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Septic Tank - Pumping up to drain field - Check valve?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by tw40x81, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. tw40x81

    tw40x81 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Messages:
    79
    Loc:
    Northwest NJ
    I just had my septic tanks pumped. The system is 5 years old and this is the first time it's been pumped. I suspected a problem because the pump seems to run very often, and when it's not running there's the sound of running water. I asked the guy who did the pumping to pump and diagnose the problem.

    He pumped both tanks and diagnosed the problem as a bad pump and possible broken pipe. He gave me the number of his excavator friend for follow up.

    Indeed after he got to the bottom of the tank #2 water was back-flowing from the bottom of the pump. At that point he made his diagnosis. He also said the pump looked rusty and needed to be replaced. He didn't look for the leak. I smelled something fishy, and it wasn't the tanks.

    I paid him and he left. Then I dropped my iphone down into the tank taped to the end of a broom to have a look at the noisy leak. There's a small stream of water emitting from a fitting on the discharge pipe. It's near the exit of the tank so I might be leaking in from the ground, or the fitting may be leaking. Can't tell. The leak is pretty insignificant but it probably would be nice to get fixed.

    Now the water coming in from the pump seems to indicate a bad check valve. I don't think the pump has an integral check valve. There's no check valve on the line in the tank. Would the check valve be buried?

    Then I got to thinking. Perhaps there is no check valve? The exit line comes up to the top of the extension on the tank. And that is about where the top of the media in the drain field is. But the water table is a little high now so that may be causing some back-flow.

    What do you folks think?

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  2. Later

    Later New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
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    456
    Sounds like a high water table to me. Are you anywhere near the flooding? If it is the water table, your pump will continue to run until the ground dries out a bit.
  3. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
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    Loc:
    Adams County, PA
    I know this sounds like a dumb question but, assuming you have an onsite well, how deep is it?
  4. tw40x81

    tw40x81 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Northwest NJ
    Well is 175 ft deep with a 25ft static water level. Pump is at 125 ft - if I remember correctly. But it was drilled during a drought to replace a 25 ft hand dug well. So static water level is probably higher now.
  5. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    ont canada
    its not for everybody! but i would just throw on some old clothes and maybe some gloves, climb in there myself and fix that leak.


    its only gonna get worse and it sounds like its just springtime melt?

    i have been working in a sewage plant for the last 100 years and kinda delete some of the things i 'do do' outta my mind %-P :cheese:

    loon
  6. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Least with your own tank you know whatever is in that tank is from you and not the whole town.


    I really don't understand why you have 2 tanks and a pump on your septic? My setup has a 1000 gal tank and a drainfield.
  7. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,825
    Did you have him check your distribution box just to make sure it wasn't plugged?


    Zap
  8. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,825
    One year we had the pipe leaving the baffle exiting the septic tank to the distribution box shift back against the baffle. So not much water was leaving the septic tank to the distribution box then to the leech field. I cut it off some so the water was leaving the septic and it has been fine since.


    We have ours pumped every three years.




    Zap
  9. Later

    Later New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
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    I wouldn't do it without a breathing apparatus, methane in there will suffocate you.
  10. Later

    Later New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
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    Depending on the topography of the property the main septic tank may feed a "dosing" tank that pumps the effluent to the leach field.
  11. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

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    ont canada
    your right Guy :) but with the tank just sucked out and only being around 4ft deep and you do know your family wont be flushing anything at you, gas/oil/crap/chemicals/ plus stuff i wont say on the board that we do come across at work, you should be fine ;-)

    loon
  12. olddawgsrule

    olddawgsrule Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Southern NH
    If I'm reading this right and the water is coming back through the pump, then it doesn't sound like a leak.
    It sounds to me, like mentioned above, a high water table.

    I live on a hillside and get an immense amount of water coming into the yard during the rain/ snow melt period.
    I spent a summer with a shovel and pick axe creating a ditch to move the water off the side of the property.
    Thankfully, I have no neighbor there, just open land.
    Amazing to see the amount of water I'm moving (my little stream).

    Don't know if you can do the same, but resolved numerous problems for me.

    I have to believe (and really hope) this is a seasonal problem.
    Hard to believe the town would have allowed the field to be installed below the natural water table.

    I wouldn't believe there would be a check valve on the pump.
    I don't see the need in normal operation.

    In your case, I can see one, but another problem is created.
    Now the field will be saturated and you will probably see some wet areas at the field and that ain't Texas Tea!

    Sounds like a challenging predicament, but not one that can't be cured.
    How fast is the tank filling up?
    Can you get through the rain/snow melt season with another pumping?
    Is your property such as mine and can re-direct the ground water away from your yard?

    Best of luck with this one and hope something here helps.
  13. backpack09

    backpack09 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Rochester, Mass
    There is a bleed down hole in the pump out pipe above the pump. This keeps water in the pipe from freezing. This should occur for a very short time everytime the pump has run. If this runs for a considerable amount of time, then it sounds like there is either a problem with your leach lines not leaching the water out at a sufficent rate.

    There should be no check valves. Check valves on 2" pipe are very prone to failure and getting mucked up by poo.
  14. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Northern NH
    One other thing to check that I have encountered is the use of white PVC sewer fittings on the output of the pump. White PVC is not rated for pressure use and can fail due to vibration or casting defects. Usually, they transition to black polyethylene pipe for the run to the distribution box, but some plumbers take a short cut and use white PVC sewer fittings in the pit as they are cheap. The PVC usually lasts for awhile before they fail and the plumber is long gone by then.

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