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septic piping question...


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#1 dodge trucker OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 06:43 PM

I have had an issue that I have put off for a while, since I discovered it when the ground was frozen and there was snow on the ground.... we have been getting by with the laundromat for a few months now, fortunately I have 2 lines from the house to the septic tank, one on each end of the tank.

Every time that I had any time to dig up the line and check it out it seems it had rained and the ground was too soggy to dig. so I finally dug it up last weekend.

Today, I finally had a whole day that I could devote to this, in case I "ran into additional issues"  like is common (and pretty much "expected") when dealing with plumbing/ I didn't want to be without my shower for more than a day.... I did succeed there.

 

On one line, is the full bathroom and the wash machine. On the other, the 1/2 bath, kitchen sink and dish washer.

Under the house my drain is all copper pipe. 

 

The original problem was that especially after alot of rain, running the washer, and water would "bloop" up into the toilet and tub, never a problem with the drains that go into the other line and into the same tank.  I rodded it out and looked down thru the cleanout with a strong light and it looked clear, as far as I could see. It didn't seem to help the slow drain issue at the time.

 

In trying to figure out the slow drains issue, right after the rod out, I had my son fill the tub with warm water and after I got down there to watch,  and removed the cleanout plug, I had him pull the drain plug. and warm, clean water came out into the crawlspace around the pipe. 

so I told them "showers only" on that end of the house, use the toilet in the 1/2 bath til further notice. (meaning/ until I could dig up and fix the issue)

 

I have had my septic tank pumped a couple times since I have been here, and the last time I actually had forgotten where the tank lid was so I started digging where I thought it was, and wound up digging up about 1/2 the line from the tank about 1/2 way to the house, traced that to the tank and eventually to the pump out lid.   Ok, something strange here/// plastic pipe!  Yet there wasn't any plastic under the house... Hmmm, where does the copper change to plastic?

I had (correctly as it turned out) figured that the copper corroded where it passed thru the foundation block.  The plastic line is 4" while the copper under the house is all 3"... weird.

I found out that whoever put the plastic line in, had stopped with the plastic like 2' from the outside of the foundation, and they simply slid the plastic over the copper by about 16" and covered the hole. No coupler, nothing.

so, I went today and bought a stick of 4" and a stick of 3" PVC pipe, and a few fittings, so now the line going thru the foundation at that end of the house, is new 4" PVC. I attached it to the existing copper drain pipe under the house with a couple of Fernco couplers for now at least.

 

I had planned to simply glue the previously installed plastic pipe to the new one installed today by way of a standard PVC coupler.  but here is the problem. Though both are "4-inch" pipe, the new pipe is standard white Sch 40 PVC, and the "old" plastic is some kind of gray plastic pipe. The PVC is thicker walled, and the gray pipe is too small (outside diameter) for a PVC coupler to fit like it should.

so for today, I attached new to old with a  4" Fernco. I really do not want to cover it back up in this configuration.

I am concerned that the old pipe, being slightly smaller, I have a "lip" at the bottom of the joint,  that will catch drainings and start building up there to eventually clog at that point. so now I am going to have to dig out the rest of that line (again) to replace the whole rest of the way to the tank with the same Sch. 40 white PVC that I put in through the foundation block, so that there are no "lips" and it will drain properly/. What kind of pipe would that gray plastic pipe have been? Would there be any kind of "adapter coupler" available to correctly join PVC to what ever that gray stuff is?

 

I definitely know for sure, that this will solve the "drain back thru the brick" part of the problem, once I saw the pinholes in the copper bottom/ as I pulled it in from the hole in the brick.

I don't see how it would have anything to do with the slow drain part of the issue/ BUT within a week of telling my wife to start using the laundromat, the slow drain issue seemed to just "go away" We have used that toilet on that line sparingly since with no problem.

I am surprised that dirt, when it was "mud", didn't flow itself into that old joint of 3" copper pipe that the previous idiot  just slip-fit into the 4" plastic and plug things up....

.

and, while I have never dug up anything near the line on the other end of the tank, being the same 50 years old as the one i replaced today was, I expect that side to do the same thing before long and leak back into the crawlspace like this one did.....


Edited by dodge trucker, June 26, 2016 - 07:18 PM.

