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Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1998
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I have a septic tank that uses a drain field for effluent water. Currently I have a little (2sf) area of seepage on the surface at the end of the drain pipe. There's no moving water, just a constant goopy, oily-like, smelly wet spot where nothing will grow. All around the area is lush grass which I cut frequently and composted. What might be the most effective (cheap) solution to resolve the liquid on the surface? the septic company said the system was "stressed" when we bought the place 3 years ago. It's gotten slightly better since then as I limit my water use as best I can. I'm trying not to go the chemical route and really don't want to dig it out but I'm getting sick of looking at it.

I thought about tryin to grow giant pumpkins near it to help suck out some of the water and nutrients from the soil. Of course "not for human consumption". I would either compost the plant matter or cut pumpkin for wildlife forage. Anyone got an idea that might help?

what about building a fire over it to dry it out and burn out the nutrient goop?
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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From my experience with septic systems your problem is not to much water added to the system, but blockage, probably from the tank to the leach field. The pipes collect a hard ring of material at every junction, like the junction to the leach field. When this ring narrows the goop can't flow to keep up and the system and over flows a small steady stream over the top of the leach field. To fix requires a pumping of the tank and cleaning the pipes of accumulated gunk from the house to the field. Many times this is done with a high pressure water snake. Then fill the tank part way with water to property jump start the system. I just had all of the done here at the current house I'm in, the flow on the surface killed a pine tree but made a blackberry bush huge and happy! We had to hack our way to find the tank again.

The best thing you can do for a stressed system is to not flush any non-biodegradable product i.e. toilet paper. Simply have a small flip top trash can in the bathrooms and instruct everyone to put their paper in it instead. This can be burned or composted. Do not limit water, I had friends in a area with limited water that removed just their laundry water from their system and had to go from pumping every three years to pumping every year, same amount of non-organic material but less water. Septic systems need water, cleaning on a regular basis and limited man made materials.

I wouldn't deal with the surface flow except to get it to stop, because eventually a partially clogged system with back up all the way to the house.

I hope this helps.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Posts: 1998
Location: Maine (zone 5)
241
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Thanks for the info. When I had it all inspected, the guy seemed to think that there was a lot of roots in the last ten feet of the pipe. Everything else looked clear for the camera he stuck in there I'm getting the impression that the ground might not be porous enough to handle the water so it's saturating that area and relying on evaporation to finish the job. I've got quite a bit of clay here and the pipe ends just before the property slopes down into a wooded area so maybe the water just runs out of room.

If you don't mind me asking, how much did it end up costing you have the whole system cleaned out?
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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$300 for the septic guy, but it is $250 for a standard tank empty so it was a good deal considering the system was in need of a pipe cleaning. It's working properly now.

I know what you mean about different issues for different set ups, however I still wouldn't limit the water. Maybe just have a rooter guy cut those roots out....or you replace that section of pipe?
Only dealing with the surface sledge isn't going to help the growing problem below, that's all I'm saying.
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1998
Location: Maine (zone 5)
241
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Thanks for the help. The tank is due to be pumped soon anyway so maybe I'll just have them snake the crap out of it. I'm glad it wasn't a crazy huge bill for you. Hopefully the local guy here will be just as reasonable.

Much appreciated
 
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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