This septic emergency was because of lack of maintenance.
This client was under the impression that you never need to pump the septic system, unless it’s giving you trouble. He adds septic tank additives every months. It’s never giving him a problem before.
Unfortunately, over 8 years, it completely packed with solids. All a septic tank does is separate liquids from solids and allow liquids to enter the drainfield. If the septic tank get’s too full, it will allow solids to enter the drainfield, and cause it to fail. This homeowner thought he was taking very good care of his system. No garbage disposal. Doesn’t flush any garbage at any time. Just toilet paper. Added septic additives. He was shocked to see that the system is now failed. It filled up with water, and the drainfield could not accept any water, and backed up within minutes of pumping the septic tank. Now the entire system will need to be replaced with a system that’s up to code.
This septic system failure could have been easily avoided by cleaning the septic tank every 4-6 years.
Estimated cost of system replacement $8,000-$13,000 if county allows replacement. The county may require city sewer hook up because it’s close. Estimated cost to hook up to city sewer $18,000 to $25,000. Estimated cost of pumping a septic tank every 4-6 years $380.00.
Here is a video of another, “less expensive” riser installation on a septic system. This homeowner simply took the lowest bid without asking questions. And honestly, thought, “We are putting a collar on a septic tank.” How hard can it be. So he took the lowest bidder not realizing we have to be concerned about high ground water tables. Now this has created a lot of problems downstream in this septic system.
Now this started taking on ground water back in november of last year. This is when the homeowner’s septic alarm started to sound off that it was getting too much water. The homeowner simply “silenced” the alarm. Thinking it does this whenever it rains. Stupid septic system.
Now the damage has been done. You see, he has a sand filter. Below is a video of the sand filter. He said it started smelling really bad, but never was out there when the pumps came on to see this happening.
So if you look closely, you can see the color black. It is stinky and slimy. This is a bacteria that moves in when septic is surfacing above the ground. It will always be present in surfacing sewage. It is one thing a septic inspector is looking for.
Now the bad news. If he would have called us when the alarm first started to sound, he would have saved a lot of money.
So some sand filter education. A sand filter is just a huge, in-ground, pool filled with different grades of sand down to the bottom. At the bottom the water is collected and pumped out to the drainfield. There is an alarm in this sand filter that warns of a high water even. This was the alarm that was ignored. Now the sand filter went completely under water. Two things happened. One the sand filter is an aerobic component. It needs oxygen to breath. Actually the bacteria in the sand filter need oxygen to breath. Also remember from the “how it works” page, that the septic tanks are the anaerobic environments. Now since the sand filter went under water for two long, it went septic, and the bacteria died. Therefore the sand filter died. Now we could pump it out and have it dry out, and the bacteria would come back. But the next problem is impossible to fix. When the water is pumped out, the sand that was floating in all the water, compacts down as the water recedes. Making the sand filter surface it’s water, instead of the effluent going down, it goes up, and surfaces.
So please remember. A Service call is about $125.00 plus whatever parts are broken. And may some additional labor.
But now this homeowner needs a new sand filter. Which can run $5,000 to $7,000. I truly feel bad for my customer’s when this happens. This is why I have spent so much time on this website trying to educate, and inform homeowners that the power to save money on their septic system, lies with them. Don’t forget to have their systems inspected and repair/pump what needs done, before this happens.
Here is an example of a very poor riser installation. Now this homeowner saved about 100 bucks when he put his riser installation out to bid. Without asking why this bid was about 100 bucks cheaper he simply assumed all septic work is the same, and only the price is the difference.
This company didn’t use a proper custom seal for the area between the septic tank and the abs riser material. Remember, these are unlike materials. They don’t weld or glue together at all. We have to use a 2 part epoxy designed for septic installations, remember the gasses, and for the unlike materials. But then we also have to use a custom seal. For that we use bentonite clay. That clay puts a barrier around that seal that’s clay. It never gets hard, brittle, cracks, or breaks. It’s clay. Now this stuff isn’t that cheap, but multiply 7 risers and inlet and outlet pipes and it adds up to about a 100 bucks. Hence the 100 dollar difference.
But now the bad news. The septic system is taking on so much ground water, that the drainfield is backing up sewage and ground water all over the place. Ground water is above the septic tank, but below the riser. So you can’t see it, until you look into the riser and down into the tank. Also that tank seal is about 6 feet down. It will now need an excavator to redig it back up, under water mind you, so we’ll be pumping the water out to reseal it under water. I cannot explain to you how difficult and expensive this is. To redig these seals will be around 800 bucks. Now consider that the next time three companies shoot bids. Their could be reasons that the lowest bid is the lowest. But in this case, it was the most expensive, cause now we have to dig it back up and reseal. And that competitor is out of business.
Well, the rains have returned. Not a all to welcome sight in my industry. It’s hard enough to perform this job, but when all of your tools are soaked and you have too suit up and heavy rain-gear. It makes it even more exciting.
Now, I am just stating this, well, because I hear it all the time. When it rains, my septic runs super slow, or not at all. Septic systems are to be sealed systems. If the correct system was installed for your lot, then this should hardly be an issue. Your tanks should be sealed from all ground water. That’s just gross if it’s not.
So far this rainy season we have had two nightmare jobs, where groundwater infiltration has caused failure. Homeowner thought all was lost and my competitor me out for backup. Homeowner had water coming up out of the tanks, and the pumps just simply, could not keep up.
This is where First Call Septic comes in. We have chosen to purchase the state-of-the-art tools to help me in diagnosing the problems of groundwater infiltration. In this case we ran tests for Dissolved Oxygen. Or DO for short. See, in order for something to be septic, it has to be void of Oxygen. So in the tests I run, I should always get a DO reading of zero. Or no oxygen in the septic tanks water. But if I ever get DO of 4 or higher in some of the tanks, then great. We found the source of the leak and time to excavate and reseal.
In this case we had a DO of 7 in the pump chamber and zero in the septic tank. So I knew we had a leak in the transport line between septic tank and pump tank. It was about 2 hours of labor excavating the pipe and resealing it. But once it was done, their little, “when it rains our septic runs slow” nightmare was over.
This is a very important test when diagnosing a septic system. Especially if it’s “failed.” PH is another test, but that’s for another time. I need to goto bed.