replace old septic dry well


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Old 01-10-17, 08:44 AM
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replace old septic dry well

We have a relatively new septic tank connected by new pipe to a very old dry well. There's no D-box. No clue when the well was built but it's old. Last year we kept getting sewerage smells and had the new connecting pipe to replace the decrepit old pipe running from the tank to the well; a video scope showed the 30ft pipe was VERY old and crumbled and we thought that caused the smells. Turns out the odor comes from the old dry well. Since winds blow it away from the house and we live in a rural area seemed okay but now we're thinking of replacing or extending the dry well. A drain field would be tough to build here on rock plus we can't afford it. Make sense to excavate the old stone well and build a new one? Thanks very much.
 
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Old 01-10-17, 12:24 PM
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When either the Septic Tank was replaced, or when the 30' connecting line to the Dry Well was replaced . . . . was your Dry Well pumped ?

As you describe your terrain being somewhat rocky, and impenetrable, I'm suspecting that the Dry Well is now full and not draining . . . . in other words, it is no longer "dry". Can you inspect the inside of it and see if it has become sealed, or the drainage bed under it has become saturated and no longer porous enough to absorb any more effluent ?

If current New York Waste Water Rules and Regulations are as restrictive as Vermont's, then I suspect that before doing anything, you'll want to review your options with the New York Health Department or Environmental Regulation to see if you can rebuild or repair your existing Dry Well, or if it would be permitted to relocate it to a dryer less saturated area . . . . or if you'd be required to have a more modern and elaborate Waste Water Disposal System designed and installed.
 
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Old 01-16-17, 08:40 AM
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Hello. Sorry for the delay getting back to this. The dry well definitely was not pumped and I'm beginning to know the company that replaced the 30ft pipe ill-advised me by not saying it should be. I've also learned in the past two days that I'm in a pickle. You're situation with the authorities in Vermont is similar to here...doubt rebuilding or replacing the well would work for code reasons alone. This was built LONG before regulations and is less than 100ft to a "seasonal stream" that's usually has no water in it and on the other side is less than 100ft from our well. So the alternative, an above ground drain field would need to be run a VERY long distance from the septic, at least 500ft making it truly unaffordable. So we're stuck with the odor, it seems. Maybe a GIANT airwick outdoor deodorizer but that's not a invented yet.
 
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Old 01-16-17, 12:42 PM
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I gather that "if" your drywell is grandfathered in, you'll be able to keep it as long as it's functioning, and that it doesn't get declared to be a "failed system"..

Can you have it pumped WITHOUT the pumping company being required to report their findings to the New York Septic System Authorities ?

If you pump it, you'd have a short period of time to inspect the bottom and perimeter to see if there was some way to accelerate the speed of its release of the effluent . . . . provided the underlying ground is not saturated and can absorb the waste water. You did not indicate that there was any puddling of effluent at low spots in the back yard . . . . so that's a good sign.

If it were to be pumped, I'd wonder if it would fill right back up just from ground water ?

As a Real Estate Broker, I've sold many homes equipped with Cesspools and some with Drywells where there was no Leach Field, and some that had a Drywell dedicated to handling graywater only, which supposedly didn't need to be processed through a Septic Tank . . . . and most of the problems with these mechanisms have come almost immediately after the new Owners have taken possession and done a tremendous amount of cleaning to make the property their own.

I try to warn them; but the usual problem is that the new Owners will send down an excessive amount of bleach and ammonia, and draino, and other harsh chemical cleaning products which temporarily kill off the beneficial bacteria that exists in the Septic Tank and is also present in the Cesspools and Drywells. Those bacteria prevent the suspended oils and grease in the effluent from waxing up and sealing the perimeter of the pit . . . and then the system backs up and often results in the whole system being declared a "failed system" and you can imagine what that means.

If your drywell is functioning properly and is "draining", it ought not be producing odors that draw your attention, and its interior should be "almost dry". And if the surrounding area is already saturated and the water table is close to perching the surface, then the drywell will fill right back up when pumped. But if it doesn't, you may be able to physically puncture that waxy buildup at the bottom and around the perimeter, and buy yourself some time, and avoid the smells that are annoying your family presently.

Some people here frown on it; but attempting to replenish the bacteria in the drywell with a product like Rid-X may also help . . . . especially if you can avoid sending any more harsh chemicals down that might just destroy it along with any of the good that it might do.

Good Luck !
 

Last edited by Vermont; 01-16-17 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 01-16-17, 01:55 PM
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Oh, this is grandfathered all right, if not great-grandfathered. About pumping it out, I'm sure there are guys who would do it without the report but that's tricky for obvious reasons, asking first? Anyway, this thing is old as mentioned. You can't actual see the "cover" whatever it's made of, because it's covered by shale stones, layered over the thing, probably 5ftx5ft. I'd have to unearth it to get to the cover which I won't mind doing. I had a guy here the other day who's an excavator, know's his cookies and is extremely honest. He said the likelihood is that if he replaced the dry well under the radar, he could not predict if it would no longer smell and that makes sense. The thing is he also knows I can't afford the drain field so he's trying to work out some solution they I thought might work and which I'd not hold him to obviously. We're going to speak again about it so we'll see what's what. Meanwhile, I plan to rake away some leaves at the base of the rocks covering the well to see if I can spot liquid when it smells. Even in this cold, it does produce the odor some of the time after showers and washing clothes. We might be stuck with the problem, which early on in our ten year ownership was not noticeable. Last, I frankly don't blame the township for being tough about this stuff, just wish there was a reasonable solution. Thanks again.
 
 

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