Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 32
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    34
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Tractor
    None Yet

    Default Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    I need some quick information, please. The corrugated drain pipe that attaches my septic tank drain to the drain field has apparently come apart, so I have a septic cleaning company here to fix the problem. They are recommending pumping the drain field then treating it with an enzymatic cleaner, replacing the white pipe from the septic tank to the corrugated pipe, reattaching the connection point, and putting the dirt back for $1500.

    My questions are twofold:

    1. Do I need the enzymatic cleaner or is this just something they're trying to sell because it's profitable?

    2. Is $1500 a reasonable price to pay?

    Any quick answers are most appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Gold Member themichelob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    263
    Location
    Eastern Washington
    Tractor
    Kubota B7800

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    ritmatt--Not an expert, by any means. Having said that, if they are digging up your entire drain field (2-3 guys plus a backhoe for 6-8 hours) and all the connecting plumbing from your septic then I don't think $1500.00 sounds like a lot. I don't know how much you would save by passing on the enzymes, but I would say do it. You don't mention how old your system is, but I probably put $100.00 worth of bacterial and enzyme treatment in my system yearly (I do it in spring and fall). Maybe a more knowledgeable person will chime in....Regards, Mike

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    34
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Tractor
    None Yet

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    Thanks, Mike. They're not digging up the whole drain field, just the first 10 feet or so from the septic tank to where the corrugated pipe starts.

    Interesting regarding the $100 worth of enzyme treatment. These guys claim that they usually charge $1500 just for that part of the job.

    Regardless, I'm moving forward with the job as quoted. I don't think it will hurt anything, and I don't want to wait another week to get three more quotes. I will take my lumps now.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    978
    Location
    Oregon
    Tractor
    JD 770, Yanmar 180D, JD 420 (not running), had a Kubota B6200

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    From what I have read, don't waste your money on enzymes. It's all hype. There are billions of bacteria naturally in your system and what they add is a small fraction of what's already there. Here's a more authoritative source: http://clark.wsu.edu/horticulture/sm...-additives.pdf

    One thing you can do is to avoid use of antibacterial soap--it tends to kill off the bacteria that's needed for your system to work properly. Once you stop using the antibacterial soap, the bacteria will build up fairly quickly.

  5. #5
    Super Member 2LaneCruzer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    5,695
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Tractor
    John Deere LX172

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    If your lines are laid in sandy soil, you might check and make sure that the laterals are not choked with fine sand. That was my problem. Enzymes won't help sand. I managed to keep mine clean by digging down to the end of the lateral and flushing them out with a garden hose. Eventually hooked up to a city sewer that went across the back of my property.
    Have Wings, Will Travel.

  6. #6
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    157
    Location
    Montross Virginia
    Tractor
    New Holland TC26DA

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    The bacteria/enzymes are not neccessary unless you use a lot of chlorine in your wash or antibacterial soaps or detergents. There is sufficient bacteria in the soil and, if you think about it, every time you flush the toilet you are injecting new bacteria into your system. My next door neighbor (this was about 40 years ago) had a PHD in microbacteria and did some research with injecting different types of bacteria/enzymes in his and several of our neighbors septic systems. He found little or no benefit to any of the commercial additives. Best recommendation is to pump your septic system tank periodically and keep vegatation out of the drain field. Two people - normal soil - average use - 5 or six years. More often if you have a garbage disposal or use lots of chlorine or disinfectants. Also try to avoid compacting the soil over your drain field - don't drive your tractor over it.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    34
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Tractor
    None Yet

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    TBN friends,

    Thanks for your responses both here and via PM. I thought I'd post this follow up message to let you know what happened. Also, this information might possibly help somebody else that may find this thread down the road. I'll cover at least three points:

    1. Clarification: The recommended chemical treatment was an "oxidizer" not an "enzymatic" treatment (sorry - I used the wrong word).
    2. I think I overpaid.
    3. I doubt the solution I paid for is a long-term fix.

    Before I get started, let me share a little background information. I bought and moved into this house just a few months ago. It was built in 1985. The house changed hands at least 3 times before I bought it, but I have substantial evidence that a lot of work was put into the house over the past 3 or 4 years. It has been well-maintained and is generally in excellent condition. The last seller disclosed that he had roots cleared away from the septic system within the past 2 years. He says he had it inspected at that time and that it was given a clean bill of health. I bought the house with a seller-paid home warranty that includes optional coverage for the septic tank and the septic "system". Also, full disclosure, I've never owned a house with a septic system before, so this is all new to me.

