Septic Tank leak repair

Inside Septic Tank Repair

Inside Septic Tank Repair

Here I am inside a septic tank. I know, good times.  However, this homeowner was quoted $4,000.00 to replace a septic tank.  He was never given the option to repair the septic tank.  Now it’s easier and less messy to have it replaced.  But a homeowner needs to know all of his options.  He was really hurting for money due to our downed economy.

When he went to the County permitting department to apply for a tank replacement permit, he was told he may want to call First Call Septic first before spending all this money to see if it could be repaired.  He was told if First Call Septic can’t fix it, then it can’t be fixed.

When I arrived, I could see this was a two part clam-shell like tank.  It’s an easy fix.  Just have to clean the septic tank out.  Im not going diving to make this repair.  Then apply the high strength sealer.  It works great.

It’s always good to get a second opinion when dealing with septic system component replacements.  Because in many cases a repair is possible and much more affordable.

 

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

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48 Responses to “Septic Tank leak repair”

  1. jt says:

    This is cool that your willing to do the dirtiest job, but publishing a clear violatin of a confined space entry procddure will get you hit with a prety nasty fine….

  2. Ronnie says:

    Hi John,

    I have removed the confined space entry by having two exits and having an air pump, pumping air at over 950 cubic feet per minute. I am confined space certified. You can see the air hose entering the tank.

    It makes me proud to see that you found my site. Thank you for your concern, but I am Not in violation.

    Thanks for playing,

    Ronnie.

    🙂

  3. mike says:

    We have a concrete septic tank with about 6′ of collars or risers. Tank fills up after hugeg rains. Is there anything I can roll on or install from the top of the manhole to seal the leaks around the collars? Thanks.

  4. Ronnie says:

    Mike. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But there’s no “easy” fix for this. The tank needs re-dug up and bentonite and epoxy seals installed. Do it in about a month or so when it’s the driest. Reason: it’s still soggy and muddy at 6 feet down.
    It’s best to do it right, or you will be fighting this again next rainy seaon.
    Sorry for the problems you are experiencing, and know this. It can be fixed.
    Good luck.
    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  5. Jack Daley says:

    I live in York Maine. I have been told I might have a leak. Is your sevice available in Maine?

  6. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing,
    and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this in my hunt for something concerning this.

  7. ben says:

    HI
    I HAVE A LEAKING CONCRETE SECOND SEPTIC TANK WHICH THE
    INSPECTOR CHECKED FOR THE BUYER OF MY HOUSE. THE REPORT
    REQUESTED TO REPAIR OR REPLACE THE TANK, THE LIQUID TANK HAS
    VERY LITTLE WATER IN IT & WAY BELOW THE PUMP LEVEL.
    I LIKE AN ADVICE IF IT IS POSSIBLE TO REPAIR IN PLACE OF VERY EXPENSIVE REPLACEMENT LOCATED AT PAVED DRIVE WAY AREA.

    THANKS IN ADVANCE

    BEN

  8. Ronnie says:

    Hi Ben,

    It really depends on where you live if you’d be allowed to repair your septic tank. I’d call a few septic contractors in your area. Stay out of the phone book, contact your local health Department and ask for a list of those certified for this type of work in your area. They’ve been trained and are licensed, bonded, and insured.

    Most will drive out and give a free estimate.

    Thanks for reading,

    Ronnie

  9. Bennie says:

    Hi I am in the Congo and have a septic tank that we have build and now it leaking !!! With what can I seal it please!!!

    Kind Regards

    Bennie

  10. Chris McCall says:

    The buyer of my house is getting a V.A. loan. The first septic inspector stated that the tank “appeared” to have a patch at some point above the water line. The tank was full when inspected due to a clogged filter, so it’s holding water. The inspector would not certify the tank, so the buyer cannot get a V.A. loan. The buyer has asked us to replace the tank to the tune of about $3,000. Can a tank with a patch be certified??

  11. Ronnie says:

    It depends on local regulations. In our area, it is. You would have to contact your local County Health Department to see if they allow it.

    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  12. chirs B says:

    I live in Florida, my septic tank is about thirty years old. We have pumped out about every other year. At the last cleaning, we were told that the drain field was failing. We did not know enough to ask questions. We were left with an estimate to replace the septic tank, no repairs, no other options. We have called other guys and it seems that everyone is interested in the replacement not the repair. We do not have the $3,200 they are asking, some are asking for more! We are experiencing problems such as, toilets flushing slowly, shower backing up, especially the one that is not close to the septic tank. The bathroom close to the septic tank does not have as much problems. We really would appreciate your honest opinion. We have cut down on water consumption and that works but it is very hard to do, less showers, no dishwasher, less washing machine usage. We thank you in advance for your consideration and for the helping hand. Christina

  13. Ronnie says:

    Hi Christina,

    I am a bit confused. And need a bit more info. You say that the drainfield is failing, and they are going to replace the septic tank? Replacing the septic tank will not fix the drainfield issue. Can you describe to me the work that was done so far on the drainfield? Did they dig up anything to see why the drainfield was backing up?

