system in short order! And I know from a friend who has one that sand mound systems are incredibly expensive to replace.

good luck,

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