Septic field backup

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    • #279277

      Our septic tank has been backing up. It’s been pumped in the past few months, but this did nothing. We’ve had 3 opinions from 3 different ‘experts’, and they all are quite different.

      First a couple of facts to give you something to go on:

      1) The soil in our yard is heavily composed of clay.
      2) Several yards drain into our yard, yet we are on an incline that drains to the street.
      3) A large pool was placed over about 1/2 of the septic system for 11 years.
      4) When the pool was removed about one year ago, a sand volleyball court was put in its place. The sand is approximately 10-12″ deep. The court covers approximately 1/2 of the septic field.
      5) The septic tank has been pumped about every 2 or 3 years, with 5 persons living in the home.

      Expert 1) They claim that because the company that had been doing the pumping did not back flush each time the septic was pumped, the sediment from the bottom of the tank has likely risen up and flowed through the drainage pipes, clogging the holes. They’ve recommended that the entire system be replaced.

      Expert 2) Tells us the problem could be related to the swimming pool that was on top of the field. His suggestion, dig up the area around the pipes and rototill to loosen the soil.

      Expert 3) Suggests that the sand from the volleyball court is not allowing the water to run off (as grass would) and is therefore ‘soaking up’ the rain water and saturating the ground, leaving no room for the septic to drain.

      Any advice you can possibly give us would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you:

      The Andersons

    • #300430


      It sounds as if you may need a new system. The only problem with clay is water (sewage) doesn’t drain thru it very well.

      I’ll comment on each of the “experts”
      #1 – There’s no way to know if the septic tank pumpers backwashed your tank or not, without you standing there and watching them. It is possible that solids from the tank have clogged the leach field (assuming this is what you have).

      #2 – I have no doubt the swimming pool contributed to the problem. This expert’s solution is wrong. Tilling the soil is not the solution.

      #3 – I doubt this is a huge problem, but I still would recomend that nothing be placed over any part of the system.

      The bottom line is you will likely need a new system. John Aldrich (a regular poster in this forum) has some really good suggestions for his ideal systems. His email is

      Feel free to email me with any more questions you have. I always suggest you contact your local regulatory authority, because they are the local experts (usually) and can tell you what will work in your specific situation on your specific site. Keep in mind that what works on your site may not work next door, every lot is different.

      Holly Rast

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