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#2 Coventry Plumber OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 06:58 PM

The gray pipe could be schedule 35 which is thinner walled and lighter and softer than schedule 40 PVC. They do make a adapter to connect the two but replacing the entire run with 40 is definitely better way to go. Tom
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#3 dodge trucker OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 07:13 PM

I have never heard of "schedule 35"  (that certainly doesn't mean that there isn't such a thing just because I haven't heard of it)

  All the pipe "schedules" I have worked with have been multiples of 40.... 40,80, and I did work with some schedule 120, on a couple of projects in my days of working industrial maintenance at the steel mill some years ago....

I do remember that some places used to sell ABS pipe  right next to it, as an alternative to PVC or CPVC and as I remember that stuff was gray.... that would have been my 1st guess but I thought that stuff was the same wall thickness.....


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#4 Sawdust OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 07:32 PM

The schedule 35 is for sewer purposes only as CP mentioned it's thinner. The 35 is commonly used but they just didn't make the proper transition in your connection. You'll probably have to go to a supply house to get the proper 35 to 40 connector. I think also making the whole run 40 is a good idea.

The slow drain & burping sounds like a clogged or no venting problem. Do you see vent pipes going vertical up through walls close to each fixture or stacks coming out your roof.

Edited by Sawdust, June 26, 2016 - 07:35 PM.

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#5 Phluphy OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 07:35 PM

Considering the cool weather, I recommend you cutting your losses and do a full schedule 40 all the way.

Been out of the field for a few years but, the only gray I've ever encountered was electrical conduit.

There is also DWV (drain, waste, vent) thin wall PVC.

Whoever used copper wasted their resources etc., especially for a waste system i.e. subject to major corrosion. Upside to that is, scrap copper is recyclable.

Crack the bubble and have fun!


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#6 Mtypython ONLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 07:40 PM

Geypipe is usually used for elec conduit,should be sched 40 to the tank then out to dbox or leaching pit which ever you have. Also the pipe from the house should only go into the tank at the end closest to the house that would be the inlet side the othdr end of the tank would be the outlet and the hole would be @ 1.5 inches or so lower, that end the gray water goes out to leachinto the ground,if pipe is going in both ends you have a major problem but you can run up to 3 pipes on the inlet side because there are 3 inlet and 3 outlet holes 1 at the end and one on each side, nkrmally only 1 pipe is run in, your main problems is the way it was jury rigged, i would change out the grey pipe with sched 40 and make sure you have atleast a half buble pitch down to the tank. Good luck
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#7 Cat385B ONLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 08:13 PM

Mtypython has got it, the grey pipe is electrical conduit. It is not used for drain pipe because the joints are not specc'd out as watertight under pressure when glued. Get rid of it.

The '35' pipe mentioned earlier is SDR 35, normally used for service runs from your house out to a municipal mainline. There is sdr 41, 35, 26, and 23.5. DR is the classification for pressurized water main pipes, DR 18 being common.

#8 glgrumpy ONLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 08:18 PM

I have not heard of going into a tank two ways like that either.  Usually line in and one out, didn't know diff height, but makes sense. My old system just had some of that real thin black plastic tube on main lines in and out. They get squished down over time. I now have Sch 40 PVC used in those places. I once had a feild that just was wet and muddy all over, like never drained into ground.  They came with a machine that Blasted air or something down in ground to crack it, and at same time filled it with plastic beads to have place for water to seep down again. It worked!  Been over 10 years since then. That guy had a camera to push down all or any pipe and get a real view of what was in them or going on. Maybe someone can come and do that to your system, see if collapsed pipes or other issues.

 

That is right on having VENTS in the system also.  ONe shold go thru roof for the Main line, and even more off a sink or other drain if too far away to share the same main vent. Those vents allow the AIR in the lines to rush out somewhere and get out of way of the water pushing it down thru the pipe. If not getting it out, it compresses some, and holds back the water, and runs it slow.


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#9 toomanytoys84 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 08:29 PM

The last time my tank got full it backed up and clogged the main vent. I didn't realize it till I had the tank pumped drained the bath tub and it sucked all my traps dry and made some strange noises. I put the plugs in the drains and let the tub drain again and luckily it pushed the vent clear without me having to k anything
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#10 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 08:34 PM

I generally go along with the coments above. One thing that I would add is to dig up the tank access lids and look inside. Make sure that the tank drains properly towards the field. I've seen many that were incorrectly installed. When you've got everything exposed, take pics. You are getting good advice here but pics will clarify much of it for us. I used to design systems and learned to require that the tank be pumped after my initial inspection in order to inspect the tank baffle. It is then alot drier to walk around. Good Luck, Rick


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#11 dodge trucker OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 09:34 PM

Considering the cool weather, I recommend you cutting your losses and do a full schedule 40 all the way.

