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Septic disaster
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kevinmc    Posted 03-27-2003 at 18:26:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We've lived in this house for over 11 years. It was built in the early 60's.
I've got raw sewage backing into the basement. We've had this problem off and on for a couple of years, but lately, I've concluded that it's reached the end of its useful life. We had it pumped out three or four months ago, and it only took about a month til it was backing up again. You wouldn't believe what I'm doing to bandaid the situation and I'm going out of my mind.
We probably need major work done and we have zero money to work with.
I've been out of work for 16 months. My wife has a great job, but it's not enough for such an expense.
We're not low income, but the last year has been a major financial drain, and we have to get this fixed.
I hate to beg for charity, but is there a program available for folks in my predicament? I'm almost afraid to approach the health department for fear they'll order us to do what we can't afford to do. We'll lose the house. We're in Ohio.
Any help would be appreciated.

Ludwig    Posted 03-28-2003 at 08:38:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
In the short term another idea you might investigate is humanure, yep thats right, composting your own manure to help your land.
Build yerself a special "humanure" pot and do your business there like they describe in the link you'll cut your water use down at least by a third.
Then start taking military showers, water on, jump in, wet down, water off, soap up, water on, rinse, water off and your done. Washing hair takes one more cycle. Its a PIA but saves water, cut you another quarter.
Then, where does your washing machine water go? Into the septic is the wrong answer. It should be going into a drywell preferably on the otherside of the house from the leach field. That'll give you near another quarter water cut.
If you absolutely have to at this point you could do your dishes in a plastic dishpan and throw the greywater out the door, but if you've still got problems then you REALLY need to go through the others instructions on checking out the leech field.

It also just occured to me, make sure you don't have a leak somewhere, like a leaky toilet thats constantly running into the system and overpowering it.

kathy in illinois    Posted 03-28-2003 at 07:36:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
aside from the previous posts, regarding possible damage and repair, has the usage of water increased much since you moved in? Perhaps part of the problem is that the field size in inadequate. This sounds funny, but when we added a bathroom to the basement, for the boys use, Honey installed a timer on the hot water line. No kidding...the hot water shuts off after 5 minutes...well not off completely, but down to about 1/4 of normal. Anyway, if you haven't already done so, drastically cut back on your water use...I had an aunt who told everyone..."three pees and a poo to every flush". Good luck.

Kathy in Illinois

TB    Posted 03-29-2003 at 14:39:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
Check with an old hardware store there is an acid for cleaning out septic systems and follow the directions you will have to recharge the system with bacteria several times. If you can put it into just the leach field all the better. Use extreme precautions at all times. Also make sure the trap on the outlet pipe is in working condition so floating solids can't go out. Keep in mind these systems need bacteria to work properly after cleaned or pumped you have to add bacteria to make things work again and if you use the acid you may have to recharge the system several times before it takes.

kevinmc    Posted 03-28-2003 at 16:34:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
We quit doing laundry here maybe two years ago, and my second of three daughters just moved to Columbus. We may flush the toilet 3 times a day, and we take "Navy" showers. I think it's had it.

Foz    Posted 03-27-2003 at 20:33:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
Kev, go to your local hardware store or home depot type place, and buy a probe. for about 15 to 20 $ you can find out where most every thing is buried that way without the digging! when you find your lateral line just dig out anywhere alng it and cut a hole in it so you can run a snake both ways to find any blockage. Also do check to see if your "T's" are in place in the tank. they sometime fall off and it won't work right without them. there really isn't much to a gravity system. hope this helps......Foz

fiddler    Posted 03-27-2003 at 19:35:38       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have to agree with Salmoneye on this, there is really not much to a septic system. A large holding tank that may or not be baffeled an inlet and an outlet. If the outlet becomes obstructed in some way the contents will have no where to go but back into the way they came. If the ground has become saturated in the leach field area or a break has occured it will have to be dug up and properly repaired. This should not be at a tremendous cost. The leach system is a branch or branches of holey pipe that deposits broken down waste back into the soil. Be careful,as Salmoneye says, that the work is done on the sly as there are many new laws that require new codes on leach fields.

