Plumbing Problem - Septic System

Hi all.

I've had problems for the last 12 months with a septic system at an IP. I've had two separate plumbing companies during this time, both local and reputable, but neither seem to be able to solve the problems with the system.

Just for background I've spoken with the Water Corporation and the infill sewage program for the area (deep sewer) has been put on hold due to State budget savings and is now about 4 years away, so I can't afford to just hold out for that.

The problem in general is that the toilet either blocks or backs up - on average about once every 6 weeks.

During the last 12 months the plumbers have

1. Changed the pan from an S trap to P trap system.
2. Installed new leach drains
3. Replaced a small section of pipe with PVC and installed two inspection points
4. Replaced all pipes leading from house to leach drains
5. Have been there on numerous occasions to fix blockages "when the tenant uses too much paper" (??)

Sum total is around $6k

Today it has again backed up and the plumbers are there again.

I am at my wit's end with this system. The Water Corporation can't help, as septic systems are handled by the local council. The local council can't help as their only input is to approve plans at original instal (1969).

I have totally lost faith in the plumbers who don't seem to know what the problem is, but I'm loathe to call in another plumber because I'm sure I'll go through the same business again (as I said I've already had 2 separate companies).

This is costing us a fortune, but I have no idea who to turn to get the problem sorted. There is no guarantee with plumbers, so I'm not getting even a discount each time they have a look (min of $290.00 per visit) and the problem just isn't being solved. I feel sorry for the tenants too as it is the place only has one bathroom and I'm sure it isn't pleasant for them.

Any suggestions or expressions of sympathy much appreciated. :(:(
 
Why did they change the pan from S to P? Not sure how to put this, but when it blocks, is it blocked with something that shouldn't be in it?

I take it that the septic tank has been emptied within the time you've had trouble.

Is there a vent (stink) pipe in this line that runs to the tank?
 
Why did they change the pan from S to P? Not sure how to put this, but when it blocks, is it blocked with something that shouldn't be in it?

I take it that the septic tank has been emptied within the time you've had trouble.

Is there a vent (stink) pipe in this line that runs to the tank?

a) Pan was changed from S to P as I was told that something was blocking the pipe directly under the pan (suggested as being one of the rim cages that hold the toilet cleaners).

b) The septic tank hasn't been emptied, but (I'm told) it isn't full.

c) I'm not sure, would that be the inspection point?
 
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The vent pipe is usually 2 inch diameter and runs vertically, to vent smells out, but also to allow air in to the system to aid flow. Without a vent sometimes this can reduce flow due to suction and can also siphon the water out of the pan. The vent pipe usually can be seen above roof height.

If they have replaced the pan and the pipe to the tank, and it has a vent, and it has a minium of 1in 60 fall it should work.

If it was me, I'd get the tank pumped out (about $200 here) and see how it goes based on the fact that it only happens roughly six weekly.:)
 
The vent pipe is the white pipe sticking out of the roof on this house, it goes down through an internal wall and vents the sewer line under the house.
 

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The vent pipe is the white pipe sticking out of the roof on this house, it goes down through an internal wall and vents the sewer line under the house.

Thank you Battler attached is the photo of what I think is the pipe.

Elf - no, no trees, though I can't guarantee there haven't been any in the past. Plumber however says no roots in pipe and anyway he's replaced the pipe.

Fall has been fixed - that is what they were trying to fix when they replaced all the pipe.

A pump out is approximately $900. That's for cost of the pumping and the disposal of what they pump. Plumber however says the tank isn't full.

Things he has suggested in the past....
Toilet has insufficient flush volume - this particular toilet was replaced 12 months ago, which we were told would fix the original problem, now they say the toilet IS the problem :rolleyes:
Pipe under house might be the problem, being that they've now installed a p trap they are bypassing this aren't they?

I'm calling the plumbers board tomorrow, maybe they can send someone out or suggest something.

If anyone has any ideas, please keep them coming.

Thanks all for your help.
 

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If the plumber has changed from an S to a P trap I'm thinking he's gone out through the wall to a new pipe to the tank, which now has the correct fall?

Maybe he has bypassed the vent in this process.

I think the plumbing board might be the go, good luck.:)
 
A septic tank is always full, to the outfall line about 1/8th of the way from the top, the septic 'function' takes place in the liquid matt boundary layer at the top, and in the sludge at the bottom
the outfall pipes could be broken blocked, in a clay soil its quite easy for the slime to build up
for a family of 4 about every five years the tank may need pumping, <<edit, only may some are more full of **** than others
as the sludge gets deeper there is less space at the top for septic-ing
If the tenant has used bleach an enzyme cleaner or those antibacterial clip on things, they may have killed the bacteria in the tank, so it does not work, the floaters have not decomposed and are blocking the pipes
should not use antibacterials on a system that depends on bacteria for its proper operation
septobac or other bacteria booster once a week for a few weeks, (there are only a few packs in the box) flushed down to restart the bacteria culture
stop using antibacterial cleaners,

already been mentioned to Pump the septic tank
 
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Agree with what Bob says, and if it hasn't been pumped out, it should be full of liquid, not necessarily richard the thirds.

