Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Septic tank/overflow/drains  (Read 23776 times)

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Septic tank/overflow/drains
« on: June 17, 2012, 09:14:17 am »
Can someone explain for me - I'm having to deal with this on my own and I don't get it.

I have a septic tank, cover in the front garden, neighbour pumps it out once a year.

I think there is an overflow - there is a manhole cover a field away, in the roadside verge, which my ex used to refer to as the soakaway cover. It often overflows onto the road and smells. I don't know what the link is between the septic tank and the soakaway and I don't know what the soakaway does?

Now the drain from my yard, under my goat byre, isn't draining properly and every time it rains hard the yard floods and it goes through the wall into the goat byre, soaking the straw <this makes me so stressed>.

Dad and I cleared the drain out manually and also with a high pressure drain clearing hose. It doesn't seem 'blocked' but there is water in the bottom, as though the water table was high or something.

I am not sure where the drain drains to, can't find anything. When I was clearing it with the high pressure hose, the septic tank smelled a bit, as it does when I run water through from the house for a while - as though it got 'disturbed'. So I'm wondering if the drain goes into the septic tank, but that should be ok as I have it pumped regularly (and don't use bleach or anything).

But what about the soakaway?

I have to solve the yard drain problem, it's a day of back breaking work to clear out the sodden straw in the goat byre........

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 09:24:45 am »
Someone who knows far more about such things will be along  :thumbsup:    We have a septic tank and the soakaway is to allow the liquid portion of the contents to, literally, soak away into the ground.  You shouldn't need to have your tank emptied frequently if it's working properly, but clearly it isn't - there shouldn't be much smell from the soakaway.   Ours has to go by pipe under the road then fans out under the field opposite, which is downhill of the house.
When drains are working well they are a wonder but when something goes wrong - well, you are experiencing how stresssful that can be.
I hope someone can help.
www.scothebs.co.uk

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Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2012, 09:35:11 am »
A septic tank is fill-up and empty system which is pumped out periodically  you describe. It is unlikely that it has a formal overflow cos they aren't supposed to get full.  So I'd speculate that the yard drain is linked to the soakaway which is either full or, more likely, the pipe is blocked or broken.
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2012, 09:44:29 am »
FW that sounds more like a cesspit unless I've got the terminology the wrong way round. We have one which is a cavernous tank built nearly 50 years ago in block work with gaps all round. It has never required emptying or any form of maintenance since and I'm sure doesn't meet any water regulations


The neighbours put their tank in 20 years ago and it's a plastic tank which is pumped out periodically.
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2012, 09:55:51 am »
Oh well, mine might be a cesspit, I didn't know they were different things  :fc: It's old and block/brick.

The soakaway is definitely something to do with the cesspit.

How can it get full/blocked?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 09:57:29 am by jaykay »

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2012, 10:08:22 am »
septic tanks hold the solids and liquid the liquid is drained of to a soakaway or reed bed to dissipate the water
in theory there should be no solids going down to the soakaway but it can and does happen and in all probability has
drains will smell by the nature of the product it is not perfumed        even chocked field drains can smell after a few years of blockage
rainwater should not be going into a septic tank as it buggers up the action of the bacteria in the tank
the best system is twin septic tanks that way there is no chance of solids escaping and eventually gooing up the works
the old tanks were brick or block  with it cement lined to stop any leakage :farmer:

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2012, 10:18:31 am »
Ok, sounds like the soakaway might need clearing out then.

But if the drain wouldn't have been designed to empty into it, I've no idea at all where that goes. It disappears under the goat byre. But doesn't seem to come out the other side anywhere. The whole yard slopes to drain into it  :-\

It has been fine for five years. But now it's a disaster and I can't work out how to solve the problem. But solve it I've got to, I can't have the goat byre flooding every time it rains hard (every other day at the moment  :P)

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2012, 10:51:06 am »
that may be the problem    it is not designed for the volume of water that it has to deal with
what type of soil do you have  :farmer:

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2012, 11:01:24 am »
Peat over clay

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2012, 11:16:47 am »
I forsee vist from man with mini digger (why never a woman)

Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2012, 11:24:30 am »
But what's he going to dig?

The drain goes under the goat byre somewhere/how, which has a brick floor and is the only place the goats have to live  :'(

The soakaway? I can see I'm going to have to get brave and look inside the cesspit and soakaway  :P

I'm supposedly bright and capable but this stuff sort of scares me  :P
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 12:47:27 pm by jaykay »

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2012, 12:44:03 pm »
it scares most as the reality is you have to use a spade :innocent:
if it is a soakaway filled with gravel  it could be silted up  then just dig it out refill with clean gravel and everything is alright again     they are best piped to a water course and that is the end of it
septic tanks and soakaways are usually the last thing that money is spent on and corners cut  cheaper options used but it all come back to haunt you at a latter date
you will need to find the end of the pipe and start from there
very few girls are digger operators but any that are are usually very good  it could be something to do with hand eye coordination or being told 9 inches is actally 3 inches     Lillian can operate both diggers and artic dump trucks :farmer:

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2012, 12:46:49 pm »
Cross posted with you Robert  :)

Ok, got very brave and lifted the cesspit lid.
Pretty full but mainly liquid I think (and it was emptied not so long since, so should be).

Strongly suspect the soakaway of not working. Went to where the cover is - bad smell there. Couldn't actually see a cover, but found the rocks which the ex put on top to stop idiot townies parking on top of it.

Here is my current theory. For whatever reason the soakaway isn't soaking away.
The drain under the goat byre is probably cut into the pipe/trench that goes from the cesspit to the soakaway.
Since the soakaway isn't soaking away, neither can the rainwater.

The issue now is what to do about it.

I used up all my 'brave' on the opening up the cesspit.

Will have a coffee and a spin, and consider. Might have to call out the drain/cesspit people. God alone knows how I will pay for that but I can't continue like this.

Might go and see if I can find the soakaway cover and lift it, though not sure what I'm going to discover even if I do.

Anyone used these guys? Their website seems to talk sense? MWWaste


Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2012, 12:57:50 pm »
I'm intrigued by the idea of a soakaway with a lid.  We've got a number of them here and they simply consist of a cubic metre of soil taken out and the hole filled with shingle. 
If the soakaway itself has slow drainage then you may need to make it bigger or dig another one to help it out.
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Septic tank/overflow/drains
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2012, 07:20:11 pm »
Cess pits have emergency drains into a tiny soakaway in case they fill up and back up the toilets in the house. Cess pits are huge but usually need emptying every 3 months.
 
Septic tanks take many forms but the old ones were simply a series of concrete tanks where one flowed into another giving time for the solids to settle out. The newer ones (Clargesters) are a fibreglass tank with inner and outer chambers. Whichever one you have (unless its the newest Biospheres) they suffer from blockages of the soakaways over time. If the biological action of the tank is poor, the solids get carried to the soakaways and they sludge up very quickly. But they need replacing every 20 years anyway. They will be a series of trenches, the length of which depends on the percolation of the soil. In your case its poor and you would need perhaps 100 metres of trenching.
 
So Jaykay, I think you have an expensive problem to resolve.

 

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