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BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

Septic drainfield question

It appears that my septic drainfield is nearing the end of its life after 34 years in operation. I've heard a lot lately about the new plastic "dome" style drainfields instead of the conventional gravel bed, but I am a little concern about collapse as it doesn't appear to be too sturdy. Anybody have any experience with them? Thanks in advance.



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast

I've had one for around 25 years. Life expectancy was 25 years when they put it in. I've not seen any signs of trouble so far, knock on wood. I had the tank preventatively pumped this year as part of normal maintenance and no trouble suspected by pumper guy.
--
nohup rm -fr /&



BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

said by sempergoofy:

I've had one for around 25 years. Life expectancy was 25 years when they put it in. I've not seen any signs of trouble so far, knock on wood. I had the tank preventatively pumped this year as part of normal maintenance and no trouble suspected by pumper guy.

Thanks. Trying to educate myself on what's common nowadays. I know two chambered tanks with filters on the outflow baffle are common now, but mine is a single and I'm certain there is no filter on the baffle.
--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))


sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA

My tank is single chamber and no filters.
--
nohup rm -fr /&


Zach1
Premium
join:2006-11-26
NW Minnesota
reply to BillRoland

Unless you are in a very remote location or are planning to 'fly under the radar', it's nearly guaranteed that any septic repairs will require a permit. It's likely the AHJ will be very specific about system design, which products can be used and may also have a list of licensed installers who may do the work. From October to early December of this year, I worked in Polk County, FL overseeing and cleaning up the mess left behind by unlicensed idiots attempting to do unpermitted work. Part of this work included a new septic system, aside from having a choice of installers from a list provided with the permit, every nuance of the system was specified by the AHJ.

In the Minnesota county where I reside, the AHJ is also very specific and even more restrictive about the acceptable materials than the authorities in Polk. They will only allow the traditional leach field which uses pipe and aggregate of approved type and size along with concrete tanks and distribution boxes (no plastic).

As usual in a forum with diverse membership and many thousands of AHJs having differing requirements, YMMV!
--
Zach



tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
·G4 Communications
·Fairpoint Commun..
·Hollis Hosting
reply to BillRoland

There seems to be a lot of snake oil out there when it comes to septic systems. I'd check with your local building inspector or the state to see what the current requirements are. "Dome" drainfield is new term to me but then I'm not in the business and hopefully will not have to replace ours any time soon.

»www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hom/do···ptic.pdf
»des.nh.gov/organization/commissi···nual.pdf

The state even has a video about septic systems, pretty basic but may be worth a look. Don't think you need to worry about snow cover in Florida.
»des.nh.gov/organization/division···ideo.htm

If you build a new system try to locate the leach field in a different location and have a valve installed. Leachfields tend to recover over time. That way you can switch back and forth.

What makes you think the leachfield is at end of life? Is there anything you can do to keep it operating?

/tom



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom

1 edit

1 recommendation

said by tschmidt:

There seems to be a lot of snake oil out there when it comes to septic systems. I'd check with your local building inspector or the state to see what the current requirements are. "Dome" drainfield is new term to me but then I'm not in the business and hopefully will not have to replace ours any time soon.

/tom

I noticed that reading some of these posts. It's not the building inspector you check with here it's the Local Health Department here that specifies the type and placement of a new system. Anywhere in the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay is under federal consent orders by the EPA and the locals more or less have nothing to do with it. Systems here now are organic filters and are required to be inspected every year by a licensed inspector and inspection report goes to the state (VA) DEQ. These systems are running about $20,000 now.

Bottom line is here you don't dare indicate that there is any problem with your septic system.


BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
reply to tschmidt

said by tschmidt:

What makes you think the leachfield is at end of life? Is there anything you can do to keep it operating?

/tom

the morning after a heavy rainstorm, shower caused the toilets to start bubbling and drain slow. I opened up the cleanout and it was full of water which came flooding out. I snaked the drain toward the tank, hit the baffle, and then down into the tank without hitting any obstructions. The water will eventually empty but it takes a while. Combining the age of the system and the symptoms, it seems likely the field just cannot accept water in any kind of volume now.
--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1

After a heavy rain your yard is saturated and most likely the water level is above the drains. That happens all the time here where we are at low elevations. Ground water goes down septic system works fine.



tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
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reply to BillRoland

said by BillRoland:

the morning after a heavy rainstorm, shower caused the toilets to start bubbling and drain slow.

