Driving over Septic Tank & leaching Field, or Septic 101greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I come from, and everyone I know has had city sewer service. I've since moved
I had the Septic & Leach Field put in in September. The ground is clay, and still kind of soft.
Can I drive over it? If not, what about when I mow with a tractor & pull behind.
Since I'm truely clueless, what other issues (pumping tank, bacteria, etc) should I be concerned about?
Appreciate anything anyone can offer.
-- Rudy (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002
try to stay off it as much as possible with heavy equipment. It will pack the soil and reduces the effectiveness of the leach feild. Also,, could bend/break lines, collapse the tank,,ect/ Mowing with a riding or smothing shouldne be a problem,, but a tractor may be
-- Stan (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
You can drive over it all with a small lawnmower or light vehicle occasionally. heavy equipment could possibly collapse the drain tile. I try never to put anything heavier than a lawnmower over my septic tank Because I dropped a loaded 5/4 truck through mine once and not only had to pay repair costs but had to tolerate "falling in a world of @#$%" jokes for months after.
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002.
How often should one have the septic cleaned out?
-- chuck in md (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
Rudy, it depends on how many are in your family. You have it pumped when it gets full. We are only two people and had ours put in ,in '92 and we will probably never have to get a pumper out here. That said I am told that you don't really have to do anything for it. I hear people say put chopped cabbage down there, Rid X etc. etc. but our "expert" here says don't worry about it, it'll take care of it'self, and it has. I do use drano to keep my drains clear, once a month, and it does not hurt the septic tank. Don't get caught up in all of the folderol, it will be fine. LQ
-- Little Quacker (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002.
Our septic systems here are inspected by the county every 5 yrs and since we have to open up the tank I have it pumped at the same time. Seems to work out about right. I wouldn't drive over it with anything heavier than a lawnmower. We have 2 drainfields and when we first came here 23 yrs ago the first thing DH did was put a fence post right through the drain tile!! Quite a lesson. I would also suggest that you be very careful about what you put down the sinks, toilets etc.. I would only use white toilet paper and also not the heavy cushiony type. We have had clogged up the system twice with using paper like Charmin. Its also best to use as few chemical cleaners as possible. My old neighbor told me that years ago his Dad used to put a dead chicken in the tank to get the bacteria going! I think I'll pass on that one.
-- Judy Schumacher (TootlesTheBrit@aol.com), January 19, 2002.
Of course, how often you pump it out depends on how much liquids to solids ratio you put in it. If you are running a lot of laundry, sinks, etc, the water overloads the system, not allowing the bacteria to work on the solids as long, thus forcing you to have the ststem pumped, as the solids build up and clog the leach field...then you have problems!!
-- Joe (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
Rudy, in the literature I've read, the "best case" scenario is that solids (from the toilet) and all liquids go into the septic tank. Solids sink to the bottom, and liquids are on top until the tank is filled up to where the drain hole goes out into the leach field. ( I believe there are baffles in the tank to hold back the solids from plugging the leach field.) Then, liquids start to drain out, and solids still stay in the bottom. The key, I believe, is to make sure you have lots of bacteria in your septic tank that will "eat" the solids (or perhaps liquify them) so they won't, in time, fill up the tank. If solids fill the tank, THEN you have to have it pumped.
I understand that to maintain a good bacteria count in your septic it's important not to put anything down any drain that would kill the beneficial bacteria, such as bleaches, caustics, acids, etc. Theoretically, if the bacteria are in balance, the tank wouldn't ever have to be pumped - it would be self sustaining.
A man who pumped septics for a living once told me that the best thing one could do for their septic would be to throw a dead bird down it every once in a while!! It would stimulate the bacteria. I believe a lot of people use yeast, or a commercial bacteria starter flushed down the toilet every so often.
So, be kind to your septic by avoiding chemicals, make sure your drain field is clear as stated above, and you should be fine for quite a while.
-- Bonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002.
I have ours pumped out every 2 years. This is not a "don't fix it if it's not broke" situation. Replacing the drain field is the far more expensive option if you choose to let it take care of itself. Our local septic tank pumpers charge ~$80 if you find the tank and dig down to the clean-out. Look at it like cheap insurance to avoid a much
-- Frank (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
I have ours pumped out every 2 years. This is not a "don't fix it if it's not broke" situation. Replacing the drain field is the far more expensive option if you choose to let it take care of itself. Our local septic tank pumpers charge ~$80 if you find the tank and dig down to the clean-out. Look at it like cheap insurance to avoid a much larger bill.
-- Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002.
Oops. Don't 'cha just hate it when ya hit the button twice.
-- Frank (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
There are only 2 of us now, and I replaced the leach field myself about 10 years ago, expanding it from a single line 50' field to a quadruple 225' field. Most folks will have it done professionally, and in round numbers you're looking at 4 to 5,000 bucks, depending upon where you are. Anyway, with 2 of us we have it pumped every 3 years. When we still had kids at home, it was every 2 years. I have heard people say "For 20 years, we never even had to get it pumped, and now we have to replace the whole system!" Kinda like saying "I never even had to change the oil, and now I have to replace the whole engine!" There will be sludge at both the top and bottom of the septic tank, and there had better be baffles at the top for the outflow, or that sludge will enter the leach field, which is the beginning of disaster. I would get it pumped as soon as practical, and have the guy who pumps do an inspection, especially as concerns the baffle. And after you have it pumped, dump a bucket of horse manure in the tank. That's all the bacteria you will need for a good start up. GL!
-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), January 19, 2002.
