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    • gar1990
    • By gar1990 6th Nov 18, 8:30 PM
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    gar1990
    Septic drainfield/soakaway problem
    • #1
    • 6th Nov 18, 8:30 PM
    Septic drainfield/soakaway problem 6th Nov 18 at 8:30 PM
    Hi, I have a large problem with our soakaway system and am looking some advice.
    We moved house last year, buying the house of some people that we knew. Just before completing they found that they didn't have consent to discharge for their septic system and had to apply for it in a panic. That all came through and we moved. The house was finished as a private new build in 2012.

    Fast forward 6 months and our neighbour called me to say our sewage was coming up in his field. We were shocked as the maps all showed the drains in our garden not 30m away in his field.

    So we called the insurance company to investigate. As the farmer had been using heavy diggers in the area we thought that he had damaged that, the initial report came back to say the same but further digging was needed.

    In the mean time we sorted the consent to discharge to show the real area of the pipes.

    When the company came to repair the damage they dug and found that the pipes weren't crushed just blocked but in many many places. They said a full replacement was needed as the pipes weren't installed well

    The insurance company has now said that we are not covered and have left us with all the investigation bills (approx 1000) and the bill to replace the soakaway (8000)

    Has anyone any ideas of what we can do?
    Is there anyway to get the insurance to cover the cost?
    if not is there any way to get them to cover the cost of the investigations which they said they would initially?
    Is there any way to charge the previous owners through the misinformation? (They also stated to the solicitor that de-sludging was never carried out and was not needed)
    Any other ideas?

    Thanks!
Page 1
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 6th Nov 18, 8:49 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #2
    • 6th Nov 18, 8:49 PM
    • #2
    • 6th Nov 18, 8:49 PM
    It sounds like either you or the previous owners haven't maintained the system by emptying the tank and let it overflow.

    I know little about septic tanks, being a townie, but I've encountered the same this year and had to do some fast learning. There will be people that know more than I do, but if you don't empty the tank as often as it needs to be and let the tank overflow, it gets into the drainage field, blocks it and renders it useless.

    My client only installed theirs in 2016 (new barn conversion - not my project) but they let it overflow; similarly to you, the neighbour complained about contamination of their pond, the drainage field is blocked and we've to organise replacement.

    Did the insurance company replace the soakaway already? 8,000 is high. That would buy the whole kit and caboodle.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 7th Nov 18, 1:57 AM
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    Davesnave
    • #3
    • 7th Nov 18, 1:57 AM
    • #3
    • 7th Nov 18, 1:57 AM
    As above, there are people who believe that septic tanks never need de-sludging. They'll probably pop up on this thread soon, saying how their Uncle Ernie lived to be 92 and never once emptied his etc etc.

    Regrettably, our neighbour's landlady was of this belief and her tenants weren't the most reliable of people either, so in 2014 we suffered contamination and blocking of our shared drain field, (we have seperate tanks) all on our land. It seems a high level of waste + several episodes of blockage jet washing on their side was to blame.

    When we purchased this property, our excellent solicitor asked for a paragraph in both deeds to be amended, so we're no longer legally tied to the neighbour IRO drainage. This made it easier to 'convert' the owner of next door to 2 yearly sludge removal cycles. Had she refused, we'd have gone over to a treatment plant and left her to get on with it!

    We jointly shelled-out around 2k for replacement of the pipe and drain field, fortunately 'losing' a lot of builders' rubble in the process! The work was done at mates' rates, but it still seems your quote for 8k is well over the top.

    Many insurers look for any get-out. Here, if they know, they might argue that the extent of the drainage field was mis-described to them, or if you cannot show evidence of emptying, they could say that proper maintenance wasn't carried out, amounting to negligence. You'd need an expert witness to refute this, and I doubt you'd find one.

    It sounds as if your solicitor asked about maintenance and the previous owners answered that none had been done. One cannot expect solicitors to be drainage experts, so if this answer was relayed to you, it was your decision how to proceed from there, seeking expert advice as necessary.

    Sorry if the above sounds rather harsh, but it's the way I see your predicament here.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • that
    • By that 7th Nov 18, 10:38 AM
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    that
    • #4
    • 7th Nov 18, 10:38 AM
    • #4
    • 7th Nov 18, 10:38 AM
    your septic tank will need de-sludging, maybe 6 monthly or every few years, depending on size of tank vs family size.