Been out of the field for a few years but, the only gray I've ever encountered was electrical conduit.

There is also DWV (drain, waste, vent) thin wall PVC.

Whoever used copper wasted their resources etc., especially for a waste system i.e. subject to major corrosion. Upside to that is, scrap copper is recyclable.

Crack the bubble and have fun!

the copper was the original plumbing that was installed in the house when it was built back in 1965.
I put the SCH 40 in today on the one end "inlet" to go from the crawlspace to get me thru the foundation brick because the original copper drain eroded thru on the bottom right where it sat on the brick where it passed thru there.  but whoever put that gray DWV pipe in from there to the tank did the jury rig job.... I have been in this house 18 years and this was the 1st septic issue I have had, I have no idea how long ago that gray pipe might have been put in. I certainly would NOT have done it "their" way, that's why I'm asking questions now... I would have replaced that whole copper run at the time they put that partial plastic line in, when ever that was.

RIck, I have only ever had 1 drain access lid off in the years I have been here and it has been off 3 times, once when I closed on the house, once for a septic inspection when I refinanced 5 years later and the last time 18 months ago when I last had it pumped.

I would like to see if there is another access cover on the opposite end near where the other inlet comes out the foundation....

When I last had it pumped the guy who did so said that I should have it done every 2-3 years, I had gone 11 years since the last pumping, which was done when I had it dug out for that inspection when we refinanced.   The guy that pumped it last said that if I was able to go 11 years between pump outs "I must be doing something right" although I have heard it said that theoretically you should never have to have a tank pumped if all is right with the system.

I can never remember what DWV stands for, I was trying to remember earlier today and I could remember Drain and vent but could not remember the "W".   The copper that remains in my house is stamped "DWV", too on the Tees and couplings.

eventually I will tear out the walls in teh bathroom and replace it all but I cannot do so at this time.
I did be sure to put a cleanout into the line, on the old copper cleanout the square nub to grab onto with a wrench was rounded and very shallow, barely stuck out from the surface of the plug, the few times I had to remove it, it was always a hassle.

and you bring up that picture thing again.. taking them is easy but remember, I mention it again, computer idiot here, posting anywhere online is always a hassle for me.


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#12 JBRamsey OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 09:50 PM

I agree with what everyone else says and after fixing your drain line and ensuring your vents are clear, if you still have the issue, then the problem is most likely in your drain field. Maybe roots in your lines or its simply just handled all it can take. Soil changes over time. I've seen lots that wouldn't perk one day, pass a perk test a year later. My daddy's place just stopped draining properly and the solution was to add a new drain field from the tank.

Before doing anything to the drain field, I would have my tank pumped again. Who knows what is going on inside it with the basically open drain line the way the copper was just slid into the plastic pipe. After pumping it you will have a false sense of all is ok until the tank fills with liquid again. It's propably a 1000 gallon tank so it will take a few weeks to fill it depending on how much laundry you're doing.

You said it mostly happens after washing clothes. That tells me the drain field can't handle that volume of water at once. That's what leads me to believe you have a field problem. But only doing it from one side of the house seems to indicate a clogged line before the tank.

I'm with Phluphy on replacing the whole copper drain line. Do it now and you won't have to do it every again and you also know for a fact you don't have anything clogged on that side.

Good luck. I feel for you. I spent too much time as a kid on the working end of a shovel helping daddy dig up the line from our house to the tank. He built his house in 1962 and the pipe was some kind of black fiber stuff. It collapsed and fell apart in sheets. We replaced it with PVC and for good measure Daddy back filled the hole with concrete fully encasing the pipe. The next poor soul that works on it will curse us both.
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#13 Phluphy OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 10:45 PM

I agree with what everyone else says and after fixing your drain line and ensuring your vents are clear, if you still have the issue, then the problem is most likely in your drain field. Maybe roots in your lines or its simply just handled all it can take. Soil changes over time. I've seen lots that wouldn't perk one day, pass a perk test a year later. My daddy's place just stopped draining properly and the solution was to add a new drain field from the tank.