Yankee    Posted 03-27-2003 at 19:26:37       [Reply]  [No Email]
Do you live in the country? Do not approch the health dept,you will no doubt open a can of peas better left closed.Sounds like your tank is not leaching right.Also your main line may be clogged or the one leading to it.If your in the country or out of city limits you could dig up the leach line from where it comes out of the tank and replace any collapsed pieces yourself.All it is is PVC pipe with holes you can get it at any home depot or lowes.You will need to replace the rocks around the pipe when your done.Have you driven any cars or trucks over any areas near your septic tank? This will break any pipes there too.You could try some of the store bought remedys but read the lable real carefully,some will damage the pipes if they are old.Have you replaced the bacteria in your tank? We use regular bakeing yeast once in awhile.Let me know if I can help out.I had problems also.I have learned to fix and trouble shoot and am learning.Hate to pay when it is cheeper to do it myself.Let me know how you make out.

Salmoneye    Posted 03-27-2003 at 19:11:48       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You must know where the tank is...

Dig the top out by hand...Then dig down and find the leach line and follow it...Uncover the whole thing and see if you can find why it is backing up...Worst case scenario in my mind, would be to replace some of the leach pipe...You may have something as easy as a break in the pipe or tile that you can replace in a day...

Do it by hand and alone and no one needs to know...


kevinmc    Posted 03-27-2003 at 19:42:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
We live about a mile outside the city limits. the houses are still fairly close together. My neighbor's driveway is about 10 feet from mine. I don't know anything about septic systems. I know where the hole is to suck it out. Where do I start to find the leach lines? How far down are they, and how long would they be? We had a guy out over a year ago, and he said they'd have to dig 200 feet this way and 200 feet that way just to bring it up to code. I guess things have changed since the 60's. It would cost about 4 grand to have that done.
Yes we did have a pickup truck drive past it down to the barn, maybe 20-25 feet away from the hole.
Thanks so far for the help.

DeadCarp    Posted 03-27-2003 at 20:46:01       [Reply]  [No Email]
We had a similar problem - the thing backed up & i learned enough to fix it wothout replacing the whole mess. And without raising too many eyebrows in the county since we're so close to a lake.

The tank itself should be below the clean-out hole. I'd dig around that first to kinda see whether your problem's upstream or down. All there is, is a drain line from the tank toward the house, and sometimes there's a distribution box (usually like a buried concrete barrel that serves as a connection point for the leach lines) away from the house toward the leach lines. (leach field, if there's more than one line)

All i had to do was added another leach line (between the existing 2) by digging a trench for it, making a gravel bed for it, attaching & laying maybe 20 feet of perforated plastic pipe, laying tar paper over that ans back-filling the trench. Took a weekend of shoveling but it's worked good for 12 extra years now.

Clipper    Posted 03-27-2003 at 20:04:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
The town hall should have the site plan showing the footprint of the house and location of your septic system and leach field.Unless you have a strong back you may consider renting a small backhoe to do the digging.The Septic tank should have 1-2 goodsized concrete manholes right on top.Once clear of dirt these can be used for entry INTO the tank once it has been Pumped. Once in the tank you can run a plumbers snake into the line coming from the house to clear out any blockage there.That is the dirty part of the job ONLY to be done IF your leach field is shot.I would check flow to leach field FIRST before anything else! If thats the problem you will need the backhoe to dig out the pit for a new leach field anyway.Also plan on buying fresh gravel for leach field unless you have your own gravel pit on the property. Good Luck....

Yankee    Posted 03-27-2003 at 19:56:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you pull the cover and look inside the tank you will see 2 T pipes.The one towards the house is the line that leads from the house the other is to your leach lines.Depending on how they are set up they could be 3to4ft down.Mine were.I live in the country and digging mine up was no problem.Found where the main line went out and carefully started to dig it up.Found that 15ft of line collapsed and replaced it.Put in new 1" rock and covered it up and knock on wood so far so good.

kevinmc    Posted 03-28-2003 at 06:31:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks again for all the advice.

Taylor Lambert    Posted 03-29-2003 at 22:14:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
YOu may have the ground saturated after somany years or a wad of roots in the leach feilds or even the house to tank line. also yeast will accelerate the bacteria in the septic tank. Saturation is when the leach feilds and the soil arond them has taken in all the water they can stand or the soil has been snowed on alot. A lady i got to church with had her septic tank quit working, it had benn there 40 years. It had been a droughtfor months and the clay was dry 3 feet down in normal placs but there it was completely soaked. We put her in a new leach feild and it worked good but the ground was still a bit wet we dogu a trench 28 inches wide4 feet deep and tapered it to 18 inches wide and 1 foot deep and put an 8 inch layer of topsoil on the depper trench and 3 inches on the thinner. then she planted some willow trees and and several thristry decoratve plants they thrive and the small is nonexistant she hasnt had a problem since. I wished i lived closer id give ya a hand.

kevinmc    Posted 03-30-2003 at 01:32:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
I appreciate that Taylor.

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