My tank went bad. Full up. Called septic tank man to have it pumped. He said that the tank was so full of grease that grease probably went thru the elbow and clogged the drain field and there was no hope but to put in a new drain field.
I went to this internet site and picked up a few pointers.
But the best solution was to open the D trap. I did not fine grease at all. I did not find tree roots. What I found was sand. Not much, but enough to clog the drain as water would back up into the septic when I put the hose into the D trap.
So. I put a garden hose into the drains one at a time to backwash the sand. Then I put a root killer into the drains just in case. Then I took one of those plumbers pigs that balloon up when water is put into them and slid it about 10 feet from the end of the drain field and turned on the water for about an hour. Each hour I moved the pig back 10 feet. When I had it almost to the D trap I left it on all night. Then I did the other drain field.
When I finished I could not fill the D trap the water drained so well into the drain field. I put in some of the high potency bacteria sold by Thonatasol thru the internet just is case.
That was 6 months ago. I saved much money and the mess of digging up my yard. I would recommend that everyone look into this sand problem. I saw no evidence of grease on the hose when I pushed it into and out of the drain field. Just fine sand that the pressure from the water from the pig must have forced thru the pipe holes.
I thank everyone for their tips.
Dave Woodman, PCREALTY@CONCENTRIC.NET
I have seen some high prices for septic tank additives but the price quoted by one of your readers [Reply #7]at $130 for five months supply is the highest I have seen. BIO-SYSTEMS Corp is an ISO9002 certified manufacturer of bacterial products that offers SEPTIC KLEAN 3 for $18.75 per years supply in the US. The same product is available throughout South America and Europe under various BIO-SYSTEMS lables such as Fosseklin, Totalsept etc.
Phone 1-800 232 2847 for further information in the US or 608 365 9550 for export contacts.
Malcolm Peacock, firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure that your readers know that septic systems must be pumped to be maintained. The addition of bacteria can help a system continue to work properly, but it is not necessary and it will not under any conditions eliminate the need to have a system pumped. If the addition of bacteria did eliminate all of the sludge, then why does every sewage treatment plant in the world have a sludge disposal problem?
Every home is different, and every septic system is different. The best course of action is to have your tank regularly pumped by the best septic maintenance company in your area. If you have problems, there are some techniques that might help, but again, I suggest that you call the best septic maintenance company in your area for help
Bob Kendall (email@example.com)
BTM (manufactured by EarthCorp Environmental of Calgary, Alberta) is a totally safe, evironmentally-friendly bacteria product that can be poured directly into a septic system once a year. The bacteria in BTM survive and multiply in the rich enviroment that exists in a septic system. These organisms break down the solids and help to control and eliminate odor in the system. There is no danger of groundwater contamination should any of the solution leach out into the surrounding area. BTM is NOT A CHEMICAL, and is not harmful to humans, animals or the environment.
Contact Earthcorp at: firstname.lastname@example.org
HI MY NAME IS DOYLE PIERCE AND I AM A SEPTIC TANK MANUFACTURER AND HAVE BEEN IN THE BUSINESS SINCE I WAS A YOUNG BOY, HELPING MY DAD INSTALL THEM. IN 1965 WE STARTED MANUFACTURERING THEM AND I AM STILL DOING IT TODAY. I WOULD BE HAPPY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS AND GIVE MY INPUT FROM MY EXERIENCE TO ANYONE WHO HAS A PROBLEM. E-MAIL AT email@example.com.
Doyle H. Pierce, Pierce Precast Concrete, firstname.lastname@example.org
I started working in 1988 on a commercial sized drainfield as an operator. It absolutely had to handle up to 30,000 gallons per day without fail. We kept a tank of commercial 50% Hydrogen Peroxide on hand at all times. When there was an kind of upset in the wastewater process and the drain field was plugged solid with SOLIDS, we would add some H2O2 and it cured the problem permanently. In all the 25 years of use and abuse, this commercial drainfield has never needed any help other than the concentrated H2O2 treatments.
NOTE: Concentrated hydrogen peroxide is a dangerous, high-energy chemical. It is even used as fuel for the thrusters on the space shuttle. Another expert has told me by private e-mail that it has failed when used on leach fields and that lawsuits resulted from the attempt. I present Mr. Freeman's note for informative purposes only, and advise against the use of H2O2. -- Miles Abernathy
I am currently in the septic business, and have been for 6 years. I am in the process of starting my own business. The knowledge I possess comes from experience and fear, mainly the later. My fear is fueled by the thought of having to come up with five to ten thousand dollars to rebuild my system after 15 years, only because it was not properly maintained.
I pump tanks and waste water plants, and I now know that sludge does not, for any reason, just disappear. If it did, management companies would save hundreds and thousands of dollars on pumping each year. So in my professional opinion, anyone claiming to have a "miracle cure" to fix your failing system only wants your money.
A septic system can only be properly maintained if your system is exposed. Which means, cleanouts on inlet and outlet lines, and riser lids on the tank it self. This enables you to monitor the system's essential functions. You can not maintain anything you cannot see.
Watching everything that is introduced to the system, adding bacteria to dilute the amount of sludge, and regular pumping is the only sure fire way to extend the life of a septic system.
BRUCE BARTEE, SHTBSNS@SWBELL.NET
EVER HEARD OF A GROUND CRACKER? SUPPOSED TO FRACTURE THE GROUND AROUND THE FIELD ALLOWING IT TO PERK MORE WATER. EXPENSIVE TO DO BUT NOT AS EXPENSIVE AS REDOING THE WHOLE FIELD.
