Leach field not draining

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mellow

Resident Stove Connoisseur
Hearth Supporter
Jan 19, 2008
5,881
Salisbury, MD
I had my septic pumped last week and when they opened up the dbox it was completely full of water, both leach lines fully saturated. I had them suck everything out to buy me some time.

This past weekend while the tanks are still filling up (dbox empty) I took an old 100ft garden hose and put one of those green plastic end caps on the end of it and drilled 3 holes in it so the water would have some pressure behind it.

I then took that hose and via my dbox I snaked it all the way to the end of my leach line. I hooked up my 12v water pump (not used for drinking water) and put a hose into a 5 gallon bucket that consisted of water and a bottle of Roebic k570 leach line opener, I then pumped that concentrate into each of the leech lines while slowly pulling the hose out.

I finished up each leg with pumping water through the hose so the Roebic was flushed out of the hose into the leach line. I ended up using a bottle of Roebic per leach line.

Will see if it helps or not once the tanks fill up and it starts outputting to the dbox/leach field and I will update the thread.

After all said and done I ended up pumping bleach though the hose and then putting the hose in a trash can filled with bleach water mixture to kill everything. It will be put aside for next time if needed.

This was one of those times I wish I had a gopro with a chest or head mount. No pics obviously.
 
How old is the leach field? They don't last forever, hence a code requirement to allow space for another field next to it. Usually it's oil, grease, fatty solids clogging it.
 
you had better start planning to replace the field. anything you do is just going to be a bandaid. You could get away with just a new field but you may have to upgrade the system to current standards, then it gets pricey..
 
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1976, so it has some age to it. We can no longer do gravity around here, have to go to a stupid mound system so I will fight to keep this thing going to the bitter end.

Just wanted to share with others hopefully something that will help extend the life of their existing leach field. Not trying to get into a debate on if it needs a new one or not.
 
Fair enough and understandable. Mound adds a LOT of extra cost.

Please report back on the effectiveness of the treatment! I just built a home with septic and would be curious to know for future reference. I was fortunate to be able to do gravity with nice sugar sand drainage area, thankfully.
 
A jetter on a pressure washer is used to clean the holes in pipes if they are clogged. I had one draining extremely slow into absorption area and was told to dig a hole at pipe ends for the water to go while jetting. I dug down to the pipe and used a wet vac to remove water while I jetted it. Has worked so far.
 
I have heard from several installers and designers that the standard leach field design built with PVC pipes with holes in them usually fail when the interface between the soil and the holes in the pipe get plugged with a mix of grease, fine solids and synthetic fibers. There is a biological mat that forms in that location that does the actual chemistry to convert biological oxygen demand (BOD) to cleaner water. No matter how flat they were installed, there will be low spots that form and they will do the bulk of the actual draining. As the plug up the fluid level will rise and fine less used locations. When the system stops having adequate drainage the majority of these holes are plugged. The Presby Enviroseptic design uses what looks like slotted corrugated pipes wrapped with a synthetic open cell fabric and then wrapped with geotextile. They are much harder to plug but even they plug if the owner does not treat them right. The slots around the pipe accommodate pluggage in one location and the open cell mat created a large surface area for biology to form. The systems can be smaller than a conventional system in many states and there is pretty solid testing that they are more efficient. They also can be closer to the seasonal high water table in many states so if its mound system it can be less costly due to less fill.

I have heard of long since banned process where folks poured a very concentrated caustic solution down the laterals from the distribution box. The concept was to "burn" out the grease in the drainage holes. The problem was it required a lot of caustic that got in the ground water and it kills off the natural bacteria that would colonize the drainage field.
 
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The stuff that was coating the crushed stone my PVC drained on was like black tar around the pipes. Don’t know how far it extended into field or ground. I dug by hand. After jetting the holes clear, I added a gallon of the green septic chemical they sell at Home Depot that is for adding to tanks to grow the good bacteria. I put a gallon down each 3 inch lateral flushing with water to fill the pipe to coat the stone. A week later I added a gallon to the septic tank. I always try to educate tenants not to use much bleach in the systems, and I add a block of instant dry yeast monthly. That conditions the effluent for good bacteria growth.
 
Jetting will be my next step if I still have issues with draining after this and then on to the fracking machine. I really need to put a camera down the lines to check them out I worry about putting a high pressure jet down my old lines if it wouldn't cause more issues than it fixes.