    I first noticed a damp spot on the ground in front of the house 5 days ago, the day before Thanksgiving. It looked as if someone had dumped a few gallons of water on the ground a couple hours before I got there and I didn't think much of it. (At the time, I still thought the septic tank was located in the back yard, because my realtor had pointed out the spot where he thought it was located several months ago. It turns out that he was wrong.) On Thanksgiving day, I noticed standing water in the same spot. I dug up a few shovel-fulls of mud and found the ground very soft. There was no odor and there were no symptoms inside the house, but I knew I had a problem with either the water supply line or the septic system - probably the latter. Being Thanksgiving day with family in town and believing that the home warranty company and/or septic company probably weren't available on a holiday, I waited until Friday morning to make the call for a warranty repair.

    It turns out that the septic company was having problems of their own. The dump stations they normally used to empty their trucks were reportedly closed for the long holiday weekend. It took them until Friday night to find a place to empty their trucks, and they didn't make it to my place until early Saturday afternoon (yesterday). By that time, I had discovered that my county keeps online records for all the septic systems in the area, and I was able to download the original sketch of my property showing the septic tank and drain field were definitely located in the front yard, very near the site of the seepage. Thankfully, all our company had left the day before and there were still no problems or symptoms inside the house. However, there was a noticeable sewage odor at the front of the house by Saturday morning. I knew it was only a matter of time before I had a backup inside the house.

    The septic company located the tank by poking a long metal rod into the ground over and over until they found the concrete top. The top of the tank was only about 12-18 inches deep, and it was located about 8-10 feet from the site of the seepage, almost directly towards the house. They used a small backhoe to scrape away the earth and uncover the access port to the tank, which was about 2 feet square. They used a shovel to pry open the lid and, as expected, they found the 1000 gallon tank completely full. Incidentally, while it definitely smelled bad, the odor wasn't nearly as potent I expected. One small thing to be thankful for, I guess. Moving on, they pumped the tank about half way down to expose a 4 or 5 inch diameter plumbing "tee" made of ordinary-looking white plastic or poly. The tee was mounted diagonally and extended "high" and "low" about the same length of maybe 5 or 6 inches. The septic crew said that the tee was supposed to be mounted vertically and that the bottom should extend further than the top. I did my own research online later and that information seems accurate.

    The crew continued to scrape away the earth towards the site of the seepage, following the white pipe which extends from the middle part of the tee through the side of the septic tank and away from the house towards the drain field. They were careful not to puncture or damage the pipe in the process. Finally, about 8 or 10 feet out, they found the spot where the white rigid pipe had apparently become detached from the black corrugated plastic pipe used in the drain field. They said this was the source of the problem. They went on to explain that mud had entered the drain field at the separation point, clogging the drain field and causing it to become completely full. They said the solution was to pump out the contents of the drain field, then to use an "oxidizer" chemical treatment to break up any remaining blockages, and to replace the white plastic tee and the white pipe that extended out to the black corrugated pipe.

    Unfortunately, it turns out that the home warranty coverage applies only to the septic tank itself, a single instance of pumping, and anything that connects the septic system to the house. They do not cover the drain field or anything "below" the septic tank. While talking with the home warranty company, they told me that the septic company quoted them $1999 to fix the clogged drain field issue. Afterwards, the septic crew quoted me $1800. They claimed that the chemical "oxidizer" treatment was critical to the process and that it was also the most expensive part. That's when I came inside and posted my original post on TBN. I also did some very quick online searching and couldn't find any helpful information within five minutes or so.

    So, I found myself in a predicament. It took me a day and a half on a holiday weekend to get somebody out to the house. At this point, the septic tank was disconnected from the drain field, so I basically couldn't use the plumbing in my house. The septic crew was apparently reputable enough to be used by the warranty company, so should I take them at their word and get me back up and running right away, or should I send them packing so I could call around looking for quotes and other opinions? I worried I might be without plumbing for a week and may still end up spending a couple thousand dollars or more. So, I tried to make the best decision possible with the information I had at the time. I offered them $1500 to proceed (quick math in my head was 3 guys at $75 per hour for 3.5 hours [my guess] ~ $800, plus $100 for pipe and an unknown amount for chemicals, plus the use of their backhoe, pump truck, and other tools = a total of around $1500, maybe). After an appropriate amount of grumbling, they accepted my offer and continued working.