    Apparently microbes can build up in the water and block drainage fields. One way is to replace the soakaway, but will probably get blocked again in the future. The other way is to get a fishtank air pump and let it blow air into the septic tank water, the oxygen kills the bacteria. It apparently takes 5 weeks before a slight visible change is seen, and often about 6 months fully restored
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 7th Nov 18, 11:02 AM
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    Doozergirl
    • #5
    • 7th Nov 18, 11:02 AM
    • #5
    • 7th Nov 18, 11:02 AM
    I thought the point of the septic tank was to create anaerobic digestion. The water that eventually filters out of the second tank into the drainage field near the surface of the earth is dealt with aerobically.

    The problem occurs when the sludge builds up faster than the digestion process occurs and you end up with raw sewage blocking what is essentially supposed to be a water pipe.

    I'm not sure why you'd want aerobic action in the tank or how that helps unblock the drainage field?
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 7th Nov 18, 11:08 AM
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    Davesnave
    • #6
    • 7th Nov 18, 11:08 AM
    • #6
    • 7th Nov 18, 11:08 AM
    I'm not sure why you'd want aerobic action in the tank or how that helps unblock the drainage field?
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    I'm puzzled too!


    The two biggest problems as I see them are:
    • use of powerful household chemicals, like bleach, which inhibit bacterial action
    • failure to spot a blockage upstream of the tank, which can result in aggressive jetting and sludge escaping the tank untreated
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • tonyh66
    • By tonyh66 7th Nov 18, 3:09 PM
    • 1,276 Posts
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    tonyh66
    • #7
    • 7th Nov 18, 3:09 PM
    • #7
    • 7th Nov 18, 3:09 PM
    your septic tank will need de-sludging, maybe 6 monthly or every few years, depending on size of tank vs family size.

    Apparently microbes can build up in the water and block drainage fields. One way is to replace the soakaway, but will probably get blocked again in the future. The other way is to get a fishtank air pump and let it blow air into the septic tank water, the oxygen kills the bacteria. It apparently takes 5 weeks before a slight visible change is seen, and often about 6 months fully restored
    Originally posted by that
    this is how the more expensive sewage treatment plants work, agitate the sewage to get air into it, or forced air. It doesn't kill the bacteria, it encourages growth, its the bacteria that breaks down the sewage.
    • J B
    • By J B 7th Nov 18, 4:15 PM
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    J B
    • #8
    • 7th Nov 18, 4:15 PM
    • #8
    • 7th Nov 18, 4:15 PM
    Suggestion from a 'country boy'
    1. Get the tank emptied
    2. get a 'drain jetting company' to try to clean your soak-away pipes


    Not a long term solution, but will certainly buy you some time and not cost anywhere near 8K!


    Where in the country are you?
    Maybe a local farmer could help??
    • that
    • By that 7th Nov 18, 8:47 PM
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    that
    • #9
    • 7th Nov 18, 8:47 PM
    • #9
    • 7th Nov 18, 8:47 PM
    I'm not sure why you'd want aerobic action in the tank or how that helps unblock the drainage field?
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    My friend rather than i had this issue sim 25 years ago. The they used a cheap fish tank pump and never at the time had the aerator nozzle, just a pipe going into the liquid.

    his tank did have two compartments, unsure which one got the air hose, and the vids below one said the settling tank, while others say outgoing tank. I think it is the outgoing tank too?

    Youtube explains it far better than I can
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZzgZ_kSaTE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AukaTaLb0p8
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQhlAN0uEBM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCnUNfQUSZI

    Heard of Soakaway Worms? To be honest a bit doubtful of this, sounds like a scheme to separate a fool from their money, especially as he say that the household cleaning products kill all bacteria, but these worms will multiply in water
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txTqh1gSwC4
    • Apodemus
    • By Apodemus 8th Nov 18, 6:50 AM
    • 1,147 Posts
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    Apodemus
    Heard of Soakaway Worms?
    Originally posted by that


    A properly functioning septic tank should be anaerobic, worms are aerobic. If your aim is to convert the septic system into a composting system, then we can talk worms! In the context of a septic tank it is snake oil.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 8th Nov 18, 7:21 AM
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    Davesnave
    Septic tanks don't need aeration, but treatment plants probably do. The worm video shows only one type of tank, like a glassfibre Klargester, but before those came brick-built ones. Ours was built in 1974 and it's still fine, structurally.

    I don't know about the worms, but it seems obvious they'd take time to work and most people need rapid results. When our drainage field blocked, we emptied the tanks, dug up the last bit of pipe, rodded it from access points and sent water through it till it was clear. There was no build-up of fat, so that was relatively easy; it was just black goo.....lots of it. (Apologies to anyone eating breakfast!)

