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Septic system field lines

My septic system started backing up into the showers this spring. This has been an exceptionally wet spring in this area, but so was last spring and we didn't have the problem then.

I would like to know if what I did is going to work or am I going to need a new field anyway?

History: The system was installed in 1974. Fiberglass tank. We bought the house in 1986. My wife had the septic tank pumped at that time. I was on a trip at the time so I don't have details. I got some advice from locals at the time that pumping the septic tank wasn't necessary, it would take care of itself.

I wanted a wind break on the north side of the house so I planted two lines of Southern Yellow (Loblolly) Pines. They run next to the drain field.

Sometime around 2000, I got a flyer in my mailbox, new business offering half price septic tank pumping, what the heck, I called the guy and he came out. He pumped the tank, but it was almost all water, hardly any solids at all. That kinda confirmed the advice I got from others around here.

Fast forward to last month. I call an established septic tank company and they come out and pump the tank. This time, hardly any liquid, all solids. It took quite a while to empty the tank because he had to keep adding back the liquids to get the solids to move.

Three days later, the tank is backing up again so I call him back. he told me that he had an auger (he called it an ell or eel) that might clear the field lines, so I had him come out again. He only got about 30' before the auger would go no further. He was convinced that he had hit large roots from the nearby pine trees (about 6' away). At this point, I asked for a recommendation for someone to install a new field.

Well, that was the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend. I wasn't going to get anyone until the next week at the earliest and I didn't have any plans other than watching the race. I dug up the area where the auger stopped. I found a Tee at this point, but the whole section, the tee and the pipes on all three sides had collapsed and were full of gravel, but no roots.

There were a lot of large roots above the field lines, but as I got into the gravel bed, there were only fibrous roots, and not in the lines. I removed the tee and cleaned out the gravel from the lines on all sides.

I dug out all around until I got to good pipe. I called the guy again and he came out and this time he managed to run his auger about 60' in each direction. Again he blamed roots, but we never saw any evidence of roots in the sections he cleaned out, but there was a lot of heavy sludge. He sucked out the sludge form the lines with his pump truck.

I replaced the crushed sections of the field lines and put in a new tee and backfilled the gravel bed. The septic tank has not filled completely from the second draining so I don't know if all this work will be in vain, or is there a good change that I may be good for a few more years. I will be getting the tank pumped every 4 years from now on, his recommendation.

Re: Septic system field lines

You may be OK, give it a try. It sounds like you waited to long to pump the tank and the solids and slug got into the fields. I would pump it again in three years. If it looks OK then go to four years.


Re: Septic system field lines

Thanks, if I don't have any backups, I think I will do it in three years just to make sure all is OK. I asked the guy about using a root killer in the septic system. He told me that they work, but they take a long time and I should probably use it once a year, so I am going to do that too.

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