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Old 06-09-2010, 02:15 PM
 
Location: southwest TN
8,260 posts, read 15,228,803 times
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I so desperately need to understand more about septics mostly but wells also as I've been a mostly city girl for my 60 years. So I'm going to jump in here and tell a short story and ask for clarification as to where my thinking is off.

First, I owned a home in a rural area about 30 years ago - we were there less than 5 years and the home was about 8 years old when we bought. I had been told that the septic systems for the 6 similar houses were all done by the same company and none had ever been pumped, including ours, and there really should not ever be a need. And that use of any septic additive was unnecessary. So I didn't change a thing. I use bleach - a lot and strong concentrations. I bleach all towels, sheets, underwear and I use bleach in the kitchen even in dishwater. 3 years after we moved in, everything backed up - the basement toilet overflowed when water upstairs was turned on. What a MESS. So I got some names of a septic company and called. Supposedly this man was THE person to call. He instructed me to dig down to the top of the tank in order to save him time because he could not make it for 24 hours. So I started digging EXACTLY where he said - x number of feet from the house where the circle of grass was best. It stunk! It was stony. He arrived, said STOP, that's the field. It was less than 8' from the house. The tank was located by him in 3 minutes at 6 feet from the house. He started using a torch to remove the cover in order to pump out the tank and was going to put a collar and cover on it when done. So I went back in the house - I had 2 children, one an infant and I hear screaming and hollaring in the back yard - they were throwing all the dirt they had dug up back onto the tank. It seems there was a fire and imminent explosion. He said that in his 50 years, he'd never seen a tank in such bad shape. OBVIOUSLY, something my family did caused that as no one else in the neighborhood (even with more children) had their tanks pumped - not even by the time we moved out.

Explain this please.
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:01 PM
 
4,925 posts, read 9,903,847 times
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No idea.

One possibility is that there was a problem with the field. Perhaps there was some problem with it that didn't allow the tank to drain properly.

A system that has been installed at the same time the same way by the same people as a neighboring system can fail due to differences in use and field. The property makes a difference in how well a septic system works. How low the land is (does water collect naturally, does it not drain well), the type of soil, shoot even trees and their roots can mess a system up.

We are having quite a few examples in my area of how low land can have problems. 2-4 years ago we were having a drought in our area. A lot of homes were built on property which was low and historically would not and could not perk, but did pass the perk tests during the drought. Now that we are having more normal wetter weather, some of the places are having septic issues.

So, all the above is a long way of saying I dunno...but I said that up front!
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Old 06-09-2010, 09:04 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,685,341 times
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Perhaps the previous owners followed the advice of posters who proclaim septic tanks never have to be pumped.

In my area, I never heard anyone ( installers or county agents) who state septic tanks never need pumping.

Perhaps solids overflowed into the drain lines due to failure/neglect to ever pump the solids out.
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Old 06-10-2010, 09:08 AM
 
4,259 posts, read 9,884,455 times
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The purpose of the septic tank is to keep solids out of the drainfield where the real treatment of domestic wastewater occurs. Pumping is typically a $200 item while a drainfield can be $20,000 or more. Anyone who states a septic tank never needs pumping is a fool.

Some places mandate septic pumping intervals - in PA for instance, the DEP pushes municipalities to enact mandatory pumping ordinances every 3 years though many don't have these yet and some others have had ordinances with longer intervals that have been accepted by the DEP.

In the absence of a legal mandate, the size of the tank and the use it is put to are the main variables in septic tank pumping rates. Here is possibly the best explanation I've seen of how this works: http://www.orenco.com/documents/syst...0Intervals.pdf

Septic tank additives are uniformly considered a bad idea by experts. Here is a summary by the US EPA: EPA 625/R-00/008 Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Special Issues Fact Sheet 1 (http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/625r00008/html/html/fs1.htm - broken link)

Your local extension office will be a good first step in finding non-BS answers to septic questions in your locality. Here's an example of information from NY State: Cornell Cooperative Extension: Water Quality: Septic Systems and Wastewater
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Old 06-10-2010, 09:13 AM
 
4,259 posts, read 9,884,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skinem View Post
We are having quite a few examples in my area of how low land can have problems. 2-4 years ago we were having a drought in our area. A lot of homes were built on property which was low and historically would not and could not perk, but did pass the perk tests during the drought. Now that we are having more normal wetter weather, some of the places are having septic issues.
In PA which is a relatively strict state, this is a big reason why the state mandates the local SEO (Sewage Enforcement Officer) conduct soil probe tests as a prelude to the perc test. In PA there is no perc test if the soil probes are adverse. Looking at the probe shows soil mottling and other features that can show a normal seasonal high water table even in a dry year.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:24 PM
 
Location: NE CT
1,496 posts, read 2,965,146 times
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I have lived in CT with septic and drilled wells for over 25 years now. They have to be located at least 75 ft from one another. You have to have a perc test for the septic. This simply means how fast the water drains in your soils where you want to locate the septic. The local health department will dictate the terms and your property will have to meet their requirements. You want good drainage since a properly operating septic system relies upon well drained soils. Here is how the septic system works:

You buy the concrete tanks from a local manufacturer. They come in 1000 - 1250 to 1500 gallons and up. A 1000 gal tank is fine for a three bedroom two bath home. A 1250 gal tank is better for a 4 bedroom 3 & 1/2 bath homes. $1500 gallons and up for anything larger.

The septic tanks fills up with both grey water from dishes, baths, showers, etc, and black water from toilets. The solids sink to the bottom of the tank and the water fills the tank and then flows through filters down into leachfields for drainage.

