Plugged Septic Drywell

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  • This topic has 2 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 21 years ago by hj.
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    • #278515
      MasterPlumbers
      Keymaster

      I am selling my home and it just failed its septic inspection: one of the two dry wells is overflowing above ground. (I live on a slope, so I do not have conventional leach fields.) My home is 20 years old and our load is 2 adults & 3 small children. I dug up the drywell and it is filled with water to the top – obviously the soil has become plugged. After inspecting my distibution box, I feel that this dry well gets 3/4 of the effluent, if not more. The pipes are about a hlaf inch different in elevation, so unless there is a very large flow volume, the second dry well pipe does not get wet.

      Big question: Is there any way to correct my problem in the short time I have to satisfy the buyers? Obviously the septic company wants me to pay them to install a new dry well. Does anyone know if hydrogen peroxide, or any other compound will work to open up the soil quickly?

      Note: I have read several other responses by John Aldrich recommending alternating fields, or in my case dry wells. That would have been great advice except that I didn’t know this condition existed until my septic flunked its inspection. I will certainly insist on a diverter valve setup on my new house’s septic!

    • #298667
      John Aldrich1

      Mike, I have been on a road trip to the wilds of Eastern Idaho, along the banks of the Upper Snake River, and did not have access to the World Wide Web until my return today.

      For the information of the gentle readers of the MasterPlumbers Bulletin Board, Mike has sent 2 e-mail messages to me. The first e-mail message was the same inquiry as posted on the Bulletin Board. The second e-mail message revealed that Mike had excavated the soil above the access hole in the second dry well, and lo and behold, the “well was bone dry”.

      This is a testament to the uselessness of “Distribution Boxes” for their intended function. The elevations of the outlets seldom remain as they were installed. The ground moves up and down due to compaction forces, and temperature differentials, and with this movement, the elevations of the pipes and the distribution box are re-oriented.

      Mike, I would suggest that you install a plug type diversion valve in place of the distribution box between the two dry wells.

      Regards to the dry well that has been receiving virtually all of the sewage flow for many years, just let natural oxidation, and microbial digestion take care of that portion of the clogging mat which cannot be removed by pumping.
      By diverting the sewage flow into the “bone dry” dry well for a year or so, the soil infiltration rate will be recovered in this “failed” dry well. Avoid the use of hydrogen peroxide treatments. It will take a tremendous volume of that expensive chemical to oxidize the clogging mat. The passive, natural approach just takes longer, but it is free.

      Place risers on all of the components of your septic system that require access for maintenance. If the maintenance duties are difficult to perform, chances are they will be ignored. I also recommend that you install a septic tank effluent filter in the outlet tee of the septic tank. JWA

    • #298668
      hj

      since the clog is often caused by grease in the septic tank effluent, I have had a lot of success using swimming pool sulfuric acid to boil it out. Do not use Muriatic since it is useless for this purpose. If you can find a plumbing supply that has “Bulldozer” drain cleaner that is even better since it is more concentrated. A normal cesspool, i.e., one that has a central pipe surrounded by stone will usually respond to a treatment of about 10 quarts of Bulldozer, or 10 gallons of pool acid.

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