  14. Zac W says:

    Hi, I’m thinking about buying a lot with two 75 year old houses on it that both use one septic tank. After lifting the 36″ square 1/4″ thick metal plate covering the tank, I noticed that a lot of sand and mud has been washed into the tank from some type of flooding. I also saw that the top part of the cement tank has crumbled. The vertical walls are basically gone and dirt is all I see above the muck, sand and mud. I obviously have some major concerns here. Other than getting it looked at, do you have any thoughts. Its a crazy deal and I have no time to properly have it inspected. This is in the California desert, a very dry, sandy area. Thanks…

  15. Linh V says:

    Hi Ronnie,

    Do you know how much in general cost for base concrete leaking repairs and replace tank cost? This septic it located in Pierce County. It would be appreciate.

    Thank you in advance

    Linh

  16. Ronnie says:

    Hi Linh,

    I don’t perform work up in Pierce County. But if you were down here in Clark County, Skamania County, or Cowlitz County the repair price could range from $1,500 to $2,500. Cost of a new Septic tank can range from $3,500 to $5,000. I hope that helps you a little bit. And check with your county, an in-the-tank repair may not be allowed.

    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  17. Ronnie says:

    Hi Zac,

    Sorry for the late response. I am sure by now the issues have worked out by now. If I were looking at these homes and didn’t have time to have them properly inspected, from what you’re describing, I would budget for system replacements. Now I am not in california, but I know up here in Clark County, Washington State, a new system can vary and range anywhere from $6,500 to $20,000, depending on the soil type at the property.

    I hope this helps you in some way, and thanks for writing.

    Ronnie

  18. Sandy says:

    Hi Ronnie,

    What do you advise your clients on how to deal with bathroom issues, etc. while the septic tank is under repair for leaks. Can it be used as soon as the repair is over? Or should I refrain from using the bathroom for a certain period of time?

    Sandy

  19. Ronnie says:

    Hi Sandy,

    It really depends on the type of repair that was completed. If a new bottom is poured in, then we shut down the water to the house for 48 hours. We also will plug the inlet to the septic tank. If anyone uses water in the home during this period, the system will back up. We ask homeowners to make plans to stay with family or to take a small vacation during this curing period.

    If it’s just a seam, it can usually be used again within 6-8 hours.

    Ask your repairman at the time of repair, they will be able to guide you.

    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  20. Jerry says:

    I have 2 septic tanks. One with a pump. One or both of the tanks are taking on ground water and flooding back into the house during heavy rain if the pump fails or electricity is interrupted during wet conditions. Found one Company that says they will excavate and repair the leak from the outside along the seam. Do you think this could be an acceptable repair and what should they be using. Bentonite and Expoxy? Do you think this could be a long term solution or only a band aid. I live in Virginia where we have a lot of red clay. . The tanks appear to be made of some type of Plastic? Thanks for your time and response.

    Jerry

  21. sally says:

    We live in an area with a high water table but the last few years Anytime someone takes a shower or does a load of laundry we get a large pool of water on top of our septic tank. We had it pumped last year and the guy took 1 look and said we need 10k for a new system. He didn’t even dig anything up so I don’t know if that is really the issue or if it could be something else?

    Thanks

  22. Kelly says:

    Ronnie, this is AWESOME. I’ve scoured the intranet and was so happy to find this. I am about to buy my first real home. I’ve saved and saved. I live in MA and the seller tried to get a title 5, but it didn’t pass. They were allowed to patch it.

    The septic repair man and I chatted. He said he got inside the tank and saw a hole. He said that when the septic tanks are sitting in the lots (prior to installation) they put holes in them to avoid collecting rainwater. He said once they are installed these holes should be properly sealed, but the one he found was not sealed. He said he patched it and would come back in two weeks to see if it was working.

    I told my father all of this and he doesn’t think I should move forward with the property. He’s afraid I will end up having to replace the whole thing or that I will have more problems, which we can’t afford.

    What’s your thoughts on this? Thanks!!!

  23. Ronnie says:

    Hi Kelly,

    There are a couple of things to consider here.
    1. How old is the system. Remember that the national average for a system is 30 years. But that’s a national average. Most will last longer and some will last shorter.
    2. If the tank has been leaking sewage all of these years, then chances are that the drainfield is in pretty good shape or new. This is good news for you. After those holes are patched, your drainfield could start being used for the first time.

    If I were you, I would hire a contractor to dig up the distribution box, or just dig a post hole into the beginning of the drainfield, and see what the rock looks like. If it’s nice and clean, with no biological growth, than jackpot. Drainfield is in great shape.