We are having a problem with our system, no backup into the house but a damp-to-wet spot (varies with water usage, rain, etc) out in the yard about 12 feet from the tank itself. The excavator we contacted says the fingers (the gravel-filled trenches where the wastewater goes to seep into the ground) are clogged, the water is seeping from what he called the "junction box," and we need a $4000 repair.
My neighbor across the street is having similar problems, and is having a process done that I can't even name, having never heard ofit before. The man is there right now pumping air and styrofoam pellets into the fingers of the drain field; supposedly, this non-biodegradable stuff will aerate the field, pushing the sludge back into the tank for pumping and disposal. He offers a 1-year money back guarantee. This procedure costs $1350.
Have any of you experts heard of this? This man has been operating here in the area for more than two years, and has not had complaints. I'd love your input.
Later We went over to the neighbor's today to watch this guy in action. He has a big compressor on wheels that he trundles around the yard, drills holes in various places, then shoots in the air and these tiny tiny styrofoam beads, and the black water geysers out of the ground in various places, the gunk is forced out of the fingers of the septic field into the holding tank. Then he pumps it out of there. Theoretically, the beads remain in the ground to hold the paths open for the waste water to seep into the earth.
I had him come over to take a look at our place to see if his method would be appropriate here. First he used two light metal wires, the kind you put the little flags on to indicate the location of buried pipes before you dig, and he "witched" where the fingers would be in our yard. I didn't have any idea where they were, since we only bought here about three years ago. It was amazing to watch him do this, I'd always wanted to see a dowser in action! As it turned out, after he had found the sites and gone I looked up a diagram drawn for us by the man who built this house and dug the septic system, and by gosh they were right where the dowser said they were!
Anyway, he told me he had been a regular septic excavator until about three years ago when he went to a meeting in Nashville TN of the National Wastehandlers Convention or some such, and saw a demo of this method. He said he was sold on it and bought the machine on the spot, this was developed in Mass and is in use quite a bit back east he said.
I found it very interesting, so did my husband, and we are going to have him come in when he can and do ours. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, so it will be a week or so, he said it is not good to do it when it is too wet. He told us at the same time that if we wanted an extension excavated to our field instead that he would do it for $1200, compared to the $4000 we were quoted before. He will charge us only $900 for the air method, by the way, our field is smaller than the one across the street.
More than you wanted to know? Not very technical, I know, but we are hopeful it works, I wasn't looking forward to having the yard torn up with excavating equipment.....
Decie Meyer (Decie.M@worldnet.att.net)
One reputable product is Gayman Septic Seep, a chemical which loosens clay soils that have been "sealed" by sodium. You can buy it from Mary Gayman (tel. 800-372-9637, California time) or Municipal Contractors Supply (tel. 800-537-5800, Ohio time). This product can simply be poured down the drain, but for best results it should be poured into the distribution box or otherwise introduced into the pipe leading to the leachfield. Pumping the tank prior to introducing the chemical is recommended. It costs about $50 per gallon, and the recommended dose for a 1000-tank is one gallon. Mary Gayman wrote:
Concerning the above posting: This obviously is a contractor using the TerraLift system, which does indeed use compressed air through a hollow penetrating tube which injects styrofoam beads into the fissures developed by action of the machine.
The original concept for this method was used in European orchards to restore porosity to soils which had been compacted by heavy equipment over the years. The idea was to get nutrients and water to the roots which were in bound soils
Various "licensees" of this system have approached me about use of Septic Seep either after the injection to chemically release or reflocculate soils in leachfields bound by sodiums in the household flow.
Basically, septic systems fail due to chemical, biological or physical causes... in the presence of sodium, clay particles bond together due to anionic attraction which, in turn, acts as a barrier to penetration by wastewater. A "visquinelike" layer develops under the leach lines, causing flow to backup into the aerobic soil which contains millions of cleanup organisms per tablespoon. Once flooded, the soil bacteria "drown" and die, forming a black tarlike layer of ferrous sulfide which further blocks drainage. Finally, the flooding physically rises, backs up into the tank and, in many cases the house or rises to the surface and floods the yard.
Calcium polysulfide (the active ingredient in Drayner Septic Seep) chemically reverses the sodium influences, releasing the bond...this is called reflocculation of soils,...the soil "clumps" up in larger particles, allowing passage of flow and restoring aerobic soil conditions essential to cleanup processes.
Several days later, Mary Gayman wrote this:
The cause of soil "binding" from domestic wastewater is sodium. This is discussed in the work of McGaughy, Winneberger, Pomeroy, Bendixen(s) and Coulter and was the subject of a number of "educational" seminars around the country sponsored by the forerunner of the EPA from Cincinnati.(As related to Miles Abernathy by Mary Gayman, whom he considers to be a reputable source while acknowledging that she has a commercial interest in the product. If you try Drayner Septic Seep, please let Miles know your results.)
My father developed a product which corrects sodium bonding of clay in leachfield soil in 1953, with the cooperation of those undertaking early studies at the Sanitary Engineering Research Lab in Richmond (UC Berkeley). The end product, marketed for 40 years under the Chevron Ortho label in the Western states was named Septic Seep. The continuous record of drain field restoration with this product (liquid lime-sulfur +) continues now under the Drayner label which was the direct successor to the Ortho product following the sale of the division by Chevron in 1993.
The literature is extensive on this subject and recently enriched by a detailed and accurate ten year study by Robert Patterson PhD, University of New England, NSW, Australia. Patterson spoke at the ASTM conference in early February 1997 and his entire paper was to be / has been published by that organization.
Here are some useful, informative books from Amazon...and one just for fun. Most new books from Amazon qualify for free shipping if the total order is $25 or more.
Return to Septic Tank Page, which has lots more information.