Roebic's products have worked well for me in the past so I am hoping this one for leach lines will help clear out some of that scum in the lines naturally.
 
The vast majority of experts out there do not recommend biological additives to be added to septic systems except in rare exceptions where the field has been killed off. Every septic tank and leach field has its own biome, that forms naturally to deal with the conditions that are specific to the location and use. Adding some other biology not native to the system can suppress the natural biome, it may look like it works initially but what happens on occasion is when the system gets stressed the imported biome dies off and there is no native biome to take over. At best the experts are agnostic to additives, they figure they cant hurt and maybe will get the owner to pay attention to operation of the system. Most septic systems do not fail, they are "murdered" by folks who are not accustomed to living with septic system compared to city sewer. Once they have to write the check for $20 or $30K to get new one installed they usually get "religion".
 
A properly installed, maintained, and operating septic tank should be trapping oil, grease, and fat in the septic tank. Only the liquid portion with some solids that neither float nor sink should be entering the field.
I can't think of any scenarios where the addition of biological additives is necessary. The first time someone flushes a toilet with solids in it plenty of microbes will enter the system.
My bet is on synthetic (non-biodegradable) fibers clogging the drainpipe holes. I've installed a septic tank filter on our 30-year-old system to prevent that same issue. After a few tests, I was amazed at how much synthetic junk our clothes washer was sending to our septic. The synthetic fibers are very close in density to water and don't float or sink. Thus the need for the filter.
The Roebic's product is a microbial (bacterial) agent that won't do anything to remove the synthetics. MDS here. I don't see where Dr. Poopers contains anything that will dissolve synthetics. MDS here.
My suggestion is to jet out the drain lines and install a filter between the septic tank and distribution box.
 
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My plan is to move the clothes washer off the septic and put in a tank just for it and maybe the water softener that has now been put in bypass mode till this gets figured out. I have also looked at the filters you can put on the washer to trap the fibers at the exit as a temporary fix.

Does your tank have the concrete baffles? I have not searched yet how to add a filter onto that type of system.
 
My plan is to move the clothes washer off the septic and put in a tank just for it and maybe the water softener that has now been put in bypass mode till this gets figured out. I have also looked at the filters you can put on the washer to trap the fibers at the exit as a temporary fix.

Does your tank have the concrete baffles? I have not searched yet how to add a filter onto that type of system.
My filter installation here: https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/septic-tank-outlet-filter-installation.175595/#post-2362698
Mine is a single-compartment tank with a tee on the outlet (now part of the filter assembly) that prevents floating debris from going to the leach field - a pretty standard installation, at least 30 years ago.
 
I had my drain lines jetted, a ton of crap came out of them along with tons of hair, it was backing up so stuff was flowing over my baffle into the drain field.

I will for sure be working towards installing an effulant filter so this doesn't happen again.

Field is draining good at the moment, hopefully it stays that way for a long time.
 
I'm glad you had a successful outcome. In addition to the effluent fliter, consider not washing anything that puts plastic fibers, like fleece clothing, into the drain field or add another filter at the washer output. Plastic fibers do not degrade or go away in our lifetime.
 
I had my drain lines jetted, a ton of crap came out of them along with tons of hair, it was backing up so stuff was flowing over my baffle into the drain field.

I will for sure be working towards installing an effulant filter so this doesn't happen again.

Field is draining good at the moment, hopefully it stays that way for a long time.
Who did u use? I’m in the same area and am curious Just in case
 
The vast majority of experts out there do not recommend biological additives to be added to septic systems except in rare exceptions where the field has been killed off.
Don't waste the time and money on putting yeast in the septic tank ?
 
I have been using the Dr pooper and green pig products in mine since I had it pumped. I have even been putting the tablets in my dbox as well just so it gets out to the leach field.

Not sure if it is because the system has been open more than usual with me checking on it and it being worked on but I have noticed worms (sewer flies?) this time around eating up stuff, from a little bit of googling this is a taboo subject with some saying kill them and others saying to let them live so they eat up solids. I am going to let them live as I don't see the harm so far, especially if they get out into the leach field and clean that up as well. If they get into the house that is a different story but will keep an eye on the drains.
 
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I've had my buddy, 40+ years pumping septic systems, recommend an industrial strength hydrogen peroxide put into the leach field that was supposed to help it drain. Ive never had to do it so you could try it at your own risk if this happens again.