Now replacing the leach drains won't help if, as the plumber says the tank is not full, it doesn't reach the level to exit into the outlet. So if the tank still has some holding capacity the problem has to be in the new pan and or plumbing to the tank, which the plumbers have replaced.:rolleyes::confused:
 
From the look of the picture the house is old.
I could understand if the house was new and you were having problems.
So why all of a sudden have you started having problems.
Strange the plumbers suggest insufficient water flow when it has never been a
problem in the past.
Have long have you had this IP for.
I would think more of a blockage along the line somewhere.
Do you know if the sewer pipes are the old terracotta type? These usually
have a rubber seal in the joints and breakdown eventually and the smallest
of shrub or trees can find there way in.
You would be surprised how far a tree can be away from the house and still get into sewer pipes.

Are you able to access the septic tank and look inside, run the shower or kitchen tap
and see how much flow comes through in tho the tank.
Then try the toilet and compare the two.
 
A pump out is approximately $900. That's for cost of the pumping and the disposal of what they pump. Plumber however says the tank isn't full.

Wow, that is very expensive. In SA it is about $200. We had similar issues with a beach shack. Eventually all the pipes were replaced and that seems to have fixed the problem. There was a blockage of significant tree roots all the way down the outlet pipe (toilet to tank and beyond). The system was built in the 1960's. If it needs major repairs we are supposed to replace it with a very expensive new ecological system - I think that was even supposed to happen last time we fixed the pipes actually.:eek:
 
Plumber sux, talking out the proverbial
The tank has been there for years
it is approx 3000L
or 500 toilet flushes, less than a year for a family of four just flushing the toilet to fill the tank,
less still with showers and washing dishes
If it isnt full the tank is cracked

if the plumber means the sludge isnt to the top, then that is a simplistic answer, the sludge is more than depth, it is supposed to be a haven for anaerobic bacteria. It is the primary digester of the 'organics., The partially dissolved and digested now liquids are spilled out the pipes to the dispersal field where aerobic soil bacteria complete the job

its BS about water volume, a septic tank requires less to flush than a sewered system, the 'solids' are only carried a few feet beyond the walls to the septic tank, not the very much longer distance to the main sewer

If there is another plumber, now is the time to find them
 
From the look of the picture the house is old.

Built 1969
I could understand if the house was new and you were having problems.
So why all of a sudden have you started having problems.
Strange the plumbers suggest insufficient water flow when it has never been a
problem in the past.

Perhaps the problem was caused by the new toilet (modern dual flush), though the first problem occurred before we replaced the toilet.

Have long have you had this IP for.

Bought April 2008, problems started November 2008


I would think more of a blockage along the line somewhere.
Do you know if the sewer pipes are the old terracotta type? These usually
have a rubber seal in the joints and breakdown eventually and the smallest
of shrub or trees can find there way in.
You would be surprised how far a tree can be away from the house and still get into sewer pipes.

Plumber has run a telescopic thingy down the pipe with a camera so no roots, I think

Are you able to access the septic tank and look inside, run the shower or kitchen tap
and see how much flow comes through in tho the tank.
Then try the toilet and compare the two.

I suppose so, but like to keep away from tenants - that's what I have a PM for and wouldn't the plumber have done this - I will suggest it to them though, thank you.


Answers above, thanks for your help.
 
Wow, that is very expensive. In SA it is about $200. We had similar issues with a beach shack. Eventually all the pipes were replaced and that seems to have fixed the problem. There was a blockage of significant tree roots all the way down the outlet pipe (toilet to tank and beyond). The system was built in the 1960's. If it needs major repairs we are supposed to replace it with a very expensive new ecological system - I think that was even supposed to happen last time we fixed the pipes actually.:eek:

I'll get another quote, maybe I was being fed a line. New ecological systems are available here, but not compulsory except on new builds on land with no deep sewer (I think).
 
Plumber has run a telescopic thingy down the pipe with a camera so no roots, I think​
BS
root blockage in the dispersal field he had to scope all the branches, he did not do it, didnt happen, no way, bet he did not go past the tank
 
its BS about water volume, a septic tank requires less to flush than a sewered system, the 'solids' are only carried a few feet beyond the walls to the septic tank, not the very much longer distance to the main sewer

Thanks Bob, didn't know this.

Today I have
a) sent a long email to a builder friend to ask for advice
b) left a message with the Plumbers' Board for someone to give me a call

Later I will
c) speak to current plumber
d) speak to second plumber if a) and b) bring no joy.
 
Plumber has run a telescopic thingy down the pipe with a camera so no roots, I think​
BS
root blockage in the dispersal field he had to scope all the branches, he did not do it, didnt happen, no way, bet he did not go past the tank

Thanks again Bob.

All this information will help me.
 
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