    Does that make sense? Let me know if I can help you further.

    And thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  24. Ronnie says:

    Hi Sally,

    I am sorry for the problems you are having with your system. To diagnose a system without digging up the tank and parts of the drainfield is robbery. It could be coincendental that your system is failed after all the tests are done being run, but without doing any of them its just guessing. For example. Your car is running funny, so buy a new car. That will solve the problem, but did you need to go through the expense of buying a new car? There may have been a simple plug between the septic tank and drainfield. Also, could a french drain have been installed around the septic system to divert ground water off of the system?

    Both of those require a competent septic system operator to diagnose.

    If this problem still hasn’t been resolved, and you’re in the Clark, Skamania, or Cowlitz County area, I would give us a call and we could send out a technician to diagnose the problem.

    360-686-0505

    Thanks for writing, we look forward to hearing from you soon,

    Ronnie

  25. Ronnie says:

    Hi Jerry,

    All patches are temporary solutions for a bigger problem. The tanks have structural defects that could get worse with time. In my experience patches can buy the homeowner 5-10 years. Epoxy, high strength mortar, and bentonite are perfectly acceptable repairs. If time is taken to be done correctly. If your system is under water right now, the repairs will have to wait to be done when the weather and area dry out. If not, this repair would be so expensive you might as well replace the tanks. And under water repair requires a sealant to cure under water such as AV 202. Very expensive.

    But in my experience, patches work best from inside the tank. If the expense is going to be paid to dig up the entire tank, might as well just replace the tank, add access risers to grade, and spend extra time and money to be sure when ground water comes up again, water cannot get inside.

    I hope this answers your questions. If not, just write back.

    Best of luck and thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  26. Frank says:

    I have a clam shell tank, and the top half has shifted (or maybe the bottom half shifted) so that the walls are no longer alligned. Is it possible to repair it by digging it up and realligning it or do we need a new system?

  27. Ronnie says:

    That is correct, you can realign it and put down new mastic. But be aware. If it’s really old, it may fall apart during the process. And if that happens, it will need replaced.

    If I were you, I’d budget for a tank replacement and if it gets repaired okay, than take the extra money and take a small vacation.

    Does that makes sense?

    Thanks for writing.

    Ronnie

  28. Frank says:

    Makes sense. It is 18 years old. We really need a new tank because it is only 500 gallons and our family of 4 over loads it. But we are supposed to get tapped into the town’s sewer system in the next 5 years, so I hate to spend the $13,000 we were quoted for a new 800 gallon tank.

    We were quoted $3000 for the repair. But if they try the repair and it breaks, is that $3000 down the drain (pun intended) or would some of that cost be applied to the replacement? Thanks for your time.

  29. Bob says:

    Home in Mass only 7 Yrs old-two adults living in it- went for title 5 they said it has a leak in tank and they will pump it & go into tank to patch from inside most likely at rubber seam? Is this acceptical

  30. Ronnie says:

    Hi Bob,

    It depends on the rules and regulations in your area. Our area, we are allowed to repair tanks to a leak-rate of less than 20 gallons per day. You can check with your local health department. Some jurisdications don’t allow any leak from any tank. Just depends where you are at.

    thanks for writing.

    Ronnie

  31. Ronnie says:

    Hi Frank,

    That is the gamble. If during the repair your septic breaks, than that will be money wasted, and you still owe the repair company. I would save your money with a septic tank that old, and simply replace it with new for that repair price.

    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  32. Smith ogwal says:

    Hi Ronnie my septic tank wall is leaking from the soil holes before back filling how should I stop this active leakage

  33. Ronnie says:

    I guess I need more info, tank is not backfilled?

  34. Smith Ogwal says:

    Thanks, the excavated wall is leaking so much, how should I stop the muddy wall leakage which is surrounding the septic tank walls. Thanks

  35. Ronnie says:

    I don’t think that there is a repair, I guess I’d have to see it, but from the sound of it, the tank needs replaced

  36. Smith ogwal says:

    Thanks a lot Ronnie

  37. C D Stevens says:

    Aerobic system with single concrete tank divided into 3 compartments. Wall between environmental chamber and pump out compartment has cracked such that sludge is entering pump out area and environmental chamber does not fill up. Crack starts at top of separation wall and runs to either corner at the bottom (i.e. a triangle). Believe best solution is to install new pump out tank but not sure what to do with the old chamber. As is, environmental tank will not contact all the sludge until both tanks are filled, and only then will gray water move to the pump out tank. Is it advisable to backfill the abandoned pump out chamber with clay to facilitate the system to work as designed, or is a new system in my future? Tank is 13 years old.