I'm with frank and brad on this one.When we sold our old house we had to have a septic inspection for the buyer and found that the baffle was bad and needed to be replaced($693 we paid for a new baffle) luckily the drain field was not plugged,about a week later they found the same thing wrong with the home we were buying(They paid around $800for a new baffle) and again the fields were ok to.The company that pumps ours(every 2 years) uses a mirror on a long pole to look at the baffle,if the baffle goes bad and solids start getting in to leach field get you wallet out cause you not only will need a new baffle but a new leach field OUCH!we use quit a bit of bleach in our laundry and eventually want to run our washing machine water to a drain pit instead of the septic.If it was not pumped when you bought the place (copy of receipt) I would have it pumped and inspected.
-- Dave (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002.
Judy, sounds like your county uses inspections as a way to get tax revenue instead of providing a true service (kind of like mandatory garbage pickup and recycling charges).
Rudy, I would avoid parking cars there on a regular basis as well. Don't worry about additives or any of that, just don't put grease down it (we pour ours in a can), spread out laundry loads (no doing 10 loads one right after the other), etc.
Septics are much cheaper (when you take care of them) over the long haul than being on sewer systems forever.
-- GT (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
My brother installs septic systems.
1. At the time of installation, it had to have been inspected by county or state officials, making certain that the run-off does go into potable drinking water supplies, at least not initially. It can go into irrigation ditches and the like.
2. Drain tiles are no longer used. PVC pipe is.
3. Usually, ten feet of solid sch 40 pipe is used from the house to the tank and then fifty to sixty feet of sch 40 out from the tank to the first junction box, if it's soft or sandy soils. Then from that first box, about 50-75-ft in several directions perf-pipe is used.
4. If it's clay type soil, then the first box is less distance and the leach lines are longer (up to 200-ft).
5. Never, ever drive anything larger than a riding lawnmower over the tank.
6. Nothing larger than a walk-behind lawnmower over the leach lines.
Granted the lines may be four feet or deeper, depending upon your frost line depth, but the ground is still soft and easily dented by heavy equipment.
Food digestors & grease are the worst offenders for screwing up a septic tank. Many claim "Rid-X" works for their system, I just use brewers yeast (about a 1/4# every month).
A new tank should be pumped btw two and five years after installation, depending upon how many people there are in the house using the facilities.
I try to not use harsh chemicals, like "Drano". Baking soda and vinegar cleans most efficiently, as does dishwasher soap powder. If you have a problem with your drains, use a snake first and a plunger next, and the drain cleaners lastly.
-- matt johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 2002.
If you treat your septic like just another ruminate animal in the back yard, you like us, will never be pumping out your septic. I feed ours all the milk from the diary, in the form of washed out containers, bottles etc. I very sparingly use bleach or comet in the sinks and bath. Our toliets and sinks in the bathroom are the only drains that go into the septic. Wash water, kitchen sink, barn sinks, bath tubs and showers go into a drain field of their own. The dishwasher goes into the flower bed. If I have to break down and do a major clean of the toilets and sinks, something that normal wash powder will not keep clean, I reinocculate the septic with yogurt, yeast or anything rotting from the fridge! Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (email@example.com), January 19, 2002.
Non-digetable 'stuff' ends up in the septic system. It's good to pump it every once in a while. Seems 2-10 years, depending on your design & water use.
'Here' septic systems are very highly regulated, which means it's very expensive to put in. Basicaly only mound systems are allowed any more, with very shallow drain lines. You can't drive over the mound, too steep, and the lines are so shallow a tractor would crush them.
So, what type of septic do you have, how deep are the lines, etc.?
Others have given good advise on how to treat the thing. It is basically just a man-made stomach (different chemistry maybe :) to digest out the organic compounds & allow water 7 water-soliuble stuff to filter into the ground & not cause problems.
So, treat it like a living thing, don't feed it much bad stuff, and no need to add anything special to it if you haven't given it a tummy ache to begin with. And don't put too much pressure over the intestines, or all the inners will squish out.
-- paul (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 20, 2002.
Vicki, darling, I love you, as you know (let's keep this as our secret- everyone else who has read this, delete immediately!). But to Rudy - believe me, you may get away with many years of non- pumping, but don't do it. You WILL get some "solids", both at the top (floating solids) and the bottom (sinking solids) of your tank within 1 year. How thick these solid layers are depends upon --- a whole lot of things! Pump every 2 years and sleep well.Pump every 3 years and feel confident. Pump every 4 years and be a gambler. Pump every 5 years and pray a lot. Pump every 6 years and plan to sell REAL SOON! After that, save your money to replace the entire system at $5,000 to $20,000, depending upon where you are, and how much graft you have on the septic contractor. GL!
-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), January 21, 2002.
Brad, I disagree with you, respectfully of course. If you're going to pump every 2 years, you might as well move to a place on sewer and not worry about "taking care" of it, because depending on the area, pumping a tank is very expensive, and negating the inexpensive aspect of being on septic. Besides, if you have to replace the septic to sell the property in the future, you can probably write some of the cost off as a selling expense.
Some areas offer "take care of your septic system" classes that people can take, or the advice offered here on this thread is good too.
-- GT (email@example.com), January 21, 2002.
Brad :) Love :) Sweetheart :) Our spetic was installed in 1986, we have never had it pumped out. 3 kids, and all their friends and of course the relatives who all had to come out to the woods, cause we had lost our minds :) Course like I said we do not have bath water, wash water or dishwater going out to it. So bathroom sink water and toliets is it, perhaps this is why? Haven't a clue, but know my treating it like another goat does work. You know darn well as a write this, the damn thing in overflowing into the yard and we will be replacing it next weekend! You have a great night! I do promise to get back on line and let you say "I told you so" if and when it happens! Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 21, 2002.