Septic System Repairs

How can I tell when my septic system needs repair?

There are a few signs that occur when your septic system is need of repair.

There is a wet spot in the yard.  

The wet spot will occur when a septic field is full and can no longer accept any more water from the house. There are usually several septic lines to every septic field. In most cases, the first one fills to capacity and is in “failure” before it will then flow to the second line. Usually the failure is a result of a bio-mat that forms between the septic field and the dirt which will not allow any water to drain into the soil. As each line goes into “failure”, it flows to the next line until it finally reaches the last line. Once the last line has failed, there is no other place for the water to go. So, it bubbles to the top of the ground leaving a black wet spot in your yard. Since water seeks it’s own level, the water will bubble at the lowest elevation of the septic field. Rarely does a wet  spot in the yard mean that there is a broken pipe.

The solution.

There are really only 2 solutions that will fix a failing septic field.

  • “Terra-lifting” or otherwise known as “Soil Shaking” is a process that can rejuvenate the Septic System by blowing apart the bio-mat that is the cause of the failure and by fracturing the soil to allow the water to soak into the ground once again. See our video to see the process. The average cost can range from $3000 to $4000 for this process.
  • The other solution is a new septic system. If the old field is too full of sludge, the “Soil Shaking” process will not work and a new field will be required. The average cost can range anywhere from $6,000 to $18,000 depending on your specific situation.

There are many gimmicks that do not work to fix a failing system. Jetting the lines is commonly used to fix a failing septic. Jetting the lines only cleans the inside of the pipe and does not clean the sludge that has filled the stone. And more importantly, it does not remove the bio-mat that is the cause of the failure. Adding enzymes is another gimmick. There is no enzyme available that can restore a failing septic system. If used as part of the “Soil Shaking” process, they can help eat away the remaining bio-mat that is still in place. But, they cannot fix a septic on their own.

There is a wet spot above the tank. 

A wet spot above the tank can be a result of a couple things. First and usually it is a clog in the pipe between the tank and the first box. This clog is almost always a failure in the cast iron pipe. When a tank hole is dug, it is always bigger than the tank itself resulting in an “over-dig” between the wall of the tank and the dirt. Years ago, they used a strong pipe made of “cast iron” to bridge this over-dig so that it wouldn’t collapse during the settling of the over-dig. Cast Iron is the only pipe that corrodes so bad that it completely clogs as the pipe starts to break down due to age. Kind of like a clogged artery.

The solution.

The solution is to replace that pipe. Rodding or jetting the pipe is only a temporary repair and can actually damage the pipe further by thinning the sidewalls out to the point where it will completely collapse in the near future. You will then need to replace it anyway and you will end up spending money twice to fix the same problem.

Secondly, depending on the individual septic design, it can be a failure of the septic field and the lowest point or easiest exit point is at the tank. This is usually not the case. This would require a new field or rejuvenation. 

I have a smell in my house.  

This is almost never a problem with the septic system. The septic tank always smells. And there are devices in your plumbing to stop the smell from coming back into your house. Every sink, toilet, shower, floor drain and laundry has a “P-Trap” This is a gooseneck piece of pipe that is always full of water. The water stops the odor from coming back into the house. When you are getting an odor, (usually in winter when the air is drier) it is a result of one of the traps drying out and allowing the air to escape along with the odor.

The solution.

Simply dump a gallon or so of water down the drain of the fixture that is not used very often. This will block the gases from coming into the house. The usual culprits are floor drains and showers that aren’t used very often. Another trick is to also add about a Tablespoon of vegetable oil down that drain after filling it with water. The oil will float to the top and create a barrier to stop the water from evaporating.

Everything is backing up in my house. 

This is usually the result of a clog in the septic tank. Today’s toilet paper is much thicker and stronger than the days of old. It takes much longer for it to dissolve and break down in the septic tank. If the paper cannot break down fast enough, then it will build up in the tank eventually clogging the inlet of the tank causing it to back up in the house.

The solution.

Simply get your tank pumped out. A plumber might be needed if the clog has occurred in the pipe inside the house, but usually it is right at the beginning of the tank and can be easily removed by opening the inlet of the septic tank and pumping it out.
These are the most common problems found with septic systems. As always, there can be other problems that occur. You can call our technician who will guide you through the steps to solving your individual septic problems.