    Here are a couple pictures I took after the white pipe was replaced. I took them mostly so I could remember where the tank was located. The tree roots you see in the photos had already been cut when we got there - they were clearly left over from the work the previous owner had done and they were not interfering with anything when we uncovered them.
    Attachment 290309

    Here's a better picture of the access portal for the septic tank.
    Attachment 290310

    Did I get taken for a ride? Only time will tell for sure. But, I have a strong suspicion that I'll be dealing with drain field issues again much sooner than I'd like. I also think I overpaid for what I received. Here's why:

    * I couldn't find any reputable source anywhere that suggests that chemical treatments are good for septic systems. In fact, quite the opposite. The only people that seem to think chemical treatments are a good idea are plumbers and chemical manufacturers.
    * The septic company used powdered chemicals from just two 1-gallon containers to treat my drain field. I had walked inside for a minute before they started, so I can't even be sure the first container was full. Regardless, I don't see how 2 gallons of anything could possibly make a difference in ~300-400 feet of 5" corrugated drain line, especially when delivered with a 10-minute douse of water from a garden hose.
    * I saw the label on the chemical containers. It was Oxidizer Plus by Rooter Plus. An Internet search shows that's a local company (but not the exact name of the company servicing my system). I couldn't find any reviews for the chemical online, but there are hundreds or even thousands of articles about drain field problems. Seems like there would be a lot more information available if the chemicals were widely distributed or generally recognized as effective.
    * I found one document that contends that hydrogen peroxide actually degrades drain fields. I don't know anything about the chemical composition of "Oxidizer Plus", but it foamed up like a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mix when it was dropped into the corrugated pipe. Also, the common "oxide" part of the name makes me think it's probably very similar stuff.
    * Responses here on TBN and Internet searches indicate that septic tank cleaning services typically run in the $200-300 range. Paying 5-7 times that for maybe 3 or 4 times the work seems possibly excessive.
    * I found several articles and documents from reputable sources that indicate that ground weeping, seepage, or pooling around a drain field are almost sure signs that the drain field has failed and will need to be repaired or replaced. Here's one of the more thorough documents I found.
    * Most sources seem to indicate that the lifespan of a good drain field is 20 to 30 years. Assuming that mine is original to the house (an idea supported by county records), it is approximately 27 years old today. All indications are that it's probably at or near the end of its useful life.

    I'll try to remember to come back here to post updates if anything changes. In the meantime, thanks for reading this incredibly long post and, for those of you that provided comments and suggestions, a big THANK YOU for your help!

    Matt

  8. #8
    Platinum Member savageactor7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    552
    Location
    CNY

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    Acting on the advice from the guy that cleans our tank we've use Ridex for many many years...it's a real easy clean so it works.
    Kubota B1750 with chains on all 4 turf tires. CC1440 & GT2550

  9. #9
    Super Member dave1949's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,013
    Location
    Industry, Maine
    Tractor
    New Holland TC40

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    Well, by local price standards, $1500 to have three guys, equipment, pumper tank, some digging and plastic pipe fixed on a weekend isn't a horrible price. It can cost a lot of money to have and keep equipment, plus they have to make a living on top of that.

    I can't speak to the usefulness of the oxidizer, but it seems like what they did, and told you about the tee and so forth, sounds correct. It isn't their fault your drain field is old and may need replaced. If they had said the whole thing needed to be replaced and quoted you a price to replace it, what would you have thought about their motives?

    Like you say, a failed septic system doesn't allow much time for investigation of alternatives. About all you can do is call your local porta-potty place and start using the laundromat, avoiding that is worth a couple hundred anyways
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    34
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Tractor
    None Yet

    Default Re: Help! Enzymatic Treatment Needed to Clear Septic Drain Field?

    Quote Originally Posted by dave1949 View Post
    Like you say, a failed septic system doesn't allow much time for investigation of alternatives. About all you can do is call your local porta-potty place and start using the laundromat, avoiding that is worth a couple hundred anyways
    True, that!

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Septic question - pumping to drain field
    By RobA in forum Rural Living
    Replies: 51
    Last Post: 06-04-2010, 05:11 PM
  2. Gluing drain lines in septic field?
    By Keoke in forum Rural Living
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 10-14-2005, 09:14 PM
  3. To mow or not to mow septic drain field
    By adlertom in forum Rural Living
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-01-2004, 11:47 PM
  4. What to do with my septic field?
    By snmhanson in forum Projects
    Replies: 29
    Last Post: 05-17-2004, 01:32 PM
  5. Working over septic drain field
    By Nick_D in forum Projects
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 07-09-2002, 09:24 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
© 2013 TractorByNet.com. TractorByNet is a registered trademark of IMC Digital Universe, Inc. Other trademarks on this page are the property of their respective owners.