Sewage pump and septic tank question

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Old 08-10-17, 11:27 AM
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Sewage pump and septic tank question

Hi, all. Just joined up today and have a few questions. I've a got a septic tank and a basement bathroom with a sewage/ejector pump. House was built in 76' and is a recent purchase. It has 4 bedrooms (basement bedroom included) with three individuals residing. It is my first dealing with a septic tank so I'm learning fa$t. Yes, the dollar sign is intentional. LOL

The tank was pumped (including solids) a few months ago and some tree roots were removed from it too. Also, the digesting chemicals were added to the drain field. This was after smelling poop one times too many in the house. Even today, this still occurs, though with less frequency. Also, my drain field seems to always be saturated, with water just below the inspection cap. I do have heavy tree coverage, so less evap. It has also been raining quite a bit here in Atlanta, which brings me to my next question.

A few nights ago, it poured over 3 inches in as many hours. Woke up to the sewage pump cycling every few minutes. Now as I understand, it should only be pumping water from the basement bathroom and is a sealed unit (it does have a bolted cap). It typically goes off, just when the toilet is flushed. I just want to know why it would keep going off after a heavy rain? Does the sewage pump also act as a sump for the basement? Could the septic tank have been back-flowing back into the house? I didn't have any smells or anything at the time. Anyway, I pulled the cap off the inspection port in my yard and water flowed out for quite a while, so the DF was beyond saturated. I let the water flow into the yard and no more cycling from the sewage pump.

Thanks.... I know I wrote quite a bit, so thanks for reading.
 
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Old 08-10-17, 12:15 PM
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Does the sewage pump also act as a sump for the basement? Could the septic tank have been back-flowing back into the house?
The grinder is supposed to be a separate unit that only pumps out material from the toilet.

Is it possible that someone tied it into the drain filed, anything is possible.

However, if you opened up your field and water was coming out, hate to say but you have a serious issue at hand.

It's also possible that the water backed up into the house and with the grinder at the lowest point water could be backing up causing the pump to kick on.
 
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Old 08-10-17, 02:13 PM
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A 1976 leach field is vastly different than what is considered adequate today. You could check the original permit for the house and may find that the basement bedroom and bath was not in the original plan. So, you may have a undersized, old and tired drain field.

How large is your property?

You may want to call around to septic installation contractors and/or pumping companies to find someone knowledgeable with diagnosing and possibly repairing older systems. You don't want the average guy who drives the pump truck but get the owner or someone who really knows septic systems out to look at your system and problems.
 
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Old 08-10-17, 04:12 PM
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The leach field was redone in 2003. The properly is about a half acre. Only three people live here. The water usage is avg.

I just looked at the system again. It has just rained hard here again. I could hear water running at a fast trickle down the pipe going into the unit. The pump is cycling about every ten minutes or so. Thing is, none of the three toilets in the house had been recently flushed and definitely not the basement's. The only water being used might have been my wife at the kitchen sink upstairs and we just arrived home. There are a few oddities too. For one, the vent pipe is not vented to the outside. The pipe goes up about 8 ft and vents above the unit, in the space behind the shower wall. There is what seems to be an air diffuser/filter sitting atop the pipe. Also the sewage pump is fed from a drain pipe that is high up... higher than the top of the shower. I don't see how it could be fed by only the toilet. Don't know if that is normal. I will take pics and post here soon as I can.

Thanks for the help and bearing with me.
 
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Old 08-10-17, 05:38 PM
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If you want to you can (dig up and) open the lid to the septic tank. The normal water level is about 9 inches below the top.

The septic tank filled to the brim means that there is a problem with what is beyond.
1. The pipe exiting the septic tank for the drain field is clogged.
2. The drain field has failed due to long term normal or short term abnormal amounts of grease or fine particulate matter coming down from the septic tank.
3. (most likely) The drain field has temporarily failed due to heavy rainfall. Wait a few days after better weather arrives.

When the septic tank overflows it is possible for the drain to back up into the house including into the sewage pump.
 
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Old 08-10-17, 06:09 PM
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I'm not saying the tank is full, but the drain field is certainly saturated. The tank was opened a few months ago. It was my first time looking down into one. The inlet and outlet were down a bit from the top, so yeah it cant fill, I don't believe. I just pulled the inspection cap and water came out and actually shot up about six inches. Left the cap off for it to drain overnight. I'm hoping things will improve as the digesting chemicals take hold. Right now it's raining here every day. Gray water pools about 12 feet below the port. The yard is on a slight slope with the septic tank at the top. Prior to the rains, the level was a few inches from the top of the inspection port. I just fixed a leaking flapper on a toilet, so I think that didn't help either.

Is it normal for a drain field to become saturated after extreme rains?
 
