Anyone have experience with septic systems?

MoochNNoodles

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DH and I are getting conflicting advice on what to do with our septic system; so I thought I'd see if anyone here has some advice. :please:

Our house was new construction when we bought it in 2009; but the septic system was the original on the lot. So it's old (as in; 38 years..). But we were told it was in great condition. We've faithfully had it pumped every 3 years and reduced the number of trees around it on our property. We had it pumped one year ago. A few weeks ago we noticed a little water on the ground next to the lid. So DH called and the same company we've had all along came to pump it out right away. DH didn't get to talk to the guy but I tried to see what he thought caused it. He kind of skirted around saying possibly the water table is high (we've had like 8" of rain in the last month.) and mentioned the age of the system and the one big tree on the property. He recommended getting a soil test done; but said no to getting/needing an inspection when DH asked. (DH had to call the company to get a 2nd hand report on what the guy said.)

So DH called the guy who does the soil tests and he basically said not to get the soil test yet because they aren't cheap and the system could last years. (He said the tests are good for 5.) So it feels like we were given conflicting advice. And now 2 weeks later; we have water on the ground again... We also got about 3" of rain last week. The soil here is VERY sandy; so drainage usually isn't a problem; but a lot of ditches, fields and drainage ponds are FULL. My neighbors on either side basically neglected their systems for lack of funds; and they've never had this happen.

I'm not sure what to do. DH is thinking we should call a few other septic companies to see what they think and what they charge. He's also browsing the internet for advice and that's a whole 'nother can of worms. :rolleyes2: My mother said showers at her house are $.50 I didn't ask about laundry... :crazy:

Any advice or experience?
 

Jcatbird

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I do know the problem. I have had to have mine pumped more with all the rain. I did have a soil test. The result was that the guy said the water table is so high right now, he struck water! Sand here as well but deeper, there is some grey clay. So, the water does drain until it fills up the space between sand and clay. I was told that I would have to build a six foot mound and raised septic system with pump! I should say that I have an extra small system for the washing machine. I got the big tank pumped out. I redid the French drain for the washer and put on lots of drain rock. Did great until, the county widened our road. Now everyone is flooding. The county is trying to correct things. We have had record rains here consistently. Pumped again once. I am being careful about usage. . 50 cents a shower? Take it! Doing your laundry there would help more though. Lol Can I come?
Getting second opinions or third is a good idea. Whether or not the soil is percolating may not help if it’s raining constantly. I would only get the test if they tell you that you need a new drain field. The ground is probably saturated. I also dug a small ditch to keep rainwater from building around the septic tank. BUT, my yard really did flood. I had fish in my driveway. 🐠 Things have had a chance to dry out and the system worked again without another pumping. You have my complete sympathy!
 

Boris Diamond

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It sounds like you have done everything right to keep your system in good shape. I wonder if it could be what happened to me a year or two ago?

I had a small lake in my yard. It turned out to be from the septic system. I dug it up to find out! I read about it, tried a few things and then I checked to see if I had water running somewhere. Obviously I should have tried that first! I turned off everything electrical in the house, went down to the basement and listened. I found a toilet in a bathroom I never use had been leaking water into the septic system causing the septic tank to overflow. An easy fix. You might check everything in your house and see if water is leaking into your septic system causing you septic tank to overflow.
 
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MoochNNoodles

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Hmm... I don't think anything is running but I'll mention it to DH. We don't usually use our kid's bathroom so that's worth checking. We are a 3 bed, 2 bath ranch with 4 of us living here so it's not a huge place but we probably do a good bit of laundry and dishes. It's at least 6-7 loads of laundry a week. I just put some paper plates and bowls in my grocery order to help cut that down a bit. :rolleyes2:

Thankfully it's not a lot of water in the yard; I just see water on the edges of the first concrete lid thing. I keep thinking the rain has to do something with it. It's not been steady days of rain; but it's been dry days followed by getting a lot at once. My yard itself and the ditch out front don't usually hold water. My neighbor's driveway does; but you can see that it slopes toward her even though it's basically flat here. The intersection a bit beyond her holds water sometimes too.

We have a couple "sand pits" around us where they are constantly trucking out sand.

Ooo... I found a website online where I can look up what kind of soil I have. It said I have Loamy Sand on a 2-5% slope and is considered well-drained with no flooding or ponding. It said the water table is typically 40-72". I can only think of a couple places in the area where I've seen raised mound systems. A friend of mine lives a few counties away and ended up with 4" of water in her basement. She said the circuit tripped for the pump and they didn't find it till this morning.

DH had to replace our crawl space dehumidifier and the condensate pump this week. :doh: :sigh:

Thank you both for your input. I'm going to show this all to DH tomorrow. Or today I guess... I really should get some sleep. :crazy:
 
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MoochNNoodles

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DH opened the hatches today and they are full; but going down some. They were bubbling a little. We haven’t found any leaking sources but DH did scrape more small roots from around the side that wasn’t leaking.

Now we just pray someone can get to us quickly. Fun!
 

kashmir64

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Was the land your septic is on originally an irrigated pasture? Sounds like it may not be 'perking' correctly.
If it were me, I would have a perk test done and make sure that the drainage ditch was properly made. Ours is also on sandy soil but is fairly deep, lined with cinder rocks and vents.
Also, spoiled milk (dumped in toilet, not sink) does wonders for the good bacteria in your septic. Oh, and never put bleach in your septic. If you need to use bleach water, dump it on a weed outside you want to get rid of.
 
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MoochNNoodles

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My land was definitely farm land; but not in the last 40 years. I'm pretty sure the house behind mind is the original farm house to the land. It's probably close to 100 years old by now.

We are on the schedule for a perk test. The septic company came back yesterday and the guy did his best to look it over. He doesn't want to do an inspection at this point because he said it could cause more problems. He believes the drain field is failing. And since the system is 38 years old; he said we need to get on the process of getting a new one ASAP. DH had already talked to the soil test guy yesterday and that's looking like the week after Thanksgiving. But maybe next week. Then the person who draws the plans can come. My mom is aware this could be a few months of us doing laundry and showering at her house. I'm just praying it gets done as fast as possible.

We can keep having them come to pump of course. But they had some suggestions for in the meantime to help. We are going to be really careful.
 

Winchester

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We have a septic system that was originally built in 1985 when we built the house. We've had only minor problems: having to put a pipe in the septic bed for air (believe it or not). We have a double tank because we're on a hill. It's pretty much like a sand mount, where the fluids go into one tank, then a pump takes it uphill to the bed. Our biggest problem is that the second pump (the one that pumps it up into the bed) fails regularly....and usually at the most inopportune times. (Like when there's a bazillion feet of snow on the ground and we have to dig it up for the plumber to get in there.) It got so bad for a while that we put a collar on top of the tank, so all we have to do it lift the lid (unless there's a bazillion feet of snow on the ground and we have to dig to it, that is). Lightning strikes it quite often; I don't know why. It's been a while since we had any problems....now that I've said that, we'll be due. We have an alarm in the basement that tells us when there's a problem with the septic pump. When that alarm goes off, we know.

When we built the house, we wanted the septic system to be in front of the house (and have the flow go down the hill). Unfortunately, the only place it would perc was up in the back yard, hence the extra tank and pump.

We have the main tank cleaned out once a year and that seems to work out OK. I do use Rid X every month in the toilet.

My parents had an on-lot septic system that gave them fits, with small lakes in the back yard from time to time. Eventually they had to install a new system. I forget how much it cost, but it was a little on the pricey side.
 
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