I'm no expert but I agree with Jack_in_VA See Profile it sounds more like the ground is saturated then a leachfield failure.

For whatever reason the design of our leachfield located it at a fairly low spot on the property, had standing water during heavy rain. I dug a swale at the far end of the leach field and added some dirt to the top to direct rain water away from the leachfield. That might be an option for you. Florida is pretty flat, may be hard to get proper drainage. You may be stuck with an elevated field and have to pump effluent to the field. When it comes to water I much prefer gravity but some times need to deal with powered systems.

/tom

Zach1
Premium
join:2006-11-26
NW Minnesota

1 recommendation

said by tschmidt:

said by BillRoland:

the morning after a heavy rainstorm, shower caused the toilets to start bubbling and drain slow.

I'm no expert but I agree with Jack_in_VA See Profile it sounds more like the ground is saturated then a leachfield failure.

For whatever reason the design of our leachfield located it at a fairly low spot on the property, had standing water during heavy rain. I dug a swale at the far end of the leach field and added some dirt to the top to direct rain water away from the leachfield. That might be an option for you. Florida is pretty flat, may be hard to get proper drainage. You may be stuck with an elevated field and have to pump effluent to the field. When it comes to water I much prefer gravity but some times need to deal with powered systems.

/tom

I'll throw in my +1 to a saturated field rather than system failure. Not only is Florida generally flat but the water table very shallow in most places. The system we had installed, 90+/- miles down the road from the OP, called for an effluent tank, dosing pump and elevated field.

Bill,

A perimeter drainage system around your leachfield to divert surface water away from the area may help if you have a lower area to route it. The design in Dundee called for it no closer than 30' of the elevated field and no deeper than 12" below the undisturbed elevation. There was a natural swale nearby so the drain opened to daylight.
--
Zach


BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
reply to BillRoland

I think its unlikely that its a groundwater level issue. For one thing, this is the first time in 34 years its ever happened, and while we got a lot of rain that night, this is dry season and we have received lots more than what we got the other day in the past without any issue. Additionally, the tank/drainfield is installed at the highest point of the yard, and the laterals slope downward toward the culvert. There is no standing water in the culvert. I would be thrilled if it was just a temporary issue, but its still draining slowly and filling up with water from gradual use, 2 days after the last rain.

I plan to call a couple of reputable septic companies to come out and take a look and offer opinions on what's wrong and estimates on what it may cost to correct it.
--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1

I'm in favor of trying anything before replacing. With that in mind, I would try something like the following (note -- I have not used this particular product nor am I recommending it)

»www.septicseep.com/



BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
reply to BillRoland

I just had a professional out, he opened it up and observed high water level in the tank, and signs that it had been high for a while (the scum layer had been as high as the lid for some time). After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near. His advice for now was to install low-flow heads on anything that isn't already, and see what happens, it may just simply be unable to accept the daily living activities or it may last another 6 months or year, but probably not.

--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))



tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
·G4 Communications
·Fairpoint Commun..
·Hollis Hosting

said by BillRoland:

After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near.

Not good.

Yup anything you can do to reduce water consumption will help.

1) Low flow shower and faucet aerators.
2) Have family shower rather then take baths
3) If you have old toilets replace with new low water use ones
4) Replace top load washer with front load.
5) If you have a garbage grinder - don't use it. Should never use one with a septic system
6) If you have teenagers at home have them move out and get an apartment. - Just kidding but fewer occupants means less water use.

Grey water system will reduce septic loading but are illegal in most locations.

/tom


BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

1 recommendation

said by tschmidt:

said by BillRoland:

After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near.

Not good.

