Grey Water System Clogged

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    • #279149
      Avatar photoPeterParker

        I have a 1000 gallon tank, distribution box and three lines into the leeching field. The system was backing up into my basement when the washing machine was used. Inspection of the tank revealed a non-emptying tank filled and when I dug up the distribution box it was filled with black sediment and no water effluent was flowing. I had the tank pumped out and noticed chunks of ? “soap” at the bottom of the tank and unfortunately at the tanks outlet similar material blocking the outlet pipe to the distribution box. I will try and open the pipe to the distribution box. Would it be reasonable to “jet purge” the distribution field? What about adding substances to the tank to decrease the possible formation of ” soaps”? Any help will be appreciated, it is snowing now and I think I will have to lower myself into the tank to break up the outflow obstruction. I need a long term maintenance plan. Thank you for any suggestions.

      • #300131
        Avatar photoRetired plbg1

          You are probably using to much soap and dumping a lot of grease into the system, try less, and use a box of Ridex each month. You might need a new field if you can’t clean out the mess, try having a sewer co. use a jet on it.

          » This message has been edited by John Aldrich on 18 December 2002

        • #300132
          Avatar photoKen Zoeller

            DO NOT GO INTO THE SEPTIC TANK!!! It is very dangerous. The gasses in it can KILL YOU. Use a long handled anything to break up the mess. Get the line cleaned between the tank and the d-box. Have the lines jet rodded. Then have a very good pumper vacuum the 3 lateral lines, one who knows how to vacuum the lines after they are jet rodded.

            » This message has been edited by John Aldrich on 18 December 2002

          • #300133
            Avatar photoJohn Aldrich1

              Poppajp, PLEASE TAKE KEN’S ADVICE REGARDING NOT ENTERING THE SEPTIC TANK!!! The hydrogen sulfide gas, methane and other dangerous sewer gasses are produced in a septic tank, even if it is treating only greywater.

              Removing the sludge from the distribution pipes in the leach field that has escaped the septic tank may offer some immediate relief of your problem, or it may not. The thickness of the clogging mat that is formed at the gravel/soil interface, usually 8 inches below the distribution pipes, is what ultimately controls the percolation rate of the water into the soil. However, the escaped sewage sludge may be clogging the perforations in the distribution pipes. If this is the case, then jetting and vacuuming the pipes may solve the problem on a temporary basis, but eventually the clogged pipe perforation condition will occur again.

              To prolong the life of the existing leach field, I recommend the installation of a septic tank effluent filter, such as the excellent filter manufactured by the Zoeller Pump Company.


              The filter reduces the suspended solids concentration of the septic tank effluent, thereby reducing the organic loading on the leach field.

              A long term solution to the problem is to have an additional leach field installed, using plastic chamber leach field units such as ADS Bio-Diffusers or Infiltrators, and installing a NDS diversion valve (avoid the use of a Bull Run Valve) in the septic tank effluent pipeline so that alternation of flow can be practiced. Alternate the flow from the “in-use” field to the “resting field” on an annual basis. An appropriate day to accomplish this maintenance duty is July 4th, SEWAGE INDEPENDENCE DAY. Celebrate your independence of the centralized sewer grid, but recognize that with this independence comes the responsibility of a septic system operator.

              With all due respect for Retired Plbg’s opinion, I think that the use of septic tank additives, such as Ridex, is a waste of money.

              John Aldrich (Septic Tank Yank)
              Septic System Consultant
              Timnath, Colorado
              [email protected]

              » This message has been edited by John Aldrich on 18 December 2002

            • #300134
              Avatar photoRobert Stephen Morton

                John, what is the difference between grey water & black or normal sepic water? I went to a seminar once & an expert from the CSIRO was telling us that;

                1. Over 90% of people urinate in the shower, they wash their butts, blow their noses & women continue to shower during their monthly cycle.

                2. When people clean their teeth, blood is a part of the rinsing process.

                3. When clothes washing is done there are soiled undies, dirty hankies, and soiled nappies.

                4. All sorts of bacterial laden crap is washed down sinks.

                He went on to say that if the waste water was stored in a tank for more than an hour in certain climates, the growth of pathogens equaled that found in septic water. Some of the worst blockages I have ever come across have been in Kitchen grease traps.


                » This message has been edited by John Aldrich on 18 December 2002

              • #300135
                Avatar photoJohn Aldrich1

                  Poppajp and Bob, Points well taken, and I agree with you, Bob, and the expert from CSIRO. The Colorado State Department of Health and Environment, Individual Sewage Disposal System (ISDS) Guidelines require that greywater be treated in a septic tank, and discharged in a soil absorption system, or other approved dispersal system. The setback distance requirements from various site features, and the depth of suitable soil below the leach fields, are the same as those for a system treating black water. If the greywater system effluent is to be used for irrigation or other purposes where there is a potential of human contact, then it must be chlorinated, ozonated, or treated with ultra-violet light.

                  Direct discharge of greywater is forbidden!! That is the rule, but in many instances, especially in the remote mountainous areas of the Colorado Rockies, greywater is routinely discharged directly onto the surface of the soil.

                  The greywater systems that I have designed were to serve homes utilizing composting toilets. The area required for the soil absorption system was reduced because of the reduction in the estimated maximum daily sewage flow.

                  As for the statistic that over 90% of those surveyed urinate in the shower, well, those that said that they did not, are, in my view, lying.
                  It is good that urine discharged from healthy people is sterile.

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