The leach filed will consist of two or three trenches about 75 ft long. The trench is laid with black fiber paper, fillled with some crushe stone where perforated pipes are laid on top of the stone. The pipes are covered with more crushed stones and the soils is laid back over all of this. The grey water flows down through these pipes and drains into the soil below, which is why you had the perc test.

Spetic tanks must be pumped at certain intervals according to their size and frequency of use.

1000 gallon septic tanks should be pumped once every two or three years to remove the solids and non decomposed tissue. The 1250 gal tanks once every three years and the 1500 gallon tanks once every four or five years according to their usage and how many in the family. It is wise to ask your local septiuc tank cleaner to advise you on this.

Drilled wells should located at least 75 feet from your septic and should produce at least 5- 7 gallons of water per minute. Have the water tested after the well is producing so you know if you have to filter it for any minerals or fine grain sand. An average drilled well depends upon where you live, but if you have to drill more than 300 feet for water, you may be in trouble. It's a crap shoot. I have seen some well at 5 gal p.m. at 100 ft and down the road another at 5 gals pm at 300 ft. I have seen hand dug wells six feet deep produce enough water for a family of four. It depends upon where you are digging or drilling.

The well driller will quote you on a maximum depth and anything after that he will charge extra per foot. You want lady luck on your side when drilling well. I drilled 170' and go 14 gal p m but a woman up the road drilled 350 ft to get 7 gal p m. Go figure.

In the long run, drilled wells and septic systems are better since you don't have municipal bullies who control your water quality, flow, etc and you don't have any fees or taxes for water and sewer.

Good luck.

Last edited by brien51; 07-01-2010 at 01:49 PM..
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:51 PM
 
Location: NE CT
1,496 posts, read 2,965,146 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
In PA which is a relatively strict state, this is a big reason why the state mandates the local SEO (Sewage Enforcement Officer) conduct soil probe tests as a prelude to the perc test. In PA there is no perc test if the soil probes are adverse. Looking at the probe shows soil mottling and other features that can show a normal seasonal high water table even in a dry year.
Yes we have to have soil scientists test the soils for the same. One has to determine whether wetlands are involved, and where they are, and in CT, stay at least 50 -75 feet away from them.
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Old 07-01-2010, 05:50 PM
 
24,841 posts, read 32,887,308 times
Reputation: 11471
Quote:
Originally Posted by brien51 View Post
I have lived in CT with septic and drilled wells for over 25 years now. They have to be located at least 75 ft from one another. You have to have a perc test for the septic. This simply means how fast the water drains in your soils where you want to locate the septic. The local health department will dictate the terms and your property will have to meet their requirements. You want good drainage since a properly operating septic system relies upon well drained soils. Here is how the septic system works:

You buy the concrete tanks from a local manufacturer. They come in 1000 - 1250 to 1500 gallons and up. A 1000 gal tank is fine for a three bedroom two bath home. A 1250 gal tank is better for a 4 bedroom 3 & 1/2 bath homes. $1500 gallons and up for anything larger.

The septic tanks fills up with both grey water from dishes, baths, showers, etc, and black water from toilets. The solids sink to the bottom of the tank and the water fills the tank and then flows through filters down into leachfields for drainage.

The leach filed will consist of two or three trenches about 75 ft long. The trench is laid with black fiber paper, fillled with some crushe stone where perforated pipes are laid on top of the stone. The pipes are covered with more crushed stones and the soils is laid back over all of this. The grey water flows down through these pipes and drains into the soil below, which is why you had the perc test.

Spetic tanks must be pumped at certain intervals according to their size and frequency of use.

1000 gallon septic tanks should be pumped once every two or three years to remove the solids and non decomposed tissue. The 1250 gal tanks once every three years and the 1500 gallon tanks once every four or five years according to their usage and how many in the family. It is wise to ask your local septiuc tank cleaner to advise you on this.

Drilled wells should located at least 75 feet from your septic and should produce at least 5- 7 gallons of water per minute. Have the water tested after the well is producing so you know if you have to filter it for any minerals or fine grain sand. An average drilled well depends upon where you live, but if you have to drill more than 300 feet for water, you may be in trouble. It's a crap shoot. I have seen some well at 5 gal p.m. at 100 ft and down the road another at 5 gals pm at 300 ft. I have seen hand dug wells six feet deep produce enough water for a family of four. It depends upon where you are digging or drilling.

The well driller will quote you on a maximum depth and anything after that he will charge extra per foot. You want lady luck on your side when drilling well. I drilled 170' and go 14 gal p m but a woman up the road drilled 350 ft to get 7 gal p m. Go figure.

In the long run, drilled wells and septic systems are better since you don't have municipal bullies who control your water quality, flow, etc and you don't have any fees or taxes for water and sewer.

Good luck.
In Michigan our isolation is 50 foot from the septic to the well. I would love to see you get 75 foot on some of these lake lots. Depth has noting to do with production.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:03 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,685,341 times
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The well on my dairy farm that gave out was 330 ft deep
The well on my neighbors farm was 600 ft and gave out.

Neither well was " witched"

Both my neighbor and I got a water witcher and now have wells at a depth of 60 ft that provides water for over 100 head of cattle on each farm

Another farmer had a well 400 ft that gave out.
A water witcher found a strong vein across the township road in his field.
He now has enough water for his family and 400 head of cattle.

Thank you, water witches.

You found us farmers adequate water where well drillers couldn't.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:04 PM
 
4,925 posts, read 9,903,847 times
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Driller1, I've never heard anyone say that depth has nothing to do with production. I'm not sure what you mean.

I can see that would be true as a blanket rule, in that you don't necessarily get more the deeper you go, but all my experience with wells (only a handful of my own, but lots of conversation with neighbors in the arid west where it mattered a lot about them) depth can make a big difference as brien51 was saying...
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