No, not at all. I watched the entire process and could easily observe the water draining back in from the outlet baffle, so I know he wasn't just trying to sell me a bill. It was also obvious where the water level in the tank had been in the past, and obvious it had been there a while. He also stated there was a lot of sand in the bottom of the tank, which he found odd. He said it could have been kicked in while they were putting the lid back on last time it was pumped, or it could have washed back in from the drainfield.

said by tschmidt:

1) Low flow shower and faucet aerators.
2) Have family shower rather then take baths
3) If you have old toilets replace with new low water use ones
4) Replace top load washer with front load.
5) If you have a garbage grinder - don't use it. Should never use one with a septic system
6) If you have teenagers at home have them move out and get an apartment. - Just kidding but fewer occupants means less water use.

1. Replaced the bathroom faucets with 1.5GPM aerators this afternoon. They were original to the house I believe, and output considerably less water than what they replaced. Also installed 2.0GPM showerhead in the shower. All other fixtures are already low-flow.
2. Shower only
3. Both are already 1.6GPF
4. Already an HE front loader
5. No garbage disposal
6. No teenagers (thank goodness)
--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to BillRoland

said by BillRoland:

I just had a professional out, he opened it up and observed high water level in the tank, and signs that it had been high for a while (the scum layer had been as high as the lid for some time). After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near. His advice for now was to install low-flow heads on anything that isn't already, and see what happens, it may just simply be unable to accept the daily living activities or it may last another 6 months or year, but probably not.

quote:
After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near.
Not necessarily true. If the water table in the drain field is above the drain line it will drain back into the tank. The water doesn't have to be visible just but just above the pipes. I had a professional tell me that back in the early 70's when I was having the same problem with a house that was built in 1973 so the drain field could not have been at the end of life. He said he saw that condition all the time after a wet season.

Of course if the tank has not been pumped regularly to remove the sludge and the level reached the discharge and migrated out into the drain field then yes the drain field is trashed.

I see it now when the tides are running extremely high. That's why the EPA doesn't allow conventional drain field replacement. The tide level goes down drain field works again.


BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

said by Jack_in_VA:

said by BillRoland:

I just had a professional out, he opened it up and observed high water level in the tank, and signs that it had been high for a while (the scum layer had been as high as the lid for some time). After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near. His advice for now was to install low-flow heads on anything that isn't already, and see what happens, it may just simply be unable to accept the daily living activities or it may last another 6 months or year, but probably not.

quote:
After pumping it out, water was draining back into the tank from the field, another sign the end is near.
Not necessarily true. If the water table in the drain field is above the drain line it will drain back into the tank. The water doesn't have to be visible just but just above the pipes. I had a professional tell me that back in the early 70's when I was having the same problem with a house that was built in 1973 so the drain field could not have been at the end of life. He said he saw that condition all the time after a wet season.

Of course if the tank has not been pumped regularly to remove the sludge and the level reached the discharge and migrated out into the drain field then yes the drain field is trashed.

I see it now when the tides are running extremely high. That's why the EPA doesn't allow conventional drain field replacement. The tide level goes down drain field works again.

I dug a couple of test holes 15 feet on both sides of the drainfield, a foot past drainfield depth. The holes were moist but not overly damp. I poured a 5 gallon bucket of water down each one and neither had any trouble draining away the water quickly.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is I have to have it solved, I can't have a randomly non-functioning septic system whatever the cause turns out to be.

Thanks everybody, I will update when I get some quotes from contractors.
--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))


davidg
Good Bye My Friend
Premium,MVM
join:2002-06-15
none

i have the same issue only when the ground is saturated. Last year when the tank was pumped he pulled nearly 2000 gallons out of my 1000 gallon tank. the water flowing back in looked like a firehose! this is common in my area, and some folks are installing sprinkler systems to distribute the excess water. my solution was to just run some drainage trenches from my land next to the field out to the ditch, gets rid of the surface water before it has time to soak deep. not everyone can do this, but it helped in my case.

it sounds like yours is the same, but since this is the first time it has ever done it i would say you have some other issue in addition to the ground water. maybe your field line is clogged and only giving you a partial drain which makes it back up, where as in previous years when the water was higher you had just enough drainage to keep up with the demand?
--
Lack of Preparation on YOUR Part does NOT Constitute an Emergency on Mine!

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