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Old 08-11-17, 05:23 AM
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Digesting chemicals are not magic. If the ground where the leach field is installed is saturated then the system cannot accept new liquid. No magic sprinkles can fix that.

As you've done you certainly need to fix water wasting issues like leaking toilets. Every gallon of water that goes down the drain hits that field and makes the situation worse so limiting inflows will help.

I have difficult soil conditions at my house. I had to install a drain uphill of my leach field. I have a 3' deep trench uphill of my leach field. A perforated pipe was lain in the bottom and then the trench was filled within a foot of the surface with #57 clean, crushed stone. The bottom of the trench is sloped so water entering the trench and pipe can run out to one end. This intercepts water moving in the ground before it can reach my drain field so the field does not become saturated. Whenever e have prolonged rains I have a steady garden hose+ stream of water pouring out of the drain for days after the rain has stopped. It does work though and I've never had trouble with my leach field becoming saturated.
 
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Old 08-11-17, 08:16 AM
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Digesting chemicals are not magic. If the ground where the leach field is installed is saturated then the system cannot accept new liquid. No magic sprinkles can fix that.
Fully agree. My thought is that the chemicals will eventually restore it's effectiveness in shedding water, thereby raising the saturation point when it rains. The yard is heavily wooded, with minimal sunlight hitting the leach field. That said, we've had record setting rains almost every day this week and Georgia has clay soil. I'm probably not the only one having issues.

I've been in the house nearly 3 months and I've resolved 2 toilet tank leaks, replaced a leaky shower faucet, 1 leak at the outside tap and also re-caulked the main lock off in the crawl space. That drip alone had raised the humidity in the crawl space.

Still have a water hammer issue to resolve next.
 
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Old 08-11-17, 12:00 PM
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On most Septic Tanks that I've looked at, "FULL" is when the tank has effluent in it rising to the level of the Bottom of the Outlet.

This has nothing to do with what the contents are (sludgem effluent or scum . . . . just the normal operating level . . . . so that if a gallon is added at the Inlet, the tank is expected to send a corresponding gallon out the Outlet and on to the absorption area, leach field, drain field or whatever you have for a final destination.

Having the septic contents gush out of the tank when you pull the inspection cover off should not be considered normal. Normal operation allows for an 8" to 12" air space between the surface of the contents and the lid, as depicted in the following variation:

 
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Old 08-11-17, 03:25 PM
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Having the septic contents gush out of the tank when you pull the inspection cover off should not be considered normal
There is a misunderstanding here. I'm pulling off the inspection cap for the leach field, not the septic tank. The septic tank is buried under a few feet of dirt and the leach field port is on the other end of the yard. The leach field inspection cap allows me to see the water level. If full, I know the leach field is saturated. And it's not sewage hat's flowing out, it's water, already filtered by the earth.
 
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Old 08-12-17, 05:16 AM
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If your septic tank is working properly everything going out to the leach field will look like dirty water. At an inspection in the leach field you should never see anything that looks like poo or toilet paper. So, what you are seeing may be ground water or it may be sewage. That's it's forming a geyser is not good. At the minimum it means at least that part of the leach field is saturated/full and under some pressure.

Is there a check valve on the outlet of your basement ejector pump? There should be. It will prevent outside liquid from back flowing down into the basement. If you have a check valve and the ejector pump is still turning on regularly when you are not using water something is wrong. The check valve needs to be cleaned or replaced or maybe there is a switch problem with the pump.
 
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Old 01-28-18, 12:57 PM
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Back again, after months. It's been raining all day here and once again, the leach field is overflowing. Water is flowing out the closed inspection cap and there is gray water in the yard. The sewage ejector pump in the basement is going off every ten to fifteen minutes and I'm the only one home. No one is using water in the house, yet I can hear water flowing down the pipe that goes into the ejector pump. So this is not the ejector filling because of a crack in the basin, water is definitely flowing into it as I can hear a stead flow, like a heavy trickle. Let me also say, I just finished replacing the pressure regulator valve, because water pressure was almost 100 psi. Now it's at 50, but this is a while nother issue with the drain/septic system. Tank was pumped last year summber... I'm going to call an inspector in. Sigh.
 
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Old 01-28-18, 04:48 PM
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Had you taken any corrective measures since last August . . . . or was the problem self-correcting, until now ?
 
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Old 01-29-18, 05:12 AM
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Yea, after all the talk last summer... what was done to remedy the situation? Much of the southeast has had an abnormally dry spell for the last 9 months. Even today all of Georgia is listed as being abnormally dry all the way to severe drought. If you did nothing to fix the problem the drought probably bought you some time. But with any rain I'm certain your problems will continue and I can only imagine your problems when we get into a wet spell.

I would install a check valve on the outlet of the pump in your ejector pit. It should stop the back flowing of effluent.
 
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