Before doing anything to the drain field, I would have my tank pumped again. Who knows what is going on inside it with the basically open drain line the way the copper was just slid into the plastic pipe. After pumping it you will have a false sense of all is ok until the tank fills with liquid again. It's propably a 1000 gallon tank so it will take a few weeks to fill it depending on how much laundry you're doing.

You said it mostly happens after washing clothes. That tells me the drain field can't handle that volume of water at once. That's what leads me to believe you have a field problem. But only doing it from one side of the house seems to indicate a clogged line before the tank.

I'm with Phluphy on replacing the whole copper drain line. Do it now and you won't have to do it every again and you also know for a fact you don't have anything clogged on that side.

Good luck. I feel for you. I spent too much time as a kid on the working end of a shovel helping daddy dig up the line from our house to the tank. He built his house in 1962 and the pipe was some kind of black fiber stuff. It collapsed and fell apart in sheets. We replaced it with PVC and for good measure Daddy back filled the hole with concrete fully encasing the pipe. The next poor soul that works on it will curse us both.

"the pipe was some kind of black fiber stuff. It collapsed and fell apart in sheets." Good ol' Orangeburg. Crappiest pipe ever. Right on about black fiber...similar to sawdust/wood fibers in asphalt.   



#14 Sawdust OFFLINE  

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Posted June 26, 2016 - 11:49 PM

the copper was the original plumbing that was installed in the house when it was built back in 1965.
I put the SCH 40 in today on the one end "inlet" to go from the crawlspace to get me thru the foundation brick because the original copper drain eroded thru on the bottom right where it sat on the brick where it passed thru there. but whoever put that gray DWV pipe in from there to the tank did the jury rig job.... I have been in this house 18 years and this was the 1st septic issue I have had, I have no idea how long ago that gray pipe might have been put in. I certainly would NOT have done it "their" way, that's why I'm asking questions now... I would have replaced that whole copper run at the time they put that partial plastic line in, when ever that was.
RIck, I have only ever had 1 drain access lid off in the years I have been here and it has been off 3 times, once when I closed on the house, once for a septic inspection when I refinanced 5 years later and the last time 18 months ago when I last had it pumped.
I would like to see if there is another access cover on the opposite end near where the other inlet comes out the foundation....
When I last had it pumped the guy who did so said that I should have it done every 2-3 years, I had gone 11 years since the last pumping, which was done when I had it dug out for that inspection when we refinanced. The guy that pumped it last said that if I was able to go 11 years between pump outs "I must be doing something right" although I have heard it said that theoretically you should never have to have a tank pumped if all is right with the system.
I can never remember what DWV stands for, I was trying to remember earlier today and I could remember Drain and vent but could not remember the "W". The copper that remains in my house is stamped "DWV", too on the Tees and couplings.
eventually I will tear out the walls in teh bathroom and replace it all but I cannot do so at this time.
I did be sure to put a cleanout into the line, on the old copper cleanout the square nub to grab onto with a wrench was rounded and very shallow, barely stuck out from the surface of the plug, the few times I had to remove it, it was always a hassle.
and you bring up that picture thing again.. taking them is easy but remember, I mention it again, computer idiot here, posting anywhere online is always a hassle for me.


DWV Drain Waste Vent. Sounds like your on your way to a proper fix.

#15 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 27, 2016 - 12:37 AM

Tanks need to be pumped but it depends on how much solids are in your waste. The septic tank does three things: it acts as a sediment bowl to catch heavy things, it acts as a digestor for solids to break down, and it is a grease trap. The grease is the worst because I've seen it over flow the baffle and then plug up the field. Once that happens you need to do a new field. Health codes vary so the remedy varies. I have usually just put in a whole new field. Pumping is cheap insurance. Not pouring grease down the drain is important too.

 

On modern septic tanks there are three covers to open: inlet, center, and outlet. A good pumper will open all and clean them too. My guy has me fill the bath tub and when he has gotten to the bottom of the tank, we turn on all faucets and drain the tub. This flushes out the pipes and lets him clean the bottom better.

 

Those products that are supposed to help your septic tank, clean the tank but, put the crap in the leaching field where it plugs it up. The last leaching field that I did was $30,000. She was a friend and I was able to save her $10,000+. She had been quoted $40,000 by another guy.  It had only taken her husband 6 years to ruin the system by dumping bacon grease down the sink. He was from a city and refused to believe that it was a bad thing to pour grease down the drain. Good Luck, Rick


Edited by boyscout862, June 27, 2016 - 12:39 AM.

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