leachfield problems -- HELP!!

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Chirpy, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I'm hoping someone out there has been through this and may be able to offer some solid advice, ideas, helpful suggestions.

    It appears our leachfield is failing. We had our septic pumped in December 07. My DH went to the basement this morning and found the bathroom drain backing up. That's the lowest drain in the house so it always backs up first when there's a septic problem.

    There are ten of us in a 2100 sq. foot house - I'm sure the septic system wasn't originally installed to take care of that many people. We've lived here for six and a half years and have had to pump the septic twice now. It goes for about three years each time before backing up. So, since we just pumped it two months ago .... there's a new problem.

    Has anyone else had to replace their leachfield? I've heard it's enormously expensive and we have zero money ... my DH has been out of work for five months!

    Are there less expensive ways to replace a leachfield?

    Any ideas on what else could be going on?
  2. 6chix

    6chix Songster

    Jul 24, 2007
    Western Ma
    My septic was also backing up a couple years back. There was a blockage at the baffle plate where the pipe goes into the tank. Try and not put ANY fats or grease down the drain this stuff just doesn't break down naturally. Avoid the use of drain cleaners as they kill off the helpful bacteria living in your tank.

    Good luck
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Good luck. That really sucks.... We are on septic here too and luckily haven't had a problem since ours is rated for 5 bathrooms.

    Here are some tricks I heard of but don't know how well they work:

    Don't use the garbage disposal if you have one as that stuff requires more time to break down.

    TP and other "flushables", just toss in the trash intsead of flushing as they also take a long time to break down.

    Avoid putting any harsh chemicals, even the "septic" safe stuff into the system as that can kill the essential bacteria that is needed in breaking down the wastes in the septic system. (use an augar for plugs)

    Other than that... good luck.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Wow, that kind of stinks. Er, I mean, besides literally. My sympathies!

    The timing makes me suspect maybe it *is* a leachfield problem ( gook stirred up from the previous pumping may have gone thru and finished clogging up an already borderline system), BUT before you panic, check a coupla things:

    First, open up the tank and see if its liquid level seems abnormally high. If not, your problem *may* be a blockage between the house and tank. Does your system have a, I forget what they're called, a separate little cleanout port thingamajig upstream of the tank that is meant to collect grease? If so, unearth it, open and clean it out. Also, either you or a plumber can try running a snake from the house to the tank (while it's open), to see if there is some blockage in that line that could be dislodged.

    If the tank level, when you open it up, does seem abnormally high, look at the outflow port and maybe poke it very gently with a long stick to see if something has gotten lodged in there to clog it. If not, then I am afraid it probably IS a clogged leach field. I know there are various ways to proceed at that point, but having never done it myself I can't say much about the pros and cons.

    In the meantime there are a lot of things that can be done to reduce water usage and septic system load (although of course perhaps you're already doing them [​IMG]) -- install low flush toilets, not flushing toilets every single use, reduce the number and length of showers taken, do laundry at a commercial laundromat, etc.

    Good luck,

  5. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    We just went through that whole ordeal in Sept. of 2006.

    We were broke, ran through the entire spectrum of alternatives but because of the local codes it came down to only 2 options: have it professionally installed or do it ourselves using the same exact materials.

    Price shopped everywhere for materials and equipment rentals and it came down to this:
    Doing it ourselves would only save $300 and who knows how long it would have taken 2 of us and how long we would be without the system.

    We really lucked up because a relative heard about our situation and happened to have just sold a rental property they had, and they loaned us the cash to have it fixed.

    It was $3400 [​IMG]
  6. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    This might sound bizarre, but my FIL used to flush a packet of yeast (for baking) down the toilet every week or so. Seems to "eat" the gunk before it gets too thick. He never had a problem.
  7. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    My husband did ours last year we are in consructions so we were able to get the materials for free. Plus we own a skid loader so digging it up was easy. When he opened it up we found out that the pipes had collasped coming out of the house and filled with sand. It took him a day to dig it all out and make a larger drain field and so far we have had no problems. It was going to cost us $3000 if we had to pay someone else to do it. Maybe you can have a couple friends to help you out so you would only had to deal with the cost of materials.
  8. Kaneke

    Kaneke Songster

    also check to see if any of the pipes have been obstructed by tree roots -- willow can be one of the culprits but it isn't the only one ! the "snake" idea is excellent ... of course depending on what sort of system you have

    best of luck !


    (who has had excellent results flushing a little "Rid-X" down the commode once a year, just to make sure the peroper bacteria get a "boost" -- we use the same stuff in our RV holding tank, since it's essentially the same stuff as sold for RV in smaller packages for higher prices)
  9. quadcam79

    quadcam79 Songster

    Oct 28, 2007
    Fernandina Beach Fl.
    welllllllllllllll, we bought our place back in december. everything looked fine but FHA requires the well and septic inspection. It's a good thing they did because we had the same problem, the drainfield was on it's way to collapsing. The owners paid for the replacement to the tune of $6000 and that was for a 2 bath, singlewide 1100 sq ft.

    sorry...hope it's something simple
  10. Chickadee28

    Chickadee28 Songster

    Sep 20, 2007
    Western IL
    Our drain fields failed as well and we were out $12,000. We had to do a curtain drain around the whole yard and new fields. Most of the time fields don't cost as much as we paid, but we had limited room so we had to dig out old fields and put in gravel and bring in loads of dirt. I would have the county or a septic company that is trustworthy come out and give you an honest opinion on the state of the system. Good Luck!

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