  38. David says:

    I was getting my tank pumped and there was less than 2 feet of water/sludge, so obviously a leak. The pump guy said there might be a plug in the concrete base, and that might be the issue. The septic inspector says the 30 year old tank needs to be replaced. What’s you opinion, replace, or try to repair. In live in Western MA.
    Thanks

  39. Al Lefebvre says:

    I just had my septic tank emptied and in the process the service man said the septic tank plug is missing and needs to be replaced/repaired with a new plug and hydraulic cement. He said that someone needs to go into the tank, power wash it and then install a new plug at the bottom of the tank. I assume he’s correct but just wanted another opinion on whether he is correct with what needs to be done. Any ideas of cost?
    Thank you.

  40. Ronnie says:

    Hi there,

    I would allow the tank to fill with water. Then the forces on the wall should be hydraulically equal. Some sludge will get into the abandoned compartment, but it’s not a bad thing to have it become a clarifier before going to the next tank. If scum starts to form, you may need to put a baffle on the discharge line to the next tank to keep that out of your pump tank.

    I would not fill it with clay or anything like that. Just have it monitored yearly for sludge and scum accumulation. If you have any questions, I would contact a local septic/aerobic certified technician in your area give you a hand with that. Best of luck,

    Ronnie

  41. Ronnie says:

    Hi David,

    Yes, there could be a concrete precast hole or plug in the bottom or the sidewalls of the tank. In our county we are allowed to just patch the tank and get the leak down to below 20 gallons per day. Some jurisdictions don’t allow any leakage. It’s up to your local health department.

    We have concrete tanks in the ground that have lasted for 90+ years, and are still working great. I have not heard of the “30 year old concrete tanks need replaced” rule. So I would contact your local health department and be sure you are getting the real story about your system. Also, while you have them on the phone, have them email you a list of certified septic inspectors that are certified to work on your septic system. Get a couple of opinions.

    Best of luck,

    Ronnie

  42. Ronnie says:

    Hi Al,

    Pressure washing is excessive. Just a garden hose with a cone nozzle will do. Also a scrub brush to wash the concrete and vacuum truck. This is a confined space entry so confined space entry rules apply. Tank entry repairs can be expensive. Usually about $1,200 to $2,200 includes everything including the vacuum truck. Lower price is for about “In and Out” repairs, and the upper price is for major work. Example the entry hole is too small for a person to get in, so a hole must be cut into the tank for access, and then repaired. Maybe the bottom of the tank needs repoured. Those are usually 6 hour to repair jobs.

    Repour New Bottom of Septic Tank Video Facebook

    https://www.facebook.com/firstcallseptic/videos/1067023666702898/

    Best of luck,

    Ronnie

  43. Mark says:

    I live in Wisconsin do you do work here?

  44. Ronnie says:

    Hi Mark,

    Sorry, we are in the Vancouver, WA area. 🙁

    Is there anything I can help you with. Advice or anything?

    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

  45. Mark says:

    I just had my tank pumped a few weeks a go, I went to add a riser and when I opened it, it was full of ground water. I don’t know if I can get it repaired, I think if I call for repairs they will make me put in a holding tank.
    I think I have roots maybe lifting my cover or the baffle is leaking. also the dummy that owned it before put a 18″ slab over haft of it when I bout it 6 years a go it was empty so I went inside to take a look, I couldn’t see
    the inlet or the outlet because the baffle was in the way. So what is my best option?

    Mark

  46. Ronnie says:

    Hi Mark,

    Sorry about the problems you’re having. I would call a pumper/repairmen out and have the tank pumped out clean and inspect it from the inside to see where the groundwater is coming in at and see if it’s possible to repair during the winter months.
    Usually once an internal inspection is done in the winter, the repair must have to happen in the summer as concrete won’t cure with groundwater intrusion. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for writing

    Ronnie

  47. scott says:

    Our septic system is 24 yrs old. We have it pumped every 2-3 yrs. We’ve never had a problem with it. until now. Im selling the house and the buyers septic inspection found the outlet pipe sunk in the heavy clay soil, and detached from the tank (no water was present in the soil because scum/minerals formed from the outlet over the pipe and the effluent was still going in the pipe). The inspector recommended a new tank. The concrete was crumbly a couple of inched out from the wall outlet, but tight and sounded strong when hit with a hammer a couple of inches out from the outlet hole. The baffles and lid plugs and leach field are all good. Can I splice in a new pc of pipe and patch the tank wall around the pipe w/hydraulic cement or epoxy or do I need to replace the tank.

  48. Ronnie says:

    Hi Scott,

    Sorry about the problems you are having. We do see this type of break all of the time. There is no reason to replace the tank for this type of repair. Just replace the pipe. And make sure that it is baffled on the inside of the tank. Mortar it in really good, and bed the pipe. Then finish it off by bedding the pipe with crushed gravel, or pack in dirt really good under it.

    Does this answer your question?

    Thanks for writing,

    Ronnie

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