Do It Yourself septic system repair information

Septic Tank Repair Stories

septic tank toilet stopup backupHoney, The Septic Tank's Acting Up Again!

Reply #1

Reduce water usage: No tub baths, brief showers with low-flow heads, replace toilet with 1.6 gallon model, divert laundry water to yard if permitted. Put food color in toilet tank overnight to check for leakage through flapper valve, replace if needed..."Kohler-Style" Korky Flapper sometimes seals when regular Korky Flapper will not.

Less water lets the upper part of the leach field recover. Extended life of my field over 5 years.

[submitted anonymously]


Reply #2

The most noticeable sign of a failing septic system is usually the surfacing of effluent above the lateral field. In most cases the surfacing is only above one line and can been helped, if not eliminated, if the leach beds are designed for "equal distribution". This type of system uses a small tank called a distribution box to insure that all lines receive an equal amount of effluent. Insuring that the d-box worked properly used to be almost impossible and usually led to one line receiving the majority of the effluent (sometimes all).

This problem can go unnoticed for a long time because the line that is getting all the effluent is new and can handle the extra load, but as the lines age they become less efficient and surfacing can occur. When this happens you must remove the lid of the d-box and "relevel" the outlet pipes so they will receive the correct amount of effluent. This can be done easily with a product called a speed leveler or dial-a-flow. This is a cap that has an offset hole in it that can be rotated so that all of the holes can be aligned therefore "releveling" the outlets of the d-box. Speed levelers can be found at most septic tank manufacturers.

Brian Mitchell,


Reply #3

Mine started acting up yesterday. When the washer emptied it came back out the toilet in that room and back up the washer drain pipe. Then everything started backing up through the downstairs toilet. I opened the pipe in the cellar and ran a snake through to the tank. It seemed ok for the time being but while I was at work it started all over again.

Today I snaked it again and finallly woke up and went out to the breather pipe for the line and it was clogged right full. With the snake and a rod to poke through, it cleaned it out. Have just been testing it and seems ok now. Did a load of wash and no problem yet. Flushed boith toilets a couple of times, and ok.

My point is don't forget to check the smaller problems first. I was all set to start digging and call to have it pumped. Looks like I saved a bunch.



Reply #4
   My problems were very similar.  Water usage from any point
in the house would cause some very nasty "stuff" to back up through a shower
drain in the lower level of our two story house.  A call to a plumber proved
useless as he could not locate an appropriate cleanout. He offered to
install one for approximately $400.  He also said that if I could locate the
septic tank he might be able to "snake" the line from the other end.

   Sounded like a good way to save $400.  I probed the ground with a steel rod
in the "greener grass" area behind the house and in a matter of minutes
located the tank.  Since it was only a foot or so below ground I decided to
uncover it myself. In the process I discovered that I have not only one tank
but a series of three tanks (two about 6 feet in diameter and one about 3
feet in diameter).

   After uncovering all three I noticed liquid slowly seeping around the lid
of the tank nearest the house.   I called a septic service company who
verified my newfound suspicion that the problem was not in the drain lines
but in the septic tank itself.  He said the tank was "waterlogged" and would
need to be pumped out.  He said he could do it the following afternoon.

   Here's where it got interesting.  Late Friday afternoon just before Labor
Day Weekend, he called to inform me he couldn't make it till the following
Tuesday due due mechanical problems with his truck.  I called every septic
company in the phone book hoping someone could do the job before the
weekend. NO SUCH LUCK!!!!

   OK, now what.  Faced with the prospect of "terds" floating in the shower
every time we used water I decided to investigate to see if there was
ANYTHING I could due to that would result in even a temporary solution.

   Late Friday night I raised the lid of the first tank and found that a
layer of thick semi-solid material had formed on the surface of the tank's
contents.  This layer was thick enough to completely block the outlet of the
first tank.  I pushed this material away from the outlet and the tank
immediately drained to the level of the outlet. I used an 8 foot 2x4 and
basically stirred this top layer thoroughly.

   OK. so now it's Saturday afternoon.  My wife has done several loads of
laundry, the toilets are flushing and nothing is coming up in the shower nor
is it leaking anywhere from the septic tanks.

   Hopefully this will continue till the septic tank guy gets here next
Tuesday.  Thank goodness for at least a temporary solution.

Trey Price (


Reply #6

There are a myriad of solutions to on-site treatment of waste water outlined in the FREE and very EXCELLENT publications by the EPA National Small Flows Clearinghouse in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA. Many of these documents are available for very modest costs and outline in detail the appropriate technology for each kind of site. Ask of the poster sized "map' showing the various sytems used in a "village" setting.

These Alternative/Innovative options have been around and working well for more than twenty years. These include sand filters, aerated systems, mound systems, chamber systems, reed systems and peat systems (for cold weather). The NSFC offers some of the best services and publications in the world on this subject.

Simply dial 1-800-624-8301, or 304-293-4191, or fax 304-293-3161. Chose option "2" on the automated entry system, ask for a copy of their publications list and to receive the Newletter and other relevent publications from this outstanding service. A search of documents may be obtained once you define your area of interest.


Reply #7

My husband and I are using a product called Septic-Free. It is the same stuff they used in Desert Storm to clean up oil spills and spills of various types. We only need to dump a bag of the stuff in the toilets once per month for five months. The claims are that it cleans the sludge and any built up gunk in your septic tank and keeps things flowing smoothly. This only needs to be done every 5 years and the cost is under $130.00 for the 5 month supply (monthly paymn't option avail.).[see Reply #9]

You can obtain this product or info on it by calling Skilet Industries in Lansdowne PA - 610 623 6220. My husband is a pretty thorough investigator when it comes to any home product purchase, he checked it out and was sold.

D. Mitchell, NJ
"David H. Markey" (METANOIA@WORLD2U.COM)

Next Page of Helpful Tips for Septic Tanks