    Then, because we could, we dug a huge 8' deep hole, filled it with rubble, sent the extended pipe into that and then extended the soakaway beyond this hole down gravel lined trenches for another 50m or so. Not textbook, but it works fine. Our soil happens to be on a 10 degree slope and most areas are free draining. However, we failed to find bed rock with our first big hole and had to dig another, because doing what we did on clay wouldn't work. I could see that the first big 10' x 8' hole on clay didn't drain all the time it was open.

    As an aside, another neighbour's drain field, built at the same time as ours, began giving trouble roughly when ours became blocked. They had it jetted, nothing else, and this resolved the problem to an extent, but I can see that the black sludge is surfacing again in winter. I don't complain because one of this couple is very ill, it's in a place far from our house and there's little impact on our agricultural activity. However, I know what the end game will be, because renewal in that place isn't an option due to changed regulations. They'll need a treatment plant.


    Maybe that's the solution for the OP.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • that
    • By that 8th Nov 18, 11:49 PM
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    that
    As an aside, another neighbour's drain field, built at the same time as ours, began giving trouble roughly when ours became blocked. They had it jetted, nothing else, and this resolved the problem to an extent, but I can see that the black sludge is surfacing again in winter. I don't complain because one of this couple is very ill, it's in a place far from our house and there's little impact on our agricultural activity. However, I know what the end game will be, because renewal in that place isn't an option due to changed regulations. They'll need a treatment plant.
    Originally posted by Davesnave
    I agree on the worms. They would drown, and they take months to mature and a month to multiply in ideal conditions. Think they are praying on desperate people.

    My friend had a two chamber rectangular septic tank with a concrete top, no idea what the tank was made of though. Reading net pages, especially after the public water treatment comment, aerated effluent does solve the matting problem and reverse it - too many lemmings can't be wrong, especially on the internet . if you read and come to the same conclusion, and they are good people, and have a spare 10 fish tank pump you could be doing them a favour at a time when is is not going well for them.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 9th Nov 18, 12:15 AM
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    Davesnave
    if you read and come to the same conclusion, and they are good people, and have a spare 10 fish tank pump you could be doing them a favour at a time when is is not going well for them.
    Originally posted by that
    The septic tank is across the road from their house in a wild garden they no longer visit. I'm afraid there's no way to get power to it.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • bluewater
    • By bluewater 9th Nov 18, 7:32 AM
    • 108 Posts
    • 26 Thanks
    bluewater
    I'm surprised that no one has suggested installing a cesspit. Is it capacity and emptying frequency?

    We have just moved to a house with a cesspit. It's a 1950's house and I think the cesspit is original. It was emptied just before we moved (130) and previous owner said they emptied it once a year. They had lived there for 30 years.

    I was initially disappointed that it wasn't a ceptic tank but after reading about new rules regarding discharge into ditches etc I felt more comfortable with the cesspit. Time will tell.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 9th Nov 18, 7:49 AM
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    Davesnave
    Time will tell, indeed. People selling houses have been known to be 'economical with the truth.'


    New cesspits are already banned in Scotland and an emptying frequency of once a year is unusually long. Most people see them as an old-fashioned and inferior way with dealing with waste water.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 9th Nov 18, 9:05 AM
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    silvercar
    The septic tank is across the road from their house in a wild garden they no longer visit. I'm afraid there's no way to get power to it.
    Originally posted by Davesnave
    Solar power?
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 9th Nov 18, 9:30 AM
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    Davesnave
    Solar power?
    Originally posted by silvercar

    Where there's a will...eh?

    This is a wild piece of land which doesn't lend itself to that, due to large trees, both there and in our copse beyond. Even our laurels, planted to hide a second very objectionable neighbour, have struggled.

    They're not poor, just tied -up with medical stuff, so we're not bothering them over a bit of black sludge in the field corner. Being brutally honest, long term, we'd rather the pipe and their waste wasn't there at all.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • that
    • By that 9th Nov 18, 6:51 PM
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    that
    New cesspits are already banned in Scotland and an emptying frequency of once a year is unusually long. Most people see them as an old-fashioned and inferior way with dealing with waste water.
    Originally posted by Davesnave
    Yes, if the ground in not porous, then they may have to get pumped, which apparently cost a large amount (no idea how much?). If the ground is porous then the pathogens end up contaminating the water table.

    However if you drill a hole and put chemicals down there under, which one could be cancer causing Formadehyde, you are ok - providing you pay the Gov fracking tax.
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